Soundscape of Selim Hill
Before the earth had light, it already had sound. In fact, even silence has its own sound. It is only natural that I should share with you the soundscape of Second Chance House at Selim Hill Tea Estate. It is said that sound incorporates while sight isolates.
Bird Song is nature’s alarm clock. The dawn chorus signals the start of the day. Birdsong relaxes and reassures because this sound is embedded in our psyche. Over thousands of years, we have learnt that it is when birds stop singing, we need to worry. On a typical morning, I awaken to the bright, joyous exuberance of the nonstop chatter of birds as they go about the business of life. It injects hope and a feeling of ‘all is well’.
One animal making noise tends to get the others going, so you may hear an abundance of animal sounds all at once. The sharp crow of the rooster shouts out a harsh ‘Good Morning’. The dogs enter the competition and announce that the new day has arrived. Suddenly, the cow moos and reminds me that it’s time for breakfast. Blended into these are the village temple bells and the conch shell which coincide with the rising sun.
Smilingly, I wish my family and friends a ‘Good Morning’ and get ready for another heated discussion. Thankfully, there is comic relief as we hear a woman scolding her husband loud enough for everyone to hear. I am sure he deserved it. The gentle hum of conversation as the tea plucking women gossip and laugh is imbibed in every cup of Dorje Teas.
Autumn is upon us. Gradually the day deepens, and you can hear the leaves dropping soundlessly as the wind nudges them from their branches. These sounds of wind in the trees and the rustling of leaves have enchanted so many people over time that they invented a word to describe them: psithurism.
If the nudging becomes more shove like, you can hear the monkeys before you see them. The game of tag is amid great excitement as the monkeys silently run away with the pumpkins.
As the sun sets, the melody changes. Cricket chirps are musical to the human ear because their frequencies are low and pure. Crickets are night-time singers, and their chirps are separated by several seconds of silence. As I hear the sound of the katydids, I am reminded of a childhood favourite book – What Katy Did. In the dark, my auditory perception becomes sharper and I wait to hear the familiar hoot of our resident owl. I am re-assured as I hear it at regular intervals.
It took us time to make friends with the tin roof on our house. At night, it is quite noisy as broken branches crash land on it. Squirrels and other animals tap patterned sounds while they enjoy the starlight. However, the hourly gong of the factory calms us down and I sleep soundlessly while my husband snores noisily.
Let us not forget about the most famous sound of the mountains – The Echo. It is the sound of my own thoughts. Do I have the courage to shout it out loud enough? All that I throw at the Darjeeling Hills will come right back to me!
The sounds of the Darjeeling Hills cater to the philosophy of ‘rest and digest’ rather than ‘fight or flight’. This is also the thought behind Dorje Teas – Sit back a while and enjoy your cup.
Thank you Maurya for the brilliant picture.
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