What Pegman Saw: A Second Opinion

Kumiko Guest House, Varanasi | Martin Yao, Google Maps

“They say he is the best astrologer in all of Varanasi. In all of India, perhaps.”

The politician let out an exasperated breath and stared up the long flight of stairs. The astrologer’s office waited at the top. “But is he better?” he growled. “Better than all the rest?”

They both knew what the other astrologers were saying: that the only thing certain in the upcoming elections was change.

“You can always choose to ignore them, Narendra. Many of the youth say it’s time to leave the old ways behind. Chart our own course.”

“Nonsense.” He’d relied on astrologers in developing policy decisions from terrorism to Pakistan. The fact that he’d aspired to office at all was due to chance reading as a boy. He grumbled, leaning on his cane as he and started up the stairs. “I just need an astrologer to give me better news.”

147 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

Inspired by: Varanasi astrologers predict instability in politics and this awesome photograph I uncovered at OldIndianphotos.in.

Source: University of Hawaii at Manoa Library, OldIndianPhotos.in


  1. A good fit of photo and story. And an inspiring prompt to whet my wits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Can’t wait for your story! I thought this was an enchanting spot. Glad you liked it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Indeed. Though for my take I had to move a little north to Sarnath to find what I wanted

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Stunning story. Lots of distressing news from India this week, so it’s really topical too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems like the politics are in flux pretty much everywhere. I guess those astrologers are right! Thanks for reading.


  3. That’s the thing about advice: if you don’t like one person’s, you can just keep asking more people until you find the advice you wanted to hear. I liked how visceral his frustration felt, and the effort of going up more steps for probably nothing.

    Two administrative comments: the link from inLinkz isn’t working, and you’ve switched the spelling around on the name of the city.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thanks for letting me know about the spelling–I think I’ve got it all fixed now. I’m not sure what issue you’re seeing with the InLinkz since it seems to be working for me.

      Thanks for your most kind words about my story. I like what you said about advice!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just tried the link again, and I keep getting an “Error 404: nothing found” screen. Not sure why that would happen, if it’s working on your end. Aha — figured it out. The page the link goes to has a URL of …/2019/05/22/…. whereas the page with the actual story is …/2019/05/25/… .

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good eye, Joy. I see what you’re saying & I fixed it. Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Very believable story, Karen, and very topical.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Penny, glad you found it believable. I know you’ve spent a ton of time researching India for your book, so that means a lot!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love how your last sentence lets us know this is not a young man and the journey up those stairs is very important to your character. Well done.


  6. It’s an up hill climb for all politicians at the moments, isn’t it, Karen? A fitting story for an intriguing photo. It makes me shudder that astrologers are used… but then sky watching and charting has been a fascination of mankind since the beginning. So why not?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess it’s like the old proverb “may you live in interesting times.” We sure do. And while it’s an uphill climb, the rest of us are going downhill.


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