There Is a Cow in the Street

After spending a few days in Sri Lanka last month, I was reminded of how much we get used to looking for things in a certain context.  For example, in driving the interstates in middle America you expect to see cows in a field along the roadside.  However, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, a city of almost a million, you will occasionally see a cow on a busy street with cars and buses passing by.  The scene is part of the landscape.

    When we encountered roads under construction in Sri Lanka—always a needed project!—there would not be our usual person at each end with a sign telling us when to stop or when it was safe to go around. Instead, we just eased around and hoped for the best. One common factor, however, in road construction crews was that there were always several men standing around doing nothing.

    We get used to well-lighted streets and sidewalks generally clear of rubbish.  But this is not the case in Sri Lanka and many other countries. 

    When traveling in other parts of the world, don't be surprised at the unexpected; don't assume that you will experience the same conveniences that we have in this country. And when in this country, I’m finding myself more tolerant of what I previously considered inconveniences. 


Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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