Mysore : Birthdays and Black Magic
Mysore Travel Blog› entry 245 of 268 › view all entries
'Well, you are a very lucky man!' - Pandit Krishnmurthi of the Kalikamba Jyotishya Mandira speaking on the 31st Anniversary of the dawn of Weseldom.
Well plans this year were to have a 'secret birthday' i.e. one that passed without murmur or notice from anyone or the world etc... I don't know why. I'm not an anti-birthday militant. Not at all. Just a little older and a little more indifferent to such passing phenomena as a passport and a lifeline one year closer to their respective expiry dates I guess.
Mother Nature, in collusion with India had already provided me with a curious, early and unwanted birthday present by way of a series of red bite marks and a rash that are of indeterminate (non-mozzy) origin and persist to this minute despite a 'zero irritation policy' ( itch sritch-scratch itch )and over a week of time passed.
Either way, plans to slip silently past the guard dogs, tripwires and floodlights of my 31st birthday without being apprehended proved fruitless folly and I was caught red-handed in the act of growing that oh-so significant one day older by my current posse of travel pals, Paul, Fran, Jo and Dan. Seriously, it's been a while since I had a good hearty travel crew and this bevy of Bristolians are yet four more gems to add to the stash of treasured acquaintances this Little Dragon's been hording in his heart and e-mail contacts address book these 17 months or so past. After a week in each others company drinking gin and 7ups on the sunny sands of Kudle Beach, Gokarna you now find us travelled en masse to the city of Mysore.
'Your Future is in Your Hand' reads the printed blue business card that Pandit Krishnmurthi the 'Scientific Astrologer and Palmistry' & maestro hands me following the twenty minutes or so it took him to lay my future in all its glorious details bare. Visions plucked from the very pores of my being. Earlier in the day on our city-wide strolls the gang and I had spied a palm-reader's sign and caught in the updraft of Fran's enthusiasm had ascended a flight of stairs and parted the obligatory 'curtain of mysterious import' invariably hung across the entrance of such venues.
'Please, please come sit down.' I kick off my shoes. Day bag two-strapped on my back and my Lumix camera slung around my shoulder I look a right plum dumb tourist. One about to enquire after the cost of a journey into my destiny. That ultimate tourist destiny-ation from which no man has the power or choice to return or turn back. 'Um, so how much is... ? ... um, are your astrological services Panditji?' 'Two hundred Rupees.' £2.50. A bargain basement glimpse at times yet untold. 'Sure, that'd be great.' I sit a little more comfortably knowing I'm not gonna be fleeced for a King's ransom...though I'm worth every paisa I'm sure!
It sure is cosy in here. Having passed from the street through the obligatory this-time-red 'curtain of mysterious import' I now sit in Pandit Krishnmurthi's 'office'.
On all the walls, the slanting ceiling and hung in grand faux-gilt frames behind the Pandit, large luridly comic-coloured portraits of several of the major Hindu gods dominate our tiny space. Durga, Kali, Shiva, Krishna and the other usual suspects all here, bending an ear to my fate.
Shall we start then. 'Please write your full name and date of birth on this piece of paper.' I do so. He observes. A young man, made to look even more youthful by the recent ceremonial shaving of his head and moustache. Not the wizened, bow-backed old sage of centuries age with the runic stars reflected in his rheumy eyes one hopes for in these situations. A handsome man with strong facial definition, joyful glittering eyes and a burgundy red tikka mark on his forehead ( I am not very good at describing people and when the guys ask me later I just say 'well, he looked a bit like Stan Collymore.
Pandit Collymore enquires 'What God do you pray to, Jesus?' 'Um, well, not really any one God... I'm kinda interested in lots of them... but don't yet really believe or pray.' 'Is okay, but for this you choose one God and focus' he says as he invites me to gather a cluster of nine glossy cowry shells in my palms, shake them and release them onto the desk. I try to think of a God. For some reason Bob Dylan flashes momentarily across mind ( I still don‘t know why? ) but I instantly veto him (no offence Bob) and replace him with my father's face. I cast the cowries on to the glass top table. Clatter - clatter - clatter! Some land 'face' down. Some with grinning 'lips' up. One spins like a Dervish on its back.
