Sikh and you shall find…


A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting alone at a cafe in West Hollywood waiting on a friend, when a man in a blue turban approached me. I could tell by the style of turban that he was a Sikh. He looked me in the eye with a great intensity. He then told me that I was very lucky to have the small scar I have in the center of my forehead (the result of running into a large nail sticking out of a wall when I was 8), and that it was an auspicious sign. Without missing a beat, he then correctly identified my favorite color of blue. As I was pondering my place in the universe, he cleared his throat and asked me for money.

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  1. H S Bawa says:

    Dear Satori Stephen,
    Your story says that by the style of the Turban of the man who approached you, you made out that he was a Sikh, but after going through the entire piece I have made out that the person who approached you was not a sikh.

    This I can tell, because I am a Sikh. The first thing is that ‘true sikhs’ do not believe in superstitions. Having a scare in one’s forehead is not at all considred to be auspicious or otherwise as per sikh tenets. The sikh Gurus and the sikhism even do not promote or advocate any form of superstitiohns, astrology etc. etc. So telling you about your favourite colour, as an astrologer or a tantrik, is also not something the sikhs practise.

    Third thing you have said is that he ‘asked you for money’ i.e. he begged for money. If you do happen to come to India, you will note that Sikhs generally hate to be beggars. They can be seen doing labour but a sikh beggar is hard to find.

    I think, it puts the record straight.

    All the best for your future articles.

    H S Bawa
    Jalandhar, Punjab, India.

  2. Stephen says:

    Thank you so much for your comments Mr Bawa. I can appreciate that you have your definition of “true Sikh”, and believe anyone that behaves differently falls outside of that. But I have traveled extensively in India, and met some very wonderful people indeed who were Sikh, and as you say do not beg or promote superstitions. If you search through this very blog you will find many posts relating to my experiences there in Sikh communities. I consider myself very lucky to have spent time in this tradition learning a bit about it, and for the most part I was very impressed with the egalitarianism and commitment to helping local communities around the gurdwaras that I visited.

    I myself would not call this man who approached me a “beggar”, just because he asked me for money. As we might say in one of my family traditions, this was his “schtick”, and perhaps a fair way for him to make a living. I don’t for a moment pretend to know if he believed in what he was saying or not, but he was clearly playing on most Americans’ perception of him as “exotic” and “foreign” or “mystical” due to his appearance (which I can assure you was indeed Sikh, not that most Americans are able to identify things such as the turban or metal band, let alone accent or other markers). To be clearer, I agree with you that the things this man said to me are not part of the Sikh tradition, but he was most definitely of Sikh origin. Any person from any tradition can of course say or do anything that will not conform to the tenets or culture from which they come, wouldn’t you agree?

  3. kaptaan says:

    I read your post and have to agree with HS Bajwa, this person was not a Sikh. He may have altered his appearance to copy Sikhs, but anyone who is a Sikh cannot beg or use a ‘schtick’ to get money from people in this manner.

    Anyone raised in a Sikh home would be disowned for this kind of thing and secondly, even if he was a Sikh and not disowned, the local Sikh community wouldn’t stand for anyone’s family condoning this sort of thing by not disowning him. you should have taken his picture and posted it so that it could be verified who he was and if he did in fact attend any local Sikh Gurdwara.

  4. Fauzi says:

    OMG u cracked me up :)

  5. I found your guy!

    There are two of them actually, the one with the blue turban whom you met and one with a white one. They are up by The Arclight movie theather now and Amoeba Music. (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that their new beat is not far from Golden Bridge Yoga.)

    Today as I’m waiting for the bus after the gym, I overhear the one in white having a conversation very similar to the one you described. He dresses well, is perhaps in his mid-thirties and is quite charming.

    The conversation ranges somewhere between personal coaching and a bit of mysticism: He gives the man some re-assuring words about his nephew, tells him to listen to his heart and predicts he will find a boyfriend in the next month.

    Afterward I go up to him and introduce myself and tell him I have read about him (or rather his friend) on your blog. I ask him his name, which he tells me is “Sadhu Baba.” He wants to give me a little copper ring as a “prasad,” but I politely decline and instead give him your blog’s url and tell him to check it out.

    He asks to have a chat with me, but my bus arrives. As I’m boarding, he says: “You were meant to find me! Your friend wrote that for you.”

    I think he and his friend have the potential to have a successful business if they really market themselves. Their presentation is quite excellent. I will have to take my camera next time and shoot a little video-blog of him.

    As to their legitimacy (as Sikhs or Sadhus,) this is Hollywood, so it matters little. (That’s not really Superman or Shrek standing outside The Mann Chinese up the street from them.) But my friend Daniel lives next to the Sikh temple right here in Los Feliz so I will inquire as to whether they know about these activities next time I’m in the neighborhood.