“Satisfied?” asked one of the fellows sitting on the steps as I left Hari’s little enclave. I thought back to how I had asked Hari to show me how he knew I would be moving to a holy city at ages 59-60. Eagerly, he had showed me the place where many new lines had been developing, after the point where my destiny line crossed my heart line. It all clicked. “So you see?” Hari had asked me excitedly. I had said yes.

I nodded and smiled at the guys on the steps, and walked toward the public arti. This is the musical Hindu ceremony everyone attends either in boats or sitting on the steps. I tried to duck in to see Lallan first, my original palm reader, but again the guards wanted me to go the long way around to another gate where the women in uniform would frisk me.

So, I killed time in the main ghat wandering around, waiting for the show, musing, this is what palmistry is about. Lallan, Hari-it all sort of adds up as an advertisement leading you down a spiritual path. They get your attention and answer your questions in ways that are more transcendent and spiritual than anything you have ever thought of before. So if you get a palm reading from a Hindu, you are participating in an outreach program for the Hindu religion.

I realized this is what I do as a reader too, I take questions and give spiritually-expanding answers that push people in new directions. Or at least, open up broader options.

And I began to appreciate this bell-ringing ritual with people massed together on mats on the stairs at the edge of the Ganges, where many other pilgrims came in boats to watch. The spectacle was stylized, with young people training to be priests, raising fire pots and incense and circulating them in four directions and clapping stridently to the rhythm of amplified sitar music, couples leaning against each other, mothers gesturing to children, little girls selling flower candles to launch in coconut leaf boats, teenage boys selling postcards, producers of the music being performed hawking CDs, television stations recording the spectacle. What other city has free open air concert at the riverside every night, for people of all ages? I left feeling blessed, happy at having had this moment of intimacy in the city. Happy that the deities knew we were there, that we were all one.


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