The Writing Life: Elections and Intuition

I believe in intuition, in gut feelings. Well before the dramatic election of Donald John Trump as 45th President of the United States on November 8, I had a hunch that somehow he would defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton.

That hunch did not flow from deep thought, or sophisticated political analysis. It probably sprang from many elements, not the least of them being prolonged exposure to so many polls, pollsters, pundits and prognosticators who unequivocally averred that the election was Mrs. Clinton's to lose. At one point in the last few months, a couple of polls gave Mr. Trump only a five percent chance of winning.

Unless you live in a one-party dictatorship, or some such system where elections are always rigged - to use the Republican Mr. Trump's favorite accusation against the Democrats - no one loses elections by such an outrageous margin, nor does anyone win by 95 percent.

Even my beloved astrologer, Guruji D. Nagarajan of Chennai in southern India, insisted that Mrs. Clinton's stars were aligned in a way that would prove auspicious. As a default reaction, I always tend to believe what Guruji says because he has correctly predicted many good - as well as not so good - things in the decade that I've known him.

He warned me, for example, that I suffered from symptomless heart disease and that I might require major surgery. But he comforted me that was I to undergo such a medical trauma, I would emerge in better health.

In the event, during a routine medical exam at Chennai's Apollo Hospital in November 2013, cardiac surgeons gave me the unexpected news that four vessels in my left descending artery were clogged beyond being treated through angioplasty. And since stents wouldn't work, I had little choice but to accept open-heart surgery. In technical terms, it's called a quadruple heart bypass. A vein was extracted from my left calf, and an acclaimed cardio-vascular surgeon named Dr. M. R. Girinath and his team used portions of that vein to bypass the diseased vessels of my heart.

As it turned out, both Dr. Girinath and I were followers of Guruji, just as we were devotees of an early 20th century Indian saint named Sree Sai Baba of Shirdi. Sai Baba professed no religious affiliation. He lived in a dilapidated mosque in Shirdi, then a dusty village in western India, prompting many of his followers to assume that he was a Muslim. According to Wikipedia, Sai Baba was a spiritual master who was regarded by his devotees as a saint, fakir, and satguru, according to their individual proclivities and beliefs.

Today, long years after he passed away on October 15, 1918, there are temples dedicated to Sai Baba all over the world. He's regarded as a secular saint, a man who was non-denominational. He did not leave behind a written body of work. His sayings have been passed down the generations through word of mouth.

The saying that resonates most powerfully with me is: "Sabka malik ek" - "There's only one God."

That's a benign saying, of course, and it can be articulated by just about anyone from any faith.

My own faith is totally secular. I find peace in a Hindu temple - I was born a Hindu; I find peace in a Roman Catholic church - I went to a Jesuit high school in Bombay; I find peace in a Jewish synagogue - I went to two universities in the United States, Brandeis and Columbia, whose student bodies and faculties were heavily Jewish; and I find spiritual peace in mosques - I've lived in the Muslim world for many years for professional reasons, and I make it a point to attend Friday prayers at the Majlis in Abu Dhabi of His Highness Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development of the United Arab Emirates.

The seeking of inner peace is a tough process that demands regularity. But such peace often spawns hunches; at the very least, it strengthens intuition.

I have been especially seeking inner peace since my cardiac surgery three years; nothing like such a trauma to focus one's mind. But since Donald Trump began rattling cages in his quest for the American Presidency, I sought through prayer and meditation the many reasons why he might not win - because my vote lay with Hillary Clinton.

The many reasons that tumbled out of my intuition pointed to one thing, and one thing only: Trump's time had come for a huge and unexpected victory, while Clinton's time had come and gone.

As an American by nationality, my hope is that Trump will mellow when in office and that the dreadful promises he made during the election campaign will not be kept. As a spiritual man, my hunch is that he will carry out his many threats against minorities, Muslims and dispossessed people. It's a bad and ominous intuition, but at the moment I can't seem to tell it to go away.