Noise Pollution in Southeast Asia

Among all the pollutants we are exposed to, noise pollution is certainly the most nerve-wrecking. Here a party, there a marriage, a funeral, a disco, karaoke, temple festival, a mosque, private house music, a fair, a building site, dog’s barking and howling at night, traffic, TV, radio, a workshop, a lawnmower, a truck’s engine running while the driver is anywhere around… everyday over hours, day for day, week for week, month for month – it never stops here. And the people of Southeast Asia don’t know any limits when it comes to noise pollution.

There is no privacy for the people here, they are not individualized. All is a common matter, mostly family matter. On the other hand there is no respect for public space or public concern. As they use the sidewalks in front of their houses as whatever they want, an extension of their homes or as a metal workshop, so they make a hell of a noise, pesting squaremiles with it, just for – well, for what? Just so…

What makes these miserable people so relentlessly noisy? Well, primitive people are noisy. That’s an observation many Westerners documented already centuries ago. Friedrich Gerstaecker describes an evening in a Javanese village, when he couldn’t stand the partying in the place where he had an overnight, but had to pack his belongings and to escape to the village’s edge to find some rest there. Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn depicts a village in which he came after days of hiking through Java and where he actually planned to rest for a few days. He left it early instead, for the locals had a three-days festival and the party noise was not to stand (Licht- und Schattenbilder aus dem Innern Java’s).

What was a nuisance in the 19th century or former times generally, is a monstrous pest in our days. Nowadays everybody can produce a hell of a noise with just a flasdisk and an integrated loudspeaker. Hours over hours over hours until deep into the night all kind of crap is blasted out now. Sometimes it starts already early in the morning, when the muezzin cries out his message (not seldom also mp3 based), Buddhists produce radio music, advertisements and long-lasting announcements via loudspeakers or the national anthem is played, accompanied by radio broadcasting. Or a neighbour can’t sleep and starts playing his favourit techno music, high volume, basses turned on maximum.

A great deal of the population is dull and literally retarded. They suffer inner emptiness. They don’t find any meaning in their lifes. They have no sense for what is good in life, no taste, have no values nor virtues. They suffer a very low IQ and have no morals. They can not love anything and they are not lovable. They are irresponsible and give a damn for the sake of others. Nobody ever cared for them, why should they care? Most people never ever read a book in their live, not even the lousy newspapers they have here. They watch TV of the lowest kind, not interested in anything of substance. The highest imaginable art for them is business, or better fraud. Cheating ranks high. Cheating and taking advantage of each other is common in families and among acquaintances. Gambling for money is a main passion. They live miserable lifes without any perspective. Lack of reason is replaced by superstition.

Deprivation plays a central role in it’s explanation, but it’s not only the material poverty what explains the misery. When people grow wealthy, what not seldom happens in booming Southeast Asia, they still remain dull. Deprivation is not simply material. Generation long deprivation is conserved in their heads and outlives wealth. Once wealthy, they want ever more and more. The dullness, the inner emptiness, the absense of anything what makes humans human, what creates a life what can be called somehow fullfilled, is replaced by superficial fun. Booze and noise are a central part of that. The seemingly happy people with their superficial friendliness and smiles cover a black hole behind the facade. Happy looking people are not necessarily happy. They have little control over their lives, they are uncertain and know extremely little about the world they live in. They suffer oppression, structural and open violence, physical threats, fraud, humiliations, and can do little about it. That’s scaring. Are they aware of that? Here and there it’s certainly dawning, but it’s not a nice feeling, though. But they can beat it down. Being noisy makes feeling powerfull. One can forget. At least for a short time. And then one can repeat it…

Know…

This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Noise Pollution in Southeast Asia’. Read here the whole article on Noise Pollution.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

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