Friday, October 12, 2007

Two Musicians

As I came out of the Beijing Book Building (北京图书大厦 ) near Xidan (西單), a man was playing the saxophone outside the subway station. Perhaps it was the setting sun, or the fact that most people are going home after work, or a bit of both, I was suddenly struck with a feeling of tremendous sadness. Perhaps I am just a sucker for sad, haunting music. Perhaps his story of having no home to go to was just a ploy. Nevertheless I had to give him some money, and judging from the size of the notes in his saxophone case, I gave more than the average.

An hour later, near 大柵欄, and close to 前門, an old man was playing even more haunting erhu (二胡) to an oblivious passing throng. I didn’t know whether it was the difference in the setting, or the instrument, or the crowd, or whatever, nobody stopped to listen, and nobody gave him any money. I could not stand to watch.

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