Monday, January 26, 2015

Cold Noisy Nights! Colder Noisier Days!!

Cold breeze! It's soothing. It brings along a whiff of nostalgia.

It's not cold here in Bombay. 24 Degree Celsius at 2 in the night! It can't be more pleasant.

But it is cold, colder than those January nights when it used to be 3 degree celsius, inside a room. Only a little hole in the window would bring in a shrill thin blow of chilly winds.

Those were cold January nights.Those were cold January noisy nights.

Under 2 blankets, covered from head to toe, feet covered in woolen socks, a scarf tied on the head, ears covered! Still, these sounds crept in, in the middle of the night, under 2 blankets and a scarf.

Whistle of the passing train, a goods train, bapi told me once. It crept in from a distance, blowing whistle at intervals and then while crossing the station, it chugged slowly, but the whistle screamed loud, louder. As if telling the natives the pain of carrying tons of weight. Every night.
It took 2-3 minutes to pass by, the whistle a little mellowed at a distance, slowly but steadily merging into the silence of the dark cold nights.

The silence soon was intervened with rhythmic snores coming from the rooms of the house. Bapi, Chorda, Sejo Kaka, each one had a different rhythm, but maintained their rhythm. Rhythmic rise and fall, in perfect coordination with one another, as if they had planned the pattern at the dinner table! Trying to decipher the rhythm, waiting for a rhythm to rise and another to fall, was a game I indulged in.

Then the watchman came with his whistle, hitting the lathi on concrete road, moving it through the corrugated shutters of the shops, jaagte raho ... all lent a pattern to the soundscape. Everynight meeting of the dogs. At times, they were shooing off a dog from another street, at times a lazy bark, a fun hoof or just a shrill cry in unison, like wolves! A leaking tap in the bathroom, a tip and then a top as it fell into the pool in the bucket kept under it!

Sound of the bell from the nearby temple, and then few more bells. It grew louder and louder...followed by the 'azaan'. These sounds were scary, these cracked the night to the dawn, dawn to the morning, to the moment where Ma would soon knock the door and run down the stairs screaming 'uthe poro', soon followed by the struggle to move out of the blankets, move out of a world which was defined not by vision but by sound!

Those cold nights...warmer than the days today. Those shrill of whistle...softer than the noise that rings in the head today!

Those cold nights. Not as cold as today's.
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