Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Mystic Detective (11)

Paul was meeting Abdul in a café on the Curry Mile in Rusholme. Almost every shop was a curry house or an Indian sweet shop or a shop selling gold bling or colourful saris. It was alive and pulsing with noise and sounds by late evening but this was 5 o’clock and it was quiet apart from a few ubiquitous students and people going about their lawful and unlawful business.

Abdul was a light skinned Gujarati, born in Mumbai in India. He had moved to Kenya with his teacher parents as 5 year old and the returned to India for his secondary education. He then moved to England for University in Manchester where he settled 20 years ago. He was one of Paul’s contacts within the ethnic Indian communities in Manchester. Abdul was also a Muslim and able to give details when he so wished about Islamic matters. They had met when Paul had helped Abdul find his teenage sister Jamila who had run away from home into the arms of a white criminal gang (See ‘The Mystic Detective goes West’). But Abdul was not merely a useful source of information, indeed few of Paul’s best contacts were just that. Abdul was a friend of Pauls.

Paul met Abdul in Jaffa, a halal café halfway up the curry mile. It was noting to look at with red leather imitation seats (rather reminiscent of 1960s Wimpey bar) and a large takeover counter at the far end with an open plan kitchen beyond. But the food was surprisingly good, otherwise why would Abdul choose to eat there and Paul noticed that he was the only white person among the dozen or people in the café. This was always a good sign, even if it still made Paul feel a bit uneasy, for an all white clientele would suggest a lack of real ethnicity and quality in the food offered.

This proved to be the case, the humus Paul ordered was almost sweet, sharp and fresh some of the best he tasted. Abdul had ordered a mixed grill – meat with salad – and he naturally sought to share his and Paul’s food. Paul struggled with this, his Greek friends including Sophia did the same but when Abdul picked up a chapatti and dipped it in Paul’s humus Paul winced inside.
- Oh mystic I had forgotten your English sensibilities, forgive me I should have ordered an extra plate of humus
- S’OK Abdul, I need to let go of my prissiness.
- Hmm, anyway why did you want to meet me apart from the joys of my delightful conversation and company?
- What do you know about OM?
- Bunch of arseholes! (Paul had forgotten Abdul’s rather colourful choice of language)
- That’s your carefully considered opinion?
- Look they prey on you white people’s love of yoga and love of our ancient and colourful Hindu spiritual traditions and stories. Your English Christianity is so lacking in colour it is no wonder that crap like OM flourish. You Brits have such poor taste. But you should try the real thing, check out the Sufis, read some Rumi.
Paul nodded, - I have and I love the glorious madness of Rumi’s spirituality. It speaks to my condition… but tell me more about OM
- OK many of their teachers are Indian from the South, Kerala, but the guru is white. White! A Hindu group with a white guru!
- What’s his name?
- Guru Ganesha
- Guru elephant (They both laugh)
- Yes, if you like, Ganesha of course is linked to the sacred sound OM, he is said to personify the sound OM and he is the remover of obstacles or sometimes he puts obstacles in the way of his detractors
- What’s his English name?
- Jonathan Walters
- Know anything about him?
- Very little apart from he was a criminal who saw the light via Yoga in prison.
- Hmm, I’ll have to dig around.

Later back home it took Paul a few phone calls and ten minutes on the internet to find out a fait bit about Jonathan Walters. After early school at a minor public school Walters went up to Oxford University to study classics where he got in with a heavy drinking and partying set and dropped out just before being expelled. Working in a merchant bank did not suit him and a scam involving some hyped but worthless shares led to a heavy fine and a 2 year prison sentence initially suspended. However, soon afterwards he was arrested after a violence affray and served 18 months during which time he took up yoga. What happened next was not that clear to Paul’s contacts and the internet but a trip to India, and possibly China happened and subsequently Om was founded.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Mystic Detective(10)

