I stood in a horrifically large shopping mall two weeks ago, waiting for the children’s museum there to open. Will perched on my forearms and gaped at the light-filled 3 stories below us while I waited for a friend’s phone call.
“Your son is very strong!” A 30-something man in a black turban approached me from the left.
I turned. Our little man is agile and very quick, but strong is not an adjective most people use to describe his tiny frame.
“Where are you from?” The man asked. I told him and waited for some version of “America is great!/America is evil!/I studied in America!” in reply.
Instead what came was a stream of sentences so fast I could barely catch them all.
“America is a beautiful country…you will travel to many interesting places and meet many interesting people. You are a very, very lucky woman but you think too much, you need to start meditating in the morning. August will be a very lucky month for you.”
My pocket buzzed with a phone call, Will squirmed in my arms. My brain floundered searching for the appropriate, diplomatic response: thank you? Excuse me, I have a phone call? Really, you also think I should meditate?
I half-expected a pamphlet, a book, a calling card urging me to look up so-and-so guru on his website, but instead the man simply waved and continued walking with his friends while I stood there, juggling my phone and my toddler.
This is a country in which millions of people plan their daily lives around text-messaged horoscopes, a country in which doctor’s office waiting rooms double as shrines to the doctor’s personal guru, complete with incense and chanting and trance-inducing orange-colored walls.
A little unexpected fortune-telling in a shopping mall is perhaps not the chills-down-your-spine moment in India that it might be in, say, Indiana. Besides, it’s hard to go wrong telling an expat in the middle of said fancy shopping mall in India that she is a very lucky woman who will travel to interesting places.
Still, I’ll admit I’m looking forward a bit to August to find out exactly how good my impromptu fortune teller really is…