A few days ago we had our first guest in 135 days. Just one person. We made sure the three of us — wife, guest and me — sat at the regulation distance from each other. Thankfully our drawing room is just about large enough for that. But it’s not designed for people to hold conversations sitting six feet away from each other. And, in any case, the ceiling fan and the air conditioners also do their bit.
So we had to nearly shout to be heard. It wasn’t much fun. Fortunately, we were not wearing masks. The alternative was to turn off the AC which, in August in Delhi, was unthinkable. So we had to turn off the fan. We could now hear ourselves but since we were seated in an equilateral triangle, we had to take turns on who would sit directly under the AC.
A word about ceiling fans here seems to be in order. There used to be a time, until the late 1970s, when the blades were heavy, very curved and wide. So they scooped up a lot of air, which meant you could run them at a low speed and still be comfortable. But they needed heavy motors. Since the early 1980s the motors have become lighter and blades lighter still. The curvature is also much less. This means they have to rotate at high speed to generate a reasonable breeze. And for the last ten years fans imported from China have only made it all that much worse.
I was told this by a Korean TV manufacturer when I asked him about the sound settings. These are kept higher for the Indian market, he said, because Indian cities are so noisy.
This has also meant that TVs play that much louder. And since we all keep our windows open when the ACs are not running, the noise level is ridiculously high. I am not making this up.
I was told this by a Korean TV manufacturer when I asked him about the sound settings. These are kept higher for the Indian market, he said, because Indian cities are so noisy. But noisiness is an intrinsic part of Asian culture.
The reason why we had had a guest was that she had just flown in from London where she had been stuck for four months and was now on her way to Jaipur. It is about 250km away from Gurgaon where we live. Her flight had arrived at noon and, since our house is on the way to Jaipur, she asked if she could come for a shower and a change. The flight, she told us, had been pure hell with all that protective gear and no food. Even the water was rationed and, as to the other passengers, she said, the less said the better. They had made enough noise to last her a lifetime.
My wife and I made clucking sounds of sympathy. We had once been on a flight that had about 50 lower level government employees. They thought they could behave without any restraint — all only shouted to each other — and the four hours back from Bangkok where they had gone for some training programme had been the worst I have ever experienced. From what our guest said it seemed to have been exactly like that on her flight, utterly uncomfortable because of the uncouth and noisy behaviour of the other passengers. Mind these when they had to remain seated through most of the flight.
In fairness, though, it must be said that the Chinese when they travel in groups are even worse. We once had a tourist group of about 100 Chinese — even here it is scale that matters to get lower prices. This was on a connecting flight from Hong Kong to Korea. It was pure hell. It’s a three-hour flight and the Chinese yelled, sang and laughed loudly throughout. In the end three
Chinese men loudly demanded that they be allowed to stand when the plane was landing. I think the poor stewardesses were nervous wrecks by the time we landed. We certainly were.