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   I did not see the Pope this time, except or a fleeting glance... (November 2, 1986)

I did not see the Pope this time, except or a fleeting glance as he passed under the window, sirens blarings, a convoy of Ambassadors zipping along. Even then, I was more interested in the Popemobile than the Pope himself.

I had a much closer look at the last Pope who came to Bombay, even attended a press conference of his at the Eucharistic house. The Pope stood on the stage at the press centre and with shimmering hands blessed the assembled pressmen. There is a style in blessing, the gentle movement of the hands, very debonair.

I saw the Aga Khan. Went with him to some corner of Kutch, whee he inaugurated for the local people a dispensary and a medical centre. He looks a little like Peter May, the former English cricket like a representative of god or a very rich man.

I saw his father, Prince Aly khan, at a weighing-in ceremony once, a long time ago. He looked like a man of the world, urbane, sophisticated the western world’s leading playboy. The ceremony was held at the Vallabhbhai Patel stadium. I do not remember what he was weighed against, gold or diamonds or just money, memory fails me there. But I remember a large scale, he stood in one of the trays and the community’s heads balanced the other side with gold or whatever it was.

I understand that his father, the old Aga Khan, fetehed much more gold, since he was a heavy man. Prince Aly Khan was sent for the ceremony as his father was indisposed.

I have seen the Dawoodi Bohras chief, he also does not impress me as the representative of god. Though, I admit, I am being unfair, I would not know what to look for in representative of god.

I expect a halo around their heads, a wand in their heads, a wand in their hands, creating miracles. Then when you meet them, they offer you coffee (“or, would you prefer something cold?” I, ask you the circulation of your paper, pose of the photo grapher.

I do not know if Rajneesh and Mah esh Yogr would come under this same class of representative of god on earth. Possibly not. But with all the razzmatazz around them they look more superhuman than most of the acknowledged representatives.

And the only religious figure who could perform miracles that I knew was Hatha Yogi Rao. He could walk on fire, bite and swallow crushed glass, do other minor miracles. He also claimed he could walk on water, though, when he gave a public demonstration of it, he sank like a stone. After that, my belief in gods and their representatives became a little less.

 
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