Kolkata Soundscapes

Traffic Sounds

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Sounds are that inevitable part of city life which occupy our senses. Kolkata like any other megalopolis has a platter to offer. A particular interesting kind  is the traffic sound. No event in this city is isolated;vision,our previous experiences,our olfactory senses and even these sounds play a part in absorbing our surroundings.

On an exposure to the traffic tales of Kolkata, What one lands up with is the omnipresence of sound at such junctions. With passage of time the sound at places like Seven Point Crossing and Jadavpur Thana junction has slowly taken up the guise of noise. Nonetheless what never fails to amuse one is the lack of monotony at such places. when one stops at a traffic a clear lending of your ear would reveal the myriad auto rickshaw drivers and bus conductors shouting out their route and destination. With better exposure a mystery unfolds when one realizes the amazing rhythm in their act. Years of chanting the same thing has resulted in this uniqueness. There is also a constant hullaballo in the pool cars with children who can’t afford to waste a single minute with silence. The innocence in their voice and the laughter forms another shade of traffic sound. Some vendors one often gets to see at Chowringee  road and Lindsay Street crossing would come up to you knocking on the glass calling out “Strawbare” (mispronouncing strawberry). Unaware even they contribute to the constant music of different sounds.


Thankful to the advancement in technology every car now evidently comes with stereo systems and the drive for excellence gives each one of them new range of Dolby sound and Bass. A ride through the city where timings between two places is minimum one hour (including thetraffic jam) people love to entertain themselves with loud or serene music. The younger generation lend nothing but the bass from inside the closed glass panes as a loud rhythmic thumping of the sound boxes. The fun of this in a traffic stop is that different cars have different pace of thumping yet clubbed them with the loud bhojpuri songs or the cheesy Bollywood numbers form a complete other rhapsody.

The best part of a traffic sound comes the moment the signal turns green, the peculiar hurry in every mind leading to the continuous honking of each car with different prolonged periods. Disagreeing with Haruki Murakami’s statement that sound is of no use to human evolution, it gets in the way at junctions like these where the liberated man is waiting to take the road by himself accompanied by his sound and vision. A new ‘sound’ one gets these days are the Rabindrasangeet played in loudspeakers as a part of enhancing culture policy of our government. However owing to the number of songs already being played in individual cars this adds up to just another stream of music in the air. Initially this seems to be a caricature but on a deeper insight this rumbling makes the city dwellers feel alive.

To transform a grimace into sound sounds impossible, yet it is possible to transform a vision into music.!
-Dejan Stojanovic