The Five Senses – Sound

I thought I would write some of my general impressions of India through the lens of the senses. There are so many differences between this country and mine. Here are some of the things I have heard.

The most prominent sound in India is the traffic. Not just the roar of the engines, but the honking. Loud long beeps from trucks, short toots from two wheelers, and the “hey are you looking to hire a rickshaw” horns as they slow while passing. During the day, a minute does not go by without a honk or more. After dark, it gets a bit quieter. After many days, there is a desensitization to all of it.

Then there are the barking dogs. Barking together, barking at one another and an occasional yip, like maybe one got clipped by the traffic they seem so oblivious to.

There is almost always someone sweeping. As I write this I hear the rhythmic swish, swish, swish of the broom somewhere outside of someone gathering up what has fallen from the tress overnight.

There are a few birds. Occasionally I hear one that sounds more like a monkey (maybe it is, but I haven’t seen any monkeys in Pune) but I don’t hear songbirds like we have in the morning at home. It is more like a flock of loud birds just before dawn that lands in a tree nearby. They cackle for a while and move on. And there are no crickets or frogs chirping at night.

In the predawn hours there is chanting. I don’t know where it is coming from and I can’t hear the words. It is faint but consistent for some time, I would guess for an hour or more ending with the sunrise.

My bathroom has a window and is somehow connected to the building in such a way that I can hear a neighbor either above or below me washing, and, on many mornings coughing and retching. Before I figured out it was a neighbor I thought it was one of my flat mates sick from the food or water. Thankfully, we have all stayed healthy in that respect, knock on wood.

The ceiling fan on high speed makes a nice white noise to block out a good portion of these noises at night.

People coming to our flat ring the doorbell if they have a code to the security door to the building. It’s a mechanical sort of sound, old and tired. Even though I have given Aneeta the security code for the door to the building, she doesn’t use it. Instead she stands in the parking lot and hollers “Mom-gi”! One of us goes down and let’s her in. Other vendors have used this same technique. We bought fruit and veggies from a guy who pushed his cart into the parking lot and started yelling … something. Other residents of the building also went out to make purchases.

And then, there is an occasional BANG, like a gunshot (which I am sure it is not), which I do not investigate. Sometimes it is better to not know everything.

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