Smells, sounds and sights of India that a heart abroad misses… – #1

 I have been in US for about 10years now but I am still a Chennai vasi(Chennaiite) by heart and mind. For some reason, I have never really absorbed the American accent, so I can easily pass for a true Chennaiite who has never left India :D. On a side note, I have always wondered how some of us get a hold of the American accent so fast within a year or two. Not that I’m complaining, just wondering…that’s all…. Anyways, I am not here to write about that. Most of us living in US (or anywhere away from India for that matter), tend to compare life in US to life in India and reminiscence for hours together about how awesome life was there. We end up feeling depressed thinking about what we are missing. Later the topic would wander off to things that are different in US (in a good way) and we console ourselves that way. Soooo…since I have a blog now (yayy for that!), I thought why not pen a series of posts bringing out what India offers which may seem ordinary or run-of-the-mill stuff to those who live there, but is a blissful dream for those living away from India. I wanted to follow up with a series a posts bringing out how US is different in few other things and how great it would be if the same existed in India. 

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Ding Dong. Almost all of the Chennaiites wake up to the sound of doorbell in the morning. A typical day begins with the sound of doorbell and then piles on more sounds as it progresses. Just think, even before we leave our house, there would be sounds of the maids cleaning dishes and clanking them, followed by moms asking them to do it slowly. Then comes the sound of brooms and mops cleaning up our tiles..followed by the sound of fans running at high speed to make sure the floor dries super fast….And let’s not forget the rustling of daily newspaper as we sip our morning tea, ah heaven on earth! 🙂 

All this before we leave the house!! And after waving a quick bye, we run off to our bike/car to start our day. But hold on, the sounds don’t stop here. Those in bikes, ride in heavy traffic in the midst of traffic noise…vehicles vrooming and vrmmming. Even those in cars are not immune to the horn sounds at every traffic stop and every turn – “honk, honk!” If no one budges, “honk,honk!” again..lol. The sounds follows us until we reach our workplace or college. And then of course the building serves as a barrier between us and the outside world and its all quiet (er..comparitively quiet) until we leave for home.

And then again, right after we exit the office/college building, we are greeted with sound of horns and vehicles rushing to some place at the peak hour. Somehow Chennaiites manage to drown out the noise and hold long conversations in the midst of traffic on a bike(yeah we are made like that ;))! We buzz through traffic honking wherever necessary, paying a little more attention to autos…ah autos…..the sound of autos..how can one forget that! The sounds travel with us until we reach home/apartment, where the sounds of neighbours’ chitter chatter would take over…just until we reach our door, where we have no choice but to keep the door closed in the evening (thanks to mosquitoes who are visitors to all homes).But then after a few hours the sounds of Vijay TV or Sun TV would take over –“Neengal paarthu kondirupathu Sun TVin Tamizh Malai” or “Welcome to Super Singer!”. And then after 10pm, the sounds would all slowly fade away, and finally die at 12am, except for the occasional lorry and car horn sounds.

Hmmm..how I wish to hear these sounds now..These are few of the many many sounds from India that all US hearts miss….starting from the doorbell to the lorry horn sounds in the night. Its considered offensive to honk the horns in US, so no one does it unless you wish to convey something to the vehicle in front of you. A little trivia – did you know that very few apartments have doorbells installed in US? Some have knockers and for others, the visitors will just have to knock on the doors (just like the rhyme “3,4 knock on the door!”). Crazy right!! But the strange thing is we will hear the knocking sound however soft it is, because it is EERILY QUIET. It’s like US runs on India time 10pm all through the day! You can actually hear a pin drop here, provided your homes have tiles instead of carpets..ah,well.

How I wish we could bring all the sounds from Chennai to US! Wish we could just put them all in a sack and release it here for all to hear and enjoy! The sounds of auto..chitter chatter of neighbours..vroomming sound of vehicles right outside outside our door, the horn sounds, the sound of rustling of papers.. How I wish to hear these everyday…sigh. My town, Chennai is a rockstar for so many reasons, these lovely sounds being one one of the many! Chennaiites hope you guys treasure these sounds…there are many hearts that yearn for those! 🙂

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Jibber jabber:

padhs2k Written by:

Another dream-chaser.

