Sound check, Bombay

By Fiona Fernandez | Mumbai

As the festive season takes over the city, our famous sutradhaars are geared to face the ride. What about the rest of us?

'Despite court directives, decibel levels in the city have worsened'

"Pheroze, do you hear me? Hello? All well up there?" Lady Flora seemed a bit worried as she tried for the umpteenth time to draw Sir PM's attention to her. He hadn't showed up at their usual meeting point, and so she decided to head towards his side of town, near his vantage point.

As she moved closer, she noticed that his ears were covered by what she could only imagine to be ear muffs. After all, most of her reference points for apparel and trends from her viewing point were the snatches of window displays at Whiteway & Laidlaw and Watson's on Esplanade. Finally, after having to frantically wave in front of him, Sir PM stirred. He was embarrassed that Lady Flora had to resort to such measures. "I apologise, Lady. You see, I …." And before he could complete his sentence, she interjected, "What is going on, Pheroze? You made me look quite foolish there," she complained.

"Our dear friend Dr Viegas has been keeping me abreast about the rising noise levels in the city, and how I ought to take extra precautions since the festive season is upon us and will continue for a while. Despite court rulings and directives, decibel levels in the city have worsened. I took his advice; we picked up these headphones that not only block the noise but also help me keep track of the latest music. Besides, I've always been curious about these things. I see these youth step out of the railway terminus constantly plugged into these from where I stand. See, I was quite the western classical music aficionado in my times.

I was known as Chopin of the Bombay…" and once again, Lady Flora was in no mood for the rest of his little speech, "Pheroze, but what I do not understand is why take such an extreme step? Wouldn't it cause a problem during your day-to-day interactions?" Sir PM replied, "Oh, Lady. You just worry too much. I'll be fine. I'm already learning a few new things about this wireless wonder. Besides, your nemesis, the Metro work is in full gear, and not doing much to cure my sinuses too. That, compounded with the endless drumming of dhols, brass bands, and whatnot…I'm not getting any younger. It's my insurance cover for this time, Lady."

Lady Flora seemed to have calmed down. She was starting to like the sound of this [pun intended, entirely], especially the part about drowning out the sound of night-long Metro work. It had been her permanent source of grief. And dark circles under her eyes, despite the best interests of her restorers. "Err, Pheroze, if you don't mind, could you be a darling and allow me to borrow these miracle ear plugs? I'd like to try it out tonight?" Sir PM was chuffed, and handed over the headphones to her. They waved their goodbyes and headed back to their respective points.

The following night, both met midway on Sir DN Road. There was a spring in Lady Flora's stride. "Oh, Pheroze, you wouldn't believe this. I've had the most peaceful nights since the work began. How can I thank you enough for this!" she smiled. Now, they could even exchange notes about music; he made a mental note. Sir PM gushed, and quickly suggested, "Hiro Music shut down ages ago; let's head to my old dealer on Lamington Road to find you a pair, now, shall we?"

mid-day's Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city's sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets
@bombayana. Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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