Seasoned 24-watchers know that at the end of every episode, a clock ticks down to zero to signify the end of the hour:
The other day, the clock ticked down making that awful bleeping sound. I switched off the TV from the main switch, threw the covers over myself and shut my eyes determined to drift off into slumberland. Suddenly the shrill tick-tock started up again. I can never mishear that sound, for it always sends my blood pressure shooting up.
I peered out from under my cover and listened closely. It sounded less high-pitched, and more metallic, something like a robot sneezing. But to my astonishment it maintained the tone of the 24 clock.
I flung off the covers and got down from the bed. My poor toddler followed suit, as she had been rudely disturbed from her sleep.
I called my maid, and all three of us crept towards the apparent source of the noise – the balcony. Rows of carefully selected plants bordered the edges of the verandah. My maid tiptoed across the room and switched on the balcony light.
The potted plants glared back at me.
I scanned every inch of the landscape, but no living thing or device capable of emitting metallic sounds surfaced on the horizon.
Then my maid elbowed me in the ribs. She pointed at the potted palm tree. One of its long spindly leaves was fluttering more than the others.
Then I noticed it – a long green insect walking along the slender body of the leaf. Its colour matched the exact hue of the leaves. We edged closer to it. The sound increased in volume. It probably wasn’t too happy at the thought of us invading its turf.
We scampered out of the balcony and back into the room. I pulled the gate shut, and closed the sliding doors. After a minute or two, the metallic countdown stopped.
My husband came in a few minutes later. I told him the whole story.
‘It turned out to be a grasshopper,’ I said in conclusion.
‘Not a grasshopper,’ he said, assuming the air of an entomologist. ‘A cricket.’
‘A cricket makes shrill sounds! This was metallic!’
‘It couldn’t have been a grasshopper,’ he said, still in the guise of the aforementioned insect expert.
‘Yes, it was,’ I said, because a grasshopper looks like this:
And a cricket looks like this:
And I’m pretty sure what I saw was a grasshopper. But he hasn’t come around to my point of view yet. In the meantime I have changed my mind and decided that it was probably a cicada (yes, even if they’re apparently not found in India).
You are brave Gargi, to go and check the source of that sound. But then you had company (the maid). I would have probably ducked under the blanket and waited for help.
Btw…there is an award for you on my blog.
Haha, you are absolutely right! I am usually brave enough to check these noises out but it was only thanks to the maid that I crept close to the source. Good thing you specified the company I had, clearly my toddler couldn’t provide much support except stare wide-eyed at whatever I was looking at!
Thanks for the award! How exciting! A first for me too!
Sounds like it was quite an adventure! I’m not too fond of anything that goes bump in the night. 😉
Me, neither! But it drives me crazy if I don’t know what the noise is. Let’s say I’m not going to venture out into the dark again very soon.
If you have cicadas in India now, you have my deepest sympathies. Because you will never sleep again. They are even louder than crickets, if you believe it, and can make noises from buzzing to the clicking you heard. Good luck tonight!
Oh dear, I hope they aren’t cicadas then! But if they buzz and click its very likely its them! Will plug my iPod into my ears from tonight, methinks!
A lot of analysis done to come up with the correct insect, I must say! Have you and your husband reached a consensus yet?? Or is the war still on? 😉
The last time we agreed on something was when we got married. We’re still reeling from the impact of that decision so I don’t think we’ll be agreeing on the insect any time soon!
Cicadas are definitely found in India, albeit on the far flung corners of the north-east (but that’s still India right?:)) I grew up with the sound of cicadas ringing in my ears, and I love the sound of it. A cicada-less India…banish the thought! It’s too drastic to even contemplate!
Thanks, Jerusha! I didn’t even know that! I am not in the northeast but will definitely keep an eye (and ear) out for those cicadas!
I have lived in Northeastern parts of India and Cicada insect is definitely found there.Very noisy and and i have seen them up close.
Thanks for commenting, Anand. I am not keen to see them up close, just their noise is enough!