Strolling around Connaught Circus, New Delhi, following siesta and shower from the heat of the day. Ladies and little children under the arcades selling necklaces of Jasmine and Night Queen blossoms, roasted cashew nuts, pistachios, strong scent of incense. All together wonderful; breathe in, ahhhh, lovely.
There are thousands of walking, talking, hurrying and sleeping on sidewalk people, buzzing rickshaw scooters, truck and car horns blaring. This is a normal evening in New Delhi’s, Connaught Circus. My appetite is good and I am looking forward to curries and purees, gulab jaman, a bidi, enjoying a pleasant after dinner cool night stroll.
A middle aged smiling gentleman in a bedraggled double breasted jacket and pajama pants steps in my path and says —
“ Excuse me sir, I am a man of God, but not being him and being just like anybody else I have to eat. For four rupees I will tell your name, your date of birth, your mothers first name and the first name of your girlfriend.”
So, I reply, “Just like you I am a man of God and just like you I am a man of few means. I have four rupees for my dinner, but I will share it with you if you think you can get my dossier from God for two rupees. I would like to hear what you say, then, we can both eat”
My money is safe. I know that at least I have him on the girlfriend bit because I don’t have one. The magic man steps back, sizes me up and then accurately gives me my name, my date of birth, my mothers Christian name.
Just for good measure and to let me know that he really knows his way through the pearly gates he gives me the name of a young lady who I had met by accident the previous Friday afternoon in London, and who, prior to our most enjoyable weekend together in her apartment I have not seen in about three years.
I cannot speak, so I gawp, shake my head to clear it – and hand over two rupees.
A burst of laughter comes from knee high nearby. Another man, in kurta and doti, chuckling, nodding his head at me and obviously my mind readers’ guru, comes out from where he is squatting under a sidewalk sewing kit sellers table, smilingly touches my elbow and both men disappear into the crowd.
Two rupees well spent, another piece of goody I tuck into my amazement bag.
-Contributed by Neil Rock