August 12: Franz Harary is the magician. He has a simple wish: he wants to make the Taj Mahal disappear. Nothing doing, says the Indian government.
Harary is an American magician. His specialty is making huge monuments disappear. In ten years, he has done things no other magician has dared do before. In Hawaii he moved a volcano two miles out to sea. In Japan, he made the Tokyo Bay Bridge vanish. At Cape Kennedy in the USA, he made the NASA space shuttle vanish.
And now, he wants Agra’s famous Taj Mahal to come under the sway of his magic wand.
Harary’s intentions have sent tremors down the spine of the Government of India. It finds even the thought of India’s most famous landmark vanishing unbearable. Even if it is only for a moment. So it has denied him permission to try his magic on the Taj.
No problem, says Harary to The Hindustan Times, which wrote a report on the ‘phenomenon’. He will try his wand on Delhi’s Qutab Minar or India Gate instead. Just which one, he says, depends on getting required permission and which one he finds it easier to ‘dematerialise’.
Dematerialising is the magician’s term for making an object vanish. Harary frankly admits that he doesn’t really make the object vanish. He just makes it appear that it has. What he shows off as magic, is really illusion. So the audience is mesmerized into believing that something has vanished. When it’s there all the time, just ‘hidden’.
Several magicians have become rich and famous by playing similar games of hide and seek with their audience. P. C. Sorcar is India’s own. The Calcutta-based magician can make a whole train disappear! Then there is master-magician, David Copperfield, who is as famous as any film-star.
But none can match the scale on which Harary constructs his magic shows. Which are simply gigantic. By that logic, the Taj appears his most likely choice. Unfortunately for Harary, the Government of India does not think so.