What is referred to as professional equipment? What does a bundle of palmyra writing show to the astrologer's clients?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The so-called "professional equipment" of the astrologer is what is commonly called "silent advertising." It is intended to show the passers-by that, in the first place, this man is a fortune-teller who will tell their fortunes for a fee. In the second place, it is intended to make an impression on the passers-by, so that they will be willing to part with a little of their hard-earned money. It all suggests that the astrologer possesses a great deal of esoteric knowledge. This is a pure fake.

...he knew no more of what was going to happen to others than he knew what was going to happen to himself next minute. He was as much a stranger to the stars as were his innocent customers. Yet he said things which pleased and astonished everyone: that was more a matter of study, practice, and shrewd guesswork.

This character is likeable even though he is a fraud. We admire him for being able to live by his wits in such a tough environment as a big Indian city. And he has to give his consultations in public, with a crowd of curious men and women watching and listening. Obviously this man is exceptionally intelligent, although he may have hardly any formal education. He came from a little Indian village where he would have been a poor peasant farmer all his life, and he was thrown into a crowded urban environment in which people starved to death and no one cared about them. He has become so shrewd and versatile that he can even haggle over money with Duru Nayak, the man who is looking for him but doesn't recognize him in the darkness.

He may not be a real astrologer--but what is a real astrologer, anyway? Does a real astrologer know any more about people's fortunes than a pseudo-astrologer? Actually the protagonist may be giving people better common-sense advice than more highly trained professionals. His "professional equipment" is only a "front," but his services are probably, at least in many cases, quite valuable to his "innocent" clients.

The title "An Astrologer's Day" suggests that this clever man has to live by his wits every day, and that this story represents only one of those difficult days. He is just one tiny part of the vast hordes of Indian people who are in a similar position and have to live from day to day as best they can. This man survives, and his wife and child survive, because he was able to adapt to the harsh conditions of existence in his environment.

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debsarathi's profile pic

debsarathi | eNotes Newbie

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The cowrie shells ,a square piece of cloth with obscure mystic writings ,a notebook and a bundle of palmyra writings. 

The astrologer would show his client's his palmyra writings which indicated the position of the planet and whether there will be obstacles in their life in the future. 

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