I usually don’t subscribe to magazines and prefer to get them from the pavement vendors. Primarily because I’m quite prone to shifting residences. It is only the newspapers that I like to be home delivered, as I don’t fancy a kilometre long walk every morning just to get the papers. But the Swiss Knife which Outlook was offering along with a one-year subscription made me change my long standing practice. But I wasn’t too happy, no the knife is good and quite handy; it is the delivery of the magazines. A few copies, then a long pause, I write an email and then they again start arriving.

But when the magazines arrive, the first thing I read is the last page (the usual practice of reading magazines) – the Diary – which usually features interesting notes by interesting people (though a description of the author in some cases would go a lot of good for a clueless reader like me). This time it was Rahul Singh, former editor with Reader’s Digest, The Times of India and The Indian Express. Being the son of Khushwant Singh, he has inherited his father’s quality of not mincing words when it comes to things which irk him. And I couldn’t agree more with Rahul when he writes this:

1+1 = 11

If you wanted further proof that astrology is perhaps the biggest hoax perpetrated on the Indian public, take a look at some of the predictions made about the cricket World Cup. Not a single Bombay astrologer predicted that India would crash out before reaching the Super Eights. That charming fraud, Bejan Daruwala, said India had a “strong chance” of winning the World Cup and that either Rahul Dravid or Munaf Patel would be “player of the tournament”. Who would score the maximum runs, Ma Prem Rithambara was asked. Dhoni or Tendulkar, she replied. And take the most wickets? Irfan Pathan. Sanjay Jumaani, who calls himself a numerologist, after giving some mumbo jumbo on how 2007 adds up to the number 9 – which represents Mars and hence is the “best” number for India – concluded that the man who will score the most runs is Robin Uthappa! When will we stop taking these charlatans seriously?

[Rahul Singh. “Mumbai Diary.” Outlook Volume XLVII, No. 21. May 15-21: 112]

I too had during my school days an interest in astrology and palmistry – I didn’t believe in it – because I wanted to know things better so that I could counter them better. Later a teacher who saw a female classmate asking me with a stretched palm, “When shall I get married?” came to a more appropriate conclusion. “I know you don’t believe in any of the stuff, it’s just an excuse to get closer to the girls.” Not way off the mark, but not entirely true either.

It’s pity that so many able people show more faith in the stars than in themselves.

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