Noise: Mute or Mutilate

Posted on September 25, 2010 in Environment

By Shraddha Sankhe:

This is not about Li’l Wayne. Because: A boring lullaby is tolerable. And so is an occasional musical overtone. What really kills the audible capacity is the crescendo of the rising decibels of a forced-up philharmonic concerto! Oh well, all I mean to convey was the complex chorus of noise as painful as the cholera! Noise pollution, in plain-speak!

Recently it was the Ganapati festival time. While the Ganapati idol is brought home/on the street pandal in simple chorus of aartis and prayers, the Visarjan or the immersion of the Elephant God happens as a great celebration. Unfortunately, celebration in India always equals loud DJ-party or the good ol’ orchestra of drums and bass. We’re modern. So while Keisha’s Tic Toc makes all the ‘aunties, uncles and bachcha logs’ swoon, Munni Badnaam Hui and Kajra Re makes them go ballistic! The poor old Ganapati-the Elephant God sure thanks himself for the large ear-flaps. And the only ones complaining seem to be people like me who’re criticizing a beautiful festival all thanks to the (read: loud) miscreants. I apologize to all who enjoy Visarjan-Disco. And I doubly apologize to the Lord who’s now down to be another reason to fill up the (mostly drunk-in music and you-know-what) ‘bandwallahs’ pockets. But let us all think about this. Soon this will be followed by Navratri. Diwali will come in a few days in its usual loud cracked up ways. And before we know it New Year ’s Eve and Holi will dawn upon us. How loud can we get?

In a city like Mumbai- neatly dirtied by regular throwing of garbage on the road from the over-looking towers and terraces, Noise Pollution Control is given the step-motherly treatment. Cars, busses, trucks, airplanes, motorcycles, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, hair dryers, vacuums, sirens, dishwashers, washing machines, clothes dryers, barking dogs, screeching crows, loud voices, air conditioners, construction sites, loud music and TV’s- all play their noisy role. Noise during festivals for some one’s happy hop-dancing sure is the worst way of distraction, disturbance and a drag dirge. There are times when I feel like going back to 1847 and urging the chemist Guthrie to kindly invent a chloroform for the ears! Yes, it is frustrating. And we Indians really are callous when it comes to reducing the volume. Higher the volume, better the hackneyed abundance. Shame!

To the festival Disco lovers – Noise pollution can cause an increase in stress levels, as well as a rise in blood pressure over an extended period of time. Noise related hearing loss and tinnitus can occur as well, leading to life-long hearing problems. Sleep can be interrupted also when there are loud or annoying sounds during your sleeping hours, which in turn can affect your work and home life.

Doesn’t that dread you? No? Try giving exams that blow-up your mind. Or better still, morph yourself into a year-old baby or simply hop into your neighborhood granny’s shoes. You might just get to know the MBA lesson on the magical term called, “Experience teaches”.

The silent killer is apparently the loudest. Noise pollution is as damaging as water and air pollution. Destroy it as early as possible, before it destroys you. Noise levels of 130 decibels or over will be painful and is very likely to cause immediate hearing damage. Common, Munni Badnaam Hui sure isn’t fun when the sound’s muted, right? Even Zandu Balm (Emami product-Do NOT sue me please!) has no respite for the ears! Ouch. So will you turn off that loudspeaker, please? As the headline goes, mute or mutilate!

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