Vaccum cleaning that starts at 7 AM in the morning. Drilling work at the house being constructed across the street. Wailing toddlers making a last attempt at looking miserable so the parents would say it’s okay, school is off. Barking dogs enthusiastic about their morning walk.
Who says the mornings here are quiet?
My little residential area here in Vienna is full of odd noises throughout the day. Things slow down in the afternoons, when the leaves sway in the wind and the rainclouds pour. But there is still the sudden shout from the kids going back home from school, a distant volley of giggles from a group of college students. And sometimes, people calling out to each other in a mix of sounds that could even be Hindi. And yet, I hear a lot of, “Isn’t it absolutely quiet there? Don’t you get bored?”
The honest answer is no – to both questions. I remember our apartment back in Pune, the balcony overlooking the society’s playground where the kids seemed to start playing volleyball the moment they returned from school. The doodhwala who would ring every bell in the wee hours of the morning. The housewives who would noisily emerge for their evening walk, before they started preparations for dinner. While all these were friendly, happy sounds, I was never in the centre of them. R would have a hard time getting me to visit his colleagues and their families,when we got called for lunches. I hesitated interviewing the maids, leaving the task to R and his competent questions such as – “Do you add salt to the rotis?” I tried and remained in my room or the kitchen as long as I could when people came over.
I get those looks from R, occasionally. Looks that ask me why I am such an introvert and whether I have a mortal fear of human conversation or people in general. Answering to him is fairly simple; I put out my tongue and make faces or threaten there will be pasta and soup for dinner (he never has developed much love for Italian food, all these years with me notwithstanding). But answering to myself requires more serious thinking – something I am putting off now in favour of settling down with my new book. It’s about a cute cat in the life of a Japanese couple and boy, am I excited to meet him!
But one thing I know for sure. I love the quiet. I love the rustling of the leaves, the clouds that are clearly visible, soft and fluffy, without the grime of pollution. My seat by the window from where I can see what’s happening in the street downstairs. It is the sound of solitude and is very sweet.