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DJ Wale Babu, Why Can I Hear Myself Think?

11/09/2016 10:23 PM IST | Updated 14/09/2016 8:19 AM IST
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Maciej Frolow
Speaker generating a sound wave

We Indians love noise as much as we love our cows and demonstrate our dogged devotion to both by driving others mad. Why, we are even ready to kill if someone refuses to share our fervour with the same passion. Wasn't it in Vasant Kunj where a gym owner killed his neighbour because he complained of the loud music playing at his gym?

One man's music maybe another man's headache but how dare he point that out and spoil the fun!

No celebration is complete till we've played music so loud that all neighbouring eardrums convulse like Baba Ramdev's abs.

Well, I've often felt like killing myself at the gym instead of waiting for some irate Jatt to do the honours. Especially when I've heard "clap your hands now... you motherfucker!" at least five times during my workout, interspersed with grunts from the hulk next to me trying to lift weights double his own. Thanks to this elevating experience, I've mastered my Nagin look, the same one that Sridevi gave Amrish Puri. But only after I've whined about the limited, unimaginative playlist to the management. They as usual have no clue as to what I'm talking about. I'm often brushed off as a pesky fly.

The scary bit is that the same playlist is shared by the world and its aunt. So, you get to hear Honey Singh woo his kudi namkeenaa, ambraan di queenaa, at the pub, club, blaring from the water-park in the vicinity, from the neighbourhood shaadi sharing their joy via loudspeakers, and the party hosted by a dear friend. Sometimes I get so confused that I actually jiggle my hips in a drunken stupor at the gym and try to do push-ups at the hottest new brewery playing stale hits. By the end of the year, I've intimate knowledge of Mr Singh's weird notion of romance that entails meeting kudi namkeena's daddy so that his future son-in-law can tell him "Bas jitna aapki beti ek mahine mein udati hai, ek hafte me meri gaadi utna tel khaati hai!" (Roughly: keep your daughter away from me because I'm an asshole.) Wow, how can any woman resist this charmer?

But isn't that the beauty of music that catches the public's fancy. It's not a superhit till it drives you to the brink of lunacy. The first time you hear it, you nod your head with approval, much like a Kathakali dancer. The next few times you enjoy it and even try humming along with it. But when it starts stalking you wherever you go, whatever you do, you scream nahiiiin like a Bollywood mom of yore who has lost her sons at a mela.

A musical hit is like bad karma that follows you birth after birth till you start begging God to have you reborn as a lizard with no ears.

Funnily, those who prefer music at window-shattering levels care little about melody. Maybe the noise prevents them from the torturous chore of thinking.

Look what they did to "Rang Barse"! Your Holi celebration is incomplete till you've gone into a trance hearing Big B turn Gori's hubby to cinders by regaling him with her yaar's antics, in a loop. Or tried drowning yourself in the nearest pothole when you saw a drunk uncle swaying to Anu Mallik's "Do me a favour, let's play Holeyyy!" Are you even a true patriot if you don't shed the same amount of tears on hearing Mahendra Kapoor sing, "Mere desh ke dhartee eeee eeee eeee", all through your childhood, teens and adulthood?

And just as a festive occasion is of no consequence till Myntra and Jabong offer never-before discounts on their entire range yet again, no celebration is complete till we've played music so loud that all neighbouring eardrums convulse like Baba Ramdev's abs. If we manage to shoot a guest or two at the wedding party, even better. The joy in our celebrations can be measured in decibel levels. The happier we are, the louder the music.

No wonder restaurants these days prefer playing music at levels so high, it is impossible to have an intelligent conversation. After talking for hours in sign language, imagining the lively conversation and laughing at jokes we could not hear, we go back with a throbbing head and an illusion of an evening well-spent. These days I'm terrified of walking into a restaurant so silent that I'll be forced to actually have a conversation, share my views on politics, all things sundry and sound funny and intelligent. Who wants that pressure?

A musical hit is like bad karma that follows you birth after birth till you start begging God to have you reborn as a lizard with no ears.

Funnily, those who prefer music at window-shattering levels care little about melody. Maybe the noise prevents them from the torturous chore of thinking. Or they are afraid that the silence will unmute their inner voice that sounds eerily like their nagging mom! What if they've turned deaf and don't know it yet? Or maybe the problem is you, because it's only effing you that has a problem with loud music!

A funnier thing happens when you move to a new country. At first you can't stop marvelling at the quietness that surrounds you, at the cinemagoers who actually watch a movie without conversing loudly on their phone. You want to run up to drivers and kiss them for not using the horn as a weapon of mass destruction. You sigh to the sounds of swishing winds and the river splashing nearby. A few weeks later the same quietness starts sounding like death. You wonder if you have neighbours because you've yet to hear them. You start craving the chaos, sounds of laughter, babies crying... you seek crowded spaces to feel alive. The noise starts making its presence felt through its absence. And then one day you pump up the volume of your music player because you can't bear it anymore and pray that your neighbours don't complain.

The only thing missing is a gai to love and kill for. Damn it, have they eaten them all!

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