About a year or so ago, I remember reading or hearing about new noise laws that had passed in Sri Lanka. A permit would be required to use loudspeakers on a vehicle (lottery ticket sellers on both bicycles and vans, as well as those seeking donations, frequently use these) and noise levels after 10 pm are supposed to not disturb others.
Yesterday, a neighbor of ours across the road had a party. Our first clue was mid-afternoon when Fahim mentioned to me the tables and chairs set up under large umbrellas. Our second clue was when the loud music began at shortly before 5pm. Not that anyone was at the party yet – probably testing the equipment.
Problem was that it was loud, so loud that Fahim and I could not hear the television program we were watching, no matter how loud we tried it at. We gave up after not very many minutes. So loud that I had a massive headache in only a few short minutes. So loud that I could hear and understand the lyrics even with my earplugs in (foamies, heavy duty, rated for, I think, 33 or 38 dB.)
We got a brief reprieve around 7-ish, long enough to watch the next ten minutes of our television episode, but then it started up again even louder.
And it got louder.
You know how, when you’re listening to really loud music and you can feel the bass affecting your heart?
Yeah, that loud. From our bedroom at the back of the house that’s relatively insulated. Rock-concert loud.
So loud that Fahim, who has been known to sleep through everything, couldn’t sleep through it. And so he called the cops around 10:10 or so. And called again, and again. And during the first call, confirmed that, yes, there were laws that prohibited loud music after 10pm. "We’ll send someone over right away."
No cops ever showed up. Fahim watched for them.
So what’s the point of having a law if, in fact, there’s no attempt to even give a pretence of enforcing it? Yeah, I don’t know either.
The last place we lived, we were up on a hill. At the bottom of the hill and a few hundred meters away, a politician lived in a fairly large house. And most Thursday nights, he’d have a drunken karaoke fest. Loud enough that I never got sleep on those nights. And those drunken karaoke fests would last all night, sometimes, and frequently, until 4 or 6 am.
No cops ever did anything about that, either. But then, this man was a politician, and laws here do not apply to politicians. The politicians make sure of it.