There are some sounds that you never forget. They are so much a part of your memory that you just need to recollect one and the others simply follow, one by one. Most often, they cause me to break out into a smile… It’s not about living in nostalgia, but treasuring the small precious moments of the past… and be thankful for what was… and hope that the present will bring about some more wonderful moments to unlock in the future…

Right from the time I got up to when I called it a day, there were many sounds that filled my life… each one bringing with it an incident, an amusing anecdote and sometimes leading into a celebration of the other senses as well… for what we hear could also make an impact on what we see, taste, feel or experience. These are some of the sounds I still hold dear in my heart.

# The opening strains of Vande Mataram and suprabhatam on All India Radio… followed by the news.

# The tinkling bell of the milkman’s bicycle and the thud of the newspaper that hit the grill door and then fell on the steps.

# The whistle of the milk cooker at my neighbor Saraswathi mami’s house.

# Cooker whistles all around… the women (or sometimes men) of the house preparing for a busy day. For us, it was always rice and dal… but in the Gujju neighbor’s house, it was rice, dal and the must-have potatoes, day after day.

# The whirring sound of the motor as it pumped water into the tank on the terrace.

# The large footsteps of the maama who came to pluck flowers for the his morning puja.

# The constant inane chatter of Prabhakaran (the odd jobs man) who came to de-husk the coconuts and remove the weeds that grew behind our home.

# The siren at 8am (I still don’t know why it rang shrill at that particular hour!)

# During the rainy season, the sound of heavy rain falling on the rooftops and window panes. Exotic birds and exotic sounds at the nearby banyan tree. Frogs croaking in the evenings. The howl of the wind… Thunder and lightning during thulavarsham. (the retreating monsoon in October-November).

# Fire-crackers that lit up the skies for days together during Diwali.

#The screams of boys/men playing cricket at the nearby temple ground.

# The sound of a firecracker at the end of every pandhi (meal serving) during sasthapreethi. The bhajan group accompanying the Lord to every home during Ram Navami… the sounds of panchavadyam during Thalapoli…

# Pushpa (our house help) chattering away with her constant ‘maami, maami’. Her tales about her family as she washed clothes on the huge stone slab. When there was no water, she worked on the hand pump that made its own special ‘screeching’ sounds.

# The pip-pip-pip sounds that preceded the 9pm English news. The unforgettable voice of Ameen Sayani as he announced the ‘Song of the week’ on Binaca Geetmala.

# Listening to my Gujarati neighbours speaking pidgin Malayalam. And then to their consternation, me trying to correct them.

# The sound of the lathi that the night watchman of the road hit on every gate to signify that he was present…

So, what are your favourite sounds?


11 thoughts on “Some unforgettable sounds from my childhood…

  1. Interesting post. The siren you heard probably came from the shipyard indicating the end/beginning of a shift. My fav sound was the post-man’s cycle bell. I used to have lots of pen-friends during school days and this guy used to ring it in a peculiar tune if he carried any letters for me!

      1. Believe the siren would have been the shift change at the Cochin Port :-). shipyard was too far from Mattancherry to hear the siren.

  2. WOW!!! Such beautiful writing!! This post of yours has such magical quality to it … was as if I’d looked into the pensieve and it transported me to your world, where some of your childhood sounds were identical to mine and some completely new yet familiar.One of my favorite sounds from my childhood and even now is the sound of ‘dhol’ during the navratri festival….I’d wait all day, finish my homework on time so that as soon as ‘dandiya’ started, I’d be allowed to go and dance.

  3. The siren at 8.00 am is from the Corporation Office. What about the honking of ships on the 31st Dec midnight. And the temple (TD temple) bell during 8.00 pm arathi….. Good to have a blog, exclusively for the Sounds.. Did you miss the opening of AIR….. …

  4. Reading your post I was trying to recollect sounds from my own childhood. You have done a good job raking through your ‘sound tracks’. Interesting!

  5. The postman on his bicycle calling out ‘posssttt’! seriously, those were times.. could relate to every one of them.. no gujju neighbours though:) the sound made by the ‘raatnam’ in the well when drawing water and the thud of bucket into the well!

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