The festival season is upon me. It’s the sounds that disturb, the high decibel level of its emanation. I live in a small valley set aside from the Sahyadri Hills, into a small knot of hills known as Parsik Hills. Here it’s dead calm most of the time till even a small sound is produced. Then it is amplified several times and echoes between the two hills facing each other over a pond and a wooded valley. From now on the assault on the senses has begun, there will be disturbed sleep, trauma, hearing loss, et al.
A neighbour’s son removes the silencer from his Royal Enfield motorcycle, and sets off a progression of high-decibel chain cracker explosions – the cheap Chinese sort – after him. The sound doesn’t cease for a long time till he disappears from the place in one of his nightly jaunts to meet with friends, perhaps, a girl friend whom he wants to impress. The sound he makes is about his identity and he tries to be as loud as possible, in dress, in behaviour, in being himself.
The garba dancers have high-decibel music going on in a nearby bus depot which has been commandeered for the purpose. They all are gaudily dressed in loud costumes and here they dance their loud dance. The band consists of several bass drums and the speakers are as tall as a floor of the building nearby. The emphasis is upon beats and rhythm.
“Rattta-tatta-ratta-tatta, tatta, thuooooom.” So on....
There are no wind instruments because they are considered feminine and not able to produce high-pitched sound. Nor, is there a guitar, fortunately, because the Death Metal sound would have screeched on their speakers and burst a few fragile hearts.
Soon Diwali will be here with another round of loud explosions and lighting of stringed high-decibel bombs that would easily imitate modern warfare. Then the skies would explode, too, with colour. The assault on the senses will continue.
Is it a Hindu thing, I wonder? But my friend who runs the local RSS Shakha, with whom I have a good discussion at times, is also against the sound. He is a scientist working in the atomic reactor at Trombay and says he knows of the bad effects of sound. He says it’s against his principles and is the first to complain about the sound. He also says it’s ignorance. Have we become schizophrenic in our quest for good health, peace, and calm?
Then is it any wonder that an Indian would be deaf by the age of sixty?