Flash mob in Delhi goes kaput

Shomini Sen

New Delhi: Can Delhi ever have anything impromptu in a public space without the police or the general population playing spoilsport? Perhaps not. While they had planned a flash mob in the busy streets of Janpath, Cabbageheads- a group of college students, could not manage to pull it off on Saturday evening.

The presence of media people generated curiosity and slowly, a crowd gathered in the flea market. While the impromptu jig was scheduled to start at 5:30 pm, confusion and chaos was all that one saw. Some were aware about the flash mob, some were part of the group and rest was just thoroughly confused as to why there were so many cameras.

Like the common Indian herd mentality, everyone gathered around the camera men and kept asking each other what exactly they were shooting. The crowd kept increasing around the media persons and no one really knew what they were looking at.

Rumours started floating around the market that Vidya Balan was about to enter the market to promote her film. This news made the avid shoppers drop the clothing item they were bargaining for and run towards the crowd. Star starved city that the capital is.

Half an hour after the scheduled time of starting the `show` police started clearing the place to make way for the program. One girl went up and even asked a police official ` Aap ye dance ke liye clear karwa rahe ho na?` The so called secret was out in the open! The Delhi police played nonchalant and said, `pata nahi madam, media wale kuch karenge`.

Everyone took position and waited and kept waiting for something to happen. Any movement,..anything. But confusion and moving from one spot to the other is all that was there. Someone in the crowd joked, `This is going to go the Metalica way`. And sure it did. Only on a smaller scale.

After almost an hour of waiting, debating, consulting, the group decided to start the music and perform. By this time half of those present there knew that a ‘flash mob’ was about to perform. While the rest hoped for Vidya Balan to appear. Or even Shakti Kapoor.

The music system blared Rahman’s gift to Delhi ‘Ye Delhi hai mere yaar’. Five people started performing. Cameramen scurried to take the best shot, cameras went clickety click and then the music stopped. Accompanied by two shopkeepers, Police came and stopped the music and waved their lathi to clear out.

The organizer left in a huff, and some his friends followed suit- whether to gain some belated permission or to sort something out, it wasn’t clear. Some bravehearts stayed back to reason out with the police.

Suddenly the shopkeepers, who were till then thoroughly enjoying the speculation and drama, argued that the crowd was getting difficult to handle and being the peak hour their business was getting affected.

The police official pointed out that such an enormous crowd at the heart of the flea market was a disaster from a security point of view and that they weren’t aware or any permissions being taken while the organizers futilely tried to explain the impromptu nature of a flash mob. The media too tried to side with the organizing youngsters perhaps not realizing that it was their presence that generated the extra curiosity which ultimately alerted the shopkeepers as well as the security personnel.

Some, like me who had genuinely hoped that something fun would happen on Delhi streets, were left disappointed. The crowd was quickly dismissed, the group ran across the street towards a fast food joint to strategize where to ‘perform’ next.

Last heard they were planning to shift the venue to a mall in South Delhi, where it was earlier scheduled to take place. For their sake and for Delhi’s sake, I hope they were able to pull it off there.