Tuesday, November 10, 2009

streetscape soundscape

The Khoj residency apartment is on a small lane that gets some vehicle traffic but its mostly a pedestrian thoroughfare linking Purna Das Road with Lake Terrace. The windows are always open and the sounds of the street flow in and out. I've grown to like it very much when I'm working. I don't have any music or tv here so during the day when I'm in the studio, the street is my connection to the world and what is happening outside.

Sweeping in the morning, the sounds (and smells) of food cooking in neighbouring apartments, conversations between mothers and children on their way to school, the guys downstairs loading the bottled-water truck, car horns from the street.

What I love though are the chants and calls of the different wallahs who take their wares and services around the streets. I think I've even started to recognise some. There are the broom and duster sellers, key cutters clanking their chains of keys, a man who sells coconuts, another with bananas and guavas. They come into range once they get into the lane and their songs gets louder. I stop working and look out to see who is going past and what they carry. If they stick close to the building, I can't see them at all. I can only hear their chants.

My favourite is the gadda-wallah, the mattress man, who carries a long stick with a wire attached. He plucks at the wire to accompany his song. It's quite loud and a bit twangy, like a loose guitar string. This instrument is also used to flick on to a mattress, which fluffs up the cotton inside.

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