Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sounds of India

I am an Enid Blyton loyalist even though she is no longer trendy, overshadowed completely by the likes of J K Rowling and Eoin Colfer. But back in those days of the Five Find-Outers and Dog, I would fantasize about being born in Peterswood, the fictitious village where Fatty, Larry, Daisy, Pip, Bets and Buster regularly beat Mr Goon at solving the mysteries. I did not like India as a child. My mind was crowded with images of moors, thrushes, manorial structures and castles.

Trademark India
As a convent attending kid, I have memories of pastel shades, chintz fabrics and egg ball pudding. It was a time when the country was far from wearing her Indianness on the sleeve. The British hangover was still palpable, on the streets and in the movies. I remember distinctly when kolhapuri chappals first hit the fashion street, quickly to be followed by toe rings and anklets. Indian wear was until then quite risqué, liable to fetch the wearer that supercilious tag of a “behenji”. But slowly and surely, ethnic caught fire and all of a sudden, pink was happy to combine with purple and green joined up with yellow, lo and behold if Indians were not steadily getting comfortable in their own skins.

A shared sensory history
We tend to think of nationality as a sterile, distant concept, not likely to be called into use any time soon. But there is something called a cultural subconscious made up of sights, sounds and smells that people experience jointly and almost unknowingly. These seep into their collective memory, making them who they are. The shrill whistle of the pressure cooker for one; the smart and metallic tap of the chatwallah’s spatula on the tikki tawa; the melodious notes of the temple bell; the hypnotic pull of ancient Vedic chants; the Vivid Bharati broadcasts; the tinkle of bangles and anklets; the daybreak’s herald of the conch shell; the kabadiwallah’s clarion all; dogs barking at night; the mooing of the cows on roads; the beat of the dhol…..and there are more……

India, on the move.....


…the sound of  wholehearted, full chested clearing of the throats; the sharp hiss of open spitting; the public blowing of noses; the unfettered, ruthless traffic horns; cell phones ringing in the middle of live events; the choicest of abuses on the streets; a sloganeering noise of an active democracy; late night religious relays on public PA systems and the desperate siren of an approaching VIP cavalcade.

Ye mera India, I love my India…..

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Aw, this was a really nice post. In idea I would like to put in writing like this additionally - taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to get something done.

Honey Sangha said...

I think we all understand and indulge in procrastination. I wrote a piece on this http://confessionsofanambitiousmother.blogspot.com/2011/05/just-do-it.html
Perhaps you will find here thoughts to identify with.

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