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Aural rockets from the city of chaos
AKHIL SOOD  27th Jun 2015

Mumbai, more than most, is a city so permanently identified by its sounds. Turn down the volume and all you're left with is a surreal landscape of endless activity; it's the noise that adds the chaos. And while nostalgic reminiscence and convenience often mutes everything but the gentlest splashing of waves against the filthy coast as the sun sets, Sounds of Mumbai, started by Tapan Babbar, captures the vitality and dynamism of the city far more accurately. It's a collection of sounds acquired across important locations in the city, presented at against images from the corresponding place. The realism the website projects, the movement and the versatility that spots separated by barely a handful of parallel roads represent, is... well, it's fascinating.

Collective chanting of hymns and songs at Siddhivinayak Temple or the Haji Ali Dargah, selected either through the automatic "playlist" or via the little clickable map of the city, feels like a sharp contrast against the ennui-inducing traffic jams in town, assisted ably by the insistent honking of those big red buses tumbling through ridiculously narrow roads. The Marathi announcements on the local train — with its lilting rhythms of motion — seem to have that comforting sense of familiarity in a foreign place to them, while the solitude of Bandra Bandstand adds the stillness that's soon wrecked by the buzzing a few km away at Juhu. It's a fun little exercise wading through these found sounds, topped off by a clip inside the famous Maratha Mandir movie theatre, still playing Dilwale Dulhaniyan Le Jayenge a hundred years after it was first made. Thankfully no such website exists for the Smells of Mumbai just yet.

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