City Landmark - Accordion Man, South Extension I

City Landmark – Accordion Man, South Extension I

City Landmark - Accordion Man, South Extension !

His silent music.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Sitting with legs crossed, head tilted, moustache neatly trimmed and twirled, smiling beatifically, he is playing his accordion, the bellows of the instrument fanned out to their utmost extremity. No music is streaming out though. The whole setup is a statue.

The accordion man is installed under a peepal in South Extension I, in a shaded tree-filled plaza outside the underground metro station, gate no. 2. This uncomfortably warm, sunny mid-May evening, a poker-faced citizen is seated beside the accordion man, looking thoughtful. Another citizen is seated on the other side of the accordion man. He too is looking thoughtful. Neither of them shows any curiosity towards the player, as if he were just another ordinary Delhi walla.

At certain times of the day, the plaza teems with scores of Delhiwale in no hurry to go anywhere—they linger alone, or with friends, or with their romantic interest. (See, over there a citizen’s head resting on another citizen’s shoulder.) Additionally, a few lazy dogs are always plopped down here and there, snoozing.

Meanwhile, the chabutara under the peepal on which the accordion man is installed is littered with fresh discards of everyday consumerism—a piece of french fry, a plastic spoon, an empty cigarette pack, a crushed chai paper-glass. A closer observation reveals the accordion man to be a victim of manhandling. Both his thumbs are missing; the accordion’s handle too is missing. Perhaps some anti-social element tried to steal the accordion (which isn’t a real accordion!).

Briefly settling down close to the metallic musician, market guard Tulsi Ram (see photo) complains in an exasperated tone that the “bachhe log” youth sometimes meddle with the statue—a few even try to lift it. Once the accordion man fell on the ground, he says. The guard informs that the statue had come up last year during the countdown to G20 New Delhi Summit.

Three more statues—one with a mobile phone—had come up the same time in the facing plaza across the Ring Road, in South Extension II, outside the other exit of the same metro station. Excited citizens would exploit the decorations for selfie sessions. Those three statues are nowhere to be seen today.

One evening a month back, a group of young men were huddled close to the accordion man, singing an Arijit Singh chartbuster. One boy was strumming a guitar. It was a number about frustrated love. The accordion man was showing utter indifference to the sad mood of the lyrics, continuing to smile beatifically.