There are some things I can adjust to in this city, while there are many others that I just cannot fathom. Two things that really get on my nerves are sound pollution and open manholes!
Let’s start with the noise. Picture this: dawn approaches, you are still snuggled in bed, while the first rays of sunlight seep in. The sparrows greet the morning sun; ah…such music to my ears. You check your phone and it’s only 6:45 am. You are delighted to find the baby is still asleep and find that you can stay in bed a little longer. And just as you doze back into slumber land, you are reminded that quiet moments in Mumbai are only an illusion. You begin to hear people talking and cackling as they make their way to the train station, there is an irritating croak in the air, as a man shouts out “fresh coconut water for sale” (In Hindi); large trucks are still on the roads, with their radios blaring in order to keep the truck driver awake, and the sounds of cars, bicycles, and motorbikes, add to the cacophony. It’s horrendous! And as your lying in bed thinking, “can I ever get up with some peace of mind?”, the door bell rings and it’s the person who collects the trash asking for the bin.
And this is how my day starts……the noise only builds up over the next few hours, and I find myself wincing at every horn I hear. It’s like an instant reaction. And what is worse, I now find myself cursing the driver who honks, wishing he or she would meet her death or ram into a pole or fall into an open manhole (more on that later). I know I need to not put out such negative energy, but come on! A big part of me still misses waking up to wind chimes and birds in my back yard in San Francisco. I have put several wind chimes in my balcony, but I live in a concrete jungle and there is no passage of wind to allow the wind chimes to do their job. The noise continues, through out the day, and only really subsides by around 10 pm at night.
I guess this is one part of Mumbai, that after 2.5 years, I have just not been able to get used to. I think my next home project will be to research effectiveness and costing for double glazed windows. If I have to continue to stay sane in this city, I have to be serious about reducing the extraneous and painfully irritating auditory stimuli that I am exposed to, every freakin day.
Whilst there is no dearth of sound pollution in Mumbai, there is also no dearth of open manholes as well. The city is littered with them, and with the monsoon season approaching, it is scary to think of how many people are going to get severely injured and even end up dead.
I walk along a certain route, and I have been walking that route for almost a year now. And these images are a constant reminder of the apathy of this city when it comes to people’s safety:
Such open manholes make walking in Mumbai and even more unpleasant experience; with the uneven pavements, trash every where, beggars squatting on the street, walking in Mumbai, especially the suburbs, is quite a challenge.
I guess my only solution to my irritation with the noise and gaping manholes is not be affected by them as much, and try to accept that these aspects of the city will never change….perhaps only get worse, and I need to re-calibrate my expectations for sane living in Mumbai.