India is a place where waves of sound crash onto the ocean of people. The never ceasing traffic. People talking. Dogs barking. The sounds overload my other senses distracting me from the dust and the heat.
Imagine being on the rooftops of old Delhi, flying kites as your fathers and their fathers have been doing for generations. Listen to the layers of sound. First the roar of the cars, every one honking its horn until there is a kind of chorus making a ceaseless cacophony. As you open your senses more, you hear the woosh, woosh of the kites in the wind, and the flapping of flocks of pigeons. As you focus more, you hear the trickle of water from someone washing their hands, and you hear a hum of voices from people talking in every direction.
An hour before, you were in the market streets watching the tuck-tucks go by, with their horns screetching every time they passed a camel with a load of bricks, a bicycle pulling sacks of spices, or men digging trenches and laying pipe in the road. People hawking their wares add a layer to the commotion. There’s even a ceremony in the street with dancing and drumming — here’s a little video so you can hear it yourself:
As you wind through to even smaller streets, you still hear the different horns from the cars and motorcycles (since people hold their horns the whole time, they might as well make them interesting, so some sound like police sirens, others like strange instruments, and still others go whooping up and down the scale like a pipe organ gone wild).
You come to one of the smallest streets yet, even a tuck-tuck can’t fit, and still there is noise everywhere. You open an old old door, exquisitely carved and painted with gold. You step inside Masterji Kee Haveli, an old house with stone walls that block almost all the street noise. Still there are sounds of cawing birds, and the burble of the fountain that sits in the very center of the interior courtyard that’s open to the sky.
Finally, after a delicious dinner, imagine that you’re falling asleep in your hotel. Still, the sounds are seeking you. Dogs barking. People calling to one another in the street, laughing, sneezing, selling. The steady wish wish of the fan over your bed. The constant roar of cars. The sounds of India accompany you as you slip into dreams.
PS. Thank you Dhruv for inviting us to your house and giving us a wonderful visit to Delhi.