The Book of Palms

by Nic Olson

Q: What do you do with a new set of ideas, completely new to your bank of knowledge, deemed by some as heretical? 

I went to a palm reader yesterday.  An older Indian man living in White City, born in Himachal Pradesh, schooled to a doctorate at Oxford University and taught at SIAST for a number of years. He took us into his basement, into his office styled room, overflowing with the information of books, loose papers, lamps and chairs. Jai Ram sat us down, shared a brief history of palmistry and explained the process. Travis and I went to his basement living room while Jai studied the intricacies of Jen’s hand in the office, as I humbly entered his basement temple, observed the posters and idols of Krishna and others. I returned to the couch in the opposite room and awaited my turn. Jen finished, Travis went. Travis finished, I went, Travis and Jen joining me.
We all sat in his office, my hands placed under his desk lamp. And it went from there.
He knew me by reading the faint grooves and notches of my hands. By interpreting how my hand was shaped and how the folds moved. By looking at the curvature of my fingers he knew more about myself than people I’ve known for a number of years.
He told me I have a brilliant mind.
He knew physical past of family members.
He knew that I write.
He told me to go to school to improve this.
He knew I was a manager at a store that I didn’t love.
He told me that I am a practical person with a creative mind. That I hate conflict in general.
He knew that my parents and grandparents were faithful and that my faith was waning.
He told me to stop smoking casually. And to drink rarely.
He told me to loosen up.
He knew my social issues, and relational irregularities.
He told me I was going to get married in three years, have three kids, and live well into my eighties.
He knew a lot more. And he didn’t know me.
I don’t know where to take this. A man who has never met me knows that I am slightly controlling, that I like to see things through, that I don’t drink milk.
After it all he invited us to Regina’s International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) Temple for a vegetarian feast the following day. I felt obliged to join. So this afternoon I cooperated in the Sunday service of the Reginian followers of Krishna. Songs were sung, fruits were offered, incense was burned. The food was authentically mind-blowing, the people were friendly, the experience was significant. One of the things I remember from the short sermon given by Jai, was the idea of being ‘tolerant as a tree’. As prayers were offered, the children of the group danced around with tambourines, while the adults sat on the floor, passing strings of beads between fingers, reciting mantras to illuminate the mind. After the service we had the meal, where I practiced Hindi. I ate with my hands. I had puri.  For two and a half brief hours, my nose, eyes, ears, tongue and mind were immersed in another real culture, and it was crucial.
A:  ‘Be tolerant as a tree.’