Suspicious wives desperate to find out whether their husbands are cheating on them. Credit agencies out to decipher whether defaulters intend to clear their dues. Private firms keen to know which candidate is the suitable boy or girl… All armed with a scrap of a script.
After clairvoyants, astrologers, tarot readers, numerologists and assorted crystal ball-gazers, enter yet another room in the world of quick-fix remedies for the confused and restless — the graphologist.
Self-styled handwriting expert Basant Maheshwari says “business is booming”. The 40 calls he takes daily, and the 10-odd, 45-minute sessions he conducts every day, reflect the rising graph of graphology in town. At Rs 250 a session, it’s hardly a line of trade to be sneezed at, any more.
“In Europe and America, graphology is widespread, but in India, there is little awareness,” laments the commerce graduate from St Xavier’s College, Calcutta. “People are cagey about believing you. But once you begin telling them about themselves, they tend to veer around. People come to find out the unknown.”
Marital counselling accounts for most of Maheshwari’s work, with anxious spouses bearing samples of their partner’s signature. “I had one client, a lady who had been married three years,” he recalls. “She had heard rumours about her husband. She didn’t tell me this. But when she showed me samples of his script, I was worried. I said, ‘you have some very severe relationship problems’. She agreed, and allowed me to say more. It turned out that he was living with another woman.”
The 30-year-old applies his expertise to more than exposing errant husbands. His work has also helped couples resolve their differences. “Couples can consolidate their marriages by taking a closer look at their writing. Rival, clashing egos can work on getting along better by changing their style.”
Salt Lake-based Maheshwari maintains that controlling or suppressing aspects of one’s script can mould a personality, boost self-esteem, ambition, concentration, even honesty. His fledgling business is currently working to attract the lucrative corporate market. Credit agencies are notable among his present clientele. “Lenders worry about a client’s honesty, for instance, if he defaults, or asks for more time. Some clients bring a cheque, asking if they should believe a client requesting a month’s grace.”
In Germany, it is now standard practice among big corporations for prospective staff to take a graphology test. Those with a messy scrawl needn’t apply. And the trend is slowly emerging over here. “I get traders or manufacturers, who bring a selection of five or six CVs, and ask who is the best candidate,” says Maheshwari.
The dangers of generalising are high, in a field that even the experts concede is “hardly an exact science”. Maheshwari, practising professionally for the past eight years, has no recognised qualifications in the field. “I develop my theories over time, and evaluate through experience”.
But has his work shed light on any once obscure facets of his own self' “This is the hardest part. I work hard at improving the traits of my style, but it is actually very difficult to change you handwriting. Like your character.”