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The Decibel Dilemma of Bangalore

Noise is validation in the daily grind of a city that is always in a rush to keep up with the latest in capitalism. It is a ritual in itself—a stamp of approval that says, "Look at us, we're thriving! We’re sophisticated!”. Everyone brings their traditions to the table and the result is a tapestry of noise.

Traffic jams are as predictable as the morning sun in Bangalore. It’s a peculiar love affair that has blossomed between the residents and the chaos that defines their daily lives.

But must they? Is the chattering crowds of a bustling metropolis a nuisance or a cherished part of the local culture?

Is it some kind of bizarre carnival, or are the city dwellers onto something we're all missing out on? Do the city people associate the hustle and bustle with festivity—where synchronised mass exercises are the grand narrative?

Are humans only social creatures, and nothing says “bonding!” like being stuck in a traffic jam together… a massive, relaxing team-building exercise?

In this city of perpetual motion that will make a Zen master break a sweat, the residents have discovered a peculiar form of escapism: noise.

The Decibel Dilemma of Bangalore

Noise is validation in the daily grind of a city that is always in a rush to keep up with the latest in capitalism. It is a ritual in itself—a stamp of approval that says, "Look at us, we're thriving! We’re sophisticated!” Or is it?

So we decided to ask some of them if only to contribute to cacophony of opinion.

Battle-scarred from his joust with the jumble, Ishaan dreams of a world where you can choose your noise levels, but in reality, the majority are stuck in chaos, differentiating between Uber Pool and Uber Prime. "Noise and crowds are like the mascots of capitalism, and capitalism is the ultimate festival. It's a mandatory, inflation-driven shindig. Not celebration."

For Srijan, another Bangalorean, noise and crowds are synonymous with celebrations. Every noisy occasion—wedding, religious procession, New Year's Eve party—is an opportunity for the city to come alive in a clatter of celebrations. And the people mingle, a cultural potluck, where everyone brings their traditions to the table, and the result is a chaotic yet beautiful tapestry of noise.

DJ Fikticious (whose factual name is Akshay) dropped beats of wisdom on Explocity: "With modernisation comes a cost, and noise is inevitable. But we, as custodians of the soundwaves, have a responsibility to keep it within acceptable decibels." He distinguishes between noise and music, emphasising the duty of music professionals to spread joy responsibly.

The Decibel Dilemma of Bangalore
DJ Fikticious

In another part of the city, Sister Albina—director of a prestigious women’s college in Bangalore, Mount Carmel College—was demonstrating against noise. College seniors joined her. So did Citizens for Citizens (C4C). They complained about unnecessary honking. They shared Sister Albina’s prescription that if vehicles must honk, the city must implement "mindful honking",

So what is the dilemma in “Decibel Dilemma”?

Simply, that while some see noise as a celebration, others see its ill effects on things like health, peace of mind… even sanity.

In the morning commute, the distraction of getting to work might make people temporarily indifferent to the polluting noise from traffic; the bustle of capitalist progress. But the serene peace of a leafy neighbourhood is shattered by a busy road.

Can science place measurement on this dilemma?

Dr. MI Singh Sethi, a neuropsychiatrist at NIMHANS (National Institute Of Mental Health And Neurological Sciences), in Bangalore, highlights the complex nature of noise perception. He said what's music to one is cacophony to another. “It's like a sonic Rorschach test where everyone hears something different,” he told Explocity.

The Decibel Dilemma of Bangalore
Dr. MI Singh Sethi, Neuropsychiatrist at NIMHANS

Truly, the recent order by the Supreme Court—that doubled down on banning fireworks that are not “green”—generated snarky comments by some who see the complaints about high-decibel “Lakshmi bombs” as a left-wing conspiracy.

Bangalore’s decibel dilemma is a vibrant dance between tradition, celebration, and the need for personal escape, where noise isn't disturbance—it's a badge of vitality and a challenge that requires finesse. A lively reflection of the city's soul, where celebration and chaos are two sides of the same cliche.


Mollika Lahiri is a student at Mount Carmel College, Department of Communication Studies.

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