Soundtstories is a personal exercise, based on Pauline Oliveros' Deep Listening techniques that helps me document the world through sounds alone. The task I give myself is to listen to sounds and record them in writing in a chronological order. I usually omit conversations.

2 September 2017 : 1.28 pm, Goldens Bridge : in the forest by the reservoir water

Are the Squirrels coughing?
Do they belch, do they whistle sometimes?
Is it the sound of a swing of their tails?

Are the twigs and branches cracking their knuckles?
Could these be the sounds of little feet as birds perch on the massive trees?
What makes trees shed their barks? Is that what this is?

Maybe it’s the fish – making bubbles underwater
Maybe it’s the water, feeding the algae
Maybe it’s the algae, drowning the dry leaves
Is this what it sounds like when leaves drown in water?

Maybe the ants are racing
Or maybe it is raining tiny acorns
Are the pebbles just trying to fit in?
It can’t be the sound of my thumbs typing on my phone screen, right?

What does the forest sound like when I’m not here?
What does it sound like when I am?

Note: There is a very small sound – it is in abundance in this forest. I am trying to figure out what this sound could be…

28 December 2016 : 2.13 pm, by the waterfront

A train on the bridge
The river on its bank
A bicycle
Some footsteps
A train approaching from afar
That sheet of paper, resisting the wind
The aluminum in the bicycle again
A train
A horn
The leaves and the wind
The river splashes on the rocks
More footsteps
A stroller
Another train on that bridge

27 December 2016 : 8.03 pm, in Bobst Library

Click Click Click Click Click
Click Click
Click Click Click
Click Click Click Click Click Click Click Click Click Click
Click Click Click Click
Type Type
Type Type
Click Click Click Click

14 August 2016 : 2.13 am, on the roof at home

The crackling air conditioner
The humming aircraft far away
A whirring car on the street
Doors letting people astray
Footsteps on the stairs
Flickering honks here and there
The rhythmic train begins to halt
An insect, ticking like a clock
Clouds dampen the remnants of fireworks
Fluttering sounds of motorcycles in an array
The crackling air conditioner
The humming aircraft far away

1 August 2016 : 5.40 pm, at work

Metal against a glass top
Footsteps on the floor
Staple gun on paper
A thin leaf of plastic pushing against itself
A sneeze accompanied by another
Fingers on the keyboard
Dragging footsteps on the same floor
Keys on that wooden table
The absent object in the metal drill
Bicycle in the elevator
A person on a chair
The resonating honk in air

20 July 2016 : 5.32 am, in my room

The sound of my Table Fan

25 June 2016 : 8 pm, in the garden in Wassai

Crickets chirping
A bird hooting
Ping pong ball bouncing off the table
Ben playing the guitar
Electrocution – mosquitoes stuck in their light trap
The persistent ping pong exchange between Carine and Tanmaya
More insects being electrocuted
The sound of an empty trash bag
The hooting bird again

8 June 2016 : 9.30 pm, At Ella’s place feeding her cat

Twiggy eating canned tuna, chewing and licking
A truck honks outside
An aircraft flew past
The constant buzzing of the fridge
Someone outside moving heavy furniture
Twiggy purrs for attention
The fridge turned off
Another car outside
Another aircraft
Twiggy meows

29 May 2016 : 8:30 pm, In Guttenberg, New Jersey

A chirping bird
The kids bicycle on the boardwalk tiles
Samarth clapping
It’s that bird again
The sound of the river hitting the shore
More persistent than ever, this bird
A chopper in the sky
An aircraft too
The bird’s versatile chirps
The water, the shore
A speed boat racing across

27 May 2016 : 4:30 pm, At the US Social Security Office in Brooklyn

The crushing of thin plastic bags
A vacuum cleaner?
Someone’s keys jingling
Someone is moving heavy furniture far away
The lady next to me takes a long exasperating breath
Paper being folded
The security guard sits on a creaking chair
The cry of a baby, slowly fading
The sound of a stapler
A token being printed
The sound or medicines from someone’s purse
Two people closed their bags’ zippers at the same time
Metal zippers jingling from a purse
Footsteps of the nice security person who walked past me
The chair exhaled as the gentleman in front of me sat down on it
The clicking of a pen
Footsteps of a running child
The main door closes

10 May 2016 : 9:00 pm, On my way to see the Times Square Electronic Garden exhibition

Doors Open
The sound of a piece of wood breaking
A train honking from far away
Someone rapping from inside someone’s headphones
The honking train breaks
Another train is arriving
Sounds of a dangling backpack zipper
A plastic wrapper?
The honking train leaves the platform
Doors close

22 January 2016 : I just woke up, 7.40 am in India

Peacocks in the morning
Crows and sparrows on trees kawing and chirping
My father’s footsteps – rubber slippers on granite
The sound of running water
Fills up to the brim of the glass bottle
The dog outside barks
A car passes by
Mosquitoes buzzing close to my ear
Clusters of chirping birds, many of them
Someone got in their car, I can hear the doors open and close
The engine starts
Pigeons hoofing
The clock ticks

19 January 2016 : 2 am, In bed trying to sleep, India

The clock is ticking
The sound of no movement – like a faint white noise
My fingers typing on the keyboard
A fold on a plastic wrap opened – ‘cluck’
Strands of my hair rubbing against one another other as I turn my head
Another fold in the plastic relaxes – ‘cluckk cluck’
I am still typing
My rhythmic breathing
The sounds in my head – people talking, cars passing by
A deep breath

January 14, 2016

In a subway station full of people. No one is talking.
Only sounds of someone coughing
Feet dragging across the tiles on the floor
There is an announcement – It is Muffled
People breathing heavily
The train station air vent fan
The guy in the green coat yawns
The sound of a someone’s hand rubbing off his black jacket as he fixes his headphones
He sneezed
A zipper is opened
Someone is folding papers
I can hear a train
Train doors open
Train’s door closes – ding ding
More dragging footsteps
No one has spoken yet
Another train going the other direction
I can see two people talking but they are far away – I can’t hear them
Someone clicked their tongue
Another cough
A shoe that’s got a stone stuck on the sole
A train comes
It leaves
The sound of keys
People have started talking
More conversations
They are laughing
Train is coming
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