In Bangalore I never have to travel far to be surprised. The streets of Jayanagar are populated by colourful people and bright images, and I can guarantee each morning as I explore the lanes I will find something new that holds my gaze. This morning it was the kind of poster that I would never anticipate seeing on the streets of a European city.
I suppose that in the post-enlightenment era of the twenty first century, most Europeans have become distant from those beliefs and mystical claims that feel more attuned to an age of soothsayers and fortune tellers. For this reason it seems strange that posters such as that at the top of this page can be found in many locations around this area. This particular image caught my attention this morning, mainly for its bold assertion of being able to provide a solution to almost any problem you might care to name. Marital difficulties, bad debts and education are all listed as being within the domain of the advertising astrologer, who clearly has powers at which the rest of us can only marvel. I found myself reading this poster and wondering if I should contact this sage in order that he might address the persistent internet connection problems that have been a feature of my stay here in Bangalore this time.
I mentioned this advertisement to one of our students this morning, who asked me whether I had ever seen such notices posted in England. I had to inform her that I had not, and that it seemed unlikely that I ever would. However, I do believe that in many tabloid newspapers it is possible to find daily, or weekly horoscopes making claims about the likely outcomes for any Virgo, Capricorn or Pisces who cares to read them. I remember as a teenager being mildly amused by these harbingers of fortune that informed me that Thursday would be a bad day for financial transactions, but Saturday would bring joy in my love life, or other such predictions; though I never took any of this seriously. But here in India, the views of astrologers are regularly sought prior to making major decisions. Auspicious days are identified for all major events from opening a new business to setting dates for a wedding.
Whilst I am unlikely to engage with this pre-scientific approach to managing my life, I appreciate that there are others who hold great faith in such procedures. Whoever posted this advert clearly has great confidence in his ability, with the guaranteed immediate solution so prominently displayed. I wonder if they offer money back for bad predictions.
The feature of this poster that made me smile more than any other was the last phrase – “also etc”, a catchall phrase if ever there was one. As I continued my walk along the lane away from this advert, I found myself envisaging the wide range of problems that might arrive at the astrologer’s door today. Personally I would be grateful if he could do something about the noxious fume belching traffic that is choking the streets of Jayanagar, and while he’s on the task maybe also consider a way to make it possible to walk the pavements unobstructed. But then again, if that were to be achieved, it would be a miracle!