Did you know that some cities are busy but quiet?

Quiet and deserted city. Net photo.

Why has being busy always been associated with noise and bustle? You only need to stand outside a market to confirm this ‘busy-ness’ as people haggle over prices and shout to other people in the far end corners generally making noise. On some streets there is so much noise that you can barely hear yourself think. Some of the noisiest cities in the world include Mumbai and Delhi, both found in India, Cairo in Egypt, Tokyo in Japan and Madrid in Spain.

On a quiet note, Reykjavik in Iceland, Vienna in Australia and Hensinki in Finland have all been mentioned in the list of the quietest cities in the world. But again, there are some very industrious and hectic places such as Dubai, which for all its industriousness, is not noisy. Except for the regular calling of the faithful for prayers by the prayer leader from the mosque, there is hardly any noise. With its vast number of tourists, industries and influx of workers, you would think that its noise levels would be high. Although there are loads of people getting in and off the metro train, buses or just walking very fast on the streets, you can hardly hear any noise. This makes you wonder how this is achieved.

When the transport system is well streamlined, with well-maintained roads, railway systems, all other vehicle pathways are in place and traffic rules are followed, there is little excuse for noise making. If facilities run on time, such as buses and trains, and the expectations are clear and can be easily followed, then the system runs smoothly and calls for noisy interruptions like hooting and long arguments about who has the right of way or why one is selling a dress at a certain price. When a society is ruled by systems and time, every micro second counts, so there is no time to say or discuss anything out of the expectations.

At an individual level, in most modern cities, the trend is the same. In the elevators, on the train or at the bus stop, everyone is busy looking at their phone, way too busy to speak to the person seated or standing next to them. They walk with ear phones in their ears in their own fantasy world, still very disengaged from the real world. So shh…

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