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Karachi: The story behind the photograph

by Jim McKeague
Illustrated with old photos from Karachi’s own collection, courtesy of his son Horrie Darby
and granddaughter Carlene Davidson

Figure K1. The famous photograph, taken November 1934.






a watchmaker and jeweller[2]. Rebecca. when Arthur migrated to Australia. 1888. in Birmingham. 1888. in this internet age. it is world famous. England. for Arthur is recorded as leaving the service on November 5 in the same year. . Little is known of his youth. but he probably did an apprenticeship. 1907 at the rate of two shillings and eight pence (per week? per day? the document does not say). Now. Horace (Horrie)[3]. He was the second son of Horace Charles Darby. a Great Western Railway employment record from Birmingham station. Arthur Claude Darby. and this is his remarkable story. Arthur Claude Darby[1] was born on April 5. which tells us that Arthur Claude Darby. his occupation was given on the ship’s passenger list as “fitter and turner”[4]. born April 5. who called himself “The Great Karachi. But this was obviously a temporary job. yet very little has been published about the man and the boy in the photo or the circumstances surrounding the taking of the photo itself. There is a document from 1907. told me his father was a fitter.The first of the above photographs (figure K1) has been for almost eight decades the most recognized image of the Indian rope trick. and indeed in 1948. entered service as a cleaner on September 9. The magician pictured was Englishman.” He was by far the most interesting of the western magicians who took up performing the Indian rope trick. for Arthur’s son. Probably this was stated because Australia at the time was seeking skilled migrants. and Horace’s wife.

In November 1919 Arthur and his younger brother Percy applied for a patent for a “holdfast. but none of the surviving records can be linked convincingly to our Arthur Darby. On the other hand. but some details are likely to be a showman’s embellishments. or something like that. The tattered remnants. who featured the rope trick on stage. Arthur was later to claim that he was “the only man in the world who actually performs the Indian rope trick (genuine). 1921. As well. But primarily. patent number is GB158629. and a sliding plate which quickly locks into position. was as follows: when serving in France in World War I. Arthur was a clever inventor. and before he died he taught Arthur the secret of the rope trick. The patent publication date was February 7. and like all showmen he had occasionally to turn his hand to other occupations in order to survive. For example.” a device to secure or hold in position objects such as pipes. and the knowledge he had from watching his father at work and from his own apprenticeship would have stood him in good stead for building his own equipment in his later life as a magician. The Ghurka laughed at his stories and tricks. The illustration shows a U-shaped clip which can be secured by a screw.. Horrie thought that his father had been “in the Dragoon Guards. Arthur was a fairground showman. telling him funny stories and entertaining him with conjuring tricks. A family story tells of another invention which was hijacked by a manufacturer even though Arthur had it . too. Arthur served in the British armed forces in France. My own opinion is that the story probably is basically true. when speaking or writing about his famous rope trick.” The story Arthur told. like many war veterans. used regular western stage illusion methods. it was the family’s understanding that this story was true. [5] This is nothing like a typical Ghurka name. His son. Horrie. and this is not the only patent which he held. Arthur had great artistic talent. and the U. He had the interest and the tenacity to practice sleight of hand. in one newspaperman’s story from 1935 the Ghurka’s name is given as Bowden Din. whereas other western magicians such as Devant and Goldin. for throughout his life he was admired for his manipulation of playing cards. etc.Very early in his life Arthur must have discovered magic as an interest. During the injured man’s last days Arthur spent much time by his bedside. In World War I. hardly ever talked about his war service. show that quite a few Arthur Darbys served in that war. When I suggested to Horrie that this was very likely just a magician’s patter story. Horrie said no. told me that Arthur. and sometimes we find him occupied as a sign writer and as a mural painter.” [6] This claim is likely to have stemmed from his own belief that he had been given a genuine Indian secret. he rescued the broken body of a Ghurka soldier from beneath the wheels of a gun carriage.K. Britain’s World War I military records were largely destroyed in the London Blitz of the 1940s.” plus pension records. the so-called “burnt documents. but does bear a surprising likeness to some old family names from south-west England where Arthur was living at the time.

