When Ryan immersed himself within the Indian culture he had many amazing and life changing experiences. This week Ryan has a chat to a 'prophet' which was definitely one of the more amusing ones.
Necessity is certainly the mother of all invention, and nowhere in the world is this more apparent than in India. With such a large population and many of its people still in poverty, there seems to be no niche that goes unfilled, no service that isn’t catered for. From specialist ear cleaners and head masseuses, from street dentists, to people that bring your home cooked lunch across the city for you still hot. With a bit of creativity, there is endless opportunity for the budding entrepreneur. This is especially true when it comes to tourists. Since the hippies of the sixties, and likely long before that, people from all over the world have come in droves to seek the spiritual comfort of mother India. I was not immune to the seduction of instant enlightenment that is promised by the many ‘gurus’ willing to offer their services- for a fee.
In hindsight, I’m not sure what made me think I’d somehow find my guru, not on a Himalayan mountain top, but in the seedy back alleys of Paharganj, Delhi.
“100 Rupee’s I guess your mother’s name!” I hear a booming voice call out behind me. The guru spoke perfect English
“Err, No thanks” was my reply.
“C’mon! 100 Rupee’s I guess your birthday, and your mother’s birthday. If I’m wrong, no charge!”
What are the chances? I thought. “OK, why not”
I follow my guru down twisting alleys until we find a quiet spot he’s happy with (I sensed it was more to get away from other people, rather than it was his usual place of business). He was short fella, with a big round tummy and a beige turban atop his bearded face. He sits me down on the ground, cross-legged in front of him. He hands me a scrap of paper and a pencil.
“OK, now write down your birthday, your mother’s birthday and your mother’s name” (I thought awesome- he will do all three for 100 Rupee’s!). I do a quick scan of my surroundings- nope, no mirrors or an assistant looking over my shoulder at what I’m writing. I cup my hands over what I’m writing so he can’t see through the paper either and hold it all super close to my chest. Even if there was someone else- there was no way they could see. At the same time, he also scribbled something down on his piece of paper. OK, maybe he is psychic, I’d better put up some psychic defences for him, and so I lie about my mother’s name and write down the longest name that popped into my head- Catherine. After I wrote it, I even went back and scribbled out the ‘C’ and corrected it to a ‘K’ (Katherine). That’ll test him!
“OK, now show me your paper” I did, and he showed me his at the same time. They were identical! The birthdays I wrote down, in the same date format and his also had the correction I made on the name. My eyes nearly popped out of my head! Even though he wrote down the wrong mother’s name, as I did, it was the same as what I wrote down. Fair play. Now I owe the man some money. I give him 100 Rupee’s.
“No, I guessed 3 times- you owe me 300 Rupee’s!”
I reluctantly hand over the cash (about 5 dollars).
“Now I tell you your fortune for 500 rupee’s!”
Still gobsmacked by his first trick, I agree. He tells me a few things I think are pretty vague and could apply to any backpacker. And then he said “Do you know a man named Steven” (I DID! He was my best friend) “Never cross him in business” (Steve and I are always coming up with business ideas! This guy is amazing!)
“Do you know someone named Sarah?” (I did! Several in fact). “you will marry someone named Sarah”. He continued blowing my mind.
I kept handing the man cash until my wallet came up empty (a total of about $20). I walked away dumbfounded. How did he do it? I’ve told the story to many people and no one could come up with a plausible answer for me.
Only recently I had an Archimedes in the bathtub moment, and I figured out how it was done! He had watched the end of my pencil move as I wrote, which would also account for the mistake I made that he picked up on. Not an easy thing to do, but with some practice, it would be more than possible. He also now knew my age and gave me probably the 2 most common names for my generation (Steve and Sarah). I could be wrong and maybe he really was psychic- I will never know. Either way, it was great entertainment for $20!
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