VARANASI, India — Walking almost anywhere in Varasani means navigating a jumble of tangled streets with various livestock types, random concrete steps and curious architectural oddities.
Cows lumbering down the dusty footpaths can cause minor traffic jams, although I learned during my cab ride into town that vehicles wider than a bicycle can’t move through the old city.
On one alley, a building with intricate stonework — a temple? — rose from the ground, its spires reaching to the sky, even as it was surrounded by a development. Another narrow street ended when a tree jutted up in the space between two buildings, as if to say,”You shall not pass.”
Soaking in the sights, I walked toward the end of a cobblestone alley, where I saw a white cow looking right at me, and a dirty-blonde dog trying to get comfortable on the cobblestones, when I heard the faint roar of a motorbike around the corner.
I crouched down with my camera, and I worked on framing the images unfolding directly in front of me, a cow and a dog sizing each other up, and then I hear the growl of the motorcycle’s pipes grow louder. A helmeted man on a motorbike wobbled slowly around the corner and squeezed between the cow and the opposite wall.
The scene that unfolded there was gone in the blink of an eye, but not before I had captured it on camera. I wouldn’t have knows how to describe it.