Tag Archives: sounds

Relaxing peals and dances.

7:00 in the evening, I hear the church bells playing in the neighborhood, as they do a few times a day, on a schedule that is ever the same but at intervals that make us think, “Why now?” It’s always the same few measures of a tune that seems to me very like a setting I know to “The Lord is My Shepherd, I’ll Walk With Him Always.” It is a recorded pealing, but effective at reminding me of the presence of joy.

Today especially I’ve been noticing all the many sounds that waft up to the eighth floor where Kate and Tom live, and where I am staying long enough that it feels natural so say, “…where we live.” Crows and hawks and other birds swoop back and forth all day in the large open area viewed from the dining room, and their voices come in to our space, too, as do those of children in the play yard of the pink convent school you can see in the middle of this photo I took. Those same birds are blocked from nesting on the balcony by that netting you see.

I took the picture when Kareena was washing the only balcony that one can’t access any other way than by climbing through a picture window, so while it was open I grabbed the opportunity.

On the street below, traffic hums and roars and honks constantly. From the balcony off my room I love to watch an intersection where all manner of pedestrians and vehicles are in a continual dance, the players fewer or more as they ceaselessly enter and exit the “stage” in a serene choreography. In India the honking is not angry or agitated, but might be translated, “Let’s all be careful and notice each other! You, lady, walking in front of me, please be aware that I am driving your way; if you keep your speed constant, I promise to clear your tender flesh by at least six inches.”

The pace of life in a household where a three-week-old baby lives should be restful, and ours is wonderfully so. The outdoor sounds are somewhat muted, and plenty of white noise emanates from the various household machines that clean and condition the air and help to keep home as a refuge from the buzzing streets and polluted atmosphere. The tiny boy’s burps and squeaks are my favorite sounds around.

Our outings since the baby arrived have been brief, and not every day. The people who don’t get the sleep they need at night are often able to take naps. Kareena has begun to offer us a cup of masala chai in the late afternoon, and I just might end up making that a habit.

Yesterday afternoon Kate and I sat on the couch for a long time with little Raj, wondering at his constant funny expressions and erratic arm motions, as he lay on her lap looking up into That Face that will soon become most beloved. Kate put on some Bollywood music and the two of them arm-danced for a long time to the lively and happy music.

Some days, this is a good time for Raj to have his bath in the kitchen sink, the one sink in the apartment large enough to easily accommodate his flexible bath cushion while he lounges with an attitude befitting royalty relaxing in a deck chair.

What a life!

A Lullaby Sound

My definition of lullaby presupposes a woman’s voice, though I will allow for poetic license in lines such as “The rain made a lullaby sound on the roof,” which phrase I’m pretty sure stuck in my mind from reading The Maggie B. a hundred times. But some people must think a lullaby is anything boring enough to make a child flee in desperation to the Land of Nod. That is my conclusion after listening to a recording titled “Lullabies” in the car today.

Before I set off this morning for a long drive, I rummaged through the box of CD’s temporarily in storage during the remodel, and spied two collections of such songs, which made me think, “Why not brush up on your lullaby repertoire?” So I brought them along, and as I was listening to the Lifescapes CD I realized that it was for the first time.

When I had babies in the house, I never thought of playing a recording for them at bedtime. When I borrowed LP’s from the library or bought lullaby songbooks it was so that I might discover a new soothing melody to croon myself. For years Mr. Glad and I would sit on the children’s beds or on the floor at night and sing to them for a long time as they drifted off.

I did know a grandma, long before I was a grandma myself, who played recorded music for her grandchildren in their beds when they came to visit, but at least it was of a woman singing sweetly — thought it was admittedly too sweet for my taste. One young mother filled me with dismay, and pity for her children’s impressionable souls, when she complained that she couldn’t get her kids to settle down unless she played the “Christian rock” radio station at nap time.

My own children had their father and me to sing to them, or they had silence, or in the case of one baby, she got to the point where she groused at me when I stood by her crib singing, and when I gave up and left the room, she contentedly babbled herself to sleep.

Some favorite bedtime songs that come to mind, of the family collection, were: the Italian “Nina, Nana, Cocolo Della Mama,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “All the Pretty Little Horses,” “Summertime,” “Hush, Little Baby, Don’t Say a Word,” and many Psalms that had been put to folksy tunes by Jesus People. “Trot Along, My Little Pony” was a huge favorite. My most recent acquisition is “A La Na Nita Nana,” which may actually be a Christmas song, but I think babies don’t mind.

I didn’t pick up any new ideas from the Lifescapes anthology. There were many traditional lullabies that I already knew, but bereft of any lyrics, and with minimalist and s-l-o-w string renditions even on “Dance to Your Daddy.” I hit the skip button many times because I couldn’t stand the dragging sensation, kind of like being tranquilized by annoyingly tasteless sweets.

The last fifteen minutes of the CD is pretty much equally divided among non-tunes. Not rain-on-the-roof, but “Running Water,” “Womb,” and “Heartbeat.” Running water I didn’t think was a good idea. It immediately made me think of the bathtub overflowing, and I wondered how was a child eventually to learn to be alarmed at the sound of water trickling in a house? Womb sounds were not so boring, but reminded me of a recording of humpback whales we once had, and whose songs I found more lovely. “Heartbeat” was, of course, tedious to an old woman, whereas it might be comforting to an infant. Perhaps the producers put five minutes of an adult-speed beating heart at the very end, thinking that if nothing else had lulled the baby to sleep after the first tiresome hour, that fundamental lub-dub might do the trick.

It’s likely that these sounds would calm a child, especially if the same recording were played every night. That could be true, though, of many sounds coming from a machine. It seems right to give my children what I myself like and what seems most wholesome. In a real live human voice you can be embraced and loved even after you are in your cradle. If the babies could tell us, I think that is what they would say.