This morning I woke to the sound of a man violently hacking up flem in the alley next to our flat. My windows face all four cardinal directions and although I’m on the third floor, even soft sounds will reach my room. It would be uncomfortably hot to shut the windows, so I have become attuned, almost familiar with the daily sounds of the neighborhood.
At 5:15am, a farmer will steer his bicycle loaded with canvas sacks full of potatoes through our alley shouting, ‘AHHHHLU’. The first few mornings I woke here, I thought he was drunk and singing. But very few drunks could maintain his regularity. While I do not considered potatoes at such an early hour, my neighbors do. I can hear them inquiring from their windows about the freshness of his batch.
Inside my mosquito net, I consider all the sounds around me. At this hour, the dogs are quiet, tired from their nightly call and answer. Sometimes the barking rolls through the city like thunder, growing in strength until every dog on the block has joined the conversation. Then, just as suddenly, the noise subsides until one or two dogs still have the energy to persist. The ledges outside my windows serve as a convenient podium for pigeons, crows, and swallows. I’ve heard a faint call of a rooster before. Although the guesthouse sits far from major roads, I still hear motorcycles. Even so, it is impossible to elude the sound of horns; every vehicle has one, and every driver uses it constantly.
Around seven, I will begin to hear the continuous bubbling of children playing. There are no less that five schools within shouting distance and often I hear the squeals of laughter well past sunset. The Rosebud School, with its professionally painted signboard and tidy uniforms is well-known in Kathmandu. At 7:30am, the students will gather for prayer followed by calisthenics. A man on a microphone will lead the ceremony in English, his amplified voice bouncing off the concrete buildings around him. He will need to count to ten to warn the students that silence is necessary and his patience has an end. The students will not heed his warnings and the performance will take almost an hour to complete.
Sometimes I wake to hear the patter of rain, but not today. Generally the storms come at night and are over by morning. Without gutters, the roofs can drip for hours after the rainfall. Huge puddles form out on the streets. Today, a steady wind rustles the leaves of the lemon tree in the courtyard. I would like to sleep in, but I know I am already awake.
I sit up in bed and hear the heavy squeak of the well in our alley. A woman collects her morning’s worth of water, probably enough for her morning chores. She’ll probably have to go back to the well in the afternoon and maybe once more at night. As I shuffle into my slippers, I think how lucky I am that water waits for me when I rise.
Posted By Therkelsen
Posted Jun 29th, 2008