Blessed are the Proselytisers

I must have looked particularly hopeless and lost today in town, because I got approached by a Hare Krishna person.

“Excuse me, my man.”

I saw him and his glossy books.

“No, no thanks, no”

“No, sorry, I just wanted to ask you a question. Can I ask you a question?”

“Oh, ok.”

“Are you from Dublin?”

“No.”

“Where are you from?”

If I was out proselytising for my own sect amid the bustling hordes of the city, this is exactly the pitch that I would use. Ask the person where she is from. Hardened city dwellers will ignore you, but small town blow-ins and wandering loners will be thrown off guard by someone taking an interest.

“I’m from the North.”

“Really? That’s cool.” (He would have said the same if I said that I’d been raised in the sewers of St Petersburg) A heartbeat later, with formalities out of the way, he flashes one of his glossy books. “So can I…”

“No thanks, no, no, eh, no.”

Time to go.

“No problem, my man. That’s cool.”

Creep.

I read one of their books once, when I was 13 or 14. It was this one. Same edition, with a foreword from George Harrison and everything. Load of shite. But I do like My Sweet Lord.

I find it quite hard to be rude to people who are out proselytising for their cult or religion or whatever it is Hare Krishna is. There was one time I decided to go to a Christian Union breakfast at college, for no other reason than to get a free feed. I figured I could spoof the Jesus side of things enough to make them feel that I wasn’t really exploiting their generosity. I discovered, though, that the spoofers and freeloaders are precisely the type of people they are on the lookout for. Non-believers are the big fish.

One chap, as I was taking a bite of my bacon sandwich (made with tesco value bacon and stale tesco value bread: these people do not like to make a show of their generosity), asked me what I believed in. I told him I believed in everything and nothing (which I thought was rather clever, as it happens, and I was rather disappointed he didn’t get the scriptural allusion). He said that my statement sounded more like that of an unbeliever. So I thought I would try and redeem myself (in his eyes, anyway), and said, well, I was raised a Catholic. Or maybe -thinking back now about the way he looked at me- I accidentally said that I was raised a leper. This didn’t deter him too long, and he was soon launching into a tale about how he woke up -after a science fair he’d been attending, representing from his school- face down in his own vomit one morning with his trousers round his ankles, and at that very moment he swore that he would give his life to Jesus. And now here he was! Putting me off my sandwich even more!

Where am I going with this? Oh yes. Back to Dublin this afternoon. A few minutes after my encounter with the Hare Krishna person, I was in Hodges Figgis. Somehow the book getting flashed in front of me and the feeling of having being picked out for looking a bit lost made me contemplate the book titles on display. A lot of them appear specifically designed to appeal to people who are in some state of doubt about some phenomenon or other, and may be secretly harbouring a desire to be shown the way to something.

There is a formula, which goes something like this:

STRIKING TITLE

How the Fnarr Fnarr is Fnarr Fnarring the Fnarr Fnarr

or

ADJECTIVE NOUN

How to Fnarr Fnarr your Fnarr Fnarr and Fnarr Fnarr

or

SERIOUSLY SCARY SHIT

Why Fnarr Fnarr Will Fnarr Fnarr The Way We Fnarr Fnarr

And so on. Hare Krishnas, born again Christians, Book publishers. Why can’t these people simply leave me alone?

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