(The following two stories are written by Neil Rock).


Strolling around Connaught Circus, New Delhi, following siesta and shower from the heat of the day. Ladies and little children under the arcades selling necklaces of Jasmine and Night Queen blossoms, roasted cashew nuts, pistachios, strong scent of incense.  All together wonderful; breathe in, ahhhh, lovely.

There are thousands of walking, talking, hurrying and sleeping on sidewalk people, buzzing rickshaw scooters, truck and car horns blaring. This is a normal evening in New Delhi’s Connaught Circus.

My appetite is good and I am looking forward to curries and purees, gulab jaman, a bidi, enjoying a pleasant after dinner cool night stroll.

A middle aged smiling gentleman in a bedraggled double breasted jacket and pajama pants steps in my path and says ---

“ Excuse me sir, I am a man of God, but not being him and being just like anybody else I have to eat. For four rupees I will tell your name, your date of birth, your mothers first name and the first name of your girlfriend.”

Interesting, yes?

So, I reply, “Just like you I am a man of God and just like you I am a man of few means. I have four rupees for my dinner, but I will share it with you if you think you can get my dossier from God for two rupees, I would like to hear what you say, then, we can both eat dinner.”

My money is safe. I know that at least I have him on the girlfriend bit because I don’t have one.

The magic man steps back, sizes me up and then accurately gives me my name, my date of birth, my mothers Christian name.

Just for good measure and to let me know that he really knows his way through the pearly gates he gives me the name of a young lady who I had met by accident the previous Friday afternoon in London, and who, prior to our most enjoyable weekend together in her apartment I have not seen in about three years.

I cannot speak, so I gawp, shake my head to clear it - and hand over two rupees.

A burst of laughter comes from knee high nearby. Another man, chuckling, nodding his head at me and obviously my memory readers’ guru, comes out from where he is squatting under a sidewalk table, smilingly touches my elbow and both men disappear into the crowd.

Two rupees well spent, another piece of goody I tuck into my amazement bag.



One winter day, walking in Haridwar, Northern India, along the bank of the River Ganges.

I am watching pilgrims lowering themselves into the rushing torrent while holding onto stout chains bolted into the steps of the bathing Ghat in order to safely submerge their heads while making Puja. Ganges Carp, huge, fat, glowing golden fish bigger than you or me are stretched out and basking amongst the people on the steps of the Ghat, the tops of their heads and back of their bodies out of the water while people feed them bright colored flower petals. Crowds of people lining the riverbank are sitting on cloths,, on charpoys or the ground, praying, eating, chatting together. All these people look different of course, but also they all look the same. Peace is with us.

My thoughts turn to Astrology, for why I have no idea, not at all my subject.

I find myself thinking that as we have twelve astrological sectors and signs of the cosmic orange delivering to each of us some recognizably distinct characteristics, is it possible that each season as a functioning period in the essence of the All is in any way delivering to us quarterly traits as well as those of the monthly planetary and stellar influences? Of course, this would mean us being possibly governable by the seasons also- according to our own birth dates - and would add to the forces influencing our behavior.

As I am mulling this over a hand is raised in the air by a saffron robed Saddhu beckoning to me from where he is seated on a charpoy in the crowd and amongst his friends, some fifty or sixty metres in front and over to my left.

I nod my recognition of his signal and thread my way through the throng to join him. When I arrive at his charpoy he, myself and three other people round the bed all nod to each other.

He has a goolie and a chillum. Do I have a cigarette?

When I hand him a Charminar he breaks it open, warms the goolie by rolling and squeezing it between his palms and mixes in the tobacco.

Working the mix into the chillum he gestures for a light. I pass him a lighted match.

We all smoke and reflect on good fortune while watching the people, the fish, the rushing river. We smoke some more until the chillum is empty and then sit comfortably taking in the air and the river scene for another fifteen minutes or so.

Apart from the Saddhu having asked for a cigarette none of us has spoken.

I stand to leave, make hands together and bow my thanks for the smoke.

The Saddhu nods back and says---

“There are only twelve distinct astrological changes, each according to the powers in each month.

You are on your last change now, go with God.”

So, I am feeling very comfortable with the day and my inner debate on cosmic influence is solved for me in two sentences from a stranger.



The point of these two stories is that truth is often told in humble places.

I will bet a hundred bucks you couldn’t get stuff this good, this accurate, for any amount of money from famously fancied gurus, or anybody even with a crystal ball and a ouija board.

About the Author

Neil Rock is the author of these reminisces and he has written another story The Bamian Buddhas, Ali’s Dragon & Kohr-I-Baba Pass, published in The Flower Raj Blog.

Brice Bowman also has a biographical story there Tibetans.

Brice & Neil travelled widely, from the 1960s to the present day, especially in India. Brice now lives in NYC & Neil in Ibiza.