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The future is looking bleak
Sidin Sunny Vadukut

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November 14, 2007

I am one of those people who like to think that their life is really in their own control. That what happens tomorrow is pretty much undecided. And that nothing stands in the way of my achieving what I want to.

Can I publish a book? Sure! With some hard work! Will I make a lot of money and live a comfortable life? Of course! As soon as I win the election to my housing society management committee and start, as per my manifesto, "Social service for upliftment of all residents". (Not mentioned in manifesto: "in my flat.")

Can I lose 25 kilos and get a set of six packs just like Shah Rukh Khan's [Images] body double? No. Because some things don't change. Except maybe with amputation.

Yet I am sometimes more than a little inclined to believe in horoscopes and such astrological phenomenon. Have you ever woken up in the morning with an important career-defining task ahead of you, like another humour column, and wished if you could know how things would pan out. How the celestial dice would fall when you threw it? What wondrous events the day held for you?

And therefore, just to be sure, turned to the zodiac sign column somewhere towards the back of the paper? Only to read the following:

"If I were you I would jump in front of a bus today. Things will go terribly for you. You might lose your job. Your wife will abandon you. In fact she is cheating on you with the milkman as we speak. Better not peep into the car porch. And, before we forget, your bank went under the night before with all your savings. On a positive note you will have good digestion because of Saturn passing through Uranus."

Nothing pumps you up for a day of sheer achievement quite like a morale booster such as the one above. "Good digestion! I like that!" you tell yourself as you drag yourself to work. But deep inside you feel afraid. But what if all this was true? What if Saturn actually passed through Uranus? Would it all get too much for me to handle? Where is the milk for me tea? That fellow is always late. Wait a goddamn minute!

This future prediction thing can get scary. Yet for centuries man has tried to devise ways and means of telling the future just so that he won't be taken by surprise when something dramatic and unprecedented happens.

One of the most popular predictions of the civilisations and cultures of yore was the date of the end of the world. Several astrologers, across centuries, have tried to pinpoint the time and date of the end of the world by many mystic and other means including but not limited to "pulling out of posterior".

So much so that just last week a prominent Indian astrology website announced that the world would end on December 23, 2012.  Apparently, according to the Mayan calendar, the world will complete four cycles of existence by that date and this will herald a new world in the 5th cycle. Unfortunately all humanity will be wiped out in the process and will never be seen or heard from again.

If this happens, it will be a catastrophe for all of mankind but particularly for me as the EMIs on my car actually get over exactly three days before that. So much for a life of comfortable driving ever after.

This also means that we never ever need to worry about things like global warming, credit card bills, premature balding, life insurance, primary education for young children, actually any kind of education, Rahul Gandhi [Images] maturing into a leader, the Bandra-Worli sea link project, any more Bachchans, long-term career development in our companies and so on.

I am particularly interested in seeing the business plan of the website that generated this date of complete annihilation:

Venture capitalist: "So you are saying you will invest our funds in your company for five years?"
Website owner: "Correct. By that time we will have attained critical mass."
VC: "So steady growth till 2012. And then?"
WO: "Complete and utter annihilation of the human race."
VC: "Which takes care of the competition. We like your plan."

Honestly, I don't buy it. Any sensible individual knows that the end of the world is an unpredictable event that is loosely defined as: "Day you forget wedding anniversary and come home late after a night out with the boys only to find missus behind door with a meticulously chosen kitchen tool (cleaver?) held high over head."

I am kidding of course.

I think it is all a little bit of a fraud. Don't believe me? Let me explain. I am going to teach you how to become an astrologer yourself.

First of all you need to know that your daily sun sign predictions can be broadly classified into five types.

Type I: The Universal Truth
This is when the astrologer tells you something that is an absolute irrefutable truth. "Students must study hard." "Accountants need to be accurate." "Civil aviation pilots will do well to land." Things like that.

Type II: The Hedged Risk
This is a pair of statements that cleverly combine to make no real prediction. "You will travel a lot this week. However don't be surprised if you find yourself at home most days." "Excellent time to invest in the stock markets. You could lose a lot of money and subsequently be driven to penury also."

Type III: The Generic Family Problemifier
Nothing lends more credibility to a prediction than a nice little statement of family relationships. "Loved ones will maintain some distance all of this week. Time to bathe?" "Children in the house will drive you crazy. Take them to a park or hill station. Leave them there."

Type IV: The Romantic Repartee
There is a formula to predictions: Work, Money, Family, Love. Any self-respecting astrologer will throw in a little love advice to make sure the reader is hooked. "Congrats on your recent marriage. You will meet many interesting women today." "Be prepared for a steamy weekend with the partner. Now only if we can find that partner."

Type V: The Ultra-Philosophy
A mostly meaningless piece of prose used to close the prediction with a classy touch. "Victory lies within the grasp of one who reaches across at the sight of opportunity from afar." "Let the turbulent present not detract from the err -- umm -- sight of opportunity from afar. Oh yeah!"

Now to show you indisputable proof of my theory here I will fabricate a complete horoscopic prediction for your sun sign using one each of my five statements:

Sidin's completely fabricated prediction
Real estate brokers will have to sell or buy property. This is a good time to do some shopping for the home. But saving cash is never a bad thing. The stars indicate some tensions with people at home, in the office, during the commute to work or perhaps in other homes in your vicinity. Excellent time to meet that special person who may play an important role in your life and really change you as an individual so completely as if my magic. Or maybe not. Remember always that true happiness comes from deep within you and only within you, in a deep place, can happiness be found. Deeply. Within you. Happiness.

See, not bad eh? Now you can actually make a career in astrology using only my five statement types and some imagination.

So, as you can see, you have nothing to be afraid of from this end of the world business. It's all mumbo jumbo that will never happen. Don't be afraid, live in peace, free from all superstition, and I am sure all will be well with you. Touch wood!

p.s. Hope everyone had a very happy and eventful Diwali!

Earlier columns:

More adventures of the Vadakuts, mister and missus, can be found at Domain Maximus.

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