14 Comments

  1. Very true! For me, morning means pressure cooker, pooja bell sounds, cool breeze(ofcourse chennai has cool breeze in the mornings :-D) and the smell of sambar, incense stick all mixed up together 😉 and of course mom with towel draped around her hair vs the dirty me 🙂
    Don’t get me started, marriage changes EVERYTHING for women :-/

    • padhs2k
      August 5
      Reply

      Haha..smell of sambar, incense stick mixed together – so very true :)..its difficult to stay true to the person you are..but gotta keep trying!

  2. August 5
    Reply

    Good one Paddy!Although i’m not a Chennaiite,I think these sounds are common for all Indian cities.One more thing i would like to add is the sound of crows and sparrows,and Roosters too if u live in a small town like mine 🙂 Keep writing.

    • padhs2k
      August 5
      Reply

      Hi Dina! You are right, these sounds are common to all Indian cities but I guess I was in Chennai gal mode while writing 🙂 And wow, you mentioned the roosters…it must have been awesome waking up to that (though I wonder whether we cribbed about it then :D). Crows,sparrows and kuyils..all a dream now! And thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Anonymous
    August 5
    Reply

    Remember santhanam honking from the street corner.. for the school van pick up ..
    Good one Padhs 🙂

    • Anonymous
      August 5
      Reply

      Oops, that was me, subs ..

    • padhs2k
      August 5
      Reply

      Hey Subs! Welcome to my blog 🙂 Santhanam!! God you took me back soooooo long now..wow..I don’t remember when I even thought about this last..thanks for refreshing my memory on this!! Now I remember his face too vividly and you in the van, he would wait for us for some time honking his van horn twice or thrice and take off fast! Lol..really, thanks for the memory subs!

  4. Ramya
    August 5
    Reply

    Nice One Paddy….but somehow my heart is always Indian and very Chennai…im sure urs is too..though u call it US heart…i guess u meant “Indian heart away from Home”…And abt the sounds..in the evenings i would step out into the terrace and im sure u agree too that there were a zillion diff sounds to take in then…:-)

    • padhs2k
      August 5
      Reply

      Haha..yep always a true Indian heart Rams 🙂 When I said its from a US heart, I meant, it comes from all hearts “staying in US”. Truth is I don’t know whether other countries have the eerie silence that USA has, probably they do, I guess I will have to travel to find out..hmmm, some day.. And terrace sounds, very true, a lot of distinct sounds there..I especially love the crickets sound, lonely into the night..

      • padhs2k
        August 6
        Reply

        You know Rams..when I kept re-reading the title, “US heart”, though meant in a different sense, does convey an impression that is totally incorrect. I thought changing it to a heart abroad would be more apt. Glad you pointed it out!

  5. Thenmozhi satyamurthy(chitthi)
    August 6
    Reply

    Great Paddu,Sound
    makes us cheerful&lively but silence makes us sad,agree?

    • padhs2k
      August 6
      Reply

      Haha..wish I could agree whole heartedly, but I think emotions depends on the person itself. There are people who can be cheerful in all circumstances and there are people who can never feel happy though they have everything :D. I think it depends on how we turn the negative to positive and carry on. But the India-sounds mentioned in my post will always be missed by everyone living abroad whether they are happy or sad.. 🙂

  6. Anonymous
    August 6
    Reply

    “screech” of a sudden entry of monkey/s and crying for servantmaid help with broomstick you will never get in the US.In velachery in a posh appartment in the little left open ground with voluntary grown thick mini forest with familys of monkeys,a monkey with baby entered in one appartment and info given to evryone thro inercom be aware of monkey entry.for how many different acts we have to be beware.
    During your next visit if the open ground owner allowed the sall forest to remain you will get back your school days chatterr of monkey but the SRM Devayanai is not here in velaichery since we moved from T Nagar but you can have Puspa to drive away.

  7. Anonymous
    August 6
    Reply

    excellent you have become another Kankai amaran/Ilayaraja-entha ooru analum nam ooru polagumma.car sattham illai,kili sattahm illai………

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