Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Surround(ing) Sounds

Our family is family that loves small towns and the wilderness. Coming to a big foreign city is very far outside our preferred living situation. If we could live anywhere in the world, I think it would be the wilderness of Montana. But, here we are in a very full and noisy foreign city. Every city has a cacophony of noise that is part of its daily life.

In our building with 8 homes we share a stairwell. Since everything is made of tile and cement everyone in the building knows when and who is going up or down the shared staircase. Also, due to the tile and cement scenario AND the old windows that don't block out sound well, we hear many of the street noises echoing through our house.

We share our garden wall with a furniture repair shop. Many people here have to work very long hours daily to try and make a living and the furniture man is no different. The owner seems to be there from the time we leave for school to 11 at night. There are a couple of young men who help him, so we hear them reupholstering and chatting daily. Many of the stores here have a garage door that protects the store front overnight, so the sound of people closing their garage doors is a common sound in the evening.

Our intersection also has a mechanic's shop where the shabaab (young men) like to hang out during the day. At night, especially on the weekend, they will rev their engines and show off their car maschismo.
The streets in the city are alive nearly all the time, so the sounds of neighbors greeting each other, kids playing soccer in the street or a group of school girls laughing as they walk home is an integral part of the daily soundtrack.
Being at an intersection also means that every time a car passes there is a quick honk of the horn. Car horns are used here all the time as an important part of driving.
You honk if:
-you drive through an intersection
-you see a person who looks like they're thinking about crossing the street
-you see a friend, neighbor, relative
-you see a pretty lady
-you need to ask a fellow driver a question while waiting at a light
-you need to ask a pedestrian a question
-you're celebrating a wedding, graduation, holiday...
-you're at a light too long
-you think another driver is an idiot
This is just a beginner's list of the all the appropriate ways and reasons for using your car horn here. Needless to say, it's a sound we're very used to.

Both the farm trucks and the 2nd hand/scrap metal/recyleable trucks have bull horns mounted on them that you can hear within a 2 block radius. At least 2 of these trucks pass our street on a daily basis.

The call to prayer is a melodic sound heard at least 5 times a day, but they also have a call to the call to prayer sometimes. Also, around noon on Fridays is the sermon. All these are heard from the various mosques that dot the city. When we first arrived, the early morning call would wake us up. But we've acclimated to the point that it no longer wakes us.

Then there's my favorite sound, the sound of the weekend or holiday mornings. Everyone here still observes an actual day of rest on these occasions. The streets are empty, the stores all closed until usually around noon or a little later. I've never lived in a place where everyone fully appreciates and takes the time to rest and be quiet. Maybe this is more valued here because of the general chaos of the day.

Welcome to another noisy day in the city. Nashkurallah!

No comments: