Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The facets of facing one's music!

It may be hard to believe that the omnipotent back up alarm, a device that turns on whenever the four-wheeler on which it has been installed upon is in reverse, has ushered in a revolution in all spheres of life.

Strange, indeed, are the ways of nature, for the device mentioned above was able to achieve what no marriage counselor would have. A newly-married couple, my neighbours, narrated to me this incident that perplexed me ever after. Things had been fine for a while after marriage, they say, when disagreements and arguments made its way into their “and they lived happily ever after” part of life. “We used to return from work in evening and erupt as if by clockwork. My husband and I used to vent our anger at our Chinaware, our marriage gifts, which were trashed within six months,” they recollect. I stare at our partition wall, which, if I were able to converse in its dialect, like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense, would have in between sobs pointed to its scratches and strips of peeled paint, while explaining that it was at the receiving end of their acrimony. “If that is so, how do you eat?” I was tempted to ask, when the wife says that it was during one such incident that she realised that there were no vessels to break in the house and stormed out, when the strains of Celine Dion’s “My heart will go on” from a neighbour’s back up alarm, who was attempting parallel parking for the last two hours, melted her heart, as she ran back into the arms of her husband, never to argue again with him.

Another neighbour of mine, too, has a story to tell. He was unsuccessfully married five times and recently inherited a fortune from a relative. Worried that the romantic strains of the car parking alarm may stir his heart into another marriage, and an eventual divorce, necessitating a split in the inheritance, he has invested in double sound-proofed doors and windows and a music player with noise-cancelling headphones. He adds that he plays heavy metal or rock on his player and wears the earphones whenever he steps out of the house.

Talk about spin-off investment.

I assumed this too weird to be true, when I was handed a reality check by the next day’s papers that covered in detail a gargantuan traffic pile-up at the highway due to the ubiquitous back up alarm. Apparently, this vehicle owner had synchronised his iPod with his car alarm such that his favourite melodies could be played when he was taking the reverse. His nerves were soothed such that he had fallen asleep at the wheel, as did many others wanting to overtake him. A lion from the adjoining forest that had entered his car in search of food, too, was lulled into sleep. Paramedics (wearing sound-proofed headphones) who were dropped in parachutes to the spot (the pile-up by then was so intense), were seen posing with the sleeping lion – some grinned, some placed their feet on its head as if it were their prize hunt and some flexed their muscles. The lion, it seems, ever since has taken a liking to attending classical music concerts.

Whoever had said music transcends all barriers must have done a somersault in their grave.

Moving beyond the realm of hearing, some rather inventive minds decide to baptise the back up alarm for its ultimate utility - by trying to bring in what the world essentially lacks: peace. A brigade decided to march through strife-torn areas armed with nothing but this device. A noted international newspaper beginning with ‘The’ and ending with ‘Times’ with a word rhyming with ‘cork’ in between reported as follows: “It was as if an army of pied pipers were present in flesh and blood. Call it hypnosis, magic or any other superhuman phenomena, but the mere sight of the back up alarm brigade walking past them was enough to turn the warring factions into gentle lambs as they dropped their ammunition to the ground; some forgot that they were brandishing grenades, and met with their fate instantly, but not before being graced by harmony. The others were in no time part of the congregation of peace. However, tragedy struck at the most inopportune moment as the entire group walked into a field rigged with landmines (which the militia had themselves installed) and were blown into pieces. The incident, however, shows that peace does have an outside chance to exist in this world.”

Sensing an opportunity, the traffic police have at busy junctions installed such gizmos to control traffic if it gets out of hand. Musicians and composers from around the world were invited to compose melodies - graded soothen, drowse, snooze and hibernate. Such was the success of the device that it was even nominated for “invention of the century” Nobel. However, a hitch existed. The panelists while reviewing the gizmo went into apnea, only to gain consciousness two years afterwards. So fascinated were al-Qaeda by this device that they are said to have done away with suicide bombers completely and invested a few billions in developing a custom version for its acts of terror. The latest cable leaks from er, Wikileaks claim that the military establishment in Pakistan is not all ears about this proposal.

This device has come in handy for coaches training rookie sportspersons — be it cricketers, footballers or athletes – to help them overcome the fear of massive crowds and instruments like the vuvuzela that were in full blare in the recent FIFA world cup. “By traning the sportspersons to listen to the audio output of such devices prior to entering the field,” an internationally-renowned cricket coach who preferred not to be named, but on second thoughts deemed it okay to be identified as the person responsible for mooting the multiple-captain theory for the IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders, said, “We are boosting the morale of the player. His mind will be as clear as Ricky Ponting with McGrath, Warne, Hayden and Gilchrist back in his team prior to a game against The Combined School Boys-XI and as aggressive as Sreesanth after having bowled a dot-ball following a slew of extras,” while slapping his forehead for dropping more than just a subtle hint.

However, not all is rosy about this technological breakthrough, as instances of its misuse are on the rise. Poachers who until recently had to wade through deep jungles and unfriendly habitat to capture wild animals could never have asked for more. Instant capture is the code-word in their fraternity as even an investment in simple items like bait was not needed. Just the dear old back up alarm with battery backup. As I write, WWF is said to have pressed for development of a variant of this device that produces notes that sound harsh and discordant to animals but are pleasing to the user and peddle it to the poaching mafia. It has, through discreet diplomatic channels, even requested the Queen of England to permit the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra to be a part in this endeavour of theirs...

And I would like to beg for forgiveness for having lied all along!