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By Nickunj Malik - Nov 23,2016 - Last updated at Nov 23,2016
I do not like to be hypnotised and that is the truth. Why? The main reason is that I intensely dislike being told what to do. So any trancelike state of altered consciousness, which is induced by a hypnotist to have his suggestions readily accepted by me, is a complete no-no.
Therefore, I have not witnessed many hypnosis shows in my life. I mean why take a chance and go to a performance where, before you know it, you are on a stage, ostensibly willingly but in fact involuntarily? And then become a part of the act itself? I would rather not pull out a rabbit from a hat and be instructed to eat both the rabbit and the hat by the mesmeric voice of whoever is performing the hypnosis. The idea itself gives me the heebie-jeebies.
However, a few years back, I was invited to a hypnotist’s concert. It was actually a formal black-tie affair, one of those that nobody actually likes to attend but is forced to, because of a real or imagined professional obligation. This charity fund-raiser had accumulated a lot of money and wanted to seat me in the front row. I declined politely and moved to one of the far corner tables where I could potentially duck under it, if I needed to. Dire situations called for drastic measures, you see.
I had two people accompanying me to the function. One was my spouse, of course, and the other was an old friend of mine who was visiting us from South Africa. Now, this gentleman, who I had known for donkey’s years, never gave me the slightest inkling that he was crazy about hypnosis. But soon I was informed that so insane was his addiction for anything mysterious that there was not a single illusionist or conjuror event that he had not been to. Also, he loved volunteering during such occasions and happily offered to become the proverbial guinea pig. You can imagine my dismay at being party to this information just when we were on our way to the official gathering.
I tried to dissuade him to the best of my ability. As he strode towards the first few seats I told him that they were reserved and pointed him towards the back table that had our place tags. His enthusiasm dipped momentarily but before sitting down, he smartly turned his seat around to face the lit up platform.
The show started, as it usually does, with some boring speeches. My husband and my friend settled into their typical social postures. One fiddled with his drink while the other puffed at his cigar. Things appeared to be normal. Suddenly the stage became dark and a lone spotlight shone on the new entrant. It was the hypnotist and he made a grand entry in a black tuxedo with a matching tall hat. He was also holding a black baton in his hand. We all sat up straight in attention.
From the corner of my eye I say my friend stubbing out his cigar. Even before the hypnotist could request for some volunteers, my friend stood up and started waving.
“5, 4, 3, 2, 1 you are asleep now,” the hypnotist told my friend
“Why did he rush up there?” I asked my husband.
“He forgot to pack his sleeping pills,” my spouse confided.
“What has that got to do with this?” I was confused.
“He gets to sleep for free,” he guffawed.
Before I could write my first column of the year, even before I could celebrate my January birthday, suddenly, I became terribly ill.
When I was a smoker, I blew smoke rings in the air. Actually that is not strictly true. Let me start again. When I was a smoker, which was a period that lasted for a good 20 years, I tried to blow smoke rings in the air.
That’s a question with a lot of partial answers. Upbringing. Genes. Brain chemistry. Peers. Sunday morning sermons. Inane values communicated in TV ads. The levels of various hormones in the fluid we marinated in as foetuses. The list goes on and on.
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