Pretty, loud

The loud Gurudwara, Delhi, IndiaThis is a picture of a Gurudwara, a Sikh temple across the street from Pulao’s family’s flat in Delhi. Pretty, no? Majestic and holy?

No. Sorry. Wrong answer.

It may look nice, but the Gurudwara has loudspeakers — two speakers on each corner of the temple, pointing out. Pointing across the street. Loud loudspeakers.

At five in the morning our first day here, it seemed that people from the Gurudwara were shouting in my bedroom. The Sikh priest was leading a call to prayer. Not just to the faithful inside the temple, mind you, but to any stragglers in the neighborhood, too — maybe the guys who got up a little late, or anybody who just wanted to enjoy the services streetside. I didn’t understand a word, but the voice had quite a commanding tone, and I sat up in bed, ready to act.

It was something between a call and response and (to borrow some religious terminology from my childhood) an opening hymn. It had a nice tabla backbeat, actually.

I was pretty annoyed the first few days (there’s a service every morning — no “Sunday-Sikhs” at our Gurudwara). I was fairly peeved at Sikhism in general. But the more I listen to the prayer, the more I realize it has a little groove to it. I find myself humming the tune in the shower. By the end of my trip, I might convert . . .

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