Observing Life: In a world of sensory-overload, there is a must for mental calmness

Living in a world of sensory-overload can be tiresome, especially in Dubai, one of the fastest-developing cities on the planet. Noise would seem to be the price of progress – and I am bombarded by it from the second I wake until the moment I fall asleep. The problem did not seem so pronounced six […]

Living in a world of sensory-overload can be tiresome, especially in Dubai, one of the fastest-developing cities on the planet. Noise would seem to be the price of progress – and I am bombarded by it from the second I wake until the moment I fall asleep.

The problem did not seem so pronounced six months ago, but with the mercury racing up the thermometer gauge under the impending onslaught of summer, it seems that the city’s construction sites have gone into turbo mode.

I live in the original, and “quietest”, part of the marina, where a titanic tower is emerging from the last undeveloped plot at warp speed ahead of the reduced work hours during Ramadan. With men constructing around the clock, seven days a week, the industrial symphony bounces off surrounding buildings and carries on the wind – a hurricane of noise that blows straight through my balcony doors.

If I am not awoken by bone-shuddering piling rigs boring deep into the ground, then there’s the repetitive clang of diggers and the hiss of hydraulics.

Midday brings shrill metal cutters and head-splitting pneumatic drills, while the beeps of reversing bulldozers and dumper trucks provide “eine kleine nachtmusik” (a little night music).

As “luck” would have it, a beauty salon in my building has also begun renovation works, scheduled to last a month. With budgets presumably tight, all the “ripping out” is being done by hand and hammers from dawn until dusk.

It’s extremely hot, hard graft and my compassion is firmly with the labourers, especially at this time of year. When you consider what they go through each day, it puts my grumbles sharply into perspective.

The din of building work is, for me, merely an annoyance – after all, journalists are, by necessity, masters of blocking out ambient noise and distractions when faced with a deadline. Whether we’re in a crowded airport, at a rugby match or a heavy-metal concert – there’s no time to find a quiet spot when a story needs to be filed.

Peace and quiet, therefore, are rare and precious things and I take advantage when opportunities present themselves. On long taxi rides I am content to gaze out of the window with the radio off. I’m equally at ease with there being no forced chatter when sitting in the chair at the hairdresser – with only my hair being volumised. And what a treat to have the swimming pool to myself for a tranquil hour before the city awakens to its weekend.

In a frenetic, fast-paced world where noise pollution and dangerous decibels are becoming a frightening norm, snatching silences here and there is a must for mental calm. However, it’s easier said than done, and if you do happen to unearth a Zen palace or soundproof retreat of your own in the UAE, I applaud you – quietly.

rduane@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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