Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Astrologers and their part in my downfall

I've never been much of a lad for the great science of astrology. It somehow does not inspire much confidence in me, given that its practitioners always tend to speak in very general, diffuse ways, some of which end up turning out right and suddenly, the astrologer in question is empanelled by the family to tell you what you should do next on the most personal level possible. Most officious, if you ask me.

And yet I get dragged, from time to time, to meetings with astrologers, for such is life, and this here is an account of one such experience.

It so happened, many summers ago, that a relative of the missus wanted a particular Bombay astrologer to be consulted for an answer to the question of when her son should marry. Since she, the relative, lived very far away, the missus and I were deputed to do the dirty work.

It was the first time in ages that I was going to see an astrologer. The last time I went was with an aunt of mine who took me to a chap who would tell you all by rolling a few cowrie shells on the floor. I remember being particularly impressed by how specific the chap was .

"Should my husband take the transfer?"

"No" replied the astrologer, who was a pretty august looking guy, with bhasma all over his forehead and his hair in a bad ass knot at the back of his head and continued with "He will get a promotion here only. For this, he should do a navagraha shanti and every friday go to a devi temple and pour milk" or words to that effect.

Both aunt and I were impressed. I couldn't help  wondering if he could reveal similar specific things in other subjects such as say mathematics.

"Auntie, can he tell me what the smallest number is that can be expressed as the sum of two cubes in two different ways?"

"Hush child! So astrologer, what are the prospects of this doctor boy whom we are planning to see for our daughter?"

"This doctor boy is a good boy but the Rahu in his Mangal is interfering with the Guru. If he is an anesthetist, he will put many people to sleep"

"Or if he has a teaching position at the hospital"

"Quiet!" hissed the aunt.

Whereupon the astrologer impressed the daylights out of me by looking at me sternly and saying, in a low, magisterial voice "Seventeen twenty nine".

But I digress. Getting back to the story, missus and I landed up at the astrologer's palatial flat. I rang the bell and we were let in by a minion into a room full of religious photographs and books. We had taken our younger son along, then a very adorable three year old, and missus was telling him which religious photograph was of what, with the lad listening with that wide eyed look of intense attention that makes the arduous task of bringing children up completely worth it.

Presently the big noise himself walked in and so intimidating was his personality that I stood up instinctively. He motioned me to sit down and, divining with his astrological faculties who the real power int the family was, addressed the missus

"So what brings you here, Amma?"

Missus explained the relative, her son, the question of when, if and to whom he should get married, and offered him the said son's horoscope.

Astrologer looked at it perfunctorily and kept it aside. He looked intently at the missus (actually he had a strabismus in one eye, so it was difficult to tell, but I guessed it was her that he was looking at, given that I am universally considered deficient in aesthetic appeal) and continued looking for a longish while. I could tell that missus was feeling a bit uncomfortable. Son had spied a cat in the house and gone off to make friends. So it was up to me to break the ice.

"So, do you give only horoscope based advice or do you also advise on numerolgy and palmistry" I asked, just to get some conversation going.

The astrologer continued looking at missus. An uncomfortable fifteen seconds of silence followed. Then the astrologer spoke.

"Amma, you are saakshaat devi. You are the mother goddess herself. You exude the aura of divinity, the like of which I have never seen before"

The missus looked a little puzzled.

"Amma, you are destined to have a child. A daughter will be born to you. A girl of such unsurpassed goodness and divinity that she will bring peace and prosperity to the world. A girl who will .."

"But what about this auntie's son?" interrupted missus.

"Oh, he'll get married. But you? You will change the world by giving birth to this daughter"

I laughed a little nervously and said "But we weren't planning to have any more children. We already have two, you see..."

"Planning? The laws of Karma have no room for planning, sir. Things that are destined will happen, regardless of what mere mortals like us plan"

He continued in this vein for a few more minutes and after a great deal of persistence, we managed to get his verdict on auntie's son. ("Will he get married?" "Yes" "When?" "In three years time" "To whom?" "A doctor girl" - For the record, only answer no. 1 was correct. Auntie's son married his girlfriend before the year was out. She works in an ad agency)

As we rose to leave, he reminded missus once again that what was destined would happen, regardless of what we planned. Missus shot through the door like a bolt of lightning.

For the record, we haven't had the daughter.