Mysore : Birthdays and Black Magic

Mysore Travel Blog

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Portrait at 31 : The future's bright. The future's orange.

'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.

Super sugary, super-ginger jeleby!!! "Yum!"
  Perhaps it's just an allergic reaction?  An unfortunate physiological response to birthdays beginning with the number '3' or just to old age in general?  At least the bugs still find me attractive ;)

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.

  It's a nice place.  I'm bound to tell you about it sometime.  But I suppose today should be Destination Weselby.  Little 'Old' Me.  31 years gone.  It's been fun (with a few bum notes).  Those bits I can remember.  Mostly.  But what, oh my brothers and sisters, does the Future hold in store?

'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.

Ginger and Black
  Two boys inside responding to our obviously Anglicised calls of "Namaste?" responded 'Canada'.  'Canada?  No, British, English.'  'Canada, Canada!'  What's all this Canada business? 'Kannada!' Ooooh right.  Kannada, the main language of the region.  Not the country.  The palmist doesn't speak English, the language our futures are presumably written in.  No fortunes to be told.  Futures on hold.  But whilst later on my own treating my clothes and all fabric possessions to their first machine wash in four months at the '5 Star Garment Cleaners and Dyers' (I hope that's supposed to read 'dryers' and my clothes don't all come back coloured a pleasing hue of bright pink!) I spot a near identical sign and decide for a joke birthday present to treat myself to a great big slice of Mumbo-Jumbo Cake; to enter the side street and the realms of Krishnmurthi's 'office' under the stairs and my fates.
'Mommy's l'il girl'

'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'.

  'Do you like my office?' he will later ask.  'Do you like our office?' his younger brother, who sits on a low sofa to my right for most of the session, will also proudly later ask.  I say it's 'lovely' and 'great' and 'colourful' and other such positive mumblings but 'office' is a term a tad too grand I feel for what is literally the box-room space salvaged from beneath a stair well. 

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.

  These pictures are slung with heavy strings of coloured plastic marigolds.  An image of 'The Great Lord Shiva' also sits under the glass top of the red silk draped little 'office' desk that I now face Pandit K across.  To my left a second glass top table (this time pink silk with a white lace trim bordering) houses a kaleidoscopic cornucopia of religious images, statues, ornaments, puja materials, brass vases, bell, baubles, baffling bits and other trinkets of undoubted spiritual provenance and power.  At the centre of this mysterious menagerie a well-realised silver statue of multi-limbed 'Durga Mata' fierce and astride her 'vehicle', the tiger.  To my left, stands a garish and faintly ridiculous papier-mâché statue of the destroyer-devourer goddess Kali slung with white jasmine flowers and cupping three gaudy red light bulbs in her flailing arms.  Of highest import to young (30-something) Pandit K and his brother, a blue neon lit portrait of their father strung with real marigolds.
'Hush now baby dear'
  Deceased and also an astrologer in his time.  'This power goes back many generations, ten generations, maybe one hundred and fifty years in my family' explains Pandit K.  A family tradition. 

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.

'Astrologer This-a-way'
' ).

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.

Pandit "Collymore" Krishnmurthi in his 'office' :)
  'Good!' exclaims Pandit K rapidly noting down numbers that resemble fractions ( 3/70, 2/83 etc) on the original piece of paper.  'Now please throw again.'  I shake my fate and cast it once more like so many glistening die. 

'Now please show me your right hand.'  I offer it palm up.  I've always liked the 'M' shape of lines upon my palms ( I think we all more or less have the same pattern right?) as viewed one way up it's 'M' for my mother Maureen and the other way round 'W' for the family name of Weselby.  Pandit K lifts a large magnifying glass and starts a close examination of my palm, touching certain points with the lid end of his pen and making occasional notes with the other.  'Your left hand now please.
Foreteller of my future (perhaps_ Pandit Krishnmurthi turns his magnifiying glass to the grime between m'fingers :)
  I comply.  'Sorry my hands are a bit dirty!' I jest.  'It's okay, no problem.'  'You can see through all that?'  'Yes, no problem.'  Good.  I wouldn't want my future obscured by India's ubiquitous grime.  'Now your right hand again please.'  The magnifying glass swings back across.  'Is the right palm a powerful hand?' I ask.  'No.  It is just right hand for man, left hand for the woman.
Aquarius : (apparently) quick intellect & expansive mind keen on innovation & progressive thought. Rebel but one who really needs people around. Have tons of friends but tend not to get too intimate with any 1 person. Hmmmm?
  I see.

'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.

Go Bananas
  Too, too much good money! Rrrreally!' Pandit K rolls his ’rrrrrs’ excitedly.  He traces this apparently rich seam of my skin north-north east to south-south west across the compass of my palm.  'Seriously, this line, your Money line is too, too good.  I have maybe seen only one hundreds of people with such a line in all my time.  Very much success!'  Great!  Sorted.  Holiday paid for.  Time to book the next one :) 

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.

