Image by Ben Heine
I was nearly lynched while driving in Texas where I blew my car horn freely as I did in my native Pune (India). It took me a very short while to realise that that this behaviour upset people so much that it could get me killed. It is generally believed particularly in the west and Japan that blowing the horn is considered rude and reserved as an insult to others.
There is a another deeper reason why people hate these loud noises, because it has become a killer. Yes noise destroys sanity before it takes your life. Census reports in USA and UK cite noise – more than any other problem even more than crime, litter, traffic, or inefficient government – as the biggest problem citizens face particularly in urban neighborhoods.
40% of people are regularly exposed to noise levels labeled as excessive by the Environmental Protection Agency."
The noise pollution is causing brain damage and heightened stress across communities and is more harmful to women and deadly for the young. Children generally learn slower and make more mistakes when brought up in noisy environments and generally tend to be less creative.
My friend Binoy is a highly creative person. He has been for the past 17 years been running his own company called 'Creative Edge' (www.digitalspice.co.in) . He teaches and also creates innovative designs, products and provides solutions for his clients.
Speaking with him about creativity I asked him if the environment made a difference in creativity? His answer was a categorical yes, environment makes a significant difference. He had two office in Mumbai which he had to shut down because it was almost impossible to do much creative thinking. The fatigue from encountering excessive noise and the constant din destroyed the ability of people to think coherently. He shifted staff back to his head office on the outskirt of Pune and the results have been remarkably positive. The same people were generally happier and three times more creative and productive.
Excessive noise and disturbance near centres of research and learning is one of the prime reasons for low creativity and innovation.
If we want a better quality of life then we must demand and ensure that people like you and me, and the authorities in urban areas do the following without further delay;
- Avoid making loud noises in our homes, at our work/study place and while driving.
- Volume of horns of vehicles and particularly those of buses, motorcycles be capped at lower decibel and frequency levels.
- Ban use of outdated models of noisy vehicles such as motorcycles, auto rickshaws, light and heavy commercial vehicles.
- Ban the use of horns near schools, hospitals, and most residential areas.
- Strictly enforce the Supreme court order of noise of pandals and processions to less than 80 decibels and to stop by 10:00 pm.
- Avoid excessive noise of sirens used by police while escorting every Ram, Tik and Hari.
Scientific information on how noise in our life is causing high stress and harming us all, can be found at the following website; http://www.fi.edu/learn/brain/stress.html#stressnoise
Individually we can do little, but collectively we can make a huge difference. Speak up and stand up for a better quality of life. We owe it to ourselves and our children.