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What is the one sound that relates to your whole life? The sound so familiar that you can almost think of every phase of your life and hear that sound being there. The christmas carols, the train siren, a particular host on the radio, the longest ever running commercial, your mother? To me, that sound is the temple bells. Some big and some small, but pretty much all temple bells sound the same.

I hadn’t thought about how serene I found the temple bells until I heard them in Kashmir. Every morning at four, on the west came the sounds of “Allah hoo Akbar” in the mosque and a few minutes after that, on the east, came the sounds of “Om namah shivay” in the Shankaracharya temple built at the topmost hill in Srinagar. The arti was followed by the temple bells rung continuously for a good five minutes as the speaker sound of the arti felt like getting louder. At four in the morning, when pretty much all tourists were snoring in their houseboats, here it was, the real beauty of Kashmir calling out to people to wake up and feel it. It was so peaceful, so calm, so serene. And while I lied in the bed without worrying about having the shower and dressing up to participate in the arti, I felt like being part of those bells, the crowd that was singing it. A couple of days it was so compelling, I woke up and just sat on the deck on the houseboat. A little chilly from the rest of the India, Kashmir has a sweetness in its cold. It’s not harsh, its not rude. It just makes you feel cozy. And that was the best part. Watching people start their day in their boats, girls dressed up in school uniforms paddling their way to the other side, grocery sellers loading their boats with fresh vegetables, sodas, cofees, it was a once in a lifetime unique scene to look at. And in all that, listening to the temple bells ringing far away yet so close to your heart, was just therapeutic.

I had heard this sound before, I knew. And more than anything, it took me to a time where I was free, free like a bird. I used to wake up at 4 when I was in high school, to study and to finish all the homework (I am so glad I am done with high school). And those bells were there, in our local temple. They did the same. At four in the morning, arti followed by bells. And it was the same serenity.

Now, in the cities, these kind of experiences are hard to have. Noise pollution regulations, sound proof temples and what not. Moreover, the cities have so much noise of the traffic, you wouldnt hear anything even if someone tried.

Oh well, I had it for a week, and that was more than great in my IT driven facebook life. Thank you God.

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