On cacophony

Fishing in Menteng
Fishing in Menteng

I’m a friend of noise. Some of my best friends make an insatiable racket! I’ve been known to create vast swathes of over-driven voices (listen to Kelly Churko and I hammer it out in Tokyo’s bastion of noise, Soup) accelerated with ever widening square wave filters!

But put me in a Jakarta hyper-mall or sit me in the back of an antiquated baja surrounded by scooters, buses, SUVs and taxies I’ll gradually lose my tolerance for these dense, complex and, I have to say, abusive sound scapes.

This morning, for instance, I had looked forward to a decent sleep having not done so well in the rest department for some days. Getting to bed at 3:30 ought to have set me up for a long, languid morning on my last day in Jakarta. Not so.

At precisely 8am the Situ Lembang Park, across the street, turned into a day-long fishing festival. The PA was cranked to max belching three Jakarta personalities yelling over each other, singing and still yelling, laughing and yelling, replicating the awful, noxious TV adds and game shows that seem to undermine every living cell, and the cacophony of every sound known to modernity screaming in every mall and shopping centre I had been in.

The screaming stopped at 11 by which time I was sat at the furthest end of the house practising harmonic minor scales, as one does, with eyes desperate for rest and silence.

By 1pm I was walking round the lake, every edge of it a fishing pole and folks earnest in their task. Before your imagination starts drifting to idyllic ponds and water ways, this lake is man made, is ringed by a reasonably pretty park, but sincerely folks, there ain’t no fish. So it was with some surprise when everyone began to howl in awe and delight at the site of a large fish being wound out, not without a struggle, to shore.

I’m sure live fish had been placed in the lake the previous day in preparation for today’s festivities. Not so says the Mayor of West Jakarta, who claims the water is so clean gold-fish can be found there. That may be so, but something as large as a carp? I think not. Besides the water is far from clean. I’ve lived opposite it for a month.

But what the heck!  I preferred the murmur of Sunday folks with their fishing rods to the days harrowing start.

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