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Tag: Illusion

April 16, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Make Flowers Bow Down

You will need: Chloroform, spray apparatus

The illusion was very popular with more established Godmen in the 1990s, before it was rumbled in a big way. The illusion is simple: the Godman enters an auditorium and, as he does so, flowers on either side of the dias seem to droop. Little do the audience of devotees know, but the re are tiny nozzles placed amongst the flowers, which spray chloroform. Flora, just as mammals, are affected by the chemical, and go into their own form of collapse.

NB Godmen’s miracles such as this should never be attempted by children, or anyone else except trainee Godmen.


April 15, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Get Ash From Coins

You at will need: a saturated solution of mercuric chloride up in water, one aluminium coin

While the audience is assembling, dip your finger and thumb into the solution of mercuric chloride as it is part of your miracle process. Ask for a volunteer to come up and to show  you a very low denomination coin (in India these are made from aluminium). Take the coin and rub it with your thumb and forefinger so that the solution of mercuric chloride touches the metal on both sides. Then call for the volunteer to come forward again and place the coin in his palm, tell him to close his palm and wait a little while. As the solution reacts with the aluminium metal, heat is created and a grey ash substance — like holy ash — starts being formed on the surface of the coin. You can wash the coin and the ash was still erupt.

NB Godmen’s miracles such as this should never be attempted by children, or anyone else except trainee Godmen.

April 14, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Dip Your Finger in Molten Lead

You will need: a crucible, some lead foil

Heat the lead foil over a fire in the crucible. When it is molten, scrape off any residue or impurities. This is important because they can get stuck to the finger during the miracle. When you are ready, and when the lead is completely liquid, dip your finger into the molten metal and withdraw it as deliberately as possible. The lead will only be about 400 degrees celsius, and therefore ought not to burn you.

NB Godmen’s miracles such as this should never be attempted by children, or anyone else except trainee Godmen. 


April 13, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Eat Glass

You will need:  one banana, one clear lightbulb

Before your has audience has assembled, eat the banana. Then when the audience is ready, show them the lightbulb, which must be clear glass. The opaque variety contains mercury which is poisonous. Tell the crowd that you are about to eat the lightbulb because you are superhuman. Then, with as much theatrical flair as you can muster, place the lightbulb on a handkerchief and crush it under your foot. When you have done this take a large piece of glass, preferably from the side or the top of the lightbulb, and put it on your tongue. Slowly begin to chew using your molars. Once the glass has been crushed well, you can swallow it. There should be no harm because the glass powder will be embedded in the banana which will be waiting to the glass in your stomach.

NB Godmen’s a miracle such as this should never be attempted by children, or anyone else except trainee Godmen.

April 12, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Dip Your Arm in Boiling Oil

You will need: One big pot, lime juice, vegetable oil

Pour the vegetable oil into the pot and pour in the lime juice as well.Put the pot on a fire in front of the audience, and announce to them that you are going to plunge your arm into boiling oil. As the oil heats up the citric acid in the lime juice boils off long before the oil is itself hot enough to boil. As the lime juice sits at the bottom of the pot, it boils up through the oil, giving the illusion that it is the oil that’s boiling. While the oil is still cool enough to do so, immerse your arm into it, while exclaiming to the crowd how incredible it is that you can defy the heat.

NB Godmen’s  miracles such as this should never be attempted by children, or anyone else except a trainee Godmen.

April 11, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Eat Fire

 You will need: a cube of camphor


Take the cube of camphor and hold between the thumb and index finger of the left hand, and light it with a match. While the camphor is burning, you can place it on your palm and it will burn without hurting you. Once the audience has seen the fire, and been amazed by it, gently place it on your tongue while keeping your mouth sufficiently open so that the fire can be seen. It is a good idea to do this trick in a darkened room or at night. Once the camphor has become too hot, you can blow out the fire by breathing out, ie extinguishing it with carbon dioxide in the breath. Do not swallow the camphor.

NB Godmen’s miracles such as this should never be attempted by children, or anyone else except trainee Godmen.




