Accumulations : Sounds from my Travels (part1)
written by Sandra Alexander & illustrated by Bharat Hegde
It’s been a long time since I travelled, but here’s a collection of the sounds I brought back from the places I’ve been to:
From Arasavanangkadu, the snore of a sleeping village, mixed with the rustling of leaves and the flutter of a thousand firefly wings. In this tiny village in Tamil Nadu, where sleep and the night come early, fireflies gather on trees and make them flicker – an image etched forever in my heart; an acapella of night sounds. Sometimes, wonder can make you weep.
From Lingampally, the sound of an old friend’s laughter, emitted in gasps – cka cka cka, she goes – like ginger and garlic being ground in a mortar and pestle far away. It reminds me that old friendships can be renewed, but the sound of our laughs falling together, will remain the same.
Tsa tsa tsa – a call to the hens in Kerala at feeding time. It is the same sound a stranger on a Bombay BEST bus makes to ask me to give way. The hens run behind me to peck my feet, and I am everlastingly afraid when they come close. Why do they have to be fed? The hens of Alleppey made me hate the bus rides of Bombay.
At 2 pm, the noisy ring of the doorbell in Everard Nagar – a copy of a nightingale’s three shrill crescendos. That, mixed with the hiss of boiling milk from the pudina tea I make for my friend as she comes back from work. The sound of that doorbell takes me back to her house in Bombay, puts the taste of the tea in my mouth and the expectation of twenty strict minutes of conversation, followed by an afternoon nap.
From Nainital, the echo of a Saturday morning service in a Methodist church. My mother has a habit of visiting churches wherever she goes. And I have habituated myself with standing outside them. It taught me how to find the right spots from where the least number of people will notice and stare. When I hear a choir anywhere now, I remember the mist on that morning and the view of the lake down below. It reminds me of my mother.
(to be continued in part 2)
Sandra is an urban researcher and writer living in Delhi, who spends most of her time longing for pineapple squash and thinking about the many definitions of what home can be. She finds both, occasionally, at her grandmother’s house in Kerala.
Bharat is a master of no trades and the jack of none. Writing, illustrations and cooking are things he does a little less poorly than other things in his life.