Sounds of Our Life

Though in Indian philosophy the power of silence and importance would have been highlighted, in real life, there cannot be any populace which is as fond of noise as Indian people. Honestly speaking an Indian invariably loathes silence. He wants to be in the company of someone or some ‘sound’ always.

Just look at our activities. I have seen many of the elders as well as youngsters the moment they get out of the bed switch on the television or radio; of course, the channels they select might be different. If the old ones go for devotional songs or chanting of slokas, the youngsters will be lazily looking at some ludicrous song and dance sequence in some movie preferably in their regional language. We still have street vendors who sell their merchandise from ‘Greens and vegetables’ to ‘Kolamavu’ to ‘Idiyaappam’ at their booming vocals.

Soon the streets and roads are filled with the noise of running vehicles which keep honking their horns in different sounds and intensities. Even two wheeler riders ‘zoom’ past with least care about the danger they pose to themselves or to others. Even if one goes for walk in the mornings, they could find either (aged or middle aged) walkers in groups noisily conversing and walking or just standing at chitchatting.

At home, it is the kitchen which becomes active by then will be creating numerous sounds of differing decibels indicating the cooking is on. If any servant maid makes her entry at that time, the noise levels will go still further as most the maids have a tendency to throw the steel utensils with least care and they too respond in fantastic manner.

Our celebrations are meant to be boisterous and noisy. Bands and Nadaswarams at high pitch are to be played. Even above this din we find the guests exchanging pleasantries raising their voices to the maximum levels. Today, I dread to attend marriage receptions because the audio assault the groups on stage makes in the name of ‘Mellisai’ (Light Music, what an oxymoron!)) are just unbearable. They always choose film songs which are invariably tuned in soprano. Whether the singer is able to reach those notes are not the orchestras will goad them to the extent possible to create as much cacophony as possible. In some new-gen marriages this is accompanied by even dance movements from the youngsters and some enthusiastic elders as well. Festivities are equally raucous; the best example is Diwali. The maximum the nonstop noise of the crackers (a hundred wala or thousand wala!) is the best example. In other festivities like Aadi and Margazhi we have blaring loudspeakers entertaining the entire stretch of area with devotional songs on the Gods and Goddesses.

Another undoubtedly shocking aspect for me is death in our country is not considered solemn. Irrespective of the dead persons’ age or ailment or circumstances, there are relatives and kin who indulge in strident outbursts of emotions and anguish in indescribable proportions. It is still amusing even certain groups are specially hired for singing deep dirge.

Most of the celebrations are only a galore of fun and frolic with extraordinary music and clamor. True, happiness could best be expressed by scream, shouts, laughs and wild show offs. But, should it be a part of every activity irrespective of the place, people and decency?

Entertainment seems to be the major contributor to the noise pollution; our movies are positively loud irrespective of the content or context. Action films are bound to be noisy. But, why family dramas and love stories too indulge in overacting and yelling? The theatrics the players indulge many times look positively unbearable. Even classical music which is supposed to be sober and subtle many times turn discordant and showy.

Less said the better about the TV discussions, talk shows on politics and current issues and listener interactive FM programs; If FM entertainment is a nonstop chatter, browbeating the opponents simply by shouting are the major contents of television discussions or famous ‘Pattimandrams’. The crowds also expectedly turn boisterous and fill the auditorium with raucous laughter or hooting.

In recent years I haven’t come across a temple which is peaceful and silent. Even if very less devotees are there, the loudspeakers will nag one with songs played in praise of the deity. Who wants a catalyst to induce ones devotion or prayer that too within the precincts of the temple? Are we, humans, so dumb even not to understand we are there for silent prayers from the heart?

The famous adage goes as ‘Silence is Golden’. Indians respect ‘Gold’ but not ‘Silence’.


More by :  G Swaminathan

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