'Well, you are a very lucky man!!' beams Pandit K. ’Rrrreally!’ Yeeeees! Off to a good start. 'And let me tell you something I know. You are a very honest man. Truly you are a very good man who never cheats, lies on anyone.' And I'm thinkin' I'm beginning to like this guy. 'Well, thank you' I smile. Next he starts to explain my 'four lines'. I gather from later discourse that there can be many lines, but the main four of Age, Family, Wealth and Future are most evident upon my palm and all are reading healthy signs of positivity.
In no particular order of priority some of the several revelations of Pandit K in relation to yours truly were as follows : I will live to the ripe old age of 83 ( informing my 88 year old nan in a postcard this morning then that 'she had beaten me already' ); tantalisingly I will meet 'my life partner' (whom I will later marry and have two children with) this very 2,010th Year of Our Lord and 31st of Myself; I will be offered a job in politics at some point though it is advisable that I turn this down for it 'will not be good for [me]'; but despite turning from the rich fruits of a parliamentarian life I will still prevail to 'have good success, hard working life and lots of money.
He points out a particular junction on my Health line and enquires 'Please tell me most honestly, have you had any serious health problem in the last 10 or 15 years.' 'Ummm? Nope.' 'Really? Nothing to do with your stomach?' he persists.
So it's all sounding good. Too good me thinks. But it is my birthday I suppose. The stars and fates smiling and painting positive pink-tinted pictures for Pandit K to interpret for my smirks.
So I tease the conversation along toward its ineluctable semi-economic intent 'So how do I get rid of this black magic?' 'Well, I can do simple puja for you... you know? prayer for you. I go to special cemetery and make prayer to ask your black magic removed.' He checks his wall calendar.
As the course of the conversation naturally peters out following such weighty revelations ( 'Do you have any more questions you would like to ask me sir?' ) and I start to move it away from the more sacred to the mundane, it is politely inferred on a number of occasions that if I don't consider enlisting Pandit K's 'very cheap for you' assistance in expunging my black magic that this might not be such a good thing, and all the joys that have been foretold ( octogenarianism, that 'life partner' this year, the kids and the 'too, too good money’ etc ) might not come to pass.
So it all seems good news on balance my friends. No reason for complaint now or, it seems, in the future. I tell Pandit K that I will have to think further what to do with my little black magic problem and whether to enlist his help in this matter. To be pondered over a birthday dinner with my friends I inform him. 'Oh! Today it is your birthday and you are coming here to do this?! Why this is so, so very good!' He's thrilled to bits and younger brother is delegated to go fetch coffees 'as a gift!' I say 'Yes, it is my birthday' and teasingly point to the date '2nd Feb 1979' I had scribbled upon the piece of paper at his first request and which he later, correctly noted '31' besides.
So 900 'Roops' have yet to change hands between me and Pandit K. My black magic presumably is hanging around like a malodorous smell (or is that just my travel washing) or the puzzling spot-rash upon my back. 'A foolish mistake' you may well cry; a most impecuniary act when for just £11 I could have the slate cleared and all that 'too,too good money' in the future anyhow.
We shake hands - palms pressing and rubbing destinies momentarily together - and I stand and turn to take my leave. I feel I have become part of a minor literary tradition whereby magic unfolds and prophecies are whispered and told in the cramped spaces beneath stair cases or within darkened cupboards.
For your part all I would ask of you for my birthday... my 'friends'... is that which ever one of you it is out there, somewhere, in the world 'putting black magic' on me, please politely would you remove it, kindly take it back and be so good as to shove it up your bottom!
With that thought I lift a hand and pull aside the obligatory red 'curtain of mysterious import' and step outside, back into Mysore, back into the light. It's bright. Blinding. Everything loses a little focus momentarily as I squint and feel the air upon my face and then take my first deep breath of my future life...
( itch, scritch-scratch, itch )