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A tale of two 'astrologers'

What happens when stars turn on the astrologers who peddle them? Well, the astrologers end up spending time with the police -- that's what.

Which, precisely, is what has happened to Girish and Dharmesh Joshi, two 'world famous' astrologers of Bombay.

Till the other day, they had a nice, fruitful business on in Santa Cruz. The efforts were minimal -- all it took was to take their clients on a ride to the high heavens and back. And the returns? Oh, god, the returns were simply magnificent!

So the proficient duo kept themselves well and truly in business, savouring every moment of it. Star-struck clients fell into their trap readily, and success, as is its habit, followed success.

Soon, the duo found themselves rich enough to afford a flat and the operation shifted inhouse from offstreets. They started advertising about their 'supernatural powers' which could bring 'peace and prosperity to the world' in an English eveninger.

And that was when Madame Misfortune struck.

A smalltime businessman, who for the obvious reason will remain anonymous, walked into their flat one day. He was having a terrible run of luck, he said, and was losing money like mad. He wanted something done about it. Could the gentlemen help him?

The gentlemen said they could. And would. Provided, of course, the businessman was willing to meet their minimal expenses.

The client agreed and the astrologers got down to business. They studied his palm, they listened to his tale of woes, they asked probing questions, they thought the matter over. Finally, they came to a conclusion.

"Your troubles," they told the poor man, "is because a supernatural power has placed a curse on you. We will need to cast a mantra to remove it."

And the cost? Oh, just a measly Rs 3,003!

The businessman fell for it, paid up -- and was told that a pooja too would have to be performed if the mantra was to have full effect. "You will have no troubles once this is done," the astrologers assured, "Everything will go according to your plans."

A week later, the businessman and his wife walked into the astrologers' office, all ready for the pooja. He was asked to put a flower in an aluminium trunk, cover it with a piece of cloth and then take a round of the office premises. Dharmesh accompanied the couple, while Girish remained in office.

"We have caught the witch," Girish announced when the threesome returned, pointing to the aluminium trunk, "Take a look!"

The businessman and wife removed the cloth, and found that the flower had turned into a hood-spreading black cobra.

To brainwash the scared couple for more money was child's play for the experienced duo. They demanded 80 gms of gold and Rs 60,000. Under terrible pressure and fear, the businessman handed over whatever cash and gold they had on them, promising they would bring the rest over in a few days time.

It was only when they got back home and thought about the matter that they realised how well they had been duped. They approached the police, who laid a trap for the duo.

Right now, the 'astrologers' are cooling their heels in the Santa Cruz cooler.

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