Indians are used to noise, but do they like it?

Cultural differences are sometimes hard to define. People resort to very basic statements like, “Easterners are more family oriented,” or “Americans are more independent.” Yes, we know that Indians eat masalas and chutneys while Americans eat more potatoes, meat, and salads. But, what about other environmental issues such as noise?

During my several trips to India I noticed that everywhere I went it was very noisy. Even when I went to places that were famous for being quiet, there were drunk people yelling at 3am! Indian cities are famous for honking sounds, loud vendors, and other unbearable noise pollution.

When I ask the locals what they think about the noise, the standard response is, “Oh, I don’t even notice it.” Even at night in India, security guards rap their sticks against metal objects making a ticking rhythm and once I heard a security guard blowing a whistle at midnight to scare off the bad guys.

When I asked Indians if they prefer quiet and order, most of them said they would, although they are not really bothered by chaos and noise. I, on the other hand am very bothered by noise, disorder, and being pushed by rude people at train (railway) stations!

I noticed that in my apartment complex, there are some noisy children. I did an experiment to see how far noise traveled. I walked away from a volleyball game where everyone was screaming. After I got 100 wide paces which is 300 feet, the noise died down to being almost not detectable, and after 400 feet I couldn’t hear it at all. Interesting.

(1) Cultural differences are hard to define: Masala vs. Hamburgers is one. But, what about noise tolerance?
(2) Noise from children playing travels 300 feet and then becomes virtually undetectable to the human ear.
(3) Although Indians are accustomed to noise and chaos, most claim that they prefer peace & quiet!

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