No ‘Silent Nights’ in India

A friend once told me, “India is so loud, it tires you out.”

Having no hearing, I had never experienced the “deafening sounds” to which she referred. What factors into a voice or sound registering as “loud?”

I had made my way from the Delhi Airport to New Delhi Station just before dawn. Minivans and bike taxis were everywhere. People slept on the roadsides, while others tended to small campfires. The white eyes of the men seemed to float in the darkness. The scene was somewhat shocking.

I was all set to purchase a train ticket to visit the Taj Mahal, the famous World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, my inability to read Hindu left me wondering which line to get into. A kind local then offered to take me to a place where tickets were sold but, upon arriving, I noticed this “tour office” seemed a little shady and, by time I found a proper ticket window and boarded the train, I was worn out.

For my next side-trip I opted to take the bus to Darussalam. The public bus had no heater and traveled at night, frequently picking up and dropping off passengers. I wrapped myself in my sleeping bag and shivered off the cold as the bus climbed and gained altitude toward our destination. The Himalayas loomed in the distant sky.

The moon here illuminated the evening landscape, and stars seemed to move every so slightly across the dark canvas, so you could actually feel the earth moving beneath you. It was truly silent even for those who could hear. There was a serenity from “listening” intently to the pulse of the earth.

Two weeks went by in a flash, and the time to return to Japan had come. Back in bustling to Delhi I understood my friend’s use of the word “loud.” Even my eyes were unable to handle the blare of activity. The rickshaw drivers flocked around as I negotiated my way onto one, followed by the required arguing before taking me to my destination. The last bike taxi was equipped with a meter, so I thought I was in the clear.

Sadly, right when I was ready to relax, I noticed him making multiple lefts and running up the meter. What the?! I got angry, but instead of screaming, I simply made the Japanese gesture for “rip-off.” Of course, he didn’t understand, but for some reason he then took me straight to where I wanted to go.

“You can do anything you put your mind to,” I thought as I put those “silent nights” of India behind me.