Sunday, May 27, 2007

I Wake Up Screaming

I have to let off some steam, but not because it's still hot, although it is. I'd like to take back what I wrote on Thursday about being woken up from 0730 in the morning by unsociable blue-van based street hawkers armed with their loudspeakers, irritating voices and bizarre sales pitches on a tape-loop. Because this morning, this guy was crawling round our apartment block at 0530 - 5mph - giving me more than ample time to get up, open the window fully, reach for a weapon and take a shot. Unfortunately, until Canon see fit to arm their cameras with microwave beams, my chances of burning out his electrics with my IXUS 800 are about zero. Still, at least this way I know I didn't dream it.

And what was he selling? Salt. Just who, exactly, is buying frakking salt at 0530 in the morning? That's what I want to know.

Some people will tell you about the importance many Asian cultures place on the ideal of maintaining social harmony, but I haven't seen too much of that in evidence here. What goes through someone's head to make them think that driving round apartment blocks with a loudspeaker so early is in any way socially acceptable? Aren't there are laws against this? It's amazing you can't get any peace in a country which is allegedly so heavily Buddhist influenced.

But... I think the truth is that this society brainwashes its people into accepting rampant commercialism and the shadier practices which go along with it, and if that means sellers have a right to wake you up at 0530 then so be it. You might even notice that the lamp-posts in the photograph are all plastered with adverts - it's rare to see one that isn't. Sometimes it seems like everyone's selling something.

Anyway, this guy better not be a Buddhist otherwise at this rate I reckon he'll be coming back in the next life as a cockroach.

7 comments: said...

Asian social cohesion means not making a fuss over other people doing things, not thinking of what your fellow man/woman might think of your actions ;-)

Did Mrs. Mike sleep through the salt seller?

Mosher said...

Don't get me started on being woken up by inconsiderate people. I spent a year living next door to a chav who had parties and so on until 7am and barely slept in all that time. I really don't want to go over the psychological damage.

Anyway, I'm currently in Jerusalem and sleeping outdoors on a roof. As you may be aware, Muslims have to pray five times a day at roughly equal intervals. And they are very noisy about reminding people. I can't even begin to count the mosque towers around here with loudspeakers stuck on them chanting at silly o'clock each day/night/morning.

I think the Jewish area does something similar as there's a clash with other sounds at times. And of course, Sunday morning has more church bells than you've heard in one area before ringing as the Christians have *their* Sabbath.

Earplugs, fella. Earplugs, alcohol and exhaustion.

Mike said...

Ah - I see I may have this social cohesion thing the wrong way round then. I'll just shut up and take it then :-)

We both woke up - it's a bit hard not to with the window open and the road right beneath it.

Anyway, clearly this pales into insignificance compared to our winner, Mosher, who is sleeping on a roof in a conflict zone. I've no hope of beating that (nor do I want to!) :-)

I have the earplugs and the exhaustion already, and believe me, even though I'm not supposed to drink any more I'm seriously considering it as a solution to a number of problems. I'll keep you posted if I'm sufficiently sober ;-)

The exciting and talented James said...

I hear you Mike. I've been wearing earplugs every night for the past 3 years now. Fortunately I live on the 14th floor myself next to a very busy 6 lane road, so I don't have too many salt sellers and the noise, while loud, is a constant that you can get used to.

Guys like your favorite salt seller make me realise why Koreans don't like daylight saving. At least its not as bad as Japan, where the sun is currently rising at 4am.

I'm afraid the noise will get worse later in the year due to the elections. The law was changed last year to allow the candidates to scream at you with loudspeakers from trucks from 7am - previously they could only do it from 9, when noone was home. As a consolation though, the trucks do often have scantily-clad dancing girls on the back too!

Anonymous said...

My buddy usually heads out and yells at them that he'll complain to the police. Works every time.

Mike said...

Thanks for the warning about the elections James. Expanding the times seems like a backward step but I suppose I'm not surprised that politicians have passed a law to make people listen to them more.

I have an instinctive feeling from the music and breathless ad-hoc sales pitch echoing round the streets that there's already a truck with dancing girls crawling round our area once every few days, but I haven't actually seen them yet.

Mike said...

Wedge, I haven't yet got to the stage where I'm yelling out of the window at them, but I can feel the day is coming. Good to know it seems to work!

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