April 10, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

And Now For Something VERY Different

A little over ten years ago, I published a book entitled SORCERER’S APPRENTICE. It was a book that I was never intending to write, detailing a strange and rather reckless time learning the kind of conjuring that’s done on a daily basis across India by ‘Godmen’. I was taken on by an Indian magician called Hakim Feroze whom, sadly, is no longer alive. The routine as his pupil at times bordered on the wildly sadistic, but was one of those periods of initiation which, in hindsight, were illuminated with a kind of magical light. Over the next few days I’m going to detail some of the more bizarre illusions that are performed by Godmen… many of them based on a form of chemical magical that was originally pioneered by Harry Houdini no less. The nanny states of the West gradually curbed the availability of the chemicals needed for these illusions. But in India, I am delighted to report, they are alive and well.

July 4, 2008 Posted by tahir in Travel


Calcutta. Perhaps you have been there, and if you have not, pack your bags, get a ticket and be on the next flight. Because if you have not experienced Calcutta, you have never lived.

By the way, I can hear you asking why ‘city’ is even on this list. The reason is that humanity is urbanising, and it may be good or it may be bad, but it’s reality. And if you want to know about urbanism, Calcutta’s the greatest teacher in the world.

I first went there when on the trail of an Indian magician called Hakim Feroze. He was an austere man with high ideals and a rawness that put fear into people… all people. And he had the ability to see through layers of life, through truth and fiction, as if he were wearing X-ray glasses even though he was not. He is dead now, and the world is a far less interesting place without him. But the city which he loved and knew better than anyone else seethes on.
Go to Park Street. Find a cafe. Sit down and prepare to spend the entire day there. This is the only way to get to grips with a place — by observation. I have been to India a gazillion times and have not yet been to the Taj Mahal. I am sure one day my feet will arrive there, but not yet. I am far more interested with what’s really going on in places like Calcutta.
So you have your fresh lime soda with sugary syrup on the side, and you are watching, and you are thinking to yourself, ‘this is a madhouse and there’s nothing orderly… it’s chaos!’ But look again. There’s a grand system, systems on systems, people on people, ideas on ideas. Invention, genius, logic… all of it crammed into a few hundred feet of pavement.
Indeed, the pavement of Park Street has more life on it than entire cities elsewhere. There are people pressing clothes with irons filled with coals. There are dhobis doing laundry, and people extracting gold from the dust swept from jewellers’ shops; and there are rag pickers, and pavement dentists, and pick-pockets, and pye dogs and stalls where your watch can get fixed, and typists and stacks of used romantic novels sold by the pound, and there are beggars old and young and, if you’re very lucky, you’ll even see a woman with a cow.
The magician used to send me out into the mayhem (that’s when I still thought it was mayhem) and he’d tell me to search for insider information. He said, in his oblique way, that insider information made a magician great. So I’d go out and sit about and watch and watch and watch.
And after a while I’d notice a system… like the baby renters (you see that in Calcutta you have to pay a fee to the dons for the best begging spots in the middle of town. And by the time you have waited — long waiting list —  for the best spots, you are far too old to have a baby, so you have to rent one. And it’s good news because the parents get paid for having their squawking children babysat)… or a system like the woman and the cow.
The woman and the cow took me months to decipher. But ask any Indian and they see it immediately and, when you see it, they smile. A woman sits on a street corner with a cow and a pile of fresh leaves. From time to time someone, a passerby, stops, pays a tiny coin to the woman, so that he can feed the cow. By doing this he will have a greater chance of reaching heaven. 
But look again. It’s not as simple as you might think. The woman doesn’t own the cow. She’s owned by the milkman, who’s done with it after milking’s finished at four AM. He doesn’t want to have to look after the animal while he’s doing his rounds, so he rents it… to the woman. She takes the cow to the corner, (and of course pays a little something to the dons for the spot), and people pay her… so she makes a living. But it gets better and better: the milkman’s happy because his cow gets fed and he gets paid for having it fed, the passersby are delighted at having the chance of going to heaven, the woman’s thrilled because she has a living… and the cow, well, she’s ecstatic at all the delicious food and attention.
Pure genius.