It wasn’t until mid-trip that we actually began to see comments in the comments field of our articles (outside of family members gushing over our happy little distractions). Typically, we would get little heads-ups from other travelers and bloggers, commenting on this or that.
One post totally broke that mold – to today’s date it is the most viewed and commented post on this site. No, it isn’t an article we wrote for CNN Asia’s lifestyle page. Nope, not the ‘a day in London’ thing that spent 24 hours on the front page of BBC.com. It is a post about something that apparently has touched a lot of people, people who have then gone on to search out similar experiences on the net: an encounter with a fortune teller.
Apparently there exists world-wide, traveling band of fortune tellers, all of them Sikh (or claiming to be), all of them going by the nom-du-guerre of ‘Yogi Singh’ (Teacher Lion), each and all using the same mode of operations on a world-wide scale. I’ve met two of them – one in Mcleod Ganj and one in Delhi’s Connaught Place. They wore identical outfits and they approached me in the same manner. Other travelers have reported the same encounters, all over the world.
Typically, they will approach you by saying something like ‘You have a lucky face!’ or ‘This day is your lucky day!’ and give you a sunny smile and a compliment. They will then offer to tell your fortune for a very modest price.
Your incarnation of Yogi Singh will then sit down with you and write down a few notes on a paper that you can’t see. He will then go on to show his ‘powers’ by asking you a few questions: “what are your favorite flowers” and “name a number between one and five” appear to be the most popular ones.
Did you pick roses as your flower? The number three? Apparently most people do. I know I did. The fortune teller will then show you a note that says ‘roses’ and the number three. Now, one could argue that he could have a ton of notes stashed in his pockets, each with flower names and numbers, but I’m not here to pass judgment on the efficacy of the Yogi Singh’s of the world. I’m just saying.
After this dazzling show, the fortune teller will ask you to write down a few other things, like the name of a woman that hurt you, an ex girlfriend, or any fact that he possibly can’t know about beforehand. You are told to roll the note up into a little ball and to hang on to it. The fortune teller will then do some mumbo jumbo, like have you count people on an old picture (“these are my masters at the special college. How many people do you see on the picture”). This is where I guess a deft stage magician could do something to switch out the notes and read them, but again – not passing judgment. Just sayin’.
To your amazement, Yogi Singh will then write down exactly what you had written in your crumpled up note, and you will very likely feel amazed beyond belief. He will also tell you a few other things, such as your life expectancy, about a curse that lies upon you and of some bad habits that have kept you from your ultimate success. This is when the pitch comes in: for a lot of money, this bona fide master of mysteries can pray for your fortune, 22 days in a row (sacrificing perfume, soap, incense and spices). His prayers would alter destiny, and success for life would presumably be mine. I think I remember him wanting 600 US dollars for this privilege. I politely declined, opting instead to donate a much more modest sum in exchange for a couple of talismans. I think I gave him three bucks for the trinkets and three for the show. It really was quite impressive. We parted as friends, and I spent days thinking about the interchange. How did he know my ex girlfriends name? Did he switch out the notes? Did he have a partner reading over my back somehow?
Whatever you think or feel about it – if you’re a victim of their exorbitant prices, or if you’re just casually stumbling upon this post – isn’t it pretty extraordinary that this brotherhood of fortune tellers exist? A secret society that follow their own rules and mysteries, traveling the globe while telling people about their supposed fates? I love it. It’s the stuff of legends, and would write a book about them if I had time. Should you be approached by one, don’t hesitate to sit down and have your fortunes told.
Just don’t give them six hundred bucks and the keys to your car.
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