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Journeys with the caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores
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Friday, October 14, 2005

Auto Rickshaw blues

There is something unique about the music played at auto rickshaws in Mumbai.
First, the music is played on a cheap audio casette player and cheap and small speakers which are placed right behind the passenger's neck. So the music hits the rider and that too in a high pitch high decibel mode. Also, often the cassette player is not working in perfect condition and runs faster or slower than the optimal speed.
Secondly, its about the kind of music that is played. I have come across bhajans, bihari devotional music, 80s tragic love songs, indo-Brit-pop, remixes etc. Combine this with the infrastructure for playing the music, and it's as if all the Krause's corpuscles get accumulated in our ears and cause substantial endorphin release leading to an orgasm that eventually leads to temporary deafness.
And one must say a few words about the rickshaw drivers. These guys love their music. They are all north indians. Often they have explained to me the meaning of the devotional songs they are playing. Once a guy refused to ride if he had to switch off the music. And once I encountered a Dean Morearty like character dressed in tight-fitting uniform, french beard and a british style cap who was swinging his head, hands, and waist while driving and listening to loud ind-brit-pop.

A few words about the riders. Most of them think its too low brow to let the driver play the music. Yours truely hates this music (because of my distaste for devotional music, indo-brit-pop, and hindi film music) . And the best strategy to counter that is to call someone on your mobile and use that as a pretext to ask the rickshaw driver to stop that loud music.


Anonymous said...

I wan't aware there were actually different kinds of music played on ricks. I have only heard the latest bollywood / remix tunes - and also only the dhin-chak beats - everything else is muffled by the noise of the traffic and the poor quality of the speakers!

Rishna said...
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