Our love of decibels

11 Nov

 Diwali: Only light and colour. No noise

Diwali is only the mega-scale event for fire crackers. But we see it in many other festivals, including celebration of election victory, some bigshot’s birthday, marriage, funeral, and so onIt is the birthright of every Indian citizen to foul up the atmosphere, permanently damage the eardrums of all and sundry within earshot, impose a life-sentence of tinnitus on every ear,  send the elderly into trauma, send dogs scurrying for cover over one week of nightmare, tails permanently between their legs; send scared flocks of birds fluttering out from their tree perches at every blast.

Light is okay. Noise is a pain. Diwali is the festival of colours and lights and images. Quite simply, we should ban crackers. The industry at Sivakasi can be hand-held into some other environment-friendly industry.

The moronic aspect of the cracker business is that you  light up a cracker right in the path of an approaching two-wheeler on which a whole family is precariously perched.  It is like as if any traffic on the road opposite to your house is an intrusion on your basic rights.

Cars and trucks can take it. But pity the hesitant two-wheeler rider going with whole family squeezed into that one-seat pillion space. You lose balance, fall and break your head, that is your problem; you are just another statistic.

And the other thing is this business of breaking pumpkin  on the road.  Not during Diwali (I am on to a different topic)  . This pumpkin has to be broken to improve your odds in the cosmic set up.  Never mind a two-wheeler riding family skidding on that and ending up in the ICU.

Fireworks as recreation and celebration could not have been very far back in our past. I mean, I keep hearing the excuse that we lost all our battles with the British because they had gunpowder and we had only swords. So gunpowder as part of our celebration definitely couldn’t have been our tradition. Combining Diwali celebrations with bursting of firecrackers is perhaps just about a century old. So we would not be destroying any grand old tradition by banning firecrackers.  Let us just do it. Let us have the lights and music, not noise.

Alternatively, we can go through the Anna Hazare route to ban firecrackers.  It is our claim of right to an intact eardrum. The right to live in peace. Stop the  hair-splitting about decibel levels of the firecrackers. Just ban the whole category. Nobody is going to stand around with a meter calculating the decibel level of millions of firecrackers going off in the by-lanes of the entire country. The clout of the firecrackers manufacturers is immense. No politician in Sivakasi will call for a ban on firecrackers. It is about the livelihood of lakhs of people. The solution is find out alternative livelihoods. Or else export the entire thing to China, or Pakistan.  That way our livelihoods will be intact and those guys across the border will get their eardrums shot.

Here I will attempt an amateur psychological explanation of why we do what we do. All the gentlemen who didn’t get to be Amitabh Bacchan, or who didn’t get to join some trigger-happy outfit, have to play out their fantasies through playing video games, piling up dead aliens by the truckload, or feeling brave, standing next to the lit fuse of a firecracker.

But seriously, in today’s terrorism fueled atmosphere, anybody can take it into his head to cause serious damage with a glass bottle filled with gunpowder (extracted from firecrackers) put in some nails and nuts, have a wick coming through a hole in the lid, and… you know what I mean. We just don’t need the specifics. Somebody is going to try it out.  Diwali with all the noise levels, you may never know which is a celebratory blast, and which is the one with a grievance.


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