Paul met with Frankie at the University in one of the few cafes on campus that made a decent cup of coffee. It was a classic, cold, wet Mancunian Autumnal day.
- Hi Frankie
- Hi mystic (Frankie’s reply was untypically unenthusiastic)
- How do?
- Do OK ish
- Ish?
- Yeah… we… … this new found daughter of mine is giving me some grief
- Yeah?
- Yeah, she dragged me to a yoga class at the OM Centre
- Uh uh (Paul was as ever making minimal non committal noises to encourage his friend’s disclosures)
- - Yeah it wasn’t bad as yoga goes but the sales pitch at the end was rather evangelical and Claudia piling in as well was more than a bit much
- Hmm… so you want to stay in her good books
- You’re ahead of me as ever Paul. Yeah having just found Claudia and accepted her as my daughter, accepted her into my life I don’t want to lose her. So I am thinking of becoming one of the Thousand-
- Thousand?
- Yeah they want a thousand people to pledge a thousand pounds so that they raise a million fort heir new centre in Leeds
- Frankie! (Paul adopted a plaintive voice)
- I know, I know, but it’s cheap at the price if it keeps Claudia in my life
- But what if it is only the start of ever greater demands?
- I ‘ll deal with that as and when
- Why not give the thousand pounds direct to her as a gift?
- I thought of that but she said ‘no’ and that this way it attracts gift aid and it keeps things clear between us
- Hmm… I really don’t like the sound of all of this
Frankie shifted uncomfortably in his chair,
- I have my own doubts too but what’s a grand compared to gaining a daughter?
- Well a good week’s work for a start! … And it’s feeding an unhealthy habit of hers – this OM cult is bad news
- Cult?
- Cult, check out Wikipedia
- Wikipedia, said Frankie scornfully.
- You academics are such snobs…try the INFORM website instead
Paul went on to explain about Xavier, Percy and his encounter with the BNF fascist group
- Hmm, I can see why you are concerned (Paul was relieved) but I have already handed over the cheque and-
- Stop it then
- Too late and in any case it would look bad
- Listen, be very very careful Frankie and don’t, I repeat don’t go to any of their residential centres
- Hmm…. Why not?
- Why not? Well I just don’t trust them… and cults always use residential experiences to influence and win people over
- I have already promised Claudia that I would go this weekend
- Don’t!
- How can I back out?
- Make up any excuse, blame me if you like or work but don’t go!
- OK (Frankie sounded doubtful)
- I mean it Frankie, ring her now on your mobe.
Frankie agreed reluctantly
- Hi Claudia
- --
- Yeah, but listen I really can’t make York this weekend
- --
- Yes I know its is disappointing and I was looking forward to it
- --
- Yes I am really sorry but something has come up
- ---
- Yes at work. They’ve dumped a report on me at the last minute and it has to be in first thing Monday morning
- --
- Yes sweetheart but it is for the President and if I want to keep in the Dean’s good books-
- ---
- Yes, yes I know but yeah
- --
- Thank you for being so understanding… I’ll make it up to you
- --
- Yeah dinner at the Midland
- --
- Bye

Frankie breathed a sigh of relief
- OK?
- Yeah, I hated doing it but…
The issue with OM was clearly not over and not doubt Claudia would urge Frankie to attend the OM Centre in York on some other weekend but at least the problem was on old for the time being.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Mystic detective (9)

- Hey mystic
- Berni you old bugger!
- Less of the old
- But buggers OK? (They both laugh)
- Chacun a son gout
- French!
- French indeed is my latest beau!
- Tell me more!
- I will but first of all I have a message for you.
Paul was instantly alert for Berni was a high quality Geordie psychic who occasionally gave him valuable guidance.
- It goes like this (Berni began speaking in a very formal ritualised way) Beware of Frankie, beware of OM and above all watch your back
- Too late for that I got beaten up last week
- I’m not talking of the past
- Oh Fuck
- You’ll be OK, you’re a survivor
- Sure (At what cost?)
- I know it costs you
- Oh fuck talking to a psychic
- Yeah well mystic you take care
- Will do and you too
- Love you
Paul grunted. Bernie was a case, indeed she was an ex client of his (see ‘Mystic detective rides again’). She was sensitive and also flamboyant, very worldly but curiously shy and naïve and like a kid sometimes. And her predictions were always spot or at least as far as Paul was concerned.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Being my age

