Friday, October 28, 2016

Tech Upgrade

Every neighbourhood carries its own sounds - we all know that... from years of listening to those hawkers, this traffic, the driver with the annoying backing tone who takes forever to park, tinny Suprabhatam from a distant temple every morning, that moulvi as he raises his voice in azaan five times a day, the coppersmiths, the tailorbirds... there must be a unique sound palette for every street in the world.

Ours is seeing a new trend. Loudspeakers. The Cantonment Board is sending out an auto with warnings of the dire things that will befall citizens who do not pay their taxes. We get blaring voices asking if we have any old zari in our coffers that we'd like to recycle. The sofa repairers have a neat professional set up in rather chaste Telugu: "We have all the material, equipment and wherewithal to set your living room right again."

Now into this rather ambitious terrain has sailed our Muggu man. He sells rai muggu - white stone powder that we use to make adornments on our doorsteps. He need not have bothered, in my opinion. His hawking call was very distinct... "Rai Muuggggu! Amma, Raai Muugguuu!" Anyone with a ear cocked for the sound would hear it several houses away and rush to the door to accost him. None of the vegetable, flower or broom vendors have felt the need to improve their system, which is already very effective.

However, there is no gainsaying an adventurous nature. So Muggu Man has employed a 'friend' to record his call for him. It has not worked very well. First he runs it from a small contraption in the front of his moped, which he finds uncomfortable. Then the recording itself is a 12-second audio: "Mugguammomuggu!" The voice is fraught with self-conscious anxiety and since there are no spaces between what should be words, it feels like someone is trying to sell the last grain of muggu before he dies. Certainly, for the householder, there would not be enough time to go out and enquire.

"So, what's all this?" I asked him the other day. MM switched off the sound in disgust. "He has not done a good job," he complained about his friend, "I have to go to him again!"

I heard him again the other day. Some spaces had been inserted but the voice was still tense. And since then, I have not heard him at all.

3 comments:

Padmanabha Vyasamoorthy said...

Hi I too wrote about Rai Muggu fellow sometime back!
http://vyasa-kaaranam-ketkadey.blogspot.in/2010/04/street-vendors.html

Anonymous said...

haha... too funny, sheetlvyas! but these damn loudspeakers are a pain man... getting worse all the time!

Sheetal said...

@Vyasamoorthy: He seems a popular subject :D

@Anon: indeed they are a pain! Ours used to be such a quiet street once.