Thursday, May 22, 2014

File Under "Sidewalk Curiosities, Viennese"

What is one to make of this?  In Hindu mythology, I've just learned, this is Hayagriva, "an avatar of Vishnu."  How do you suppose he ended up in the Graben, playing wistful Mitteleuropische melodies on his battered accordion?

In this part of the world, though, he's just another sight on a fine May evening, one of three accordionists I encountered last night on my walk back across town, along with a very grave young Asian woman playing Schubert on an elderly spinet in the middle of the street, a string quartet sawing  away at Bach, and a wild-haired Slavic-looking youth playing and singing a remarkably mispronounced rendition of "Let it Be."

Even on an short trip, the final evening carries with it a little wave of melancholy; I rode that out at a small, relentlessly cosy Hungarian place on a narrow side street, having a delicious chicken paprikash and a tall glass of lager from Budapest.  It must have been a saints day of sort, for at one point a substantial parade went by, led by monks carrying enormous tapers, first singing lugubrious chants and then, a little incongruously, breaking out into a merry, folk-ish uptempo number, complete with tamborines.  Later, after perhaps my favorite thing in this, one of my favorite cities - an extravagant Schwarzwald becher, a Black Forest sundae, and some people watching at the Cafe Europe, where the Graben meets the Stephansplatz - it was an early night.

Now I'm waiting for the taxi to the airport.  Drat.  There are all sorts of amusing things going on here this weekend, but I shan't see them.  Reality awaits, which is grim enough, but it's leavened by home and terriers.  As for the flights in between, well - pray for me.


  1. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were in Hollywood, with me. A few weeks ago, a wheelchaired man in a werewolf costume told me I was beautiful. I passed it off as your typical daily hallucination, but my neighbor and I were driving and she let out a scream as he whizzed by us.

    1. Well, now I'm jealous - it's been ages since an anthropomorphic creature made a pass at me. Certainly my accordionist friend there couldn't have been less interested...