There is a lot of noise in my new area. My apartment faces the street – a four lane boulevard full of cars most times of the day. In the night, loud music from tuned BMW’s mix with police sirens and shouts. On the weekends, honking wedding caravans. When I had just moved in, I thought people were fighting when I heard screams on the street, but it was just the Turkish fruit and vegetable dealers who shouted out their prices, as they do every day in the hour before closing.
I love it. Because I love noise. It makes me feel less alone.
Hugo Macdonald writes in the July/August 2011 issue of Monocle:
There’s no denying that cities are noisy places, but there’s a difference between noise and sound, and it’s possible to measure the quality of life in a city depending on whether its din veers more in one direction than the other.
Screeching sirens, car horns and alarms, hiphop on full volume in convertibles, public shouting matches and drunken roaring are all noises that convey a crime-ridden, angry population keen to be heard in whatever way possible. Church bells, the tring of bicycles and the gentle hum of chatter and laughter suggest a city with a healthy street culture and a happy population, enjoying their city – not fighting to be heard in it.
Yes, I know that Monocle is a lifestyle magazine which deals with ideals, I know they chose Helsinki as the “most liveable city” and that their editor is in love with Stockholm. But still, who wants a “healthy street culture” – honestly? Or a “gentle hum”? I prefer the hip hop anytime, but I guess I always had a soft spot for the crime-ridden.
Shortly before I left Stockholm, I saw this “quality of life” campaign from the city:
It reads: “Robert sleeps without noise.” That image so brilliantly summed up everything that I found boring with Stockholm that I had to take a photo of it. I sometimes use it as a reminder of what I love with Berlin. No, we don’t sleep without noise in this city. In fact, we hardly sleep at all.