Mumbai: Living in Mumbai requires an inexhaustible tolerance for noise. There's the ceaseless revving of auto rickshaw engines and the clamor of car horns as drivers edge through impenetrable traffic.
The worst affected are the patients in the hospitals and school children. Motorists pay no heed to signboards in front of schools and hospitals and continue blaring.
As the Mumbai traffic police observed a ‘‘No Honking Day" today, the Free Press Journal decided to see how this rule was affecting school students. However, on the ground, the situation did not change much as most Mumbaikars were unaware of it and were shocked to learn that honking could attract fines. Students shared that they did not witness any change or less honking today while commuting to their respective schools.
Disruptive honking on busy roads while classes are on
Schools located on busy roads too have their classes disrupted because of honking. "Although there is traffic congestion and diversion near my school, the classes are located on the backside of the building," explains Bhavna Patel, a student at Shishuvan School in Matunga's bylanes. “It's difficult to concentrate on class lectures, but it can also help you stay awake on days when you feel sleepy," she says tongue-in-cheek.
"We are a noisy country, and I know it's impossible not to honk in a congested city like Mumbai. However, individuals should consider not honking in places where schools are located since it disturbs our teachers and us. Although we are used to the sound, today was no different than any other day," says Pragya Bhatia, a class 7 student at D.A.V school in Airoli.
In a lighthearted comment, Pragya said she wishes car horns to mimic the sounds of the flute and tabla. Pragya said, "Just imagine how pleasant it would become to our ears and not create needless noise pollution.”
"Today when I was returning home from school by school bus, the traffic police fined our driver for honking. It was only then I learned about today's 'No Honking day'," says Hassaan Khan a Class 9 student at Millat High School.
Sharing a humorous instance he saw today, Hassan says "At the Western Express Highway signal, I heard the noise of a driver 'Are bhai gadi aage badhao, jaam ho raha hai."
"Surprisingly, the driver wasn't honking only because the Traffic Police officer was standing right in front of him with a camera," he added.
The city has hundreds of schools with thousands of students each, many of them situated in narrow bylanes.
One day is not enough
“We appreciate the efforts of Mumbai traffic Police, but one day won't make a difference. Arrival of students by car is a nightmare. It slows down traffic and then drivers begin to honk constantly,” said a teacher of a private school at Bandra’s Dominic Road. Ironically, the area around an educational institution is considered a silence zone.
These loud horns lead to numerous problems for students at Little Hearts Learning center, a special needs school in Chembur. "No honks near our area would be a blessing for school," says Prachi Mehra, a teacher at the school. “Car honks not only distract students in class but also confuse and startle them. Some days, autistic students experience acute anxiety episodes that require us to visit the emergency room. Loud noises of any type are the worst for them. Any assistance from authorities would be highly appreciated," she added.