He had not performed his Indian rope trick up until now. Horace. born in January 1924. have claimed that the Indian rope trick was just a myth. but. But. but discovered that his applications were ignored or returned to him unanswered. illusions and ventriloquism. was the boy who climbed the rope. but he made his preparations. Curiously. as we shall see. to identify him amongst the male members of the family. .” It is said that Cyril even learnt to do acrobatics whilst at the top of the rope. Gloria and Olive.patented. Those who. whose chairman. Horace. for Arthur’s father had been a Horace.” Young Cyril learnt to climb the rope and became “Kyder. and a person had to climb the rope and disappear at the top. ostensibly in an effort to discover whether the story of the feat was factual or just a myth.” and became “Karachi. in the past. Margaret (Peggy). though.[11] This is an important point which I must emphasize. the rope had to be thrown up and defy gravity. I refer to him as Horrie. People like Helena Blavatsky had said that the trick was an example of eastern mystic powers. Rebecca. he and his wife were raising their family.” At this time as well. such as the 500 guineas of the Magic Circle and the 10. Polly’s marriage to Arthur was her second marriage. abandoned the role of “Phantom. in order to win the prize. have regularly referred to the unclaimed rewards offered for a performance as evidence that the trick never existed. as his family does.[10] In those days many magicians offered rewards for a performance of the Indian rope trick. and came out fighting via their Occult Committee. and publicizing the Committee’s offer of 500 guineas to anyone who would perform it. he was to rise above it in spectacular fashion. with a young family to feed. Before 1934 he worked under the professional name of “Phantom. It was during the 1920s and 30s that the Indian rope trick became a big talking point around the world. The Listener. Polly’s maiden name was Poole. but lack of money meant he could not assert his patent rights. had his eye on that prize and on other rewards which had been offered. put together new costuming. were merely the trumpeting of performers seeking publicity for themselves. is the last surviving child. who could not think of a way it could be done. He travelled not only in Britain but in Europe also. had the maiden name Bristow. Karachi applied whenever such a reward was publicized.000 rupees of The Times of India. listed for me by Horrie as Iris. where records are largely non-existent. Lt. branding the trick a myth.[7] He also appeared in London music halls. Col. Arthur Darby received shabby treatment at their hands. Elliot. born in 1929. Arthur’s mother.[9] Arthur. R. Cyril. I do not doubt that some reward offers. Josephine. The performance had to be outdoors away from trees and buildings. Arthur married Mary Agnes (“Polly”) Bristow. these offers were primarily just publicity stunts. usually prominent magicians. and all the profits went to others. Travellers’ tales of seeing the illusion outdoors in India were disbelieved by western magicians. make no mistake. In reality. H. Cyril. the majority of the rewards offered by private individuals. were issued in good faith. Arthur and Polly had seven children. and stage-named Kyder. performing magic.[8] The London Magic Circle objected to that. Between the two World Wars Arthur disappeared into the world of the travelling showmen. as was Arthur’s older brother. spoke on BBC radio and wrote an article in the BBC’s periodical.

Lewis. Henry A. The photograph with Kyder up the rope began to be reproduced in many places. or both. Wednesday. The showmen’s newspaper. saying that in the Western Morning News of November 24. Karachi himself used this famous photo in his publicity and autographed it for fans. and asked if he would like to take some good photos. when the showmen’s caravans were at their winter quarters at Richmond Walk. saying he had been present at the Richmond Walk demonstration though not at Roborough Downs. and so became famous. It cannot be established with certainty whether the photos came from the camera of Lewis senior or that of his photographer son. 1934. it cannot now be established with certainty who took which photographs. 1934. Mr J. The captions stated that the photographer was Mr J. Karachi approached a Plymouth photographer. Devonport. uncoiled. The two performers were then driven to Roborough Downs on the edge of Dartmoor where they repeated the rope trick for a photograph with Kyder climbing the rope well away from any trees or buildings. but never handed out for examination.In late 1934. Wilcocks of Newquay sent the photos on to The Listener. put the photo with Kyder up the rope on its front page in the issue dated December 1. had a letter in The Listener. the photographer’s name was given as Mr J. took photos of Karachi levitating a rope in the middle of Richmond Walk with the showmen’s caravans in the background. whereas the Western Morning News of November 22 made it clear they were taken just the day before. were published for the first time in the Western Morning News (Plymouth. Three of the photos taken. Reginald Lewis had a lengthy letter in The Listener claiming that he had taken the photos and had examined the rope.000 pounds could be raised in this way. In view of these conflicting reports.e. His letter implies that he examined the rope at both locations. a Plymouth conjurer. that the photographer was “Mr Lewis” without specifying father or son. Reginald.[12] The Listener published two photos on December 5 with the Wilcocks letter.[15] In late 1934 Karachi had the idea of performing the rope trick on football grounds or in other public places to raise funds for hospitals and charities. telling him that he was the only man in the world who could perform the Indian rope trick. and also that Karachi was prepared to perform the trick with any rope before any public assembly in the city. This is the famous photo which heads this article. He believed perhaps 50. of November 22. and either Mr Lewis or his son Reginald. and accompanied it with a promotional story on page 41. nor do we know the exact day they were taken. November 21. Two weeks later. the photographer. i. [16] But events took a strange turn. England). retaining only a reasonable percentage for his living. Lewis. and that the rope was coiled. An appointment was made. Wilfred J. waved around. The World’s Fair. Lewis. Lewis of Plymouth. . including the famous one. For many years afterwards. There are copyright implications of all this. declared that the photos were perfectly genuine and that he himself examined the rope that was used.. Goad. and he offered to pass around the rope after any demonstration so that it might be cut up or otherwise examined. 1934.[14] Goad also stated that the day the photos at Richmond Walk were taken was a Sunday in November. Mr J. Again.[13] A fortnight after that.

