I have lived most of my life surrounded by the cacophony of urban life. The suburb I lived in was one of the many crowded parts of Mumbai, the most populous city in India. My apartment lied on the 2nd floor of a building at the junction of two busy roads. The only times I could hear my breathing would be after midnight, and that too after switching off the fan. During the day, I could hear the crackling sound of a rickshaw’s engine, the calls of hawkers, wives discussing lively about their homes, street dogs barking at passing cars and kids playing cricket. But, after midnight, I would bask in the silence.
I don’t think it is ever completely silent. At night, I could hear my breathing, my heartbeat, the refrigerator’s hum, a song on the TV being played by someone a few blocks away, the frogs creaking, the mosquito’s buzzing, and the occasional passing of a car returning home after a late night’s work. The music on my earphones sounded rich and smooth in the silence of the night, but shallow and course in the noise of the day. The quiet made me thoughtful and introspective. But, would I appreciate silence without the loudness during the day?
This was written for a class: Dialogue of the Senses, offered at the University of Michigan