After some time behind the wall I am convinced that the relevant department of the Chinese government hands out a new hammer to every man, woman and child at the moment of their birth.
Now you’re thinking; ‘what would a baby do with a hammer?’ but, have you forgotten that children follow the example of their parents/betters/older relatives, thus as soon as they can swing the damn thing they automatically become a member of the Bang Bang orchestra.
The Bang Bang Orchestra, What’s That?
Every community in every village, town, city and province has one. They may vary in size and gender but they have enough members to enable them to bang away their hammers and other loud, clanging tools used for building on a twenty-four hour basis all year round.
China is developing so fast I doubt it could function without so many Bang Bang orchestras and, most people don’t seem to bat an eyelid about the cacophony of sounds which the orchestras produce.
Nowhere to Run
All of China apart from us delicate Westerners who like to sleep at night, preferably all night and wake after 7am or even 8am.
I guess it’s a kind of white noise, but not for me because it NEVER ceases.
Where ever I am and whatever I’m doing the discordant, clanging, chiming, intensely irritating thud of hammer against metal, wood or concrete, echoes unremittingly in the background of my life.
I come from a land of birdsong with occasional traffic noises, and even more occasional police or ambulance sirens, barking dogs and crying babies.
Yes, China has these varied sounds too but the one which trumps them all is the clatter of construction in motion as it continues to bulldoze its towns and cities right into the forefront of the 21st century.
Ah, how I long for ONE hammerless day when all Bang Bang instruments are laid to rest and the orchestra has a day off. A sublime twenty four hour pause as China listens to nature or traffic, or its own conversation.
Just one glorious day when the hammers are locked out of reach and nobody cares. One sweet day when I can pretend the Bang Bang Orchestra doesn’t exist and the only resonance I hear is the sound of my own heartbeat pulsing gently in my chest.
Am I asking for too much? Call me idealistic, but I hope not.
In a Nutshell
China is on a fast course to modernization resulting in construction projects taking place around the clock.
The beautiful city of Shenzhen in South China, where I currently live is known as the ‘fast city.’ A title gained from building huge sky scrapers at super-sonic speed. Three days to erect one floor is not unusual.
No-one knows when this building boom will end, in the meantime building sites appear out of nowhere on a regular basis in the big towns and cities.
Ear plugs could be an effect antidote, combined with headphones and a pillow or, I guess I could just take a walk in the park when it all gets too much, as long as it’s not next door to a construction site.