Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Sounds of Khed , India

Our building is located on the highway leading to the town.Thus, it is subjected to an unceasing cacophony of vrooom , po-pon-po , grrhh , trriiingg , ghhr - ghhrr.The vehicles are simply the background music. The real song begins with the 'paowala'.

For those who don't know , 'pao' is a type of Indian bun bread. And the man who sells them is hence the 'paowala'. Though , we address them 'bhayya' (brother) whether they be 35 or 55 years old.

As the morning prayer of Fajr ends , through the crepuscular light rides the paowala , with a basket full of fresh , soft , delicious buns tied on the backseat of his bicycle. He is the first one to ring your doorbell.
The sparrows twitter and hasten the slumberous sun ; with the breakfast over and children off to school , they continue flitting around and resting on window grills. Soon their melody is interrupted by ding-ding-ding-ting bells of the van of the garbage collector. Even garbage dumps have a signature sound of their own here. Masked , he sifts through the litter in his van , while waiting for the waste to be cleared from the four wings of the complex. If we collected bottles , plastics and such re-usable materials separately , he would be spared the disgusting task of poking into our pell-mell rubbish.
( Couldn't resist digressing ; lets get back to 'sounds' ....)

On Sundays , you would surely awaken to :
'Ay Allah ke bande , (O' Slave of Allah) !
Allah tumhare karobar mein barkat de , Ya Allah , (May Allah bless you in your business , O'Allah!)' , chants the fakir baba with a voice certain to touch the skies even if failing to appeal to the mortals below.

By 10.30am -
'Samosa - garam samosa' ,
'Samosa - samosa garam' ;
the couplet of the Samosa-wala disperses the heavy clouds of tantalising rains. It was inevitably , one of my favorites.

The sun climbs monotonously ; the much awaited rain looks on grumpily from the firmaments.

The crows caw-caw overhead. From the nearby building , a variety of voices float over with amusing implications.

Playful prattle of children lulls the afternoon into a drowsy stupor.
With the lunch reposing in a content chamber, a book in hand and the cushioning heat pressing the eye-lids to droop over eyes that do not need sleep -
'Bhangar , plastic , battli.....' , the Bhangar-wala's vocal chords strike through compressions and rarefactions with gong-like amplitude , creating temporary waves in the vibrating stillness.

The donkeys bray ; believers seek protection from the devil for the braying signifies evil.

Then the fruitwallah comes with his 'Mausambi , chikoo , aam-wale-aamwale' triplets cry, pleasing the little girl who pestered her mother with , 'Mummy , mana mausambi hawi' (Mummy , I want orange) . And then she would whine for the fruitwallah to come soon , 'Aamwale, ye naa!!' (Mango-seller come no!!) - the whines growing louder till she tired of hearing her own echoes.

Once again , in the evening brightness , rides the paowala. This time , he too has his lines to be sung , 'Cake , toast , butter , paowale...'

With the fading twilight , old women - Nani ,aaji , dadi , buwa call their darling brats home.

The song is far from over , but becomes muted to ignorant senses happily anticipating to climb to bed after dinner.

Soon the human sounds sleep into oblivion and the sounds of the night awaken to a promising symphony.

Tick - tick - tick...
Goes the clock.

Whirr - whirr - whirrr
The fan overhead.

Some door , pushed by the wind ?

The whistle of the train , tunneling through the hill.

Bow-wow-bow ; the dogs having a disagreement.

The voice of Darkness , when all is quiet.
Listen closely , tonight.