Monday, December 11, 2006


When you meet the country’s best-known astrologer, even the most age-concealing lady considers it the done thing to tell him her date of birth. And she can’t whisper it discreetly; she has to say it out loud because, at 76, the portly Parsi is a teeny weeny bit hard of hearing. He looks into the future, and doesn’t really need his ears as much as his eyes, I guess.

At a dinner on Saturday night where a motley crew had gathered, our astrologer was there too. And every time he met someone, he would introduce himself – rather redundantly – and would go on to ask the other guest his/her date of birth. Thereupon, a complimentary 5-second forecast would follow. Followed by his business card on which he would point out his residence-cum-workplace, just in case you desired a more comprehensive consultation. The host, however, known only to a few to be a rebellious prankster cloaked in the garb of a fearsome demi-god, gave our future-gazer his date of birth that was completely wrong! I know it because his birthday and my wife’s are the same (caught as I am between boss and spouse who share near identical traits with completely dissimilar rates of success) but no one else did; least of all the teller of fortunes.

Wrong date or not, the 5-seconder followed with a flourish of how lucky the number was for our chief and how we all owed our success to this magical number of his. Big Chief’s grin and guffaw was attributed to his “clean soul and balanced ego”. So much for the zodiac and the zoo that had gathered around to get their glimpse into what lay ahead.

People will believe anything they want to believe. An agnostic magazine editor once wrote the horoscope columns himself when the astrologer attached to his rag went on leave and no one was the wiser. Another editor was more enterprising – he just pulled out a week’s horoscope from a three-year old archive and did a Control C and an effortless Control V function. Cut and paste – cut out the past and stick it where you would believe it.

In conversation with this astrologer that night, he loved me for saying that the “past is best forgotten” and I have a feeling it’ll appear on his already overcrowded business card as his new catchphrase. He also loved me for offering to take his wife’s empty glass and save her the trouble of lifting her equally ample self to perform this simple task. “Cultured young man” is what I’m now tagged as in his set of mental files.

He left minus dinner because it was past his mealtime and the food was yet to be laid out. Had he seen his own future that night?

It was good while it lasted. At least there was some form of entertainment. After his rather sudden departure, it was back to the same old gang. And, while juices were doing reluctant rounds, wistful glances being cast by some at Salt Water Grill on Mumbai’s Chowpatty seen from a really highrise.

The fortune teller shouldn’t have Plutoed me. By the way, how come he and his tribe are never alluded to as misfortune-tellers?!

Plutoed? It’s now a verb and if you don’t believe me, check out another future-gazer – Wired magazine. It was SMS-ed to me by someone zipping through the night on a train as she kept asking herself what the future held for her on the eve of what was to be her wedding day. Only it wasn’t. Not yet anyway.

But, as the astrologer would have said: “What’s past is past. The only thing that matters is the future.”


1 comment:

Two With Nature said...

the one thing i hope that remains unchanged in the future - no matter how loud it is at the bar, one should always be able to hear oneself think.