Blaring truths

The stadium is lit as 22 players focus on one ball.

Written by Kartikeya Ramanathan | Published: July 19, 2010 5:41:58 am

People who have witnessed the vuvuzela first-hand feel that stories of the instrument being annoyingly loud have been vastly exaggerated

The stadium is lit as 22 players focus on one ball. The atmosphere is electric,and thousands of spectators,sitting at the edge of their seats,are waiting with bated breath: both teams are tied,and time is almost up; soon they will have a winner. Suddenly,there is a flash of colours,the back of the net on one side of the ground bulges,and the player who scored,peels off,celebrating with a comet tail of his teammates. And suddenly,the vuvuzelas start buzzing.

Traditionally made from the horn of a Kudu,an African antelope,the vuvuzela was used to summon villagers for community gatherings. The horn came into the spotlight during this year’s FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa. Now made from plastic,these horns have had a mixed reaction – some say it added an unexplainable ‘African-ness’ to the tournament,while its critics,an English commentator in particular,have described it as ‘the horn from hell’.

Twenty-five-year-old Vicky Sareen,who went to Africa for some of the matches,says that stories of the vuvuzelas being very loud are vastly exaggerated. “The horns are not as loud as has been claimed,” he says. “During the matches,it was a perfect way for spectators to unleash their excitement.” Ishan Agarwal,who also went for the matches,agrees,“Only if someone was blowing the horn purposely and directly into your ear were you in any danger of hearing impairment.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said that calls for banning the vuvuzelas from the World Cup were made by those who had “European tastes and sensibilities”. Both Sareen and Agarwal agree. “Matches are always more enjoyable when you’re in a group. And it is but natural to make a lot of noise when you’re enjoying yourself.” Agarwal adds,“If drums and trumpets are allowed during the matches,why not vuvuzelas?”

The vuvuzela is a horn around one metre long,with a narrow opening at one end,and is long and thin,like a tube,before having a slightly wider opening. However,it is harder to blow than it looks. “It’s an incredibly difficult instrument to blow,and at the World Cup,only a handful of people actually managed it!” says Sareen.

Vuvuzelas were freely available,what with FIFA-dedicated stalls set up at all airports. “And with everyone trying out their merchandise,the airports certainly became noisy!” grins Sareen. “In fact,when we got on the plane,the air hostess had to warn the passengers that blowing the vuvuzelas on the plane was a criminal offence!”

Both Sareen and Agarwal,having witnessed vuvuzelas first-hand in South Africa,also feel that the instrument should be imported to other sports and nations. “Anyone who can learn how to play it would enjoy doing so at matches,” says Agarwal,with Sareen adding,“It would be a great addition to cricket,especially in India.”

Sareen also dispenses with another myth about the vuvuzela. “When one vuvuzela blows,it sounds like a normal horn. It’s only when thousands of vuvuzelas blow together that they sound like the buzzing of bees.”

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