Anyone who works or lives in and around Assaye Road (or commutes via the road often) would have noticed an elderly lady dressed in colourful clothing, sitting on the footpath with some cards and a caged parrot by her side. She's there through the day - seven days a week - ever ready to tell you what ails your present or future, what's in store for you and what you need to do in order to 'improve' or 'enhance' your fortunes.
Meet Lakshmamma (or Lakshmi Amma) whose been in the business of fortune-telling since she turned 10. "We have been telling people's fortunes for centuries. I learnt the art from my father, who in turn learnt it from his." Despite it being a tradition, Lakshmamma refused to let her son get into the line. "He works with bulbs and fans," she said, explaining that her son is an electrician. Her daughter and son-in-law though follow Lakshmamma's legacy and have set up their own fortune-telling "unit", just a few metres ahead of her.
The grind is simple. You tell your name, age and date of birth to Lakshmamma and her pet parrot steps out of the cage, picks up a card with its beak, in return of the treat (a plain peanut) and hands it to Lakshmamma. She takes a look at the card and narrates all the trials, tribulations that lay in store for you. She'll also tell you that you are destined to be super-successful, but for the case of the good old evil eye that is plaguing you. The way to escape it is easy too. Just bring a few lemons, chillies and some money ("as much as you wish") and your bad days will soon be far behind you.
If you're wondering what this reporter found out about himself, let's just say I've chosen to be brave - we'll find out if fortune favouring our sort is true or not.