On any given night, I fall asleep to the gangs of local street dogs barking out their territory claims. Occasionally a fight will ensue, with sharp yelps and growls echoing off the concrete walls of our apartment building, leaking through the windows and into the dark space of my bedroom. At night, Bangalore belongs to the dogs. In the beginning of my time here, the sounds of the random fights of angered canines vying for space I could not see perturbed me. It served as a reminder of the cruelty of life here – the absence of love, food, and shelter for hundreds of thousands of dogs in this city. In my sleep, their animal cries would seep into my dreams, drawing up images of feral street mongrels directing their grievances of injustice at me. On the nights when their repetitive yelps refused to give way to the otherwise peaceful night, I wondered how I would ever fall asleep. Over time though, their canine theatrics became just another set of noises I subconsciously learned to block out.
Around four a.m., human life in Bangalore begins to stir. The first to come is the sound of increasing traffic, drawn long out over the stretch of Hosur road, only marginally populated in the early morning hours, and duly taken advantage of. The drone of tires on pavement is accompanied by the sounds of short bursts of shrill car horns, and the obnoxiously elaborate songs of bus horns piloted by impatient and jaded drivers. The gaps of silence are filled with the whirring sounds of heavy transport trucks driven too fast through the streets by cross country drivers wired and determined to escape the city before the morning rush hits. Early morning risers, exposed to the cool and less polluted air contribute the nagging whines of mopeds and the putt… putt… pop sounds exuded from the tiny tailpipes of auto rickshaws. Like the echoes of the dog brawls, the mechanical sounds of traffic blur away into nothingness as I sleep.
A couple hours later, after the sun has risen, the locals outside of our towering apartment complex have begun their day. The steady thump…. thump… thump sounds of women beating wet soapy clothes against worn stone plates reverberate through the walls. The courtyard children commence their day of play with excited high-pitched voices, calling out to one another, laughing, screaming. On the dirt road parallel to my bedroom windows, the heavy breathing sound of a tractor carrying its load over uneven terrain fills the air. Metal shop workers begin shaping their work, the screech of saws and the clang of metal on metal sharp and intense. Plots over, the gypsies work on the construction of several new apartment buildings. The sounds of scraping metal on wet concrete join together with the pounding of carved wood supports into place, blending and carried on the wind over the distance to my windows.
As the mid morning hours come around, residents of my apartment head off to school and work, car alarms go off accidentally, and random arcade like tunes play as indicators to cars backing out of their parking spaces. The first water tanker arrives for the day, diesel engine revving as the lone driver skillfully backs the clumsy truck up to the water well ten stories below my bedroom window.
Pigeons land on the air conditioner outside my unused window, concealed behind the thick yellowish curtains permanently closed. They coo to one another, feathers swishing against metal and glass as they perch. Their strange and soft murmuring sounds lost to my world of dreams.
As I slowly stir and become aware of my surroundings, I usually see Little Pup watching me from his bed, patiently waiting for the first signs of life from me. I close my eyes again and wait for a few moments, absorbing the soft comfort of my camel printed Rajasthani blanket before I rise for the day. Doggie breakfasts served, I pull back the curtains of the living room patio doors, and open the smudged glass wide to the sudden rush of life in full swing. I sit down on my cotton sheet covered couch and drink my morning tea, the beats of the city, and the cool breeze inescapable but welcomed guests in my home.