Sounds in India

Morning in Pune. Photo: Christopher Peetz,

Sounds in India used to make me crazy. The privacy i felt and cherished behind the thick walls of tiny Kyiv apartment was gone once i moved into spacious 2BHK in outskirts of Pune. Suddenly i heard neighbours at different times of their daily routine, – bathing in the morning, making sabzi in the pressure cooker, playing with the dog and by the end of it – snoring.

When the bell rang, i would run and open the door so many times just to make sure there’s no-one outside. It took me a good half a year to decipher own doorbell sound. Yet wake-up noise used to come from the neighbouring bathroom facing mine. Once uncle was hawking and spitting, noisily clearing his throat at 5 o’clock in the morning, I could no longer sleep. Four subsequent years this transient unsexy morning sound used to invisibly mark a dawn in the back of my mind. Probably that’s why all the traffic noise, impatient honking or festival drumming on the streets never bothered me.

Initial bewilderment turned into amusement with time. I’ve learnt to accept things i can’t change or understand. I’ve learnt that patience is the most rewarding virtue that helps you survive, live and enjoy in India.

I got married and left that apartment. Me & Mr. Sharma moved into one-building society uphill Pashan Baner Link road, which is few minutes drive from office. Here we rarely meet our neighbours. Those few times we stumbled upon someone outside i can count on my fingers. The only proof of neighbours’ presence is that parking lots, including guest parking, are always full. I don’t know if my karma has improved, but sounds pattern of the new house turned out to be pleasantly entertaining.

6 am. Aunty on the third floor moves plastic beige chair into extreme left corner of an open terrace, which we can completely overlook from our living room window. She talks loudly to son abroad clinging simple mobile phone to her ear. Overhearing that conversation is unavoidable if we’re up at early hour.

8 am. My bathroom acoustic transmits neighbours’ “Om bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ..” in deep male bass. Splashes of water from bucket are heard as they noisily hit the tiles. I drop in for five minutes daily to enjoy Gayatri mantra while washing my face and applying moisturising lotion afterwards. In half an hour I’m back to take a shower. Now young girls’ voice singing along with Rihanna playing from her phone is on-air. Dancing under warm water streams becomes irresistible. Finally these are the sounds i love to start my day with.

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