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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

New Year Modulations

The familiar morning street sounds of Brodipet (our neighborhood in Guntur) are changing with the times.  While I am still reminded of that sweet street reprise "Who will buy this beautiful morning?" from the movie "Oliver," there are fewer itinerant sellers in the morning, and their cries seem farther away from our fourth floor apartment.

After electrified water pumps grind out each dwelling's daily store of city water between the hours of three and four or five (a wake up call for early risers), there is a bustle of activity as early hour workers set out for their jobs or school children for their tutors, people or their cooks hurry to shops or the vegetable bazaar for the day's provisions, and bicycles, scooters, motorcycles and cars, each with their individualistic bells, buzzers, and back-up-signal tunes knit their ways through the relatively silent steps of walkers.

The former salt vender's strangled cry of "Oopoooo! Oopoooo! is missing this year. But there's the seasonal fruit seller's cry "Aww-ren-ges! Aww-ren-ges,  naa-rin-ji, kamalaa-looooo..." And another cry is made new: instead of calling live from his hand cart, an independent recycler broadcasts his  recorded cry. with a list appended, through a loudspeaker mounted on his mini-truck: "Everybody come, bring your old stuff, useless pots and pans, old papers and books, notebooks and prayer books, lamps, broken furniture, everything you don't need, bring me your old stuff."

The call to prayer is still there at its appointed intervals, but this year there seem to be more of them than before.  I can hear at least four calls, starting in overlapping turns as night turns into day.  During the Christmas holidays, the call seemed different than usual, or perhaps it was from another source But I listened carefully: the tune was so sweet (and why wouldn't it be, considering the text of  "Sweet Hour of Prayer."), I wanted to memorize it:  mi so - fa - mi- re - do - , repeated, followed by a sort of 'arabesque' winding around those notes. After awhile it began to sound like a very calm version of one of the tunes for "The King of Love My Shepherd Is."  Indeed.  A call to prayer.  It's a beautiful new morning, the world is alive, toss out what is worn and weary, pause for prayer.  And be thankful.

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