Saturday, May 30, 2009

Music becomes torture as shops & neighbors have a blast

It’s the middle of the day and fashion stores on main Ho Chi Minh City streets such as Hai Ba Trung, Nguyen Trai and Le Van Sy are playing their music several times louder than life.

The pounding music at street stores adds to a thousand and one different noises city residents are already subjected to throughout the day.

A café on Truong Sa Street stirs up the whole street corner every night with its music and loudly chatting young guests.

“Some nearby residents did complain to the ward authorities at first and they have rebuked us several times. But we just keep playing and no one complains anymore,” said a waitress at the café last Tuesday. “They’ve started to love our music, maybe.”

Sau Minh, a senior resident on Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, said he is seriously considering moving since the music feels like “torture.”

“Someday it’s a groaning singer and another day, someone quarreling by banging the life out of instruments.”

Minh said the noise could be less harsh for people inside glass-door houses. He does not live in one, and has no choice but to bear the music day after day.

A woman working near a computer shop on Cong Quynh Street that turns two large and loud speakers to the street said, “The noise of traffic is tiring enough and now that music tortures me every day.

“I’m exhausted.”

The torture gets worse when people are stuck in the middle of the street in a traffic jam.

Early this month, two young men in a topless car on Truong Dinh Street opened their stereo so loud other commuters had to yell at them to turn it down.

Noisy neighbors

Neighbors fond of loud music and/or karaoke are also major contributors to the high decibel intake that city residents are subjected to.

In most meetings with local officials, residents in District 3 complain about their neighbors’ stereo or karaoke players.

But after a brief lull lasting a couple of days, the noise returns with a vengeance.

There’s too much noise for adults to rest and for children to study, say suffering residents.

There are several residents who close all their windows and doors as their neighbors enjoy their music while others take more drastic steps like moving out of the locality.

In one instance, District 3 residents actually celebrated the moving of one of the noisiest neighbors in the neighborhood.

Thanh Nien has received many complaints from Districts 6 and Thu Duc about the shrill sounds they have to suffer at all times of the day from door-making and stone-cutting factories.

A resident in District 6 said, “I’m scared every time I see a cutter or grinder, because it reminds me of the piercing sound.”

Meanwhile people on Duong Tu Giang Street in District 5 have had to live with a market that sells automotive horns for many years now.

A resident who wished to stay unnamed said anytime they complained to officials, they receive the familiar answer, “Checked already, reprimanded already.”

The owner of a karaoke shop in the city, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said authorities demand karaoke shops to meet various sound standards before opening, but have so far ignored other noisy businesses.

According to a decree that took effect in December 2005, people can be fined between VND100,000-500,000 (US$5.62-28) for making loud noises at public places from 10p.m.-5a.m.

Making noises at other times of the day will only attract reprimands, according to the decree.

Also, ward authorities who directly receive the complaints are not equipped with noise meters and have to seek help from district agencies.

Commenting on noises made by travelers on the street, District 1 official Vo Phong said, “Only traffic police can deal with them.”

Doctor Do Hong Giang of the Audiology Department at the HCMC ENT Hospital told Thanh Nien earlier this month that people exposed to noise louder than 85dB two hours every day will suffer hearing impairment after two years.

The hearing will not recover later as it has been damaged gradually for a long time, Giang said, adding that HCMC streets are usually noisier than 85dB, so street vendors and main street dwellers suffer the most.

Reported by Minh Nam – Thanh Tung
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