The noise that is India

Last Updated 10 July 2010, 10:12 IST

 The ear-splitting noise of more than 130 decibels is touted as the unofficial sound track of the football games. We in India however have an inbuilt vuvuzela in our DNA. The average Indian’s natural gift to make noises can give any trumpet a run for its money.

The higher the decibel levels, the better. Life begins for the hands-on mechanic next door at 10 pm when he needs to hammer the nail on its head all over the common wall. All repair work must be completed with the efficient carpenter on a Sunday.
In fact some of us are born with the belief that if we can’t holler down the road to greet our acquaintance or get our children to play basketball in the corridor of the apartment block, life is pretty useless. You have to sport a benign smile when little treasures are using your door for slam-dunk or for cricket practice.  Any attempts to stop them are met with droopy eyes and a ‘‘sorry aunty!’’ 

“You can’t violate other people’s space or eardrums,” you may feebly protest under your breath. But who’s listening?
The ubiquitous cell-phone has added to the relentless noise. That smartly turned out young professional at a top notch MNC must proclaim his importance to the world. Loud instructions, reprimand, advice, suggestions, must be rammed down to the invisible ear at the other end. And here comes the cool dude and his fancy motorbike, if you haven’t seen a Harley Davidson, hear one now.

Loud belching, sniffing, the list is endless. The pet owner out for a walk needs to clear his throat. Early morning  in a public garden, you may feel, is a noise free time. Fat chance! Nose, throat, mouth must all be cleared with an almighty roar. You sometimes marvel at the amount of junk that can be manufactured at such short notice. First comes a low rumbling and then with a deafening roar, it all comes tumbling out.

During weekends, malls are  jammed with young Indians  jostling for a ‘me-first’ space. Things become pretty exciting at the parking lot. The mantra of the upwardly mobile is, “Here comes my sedan, give way, shove your rattle-trap out of my vision, what temerity to come in my way!’’

Those of us  walking past, suffer the various ranges of digital wails from the cars as they go  forward or backward.

Elsewhere doors, gates, shutters, can only open to the accompaniment of a great amount of  grating noises that can wake up the entire neighourhood.
Celebrations must be loud as soft, unobtrusive family events are  for the faint-hearted or those way down the ladder. Get heard or your show is a no-show. Protestations that someone’s freedom to make noise ends where the neighbour’s ears begin, remain unheard. 

But  doesn’t being progressive also mean looking at other’s perspective? Does being modern exclude the otherness of others? Is there no space for alternate views or way of life in this liberal world?

The noisy others however talk back to you, ‘‘We’re not on the same page! Let us celebrate the loud. Bring in the band; let the music begin.’’And so the background soundtrack goes on and what cannot be cured must be endured. In silence!  

(Published 10 July 2010, 10:12 IST)

Follow us on