Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Sleepless in Kovalam

Sorry for my delay in blogging. Be assured I'm still alive and well! However I am rather knackered from lack of sleep recently which has taken a lot out of me. It started last week with some fitful nights. The power has been going on and off a lot at night time and, when it does, the ceiling fan clanks as it slows down or speeds up. I can only think that they're doing maintenance on the power lines. It's disturbed me sufficiently to make me look haggard and old, which my colleagues at SISP have enjoyed speculating the cause of!

But then things got worse... much worse. It was India's Independence Day last Saturday (15th) and the start of Malayalam New Year (Chingam) on Monday (17th). The local temple decided it had to be celebrated with full volume noise on Saturday but at least it stopped by 22:30. But it started again on Sunday at 05:30 and only ended at around 22:00 on Monday. That's right - all through the bloody night. OK, they did turn the volume down a fraction at midnight on Sunday, but only a fraction, and then they ramped it back up again at 04:30 on Monday. I know, because I was awake to hear it. I got 1 hour's sleep that night and I'm still trying to recover.

I call it Temple Noise because that's what it is. I did try to record it but the microphone in my headset wasn't good enough. I should have thought to try the microphone on my camera - next time, if there is a next time.

For me, this is the worst thing about India by far: the hideous, piercing racket. As happened previously, there were two horn speakers 10 metres from my windows (and vents), on the other side of the road, fixed near the top of a tall palm tree and beamed at high distortion levels directly at my bedroom. Not to put too fine a point on it I'd have liked to rip them off and ram them up their effing backsides. So inconsiderate! The noise varied from some croaky-voiced old hag coughing and cackling her way through garbage shouted into the microphone, to tuneless, rhythmless banging of coal scuttles, droning and squawking of valveless trumpets, and accompanying wailing and caterwauling.

As I said, I got one hour of sleep Sunday night, only managing that with pillows pulled over my ears. The neighbours just laugh, oh it's part of India, it's our culture %@£*^%$. When really pushed they'll grudgingly admit that the noise is bad but then they go and worship at that temple, go to the celebrations there, don't rock the boat for fear of spiritual retribution (presumably) and so effectively condone it. Well, the neighbours are who I pay my rent to - but not for much longer I hope.

I don't know how I can find somewhere where I'm guaranteed not to suffer this dreadful mental torture but I'm going to try else I'll go mad. Completely and utterly barking mad!

Meanwhile, the power is still going on and off at night time and the fan is still clanking...

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