A Survival Guide for Muggles in the Spiritual World: Interpreting for Indian Fortune-tellers

鄭嘉裕, Interpretation Track

Dear fellow Muggles,

Allow me to take you on a journey through my recent experience as an interpreter for Indian fortune-tellers. The practice, known as Nadi Leaf Reading, involves Nadi Masters interpreting inscriptions on bundles of ancient palm leaves, which were written by Indian Sages thousands of years ago. The leaves contain everyone’s life predictions and star charts, which may provide answers to life questions. The Nadi Astrology believes that a soul experiences numerous lives. It has different purposes in each life and is affected by the good deeds (blessings) and bad deeds (karma) it did in its past lives. I thought I could not manage this task because I am a complete Muggle—neither religious nor spiritual—that would have interpreted anything but fortune-telling. However, I survived one after another reading sessions. Looking back, I realise that all it takes is perseverance, curiosity and humility to understand that invisible world. With this experience, I put together this survival guide for you.

Step 1: Build A Knowledge System

  I set aside much more time than usual to study for the task because I had to create a knowledge system from scratch. Without any slides to prepare for, I could only search for random online articles to gather more clues. From that, I gained a basic understanding of Hinduism, especially the Hindu deities, life and death, soul, and karma. These concepts formed the backbone of the Nadi philosophy and, perhaps, the Indian way of thinking. With this macroscopic framework in mind, things might be easier for me. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, the Nadi leaves are written in ancient Tamil, a language native to Southern India. I had a hard time memorizing the Tamil words, such as the stars and calendar months. I shadowed pronunciation videos repeatedly to ensure I could catch those terms on the spot. However, after all the studying, the first few sessions still threw me curveballs. I was bombarded with unfamiliar concepts that I had to ask the Nadi Masters to elaborate on or look them up on the spot. Worse still, some clients have better knowledge than I do! There is nothing lonelier than being a Muggle surrounded by spiritual people. My first few sessions were full of hiccups, yet, I did all I could to facilitate the conversation. The knowledge gap was way too huge, leaving me with the realisation that there was no other way but to keep asking and learning on the fly.

Step 2: Decode Accented English

  As days went by, I became better at comprehending different astrological ideas, as did my listening skills in the Nadi Masters’ accented English. Before the first session, I was extremely anxious about their accents because I listened to some of their audio samples, only to find out that I couldn’t even understand a word! To my surprise, even though the Masters have a heavy accent, it is not that difficult to understand them because they follow a similar framework when explaining the predictions. I even found Indian English charming because of the way ideas are expressed. For example, “blood pipes” are blood vessels and “to take a baby in a technology way” means assisted reproduction. Also, they prefer affirming an idea with “can” instead of “sure” or “yes”. After interpreting for them for some time, I became more sensitive to the nuances the Masters tried to convey, where they want to implicate or be euphemistic (you know, it’s risky to give absolute judgements to things that haven’t happened). My interpretation also came out more idiomatic. I thought I only achieved the bare minimum until I met an English-speaking client. Even though she could handle the basic conversations, she asked for my assistance whenever the Master did not make himself clear. That was the moment when I knew all my hard work had paid off because I could offer my value as an interpreter with my knowledge and thorough comprehension.

Step 3: Embrace This Whole New World

  In the words of Nadi Masters, souls suffer with a purpose. The “sufferings” I went through as an interpreter became a gateway to a whole new world, in interpreting and spirituality. This assignment offered me a chance to experience the life of an in-house interpreter. Interpreting highly similar content repeatedly allows for deliberate practice. I enjoyed the capacity to refine my expressions and delivery without undermining comprehension. For instance, I can practise engaging the audience whenever I retell the past-life stories. In this way, I can focus on improving one issue at a time. Also, I am truly blessed to learn from different life stories. From a divorcing dad who smiled when he knew his twin baby girls were once his mothers in other lives to a daughter grieving her father’s unrestful soul, I see the intricacies of human nature unfold before my eyes. I witnessed how the material and spiritual world intertwine, even though I’m just a Muggle. Interpreting always takes me to places I have never imagined. This time again, it is telling me that this world is exciting; so just go and embrace it.

Here ends the testimonial of a Muggle interpreter surviving in the spiritual world. Yes, the learning curve was steep, plans didn’t keep up with changes, and interpretations were far from perfect. But it was possible to make up the knowledge gap little by little and let the experience accumulate. At some point, I could complete my mission as an interpreter. It is fulfilling to help the clients find their Nadi leaves and see them go home with the life advice they need. It is no magic but learning and failing over and over again. May we all find the wisdom and courage to explore the spiritual realms beyond our comfort zones.

Good luck,