Read the complete transcript of Kalki Koechlin’s ‘Noise’ here

Kalki Koechlin, Bollywood actor and slam poetess writes a heady and provocative piece titled ‘Noise’, that explores, celebrates, berates, rips apart and puts together that word, which forces a listen, and not a hear.


Welcome to the age of noise. From the ‘divine cacophony’ of loudspeakers piercing the airwaves in the name of religion, to the soul-jarring discordance of peak hour traffic; from the unmusicality of news headlines warring for eye-balls, to the IQ numbing racket we subject our brains to on social media; noise surrounds us. And in this most unmelodious symphony, ‘we the people’ are the players, the instruments and the audience, incessantly filling up our silences, with more noise. Written in her classic crisp, rhythmic and onomatopoeic style, Kalki’s powerful words are a silent plea for individuality to break its opinion shackles, and for a generation to discern between what is ‘disturbance’ and what is ‘true voice’. But most importantly, this poem makes us eerily aware of a very human discomfort we feel with deafening silences, which may be an alarming by-product of this era of distractions.


Kalki and Blush collaborate for the second time after ‘The Printing Machine’, to bring you another ‘Unblushed’ that is nothing less than an audio-visual experience. And what better occasion than World Music Day to make an ode to the inherent melody of silence.


Watch the video, and read the entire poem.

I used to live in a noisy neighbourhood,

not that my present residence is any less noisy,

I mean, we live in a noisy country.

but the noise of my previous place

remains particularly distinct

for its ability to sync

several so called socially seperate situations

into one continuously incessant ring.

it begins at the brink of dawn

mid-dream, closed eyes blink blinking

at the moment of the rising sun,

with the aazaan.

the long, clear allahuakbaar

of a nearby mosque

which even before the prayers are done

is overlapped by the 6 am

bustling of fisherwomen

as they drop their baskets

sit on their haunches

and tear out guts from their fresh fishes

competing with one another

louder and louder

machlee machlee machleee…

ding ding ding ding

brass bells on a loudspeaker

take over

at the mosque facing mandir

followed by reverbing morning shloks

om purna mida

purna midam

purnat purna muddatyche

and hold that note

a blind man with a bowl and stick

wearing a kurta and koofi outfit

crying ‘ya rasoole paa ke sadke mein dilaado

only to be drowned by another sound

the recently procured electronic bells

of the adjacent church

that doesn’t want to be left out

of the divine cacophony

ding dong dong dong…

swiftly transcended

by the knock knock clap clap

of persistent transgenders

at car windows

moving to the beat of red light sensors

before the signal turns green

and then…

beep beep, honk honk, bhen chod dekh na kahan jaa rehe ho,

we ride right into the clamour

of peak hour traffic stammer

the horn ok please philosophies

of tata bye bye trucks

gas guslers,

subcompact minis,

vans, wheels, squeels at potholes

and asmathic fits from exhaust spits

and there’s a rick head on against a mercedes

in a three metre gully

ruled by carts selling subjis

its an obstacle course

that shakes the monday morning sleep

out of office goers

and in minutes we’re in it

like a speedy video game

shouting, cursing, gulping down our coffees

turning keys, swiping credits, counting out our monies

there’s rents to pay, and EMI’s

and out on the streets

lives that continue to survive

the wants of the haves

and the needs of the have nots.

 

But before there’s time to contemplate

Between the

clutch, break, accelerate,

Of bottleneck traffic.

It’s time to change the game

pick up my smart phone

and scroll through my trolls

‘you have such big teeths, get lost ugly’

pow wow

‘how many blow jobs did it take to get your lips’

bish bash boom

‘I will rape you bitch’

pause game…

 

God. Jesus. Bhagwan. Allah. Mumma.

No Answer

then

tak tak tak tak

somebody at my window

smiling down at me

and oh the irony

she wants to take a selfie.

roll down my window,

poke my head out

smile

(god my teeth do look big in this selfie)

click

(I am ugly)

‘you’re so much prettier in real life’

-thank you.

‘Oh my god i can’t believe its you’

-well…

‘is it really you?’

-no it’s not really me, actually I’m a cartoon

and my real name is bugs bunny.

Hahahaha…that’s right i’m a role model

and I’m a mess

of social media mash ups

and celebrity hang ups

I hang loosely off my own image

like well cooked mutton hangs loosely off the bone

and who doesn’t like a good Eid biryani

even if it is made by a major minority

am I the well loved lamb

sacrificed and souped into an aroma

that entices

a great number of people

who salivate off of fame and gossip slices?

Sorry.

Where were we?

Oh yes, stuck in stand still traffic.

let’s listen to some music

swipe, code, i tunes,

Apple id password

subscribe to playlist

recommended for you today

Bob Dylan’s Bitter Break up Songs

great! perfect!

…when the rooster crows at the break of dawn

look out your window and I’ll be gone

you’re the reason I’m travelling on

so don’t think twice, it’s alright.

reach destination,

open door,

get out

slam door shut

step step step, it’s alright.

awkward crowded moment in lift,

listening to unobtrusive elevator music

…too too too too too too…

facebook check, twitter check, insta check,

snapchat outfit,

delve into the blackhole of What’s app

whatever is app,

let’s just avoid all eye contact

refresh, repeat, double tap

hashtag alienation, hashtag addiction

hashtag don’t think twice, it’s alright.

And whether we like it or not

we are in this lift together

we, the people

we, the collective,

we, the masses

the capitalistic, communal, fascists

we live in the times,

the bombay times,

the hindustan times

the fear of pakistan times

the banned times, the censored times

the demonitised times

the let’s make lots of noise

and have fun times.

we make news out of lipstick, travel

and choice of ice cream.

we make news out of nationalism,

feminism,

rationalism,

patriotism,

and ‘lets be offended by everything’ isms

we make flashy news

out of cleavages,

shocking tweets on savages

and LOL memes that lead to IQ averages

all this news, this noisy news

that requires revenues

that’s financed out of our own pockets

leaving our rivers dry

and our nation starving

while we toss away half a bucket

of chicken nuggets.

 

we are the people of today

our self worth

rests on the opinion of others,

on magazine covers,

on ‘how many more overs’

on frequent lovers

we are the average man in a cue

that nobody notices

we are you

we are he

we are she

we are me.

we are responsible for this noise

that runs so seriously through our streets

that drums so fervently through this country

and so when it comes to the end of our day

piling up in trains, stuck in the rains,

our earphones in, our radios on

pounding to the latest dhin chak Bollywood hit song

looking away from kids at the signal

the chink-chink of their coins

clashing with guilt-guilt we avoid

by embracing the noise

of the think-think in our heads

from the clutters of the day

and the mutters of bills to pay

and the words we didn’t make time to say

and the build up of unresolved thoughts

that we’ve brushed away

and the twink-twink of automated locks

and the echoes of our gullies emptying out

and lights being switched off.

 

quiet now except for the occasional cry

of the homeless and the strays,

in between the noise of munching dinner,

crunching hopes on hold by watching tv soaps,

in between minds preoccupied

bodies unexcercised

and couples too tired to try

in between the abandon of childhood,

the weariness of old age

and the yawns of adult routine

in the warmth of our beds

in the middle of this darkness

someplace faraway

from all the noise

we are deafened by the silence

of our own voice.

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Half-human, half-unidentified female of the species. Special skills involve walking almost without accident on most occasions, drinking more coffee than legally allowed, and editing faster than the speed of light.