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Fortune is written on cards.

I don't believe in astrology and horoscopes despite the fact that a blue-green parrot foretold many years ago that I would travel to exotic lands to seek my fortune, and though part of the prediction has come true.

The parrot was in a cage and the man wearing a turban had cajoled it to come out and pick one card from a stack, like the type of cue cards which a speaker carries with him to the podium and refers to from time to time, specially when he forgets what he is talking about.

My fortune was written in Hindi and the man read it out in a sing-song voice. The card said that I would travel the world and make a lot of money. Immensely happy to hear this I dug into my pocket and gave him most of the money I had on me, which wasn't much.

Fortune telling and making of horoscopes is big business in India because you cannot get married if the couples' stars do not match. It does not matter if the girl is a looker, sings like Shakira and cooks like Jamie, the Naked Chef, but if the planets are not aligned properly then you are never going to live happily ever after. But I heard later that if you pay a little more the horoscope maker will fudge things a little bit your way.

Unfortunately, only half of my prediction has so far come true and I am still waiting for the oodles of money I was promised by that parrot. My passport has visa stamps from some very exotic countries but my wallet still has only plastic cards. I have travelled across half the globe but it was either inflation, high petrol prices, stock prices tumbling down or high rents which have left me nearly broke.

The parrot had an intelligent look for a bird, considering the fact that birds supposedly have the intelligence of a three year old human child. It had a Bihari accent when it squawked and was fed a nut for its troubles.

The fortune-telling was a no-brainer since it was the time when most new graduates in India were planning to go abroad for further studies and eventually look for work. The fortune teller had picked the moment well. The parrot was well trained and must have looked to his keeper for the cue to pick up that particular card that promised travel and riches.

Many years later there was a huge conference here where top astrologers had come from various countries to take part and I was reminded of that parrot and its predictions. Astrologers will say that the waxing and waning of the Moon also has a mystical hold on us humans and our moods, just like it controls the tides, as humans are also mostly water.

But astrologers will be happy to note that despite being a non-believer, I studiously check out the daily horoscope before leaving for work. Sometimes the horoscope warns that at work there will be a lot of fireworks, and on that day I keep a low profile. Some days it warns there were will be fireworks in love, and I keep a low profile because that prediction does not concern me.



The other day a really strange thing happened and has nearly made me a believer in the stars. My horoscope said that a long lost friend will come back again into my life and that we will get together and reminisce about the good old times.

I forgot about it and sometime during the day got a call from Bahrain on my mobile. It was the friend who I hadn't met for many years. He had come to visit his daughter and I immediately invited him over. It's another story that he wants to come here in August and I could not foretell that the visa rules would change by then.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jun 18, 2008
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