The wedding band man New Delhi 2004
The unbearable noise that had broken my sleep that Sunday morning sounded very much like a brass band whose musicians were holding their very first practice session just underneath my second floor balcony and window. I was staying in a very cheep guest house and I had a room that faced directly out onto the Main Bazaar in the Paharganj district of New Delhi, some of the windows in my room did not shut properly and some were broken causing a draft and I had no heating in my room and contrary to popular belief, Delhi can get bloody cold at certain times of the year.
The winter months of November and December are traditionally the wedding season in India and musicians ply their trade constantly during these two months. To the untrained ear these bands do sound like a mixture of a colliery brass band from North Yorkshire and Jazz musicians playing a funeral march in Americas Deep South.
I had originally and begrudgingly got out of my bed suffering with a chemical hangover which is always the after effects of drinking too much Hayward’s 5000 extra strong beer. I had the intention of politely asking who ever was making this noise to please go and make it somewhere else but when I got out side I was confronted with the glorious sight of group of middle aged men who were all dressed beautifully in pressed white uniforms and were marching up and down the dusty ally underneath my bedroom window.
Not one to miss an opportunity I went back to my room and picked up my camera and waited down stairs for them to finish. When these men had stopped playing I asked them if I could take someone’s portrait and this one gentleman was pushed forward. I asked him to stand by the brick wall. What you can’t tell by the photograph is that behind me there are about twenty of his band members yelling at him to straighten himself up and stand to attention, so it was his friends who directed the portrait, and I’m really pleased with their contribution. It’s worth noting the layers of jumpers that this man was wearing underneath his jacket, proof of just how cold it got in Delhi in 2004.
Portrait by Jason Scott Tilley