I should really be asleep right now. My taxi is picking me up in the early hours in order to make my early morning flight from Bangalore to Udaipur via Delhi. But the chances of me sleeping are, well, zero. Why?
For a start I’m very excited, like a little girl on Christmas Eve. But, also, there’s that thing that India seems to do so well… NON-STOP NOISE!
Currently I can hear the following:
Dogs barking, tuc-tucs honking, motorbikes revving, cicadas, a mosquito whining (not for long if I get my way – all zen approaches to mossies have been cancelled), Katie Perry (way too loud for this hour I might add), a girl chanting Hindu deities to the same endless refrain (she’s been doing this for half an hour), a reversing lorry (they have quite cute reversing sounds, like tweeting birds – but definitely not cute right now), the Spanish guy with the really loud voice in the cafe outside, kids shouting, a baby crying.
This is my usual lullaby as I try, and fail, to drift effortlessly off to sleep…
Then I am woken at 5am by the oms and chanting of the early ashtanga class in the yoga hall that adjoins my room. Yes, their teacher chants like an angel, but at that hour it’s certainly not celestial. This is closely followed by the muezzin’s, again hauntingly beautiful but no less antisocial, warblings, accompanied by Danny the howling muslim dog. Spirituality is certainly not hidden away in whispering cloisters in this country… Then, as soon as the ashtangis leave at 6:30am, the hatha class begins and the noise level at this point is, frankly, off the scale. No disrespect to the teacher at all, who is a lovely man and a highly experienced yogi, but, even if you are the only teacher in Mysore still upholding the tradition of blowing a conch shell at the start of the class, should this tradition really be practised at that hour?!
Honestly, it’s a ridiculous sound – it trumpets and echoes around the whole compound. It’s the kind of resonant sound that I imagine a messenger would have made from the top of a hill with a bugle or similar, to get the attention of a township in ye generic olden days. It makes me jump every day without fail, even though I’m bracing myself for it.
Anyway, by this point, I have to decide whether to laugh or cry, and, regardless of my choice, I admit defeat and get up. The new day has been indisputably heralded in and it is time to launch myself into the sound-scape. I have to say, though – on most days I choose incredulous laughter. There is something helplessly endearing by the overt noisiness of this country – it encapsulates its joi de vivre and crazy, lovable madness.
So, although tomorrow will be different, I am sure it will be no less noisy, and I will post back news of northern India when I get the chance. In the meantime, enjoy your blissfully mollusc-free sleep tonight… 😉