The flower section of the Devraja market in Mysore
  Darn, he's got me.  I did.  A bout of stress induced dysmotility (or some such thing) about 10 years ago!  I'd forgotten.  How weird.  'Is okay now, though.  This problem is in the past and your future health strong.  You no problem, no accident, no serious health problem.  You go eat whatever you like' he motions food to mouth.  'That my friend is entirely at India's discretion' I quip to myself.  I will also travel many countries, ‘Fifteen, twenty countries.  Much exciting life.  Hard working you.'  Again tantalising.  Shall we see Travbuddies ;)

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.

The Orange Lady
  But I guess, really, if this were 'real' life we were talking, hoping and praying about there ought to be some little blemish, some fly in the ointment of my fates.  And so, sadly, it is so.  A little black fly.  Black magic!  'My friend there is one thing though I must warn you about that is unfortunate for you' Pandit K turns a little grave.  Externally I adopt a worried visage but inside I'm grinning and thinking 'Yep, here we go.  The 'if' the 'but' the 'uh-oh' that means pay dirt for Pandits.'  'Yes.  You will have very good life but there is some small problem of black magic.'  'Black magic?!'  'Yes you have many good friends in your life but one friend, they are putting black magic on you.
  This is very bad.' 
'Yes it is!' I agree.  'Do you know why this one friend is putting black magic on you?'  'No, I really don't.'It is for jealousy!!  Do you know what jealousy is?' he asks.  'Yes I do.'  Sounds serious huh. 

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.

What lies behind the red obligatory 'curtain of mysterious import' ? :)
  'Now, in three days time is holy festival, I can do special puja for you.'  Dropping in the grubby but required question I ask 'So how much would be required for you to perform this puja ceremony for me?'  '[blah - blah - blah] nine hundred Rupees' Pandit K rings up.  About £11. 

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.

Garlic Bulbs
  I ask him about my supposedly imminent girlfriend; whether he knows how or when I shall meet her.  But he can't help here.  Oh well.  I don't want all of life's mysteries and games revealed and stripped bare I suppose.

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.

Rickshaw & Driver
  He laughs 'Oh, so funny I should ask and not see this!'  Yes indeed.  But rather than call his powers or perception into question my friends, let us just accept that his eyes (numbering one, two and third) are all too disdainful of our temporal realm, instead focusing their energies to penetrate the foggy mists of futures concealed that they shall reveal... and not on scraps of paper or dates.

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.

My BEEEEAUTIFUL card from my friends: illustrated by Fran and signed by all the gang! Thanks guys!!! x
  ‘Spend a penny now to save a pound in the future‘ they say.  I hope my life partner, if I ever meet her now, is not too p*ssed at me when I confess to this lack of investment in our and our alleged two childrens' futures!  I was even offered a discount.  Over coffee, before leaving, I ask if I can take a photo or two for the memories and he's again quite overjoyed.  I have his e-mail address and upon receiving a promise from me to eventually mail the images to him he says 'You send to me, cheap,cheap just 200 Rupees for remove your black magic.'  A black magic bargain!

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.

Birthday Party Gang (L-R): Paul, Fran, Jo & Dan my wonderful pals who got me back on the beer, in good cheer for m'birthday :))
  A strange half hour, but a profound and prophetic one maybe.  Who knows.  But my slice of Mumbo-Jumbo Cake tasted good.  Nice ingredients.  I’m still savouring the flavours. 

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 )

sylviandavid says:
Stevie.... I must tell you I am not your black magic friend.... You should have asked Collymore what they looked like... I'm certain they are not blond! sylvia
Posted on: Feb 25, 2010
Stevie_Wes says:
Cheers Carole! :)
Posted on: Feb 10, 2010
keeweeset says:
Happy belated Birthday! =)
Posted on: Feb 10, 2010
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Portrait at 31 : The futures brig…
Portrait at 31 : The future's bri…
Super sugary, super-ginger jeleby!…
Super sugary, super-ginger jeleby…
Ginger and Black
Ginger and Black
Mommys lil girl
'Mommy's l'il girl'
Hush now baby dear
'Hush now baby dear'
Astrologer This-a-way
'Astrologer This-a-way'
Pandit Collymore Krishnmurthi in…
Pandit "Collymore" Krishnmurthi i…
Foreteller of my future (perhaps_ …
Foreteller of my future (perhaps_…
Aquarius : (apparently) quick inte…
Aquarius : (apparently) quick int…
Go Bananas
Go Bananas
The flower section of the Devraja …
The flower section of the Devraja…
The Orange Lady
The Orange Lady
What lies behind the red obligator…
What lies behind the red obligato…
Garlic Bulbs
Garlic Bulbs
Rickshaw & Driver
Rickshaw & Driver
My BEEEEAUTIFUL card from my frien…
My BEEEEAUTIFUL card from my frie…
Birthday Party Gang (L-R): Paul, F…
Birthday Party Gang (L-R): Paul, …
Mysore Tree & Tower
Mysore Tree & Tower
Hes not (coconut) shy! Groan! :(
He's not (coconut) shy! "Groan!" :(
Spot The Stig :)
Spot The Stig :)
Watting For You
'Watting For You'
Mysore Window
Mysore Window
The Opticians Sign
The Opticians Sign
The fantastic Devraja Market in My…
The fantastic Devraja Market in M…
photo by: chiyeh