Noise

5 April 2015

It is Easter Sunday afternoon and I’ve been lying on the bed in our upstairs bedroom trying to read. The windows are closed, the air conditioner is humming and the ceiling fan is whirring. Yet I can still hear the bass boom of the “music” from the nearby theme park. The sound is carried efficiently down the river and it reverberates off the limestone cliff opposite our house straight into our bedroom. We have complained in person and in writing to the management of the theme park. We have tried phoning the front desk every time it becomes unbearable. All to no avail.

Ipoh is a noisy place. Despite the fact that we live in “a tranquil enclave for those who seek a peaceful environment surrounded by lush limestone mountains and a picturesque lake” (Sunway’s blurb, not mine!), we are tormented on an almost daily basis by the noise that I have described above. But it is not just where we live. Everywhere you go in this city, there is noise. Cars and motorbikes do not require warrants of fitness and some of them emit enough noise to make one do a double-take as one is driving along with one’s car’s air conditioner on while listening to a CD. Going to a shopping centre takes a strong nerve. As you get out of your car in the car park, you are bombarded with “music” from overhead speakers. When you get into the shopping centre, there are the competing sounds of the centre’s sound system and the music each store blares out as you walk by. If they’re hoping to entice me in, they’re going about it the wrong way! Appliance stores are the worst. You cannot make yourself heard when making an enquiry because of the noise from scores of TVs each tuned to a different channel. When I’ve asked shop assistants how they can stand the noise all day, every day they look at me blankly. I guess their hearing is already impaired.

Gardening is a noisy affair in Sunway City. The lawns are cut by teams of men wielding screaming strimmers. They are swathed against the fierce sun but have no ear protection. There is almost always the hum of leaf blowers. They are fanatical about getting rid of the leaves but seem unconcerned about the plastic bags and fast food styrofoam containers they discard after meal breaks.

It is now evening and the sun is retreating from our front verandah. It would be lovely to sit outside with a glass of wine and enjoy some fresh air now that it is cooling down a little. But our conversation would be accompanied by the music that Sunway insists is “part and parcel of the wholesome family fun” provided in their theme park.

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