On my bike today and thinking about my age. Being 60 is different. Don’t mean being 60 rather than 59 is different just being around on this planet fro all of these years has changed me. For example my childhood ambition to play football for Aston Villa is now not going to be realised  and in fact was obvious to me in 1960 when I never made the Primary School football team. I would still like to achieve a long held ambition to have a novel published but this is unlikely although I am having fun developing my Mystic Detective writings. I also dream of being a more published poet and from time to time I send off poems to various magazines/competitions but it is mostly rejection. I am a very successful academic writer so that may have to do.
I am now better at living in the moment and enjoying the little things of life- coffee and a chat with a good friend; the bike ride to work; a laugh with my daughter; words of appreciation from my wife; seeing my students succeed in their studies; the stars at night; when it stops raining; the occasions victories of Aston Villa; listening to the Pets… There is a lot to be thankful for!
And this may be it, I don’t know, I’ll find out. I don’t know what is round the corner, all kind of challenges and hopefully delights. I know I can’t control the future- I can only be as ready as I can for what does happen.
I think I am optimistic, I certainly rather lucky in many ways, I have had some good breaks in my life and I have found outlets for what I had to give and share. I now this is not everybody’s story. But I guess this good fortune predisposes me towards an optimistic view of life, or at least glass half full. And then my moments of spiritual experience seem to top everything up.
I could of course have a good moan and I might (and have done) one day but this s me today right now.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Mystic Detective(8)

Paul was in Leeds – only an hour or so away from Manchester – but a very different culture. Not as cosmopolitan or as rich as Manchester and a different kind of meanness haunted its city streets. Both cities had known poverty (and still did) especially during Paul’s childhood in the 1980s when the destructive madness of Margaret Thatcher blighted a whole generation in the North.

The recovery was slow. Manchester re-branded itself as a modern multi cultural post industrial city. Dirty deals were done with the money men and a boom of sorts resulted. Leeds with its lingering Yorkshire dourness was slower off the mark but a kind of prosperity seemed to arrive by the mid to late 1990s.

Paul was in Leeds for a meeting with an informant, Clive, a disillusioned ex member of OM who Frankie had tracked down via an ex student of his. They met in the bar at lunchtime at the Playhouse Theatre among luvvies and wrinkles. Clive was a youngish looking man dressed in a lurid T shirt (featuring the Clash of all bands!) and jeans despite the rather cold Autumnal weather. He was thin and tall with a pencil thin moustache and a goatee beard, looking rather like a hackneyed painter but without the acne.

- I understand you can help me with some information about OM
- It will cost you (was the reply as Clive, furtively looked round and leaned forward to speak softly to Paul)
- Fine, if its good
- How about one hundred quid upfront?
- Fifty for starters
- OK
Paul handed over 5 ten pound notes.
- What do you want to know?
- Well, a client of mine has a daughter who got caught up with OM and when she left they wouldn’t let her go, started stalking her, demanding money…
- Sounds typical
- What’s it all about, I don’t get it
- You need to understand the way they think
- Tell me
- Well. The self as we no it is an illusion. When you join OM then you lose your separateness and join the Overself, the OM Self. So everything you have is signed over to OM. Until you take this step you wont be happy. When you do you are guaranteed eternal bliss. OM will then take care of all of your material needs. They target well off unhappy people, loners, people with a spiritual itch.
- So what happens when you leave?
- Probably your client’s daughter had not done the final death of the self ceremony.
- Death of the self?
- Yes it’s a ritual practice in which the sanyasin fasts for 72 hours and then at dawn a special ceremony occurs in which they are given a new OM name and hand over all their worldly goods.
- Hmmm (Paul remembered the state his friend Xavier was in after his time at the OM Centre in York and his own visit their.)
- It sounds like she quit just before the ceremony and that they are trying to get her back. They are very good with IT stuff. They’ve hack into her email, Facebook, Myspace and Twitter accounts. Probably even her mobile phone.
- How do you stop them?
- They are very tenacious
- You might be able to pay them off but it would cost a packet. And they don’t like people quitting and telling what happened.
- You got contacts
- Yes but it will cost you (Paul assed over another 50 quid) and don’t tell them were you got the information. York is not their main centre. It is just their public face, it is their level one. It is at their level two centre that the real damage is done. That’s where the death of the self happens. Their level two centre is in California.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Mystic Detective(7)

