City Landmark – Pari Selfie Point, Mathura Road
A new landmark.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Is it a flapping of wings? Or are these the limbs of a friendly octopus?
This metallic installation is the latest landmark of the capital, here on Mathura Road. A sari-wearing labourer, sweeping the pavement nearby, discloses that it was finished seven days ago. Glancing at it, she declares she can’t say what the thing is.
It is not uncommon for artists to show their work in public spaces without giving away their identity. Some months back, the internet was abuzz with the sighting of a monolithic metal pillar in the remote canyons of Utah in the US. But this piece is marked with the seal of Delhi government’s Public Works Department.
Indeed, the installation belongs to a panorama that is forming up in Delhi’s heart. This stretch goes past Pragati Maidan, whose exhibition complexes were knocked down some years ago to make way for new buildings. Many of the gigantic structures appear to be close to completion. A huge new building is standing just behind this mysterious figure.
A plaque on the platform on which the installation stands calls it the “Pari Selfie Point” (the middle word is spelled ‘selfi’). Perhaps the flapping arms thus represent the wings of a pari, or fairy. And the fact that the piece has been distinguished as a spot to get a selfie suggests the future life of this part of the city. Certainly, commuters speeding along the road won’t be expected to stop their cars for a selfie here. But maybe, once the area is redeveloped and unveiled, the planners expect it to be crowded with revellers visiting its complexes — revellers who, while walking on this part of the pave, might like to get keepsake portraits with the pari.
This afternoon though, the installation is too new to be a part of the city’s texture. The unfriendly sunshine is glinting off the metal and ramming right into the eyes. Now, garbage recycler Bablu appears, carrying a huge sack on his shoulder. With sweat dripping off his chin, he stops to gaze upon the sight. He looks surprised on being told what the plaque says about the installation. It’s a pari, he asks in surprise. He circles around it, and walks away without giving his snap review.
Selfie with fairy