The Loud Family

9:44 am, Sunday, September 29

      The muffled squawk of an announcer's voice floats along intermittent bursts of cheering from down the road. I imagine it's coming from the Hockey Stadium, which I've seen marked out on Google maps, and which I've walked past on the way to Food World but which I haven't really been able to see. It can be difficult to look at things here. Bangalore has a greater population that New York City with less than half the area; it can be hard to stand back far enough to see things. I can't imagine what kind of sporting event might be going on there. I'm pretty sure it's not ice hockey. Susurrating above the sounds of the crowds is the rustling of the trees. Densely packed they surround my fourth-floor balcony: palms and a massive tree with trowel-like leaves, and a stand of bamboo which comes all the way to my window and bangs against the overhang like a clumsy intruder when shoved by the wind. Closest of all are the birds. My balustrade is a favorite perch for the pigeons (exactly like those in New York City, and, probably, Mars) as well as for a variety of very large crows with rings of green- and broze-glossed black feathers about their necks. There is a monstrous brown hawk, Nestor, who visits the trowels-leaves-tree early every morning and who silences the hundreds of other, smaller, birds who comprise a madrigal chorus for Webern or Messiaen whenever he's around. The overwhelming sound here, though, is of traffic. Even up here, a good half block from the main road, the traffic noises throb away. Indian drivers honk constantly. Partly because there are no lanes. And when there are lanes everyone, everyone, ignores them. Ranging from Hello-Kitty-hallooing-through-a-trumpet-mute-cute moped buzzers to augmented truck horns set to 'Deafen', the auto calls match the birds in range and vigor. 

     In between the main road and the Hockey Stadium is a temple, though that, too, I haven't really yet been able to look at directly. I can only just peek glimpses of it in between the dense foliage of the trees behind our building. And when clambering along the street one's eyes are on the path directly ahead, and the air--pregnant with potential mopeds, three-wheeled auto-rickshaws, trucks, cars and bicycles--immediately to one's right and left shoulders. The temple is more of an open storefront than a space with any depth. It's split into a large central alcove flanked by two smaller ones on either side which each have a small, rectangular plinth in front topped by an animal--one a frog and the other a rabbit. There are statues of gods hulking in the murky dark of the niches. At night everything is illuminated by spots and strings of "Christmas" lights, and people hang out, shout, pray and ring a giant bell which clangors bouncily all over the neighborhood, day and night. Last night the music from a dance party took over from the pounding sound of construction that was happening somewhere in our building. I left the apartment and wandered the streets for a while trying to figure out where it was coming from, without any success. I was able to make out the source of the merry chittering above my head, though: jumbo tropical bats gamboling across the sky.