Some sounds of Symi, some ancient, some modern

Monday, September 28th, 2009 1 Comment
Categorized Under: Chorio, Day to day

I was sitting on the terrace the other day, doodling words on paper and wondering what to write next when I thought I’d jot down some of the sounds that I was hearing. And then I added some more, from memory – from being in other places on Symi at other times, and here’s the list that came up, in no particular order, just some of the sounds of Symi:

Cicadas, both near and distant; loud with ‘on/off’ set to produce sudden bursts of frantic scratching, followed by the contemplative silence of insects. How do they all know when to start and stop at once?
Pigeons, donkeys braying impatiently, cockerels calling relentlessly, hawks overhead spying mice, sparrows twitter, finches in cages singing as sweetly as if they were free.


The liturgy from the churches. The sound of worship.

The water pump on the roof delivering water from the sterna to the pipes, sometimes going off of its own accord (must fix that dripping tap).
Sometimes, when the breeze is in the right direction, the power station on the Pedi road rumbles along – reassuringly distant.
Footsteps in the lane below the terrace, neighbours calling to each other, children playing in the streets and squares nearby. God son passing by on his way home from school, ‘Neil…door.’
The wind in the olive trees, and around the roof at night in the winter, portentously rattling tiles. (I found a roof tile in the orange tree last night, now how did that get there? There are no slate roofs near that tree.)


The deep drone of a large ferry arriving; claxons from other boats and ferries and even though we are up in the village, the sounds of anchors being dropped, chains grating on metal.
The rumble of a lorry on the main road, or is it an earthquake? Motorbikes, cars on occasions, hooting horns as a wedding party sets off and returns.
Building works, sawing, hammering, wheelbarrows trundling past, donkey’s hooves on stone. ‘Oxi!’ That sounds like ‘oy-she.’
An air conditioning unit, kitchen fans, sizzling grills and barbeques.
Easter: dynamite, fireworks, processions, chanting, bleating, cleavers and choppers, more silence.
Stray cats and the cries of new born kittens.
Suitcases being dragged by over uneven cobbles; different languages being spoken; kafeneion chatter. Hellos and goodbyes.


Music, loud and close at times, at other times distant. Bouzouki, Rembetika, modern, pop, classical.
The occasional thud of a ripe lemon dropping from the tree.
Rain coming in, a light tapping on the metal table, getting louder; the sound of drips into pans in the kitchen, pounding on the roof, water gushing down the steps.
The water gushing trough the mains pipes, sometimes only trickling, sometimes silent.
Mobile phone ring tones, from Mozart to modern.
The bells of Ag Triatha, weddings, baptisms, services, memorials, funerals.
Planes overhead.
Keyboards tapping, the typewriter next door, a musical instrument, the neighbour’s accordion…
And then silence once more.

So, filter out the modern from that list and imagine Symi years ago. The best time is when there is a power cut and the sounds of the house simply cease. As does everything else.

Thunder, wasps, bees around the plants, roof slates being piled up, sand and cement being shovelled, stones being moved, dogs barking, people calling, the street being swept and washed, metal gates closing. The weather, the tranquillity, the silence. Some simple sounds of Symi. And we haven't been to the beaches yet...


One Response to “Some sounds of Symi, some ancient, some modern”

  1. Jan says:

    You forgot the pre-dawn rubbish truck, bane of the lives of Yialos visitors and presumably residents as well (or do they just screen out the sound like we do with the Abbey bells at home?). It certainly qualifies as the least welcome Symi sound to me.

    And how *do* those cicadas know how to synchronise their chirping??