Quite a complex symphonic orchestra
Here's a peek into the audible, yet unique sounds that one is privy to from a housing society under lockdown
Disclaimer: Before I proceed to share this sonic timeline of an average day in my surroundings, I wish to state a few things to the folk who read this column: That these jottings have been recorded from a week's findings; that I live along the periphery of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and so all mentions of unusual fauna activity should be treated with calm."
7 am: It's a pleasant way to drift out of bed to the sounds of sparrows, mynas, coppersmith barbets and even the cacophony of crows. Strains from MS Subbulaxmi's voice and tunes of Rabindra Sangeet add a melodious lilt to these waking up hours.
9 pm: Sounds from the idiot box emerge. Opening credits, ad breaks; this is interspersed by the frenetic clanging of bartans in the kitchen and the odd head-spinning wail of a child. By now, the mobile phone-addicted species also surfaces, making WFH calls in full volume. Yes, we know you work for some Jap investment bank and they are suckers for deadlines; well, so are Indian companies. Cool off, dude.
10 am: More TV noise, of the epic kinds. It seems like deja vu from the 1980s when DD was our sole screen saviour. The morning ensemble of avian artistes departs; making way for the next lot. Some feathered folk, like the crows and mynas, and a few squirrels are permanent occupants of the badam tree and the palms that are prime locations for their activities. By now, maali kaka has surfaced and so the garden hose is also in full flow.
11 am to 12 noon: The churning of mixer-grinders, pressure cooker whistles going into a tizzy and whatnot take over. There's some chit-chat with fussy kids by the box-grilled 'balconies'. Cicadas take over our central garden with their sonnet-like symphony. In sync with the sound of the hose, it's quite a summery jugalbandi.
12.30 pm: "Ushaaaaaa! Jaldi neeche aa jao; van tees minute mein aane waala hai" With that one ear-shattering battle cry by a hustler-type aunty, she's managed to bring down half the population from their homes as they begin to scramble for a 'circle' [it's assumed a whole new meaning since geometry class] in the endless queue that worms through the inner square of the society. All of this is, of course, to wait for that harbinger of joy – the veggie-fruit truck.
Till 3 pm: "Tumne toh dye lagaya hai, Shalu? Godrej ka hai ki mehndiwala colour?"; "Suna…woh Colony wala Singh uncle off ho gaya; Kwo-vid tha ya heart fail?"; "Butter se he chalana padega; ghee-vee bandh. Good faar health?" With such gems floating around, the birdcalls take a backseat. Nilkamal chairs are arranged for 'sinior log' in the queue, and chai for all as they wait for their turn to reach Everest. A mini jam session ensues for the socially-depraved inmates.
4 pm (approximately; on another day): Meena aunty has managed to arrange for a farsan dealer to set up temporary shop inside the society; it's a mini stampede, as packets of all kinds of snacks, from pani puri, khakra and chaklis to chivda sell like hot cakes. Hottest selling item? Khari biscuits.
6 pm: It's surprisingly quiet. Wait. Our resident stray doggies — Romeo, Juliet and son, Cocoa — start barking wildly. The Bandar Lok is back. Yes, the simians do their version of The Swing Thing in the green, wooded environs; the cable wires and pipes attached to each wing also offer easy access from to the next, having a blast each time they spot a loose clothesline to tug at something. "Dekho mummy, monkey khel raha hai," and similar such squeals make for evening entertainment.
7 pm onwards: Some of the tween-teen brigade sneaks out of their homes to coax their pals for a game of cards or other board games. There's relief in their loud laughter, of meeting up to giggle over a meme on their phone or a heady new track that's topping charts. They revel in the momentary bliss until one of their parents calls them back home.
8 pm onwards: The telly sounds get louder — by now news channels vie for high-decibel bragging rights over the Balaji soap reruns and Hindi masala flicks. The show will go on, and the sounds rarely cease.
Now showing: The new normal.
mid-day's Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city's sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana
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