Mysore India: Holy Cows


‘Holy Cow!’ my mom used to say when I was growing up in reaction to surprising sights or news. A raised-Catholic, meat-eating, first generation American daughter of Croatian immigrants, she may have picked the phrase up from 1950s broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, who evidently popularized it.

My mom wasn’t much of a baseball fan either (to my knowledge), but she would have been a young teenager in SF when Rizzuto was at the height of his work and I do know the radio figured largely in her early life. I recall stories of her family listening to the radio during blackouts in the 40s during World War II.

Even when I was growing up, she would regularly sit at the counter with her coffee and news radio, ear tuned to the voice coming over the airways, often muttering ‘holy cow’ in reference to what she heard, an unconscious prayer for the world, perhaps, as much as it was an expression of surprise.

She certainly never made it here, to India, where cows are sacred and thus familiar members of the landscape. Having been here a few times previous, I’m no longer surprised by being stalled in traffic that awaits a slow moving herd or have to change my course on a sidewalk to await an ambling heifer. Rather, cows are equal parts an endearing reminder of my mother, who I have no doubt would have loved some of India’s incongruous-to-the-Western-mind everyday scenes, and reminders of the sacred to be found in the mundane.

Deborah Crooks
Deborah Crooks ( is a writer, performing songwriter and recording artist based in San Francisco whose lyric driven and soul-wise music has drawn comparison to Lucinda Williams, Chrissie Hynde and Natalie Merchant.

Singing about faith, love and loss, her lyrics are honed by a lifetime of writing and world travel while her music draws on folk, rock, Americana and the blues. She released her first EP "5 Acres" in 2003 produced by Roberta Donnay, which caught the attention of Rocker Girl Magazine, selecting it for the RockerGirl Discoveries Cd. In 2007, she teamed up with local producer Ben Bernstein to complete "Turn It All Red" Ep, followed by 2008's "Adding Water to the Ashes" CD, and a second full-length CD "2010. She's currently working on a third CD to be released in 2013.

Deborah's many performance credits include an appearance at the 2006 Millennium Music Conference, the RockerGirl Magazine Music Convention, IndieGrrl, at several of the Annual Invasion of the GoGirls at SXSW in Austin, TX, the Harmony Festival and 2009's California Music Fest, MacWorld 2010, Far West Fest and many other venues and events. She toured the Northwest as part "Indie Abundance Music, Money & Mindfulness" (2009) with two other Bay Area artists, and followed up with "The Great Idea Tour of the Southwest in March 2010 with Jean Mazzei.
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