Who says only men and women are fond of chewing pan? In Morbi, the erstwhile princely state 60 km from Rajkot in Gujarat, even a cow is addicted to the betel leaf. She visits a particular paan shop at least five times a day, just like any other paan aficionado, and satisfies her urge for the betel leaf spiked with various masalas.
“A particular cow has been unfailingly visiting my shop half-a-dozen times a day for the last three years. She approaches me only when there’re just a few or no customers. She almost mechanically lifts her mouth and I put a specially prepared masala paan into it. She never stays after eating the paan. I’ve named her Gauri,” says Jagdish Jawahar Sindhi, who owns a paan shop in Gandhi Chowk in Morbi.
Sidhi says one day he summoned the cow and put a paan into its mouth, just for fun. “She seemed to like it as she instantly chewed it. She returned after about an hour or so and directly approached me as if demanding a paan. I readily obliged. Since then this has become a routine for both of us. In fact, I tend to be anxious if she doesn’t turn up,” he says. “I’m very religious and consider the cow a holy creature. I’ve been doing brisk business in recent times and I’ve no doubt that the blessings of this paan-eating cow must have been one of the factors.”
Sindhi has never given a tobacco paan to this cow; not even out of curiosity to see its effect on her. He says he isn’t sure whether Gauri goes to any other shop for paan.