“Oorigonde Padmavatheeee” croons the extremely talented, but now-reduced-to-B-grade-numbers-in-Kannada-movies, Kailash Kher. When it comes to bad songs that are also earworms, it plumbs new depths (or soars to new heights depending on how you see it). But being an RKN fan it also reminds me of the story Nitya, about the boy about to get his head shaved off because his mother had taken a vow when he was two years old and had fallen sick.
We are in a moving refrigerator made of glass and metal, and coloured red – the ubiquitous-on-Ring-roads BMTC Volvo. The sound and the song reverberates through the bus with few vents to escape through. My conversation with my colleague comes to an abrupt halt as he pulls out his iPod in a hurry and connects himself to an RTP. “What a Snob!” I think, before connecting my iPhone for some Pink Floyd or Nirvana. It rarely works.
When it comes to switching off music in buses or in general, the only two things that work are getting it switched off or switching the mind off. The latter is what usually works, but takes a lot of time and is inversely proportional to the amount of effort you put in. Acknowledging that the music exists and nothing can be done about it and immersing oneself in whatever one was doing, even if it was daydreaming, usually works. Before you know it, the music is in the background and your mind is occupied with the thought.
Techniques to switch off the music are something that need to be worked on all the time, simply because wherever you go you just can’t escape the onslaught of music on your senses. There are very few places in the city, with the number steadily decreasing, be it a café or pub, where you can sit and have a conversation without having to struggle to be heard. HRC has to be one of the worst on that front.
Conversational noise is different. It is chaos, does not have order and forms a constant hum in the background, the same way traffic that flows without honking goes. Music has order, and rises above the general chaos. Music intrudes. I am one of those who can’t work with earphones or headphones on. I’ve tried it quite a few times, except that I feel tired after a while.
Coming back to the topic, music everywhere seems to be an extrovertish way of going about life. All over the city – buses, even autos, shops, public places there’s music filling up silences as if there’s someone hovering around waiting to say something uncomfortable if there’s a gap in the music.
And to this already music-filled world gets added cellphones with speakers. There was even an ad about “Indians like music” and a Caucasian in a white coat holding out a phone with a “boombox” with the latest B’wood item number screaming and everyone collecting around it and nodding. Phones like this have been the bane all over. An unfrequented lake, with a pathway around it. Lapwings and Brahminy kites hovering around making their noises. Babblers on one side screeching away. One of the few places of silence and solitude left around. And then a bunch of workers/kids come along and turn on their phones. A random song plays along and the silence is destroyed.
There was a time I used to list “Listening to music” as among my “hobbies”. I guess now would be the time to say “Finding silence and solitude” as one. Make no mistake, I have no issue with people listening to music. Just that music needs to be a private experience and not something you blare out constantly for others’ listening pleasure. The constant playing of DJ by everyone for everyone is what am ranting about.
There’s a market in the city for quiet places where one can go read a book or catch up with a friend without having to shout over the music. Maybe the police will provide it after 10 PM thanks to the new rule. I for one am welcoming the rule. Just hoping there’s something that also enforces the volume at which public music must be played and a ban on speakerphone music. Asking too much, I know! The world is not made by or for people like me. Sigh…