Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Sounds of Another Fine Morning in Nepal

If I were the sort of glibly technical person who keeps digital recorders about the place because they might come in handy, I would have attached an audio file to this blog. In it you would hear the sounds I hear every morning waking up in Nepal.

No, that sound would not be a rooster crowing. Or rather it would be, but that would be unremarkable because in Nepal roosters do not crow for the dawn specifically. They crow for the midnight hour, the 1am, the 2am, the 3am etc. After a while you pay no more attention.

The sound instead would be a cross between a young lamb's bleat and the shrill cry of a hungry goat. Yet, it issues from a human. He is one of the many door-to-door vendors who come into Lakeside Pokhara each day to ply their wares. First around 6:30am come the covered-tray women, who will lift the cover whenever they pass a Western tourist on the sidewalk to reveal German-style baked breakfast buns.

Around 9am, the fruit and veg cart sellers who cater to local housewives appear, some with carts on big wooden wheels, others with oversized baskets balanced on bycicles. Then around noon you start to see the lunch food guys, usually with a glass-sided cooking box/display case with dahl, pokoras, and fried potato-filled dumplings. When it starts getting dark at 5:30pm, the corn-on-the-cob guys come out, each with a little smoky fire balanced on a platform they too wheel through town. The smoke does the selling so these are the quietest vendors. The cotton candy man follows hot on their heels. He can save his voice too because he ties a row of tiny metal bells to the strings from which the cotton candy dangles. As he walks along, the bells announce him.

I have not figured out what the Lamb-Goat-Call man at dawn is actually selling though. I've never been able to catch a glimpse of him. I hear his calls at 7:15 every morning, run to the window to see if I can catch him going by... but no good. He always sounds as though he's right next to the building, but is quite invisible.

My husband says he reminds him of the gypsies who used to roam the streets of Zadar Croatia where he was a child in the 1960s. They would stroll through town calling, "I fix umbrellas and sharpen knives!" over and over again. I find this recollection slightly improbable because Zadar has something like 300 sunny days a year with little call for umbrellas. But my husband swears by it.

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