Published in Friday Weekly, Gulf News on 07/13/2006 12:00 AM (UAE)
         Stars in his eyes
By Anand Raj OK, Staff Writer
'(That) book got me interested in gemmology and I began to look at gems in a new light' - Babu Narendra. Tangarajan/Gulf News

R Babu Narendra, Dubai-based astrogemmologist

As a young boy, I had a passion for astrology and was keen to know more about how the system worked.
I belong to a family of astrologers and that must have been the reason why I developed this interest.
An uncle of mine was a highly respected traditional healer and astrologer and I remember people flocking (to) our home in Kerala, southern India, waiting to meet him for consultations.
Watching the kind of respect and popularity he generated, it became my ambition to one day enjoy the kind of success he was having at the time. One day, I told myself, I too would have a lot of people waiting outside my house to meet me.
After I completed my education, I joined the government service. But even during my years as a government employee, I would study the horoscopes of friends and relatives during my free time.
I also made a few predictions and my friends were pleasantly surprised when they came true.
It was during this time that I became interested in gemstones. In fact, in the study of gemstones too, as in astrology, my uncles were my guides. They encouraged me to study the zodiac and were instrumental in helping me expand my knowledge on astrology and precious stones.
Over the years, some of my friends and relatives (who had been consulting me) spread the word and before long, I had a steady stream of visitors seeking my expertise. I studied their horoscopes and, where necessary, suggested they wear certain gemstones which would be beneficial to them.
At the time, studying horoscopes and offering advice about gems was more of a hobby than anything else. But this was all to change when I made a trip to the UAE in 1970.

The turning point
I was in Abu Dhabi at the time and over a few casual meetings with friends, I was requested by some friends to check out their horoscopes and advise them on what gemstones to wear.
My advice seemed to help them. Once again, word spread and before long, I was flooded with offers to read horoscopes. A few of my friends also entreated me to extend my stay in the UAE so that I could help more people by way of offering advice on gemstones. I was quite happy that my knowledge was being put to some use, so I gave in to their wishes.
After seeking early retirement from the Indian government service, I decided to settle here in 1970.

Forty-two is a very important milestone ?
For about 50 per cent of people. That is the age when their fortunes will almost surely change for the better.
Yes, luck and a lot of other things such as health, mental well-being and marital happiness depend on how well the stars are placed in a person's zodiac sign, but for those born with the right planetary configuration, 42 is the age when several positive changes take place in his/her life.

One person who inspired me ?
... was my father (Raghavan Pillai). Were it not for him, I would not have been able to reach the position I am in today. One of the most important lessons he taught me was to read books on different subjects. When I was young, I enjoyed reading only thrillers.
But as I grew older, he used to gently encourage me to read more serious stuff. Thus, I graduated to reading science fiction, then history, then books on sociology, about people and places ... the more I read, the more I wanted to read.
The knowledge I gained from books has come in handy during the various stages of my life and I am eternally grateful to him for having inculcated in me the desire to read at a very young age.

Incidentally, it was a book which ...
To a very large extent changed the course of my life. Unfortunately, I do not remember the title, but it was on gemmology. My wife, Omana, who has been with me through thick and thin, gave me it some 35 years ago. That book got me interested in gemmology and I began to look at gems in a new light.

I also enjoy travelling
I have been to almost all places in India, including some places of religious significance such as Shirdi, which is close to Mumbai. I find places like these immensely soothing to the mind.
I also remember a trip to Cyprus, because there I met quite a few people who were very interested in astrology

 I believe in ?
Optimism. I am an out and out optimist and strongly believe that tomorrow will be better than today. I do not like to dwell on the negatives or the bad things that have happened in life, but prefer to believe that the best is yet to come.

A moment in my life that (I'll never forget) ?
It happened about eight years ago. I got a call from a client of mine at around 10 in the night. He said he wanted to meet me urgently, so I went to his house. When I reached there, I found him in a very depressed state.
His business had suffered terribly and he was considering some very drastic measures. I sat by his side and counselled him for four or five hours,encouraging him to look at the positive side of life.
By the time I left early in the morning, he was a changed man. He began to see the bright side of the situation and today he is a happy, contented man.

I have spent over three decades in the UAE ?
I feel these have been the best years of my life. Of course, there have been some hiccups along the way, but I have been able to meet people from so many different countries and cultures and have had such enriching experiences.
I don't think this would have been the case if I had spent my life in any other country. The UAE is truly a fantastically cosmopolitan country.

My dream is to ?

Write a book about all my experiences. I have met so many wonderful people from different parts of the world. If I had a talent to write, I am sure my book would truly be a very interesting one.
(Babu Narendra can be contacted at