Paul was early again for the meeting – it was how he liked it to be. It gave him time to ‘case the joint’ and on more than one occasion it meant he had avoided an unpleasant scene – including probably being beaten up.

This time there seemed to be no apparent cause for concern, no guys hanging out looking both over casual but suspiciously observant. However, that did not make it safe, merely dealt with the possible amateurs (and police) the professionals were an altogether different matter. If they were involved they would turn up with his contact and/or already be in place inside the building.

There were some hard men (and in one case a hard woman) and hard money around Manchester but usually, and thankfully, their world and Paul’s did not meet. This was apart from the rare occasions when they wanted him to do a job for them – and this was one of them – usually involving wives or girlfriends or daughters. Paul was happy, or rather not happy but willing to take on such legal jobs on condition that they stayed out of his affairs.

Sometimes he regretted this arrangement and today might prove to be one such time. He was meeting with Polish Jan, an East European man of possibly Polish origins, non-one was really sure. Jan had made his first fortune arranging ‘marriages’ between Poles fleeing their country in the 1907s and 80s. There were plenty of down at heels hippies and punks at that time eager to earn £100+ for a few minutes appearance in a registry office. Many of these characters had married more than once. Having made his first fortune this way Jan then turned to the more demanding but infinitely more profitable world of drug dealing.

Jan was a quiet speaking, well dressed and apparently gentle soul with sharp blue eyes, blond short hair, average height and the body of a man who worked out regularly at the gym. Although not that striking one first meeting he was clearly the Man – you only had to observe the way his two minders treated him and the response invoked in the bar staff.
- What do you want Jan, asked Paul after their drinks had been brought to them
- No time for small talk?
- No, this place gives me the creeps (This place being the bar at the Northern Hotel, which was notorious for its prostitutes, football players, WAGS and their hangers on.) lets cut to the chase
- My daughter is being stalked… I want you to deal with it.
- Stalked?
- Yes
- Why
- There’s a history (Paul nodded)
- Have you ever heard of OM?
- Yes
- You have?
- Yes
- Well you know then they are this meditation group and my daughter goes in for that kind of stuff (Jan spoke with a quiet venom)
- And?
- And they wanted her to join them and live at their centre in York but she’s not that dumb and felt there was something fishy about them. Now they wont let her go, they keep hassling her, or at least I think it’s them. It certainly was them one time and he’s got the bruises to prove it… Not very spiritual language when we hit him.
- But that’s not worked.
- No, it’s gone to mysterious phone calls, emails and stuff and it’s really getting Samantha down. I could get their place torched or thump a few of them but I am not sure that would work. Usually one beating is enough but in this case…
- You would like a softer approach
- I’m not that bothered how soft I just want it sorted
- Well my approach is never physical-
- I know that
- But I am willing to investigate, check this out.
- Good man
They shook hands and Jan and his sidekicks left. Paul was left wondering whether he had done the right thing.

Poem: Horrors of creation

Horrors of creation

I met you again
This time in a wheelchair
And I wonder why?

I am able to see you
Without disability
As you sit down and we talk

You tell me of the good
That comes out of facing illness
And I wonder at your calmness

And I feel the anger
And wonder againAt the marvels/
And the horrors of creation