Monday, September 22, 2008

Sounds I loved

Recently I was thinking about the sounds that I grew up with and that I had loved, while growing up--in both Bombay and Calcutta.
There were the early morning Bhajans, if you woke up early enough; there was the Muslim Call to prayer, beautiful and haunting; then, as the day went by, various vendors with such musical calls--'Appoos, appoos (Bombay during mango season); the man seliing seetmeats door--to-door, the chiudawalla (selling spicy crispies)the knife sharpening man with his humming, flying wheel; the key repair man going 'chinnkk, chinnk, chinnk' as he swung the big ring with all the keys on it; then there was the man who fluffed the cotton in one's pillows and mattresses with and instrument I don't the name of but was shaped like a big single string musical instrument. You heard the low 'boing, boing, boing' and knew who it was. Along with this was of course the ice-cream and kulfi cart. I also vaguely remember in Bombay, the gaiwalla--milkman--who came with his herd, maybe a couple of buffaloes and a cow, and stood outside folk's gates and milked the animal of choice in front of you and gave you the milk so you knew you weren't being cheated.
When I got married and came to live in Kerala I realised how much I missed these sounds. But then those sounds were replaced by the sounds of local vendors. Here, now if I get up early enough, I do sometimes get to hear the early morning prayer from the nearest temple and occasionally a very faint Muslim call to prayer in the evening. Besides, as I am working, I no longer heard the regular day sounds because I am not at home anymore at the time when the vendors go by. Ah well, time goes on and the world has changed.