Noise and the waterfall . . !

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WE are a noisy people. I remember going down to another city for a wedding, and staying with a friend, who had given me the best room in the house. A room with a sit out on the terrace with even a little waterfall to soothe your nerves especially when you are a writer.

“How do you like the waterfall?” he asked me next morning, “remember you had told me about it, so I designed it for the guest room. Doesn’t the sound of the water gently falling on those rocks soothe you?” I looked at him, then said frankly, “I haven’t heard it yet!” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that with the different air horns that all the cars had, that with the sound of motorbikes racing with their throttles open and state transport buses being driven with leg on accelerator and hand on a dull, monotonous air horn, the sounds the poor waterfall gave were never heard.

We are noisy people, and it is not that we are immune to noise. I see the elderly closing their ears and looking with anger at a horn blasting off. I see children and animals hiding as fireworks far above the permitted sound limit are set off. I have so often nearly lost control of my steering wheel as some fireworks go off on the road, nearly causing an accident. We are a noisy people.

I remember many years ago going with an international choir to the Philippines. It was a choral competition and all the different choirs were given air conditioned sound proof rooms to rehearse. We had to sing soft at a particular part and my choir conductor found that her trained group of professionals were not able to pitch, hold and sustain a note when we sang soft. I saw her panic, as she looked at her choir and wondered what had happened. “Ma’am,” I told her, “We are so used to pushing our voices against the sounds of the car, the cow and the outside world that we can’t hold our pitch when we sing soft!”

We are a noisy people! There’s no doubt about that. I look at the lovely well designed water fall, and the beautiful room and realize that till we learn to control our noise, till we learn to be aware of another’s needs, till we learn to be less selfish, we will miss out on the beautiful things of life. The waterfall spills its water soundlessly as a tourist taxi driver presses his horn needlessly..!

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