but they are of very poor quality. and some excellent photos exist of Karachi and Kyder in their costumes with the rope erect at Dr C. but the footage they took was not released. with Kyder climbing the rope. Col. Joad was a well known philosopher. and also a friend of Price. was evidently not completely satisfied with Price’s assessment. Lambert. writer and broadcaster of the time. Karachi as a showman naturally needed publicity. We have seen the Rope Trick – and in a snowstorm!” The editor of The Listener.[18] In his article in The Listener. Karachi sent the rope up into the air about 8 feet and Kyder climbed it. Unlike Price. chosen so that absence of trees might eliminate any possibility of overhead wires. Photographs taken of this performance were published in Price’s article. M. “I congratulated him upon his simulating the Rope Trick so cleverly and. Price had established a laboratory to test the claims of spiritualists and other claimants to supernormal powers. He added a footnote to Price’s article: “Our readers will note the extremely unfavourable conditions under which the above performance was given. a member of the Magic Circle. he could make it a convincing spectacle. Elliot who headed the Magic Circle’s Occult Committee. either. for Karachi had asked for access to the field beforehand. Joad’s house at Hampstead.” After some rope-balancing feats. in an article in The Listener entitled. Price himself also took movie footage of the performance. Some preliminary feats were performed on December 31. In the hands of a Houdini. were sodden with snow. Price. 1934. and later donated his film to the British Film Institute when the National Film Library was being established in 1935. and Harry Price never suggested that it was. Harry Price was an unusual figure in the magic world. On January 16. arranged for Karachi and Kyder to come to London and perform their version of the trick in the open air. Price expressed his opinion that the rope was held up by a metal rod. 1935 before a small audience. S. The article ended. But both men saw the possibility of great publicity with the trick. was performed in an open field at Wheathampstead on January 7. But unlike most magicians of his time. and viewed the demonstration through the eyes of an ordinary spectator. E. The opportunity was opened for them by the fact that the Occult Committee had rashly declared the Indian rope trick impossible and had offered the 500 guinea reward for its performance. The field. Karachi had never claimed that his rope trick was in any way supernatural. during which time he was not to be spied upon. with a little more showmanship. He was an amateur conjurer. after three minutes. Whereas the Magic Circle’s Occult Committee was dedicated to denying all claims of the supernatural. Karachi began with “some clever sleight-of-hand work with a pack of cards which.It was at this time that Harry Price entered the scene. but Price also was always seeking publicity for his laboratory work. Price approached all claims with an open mind – but also with a scientific eye. Gaumont-British Films were present. who had been present at the performance. and a friend of Lt. R. together with the editor of The Listener. it would look like a miracle.” [17] Harry Price told how the performers and the spectators put up with appalling weather. But we are not grumbling. Karachi’s complete trick. and a magician’s knowledge of trickery. . it seems he was not conversant with magicians’ methods. “I Have Seen the Indian Rope Trick. Price was prepared to entertain the possibility that some “supernatural” phenomena were genuine.

etc. He told the story of the Ghurka soldier. Karachi would have been pleased with all the publicity. Col. “Karachi Challenges the Magic Circle. with ‘showmanship’ reduced to a minimum. His terms were straightforward: the sum was to be lodged with a neutral party who would decide whether the performance was satisfactory. and Karachi will issue them a challenge…. although only eleven years old. the whole structure tumbles in ruins about our ears. “the Occult Committee of the Magic Circle … say they have searched far and wide for a performer of the Trick. Mr Price. these gentlemen have never faced Karachi.. Kyder would climb it.” A week later in a letter to the editor of The Listener. but did not reveal it because it is a strict rule with the conjuring profession not to give away each other’s methods … allow me to emphasize the importance of not accepting any of these items of evidence in support of the Rope Trick or of other so-called occult phenomena without the most careful examination beforehand … when the phenomena come under the critical scrutiny of those who are versed in the methods of deception.let them offer a reward of not five hundred. Now. the rope would be supplied by any well-known rope manufacturer. thinks he knows how it is done. weighed in with this comment: “I also had learnt the secret of Karachi’s trick from a gentleman who witnessed it. the rope would rise to a height of ten feet. Karachi only specifying that it should have “a good grip”. after seeing my trick. Kyder is also delighted at these guesses! I do not wish to be personal – I agree with respectability – but I must say that Kyder. and I will perform the first part of the Rope Trick to their satisfaction upon the following terms”. and continued. But let me see the man who can actually perform such a feat!” Then Karachi turned his guns on Lt. sodden with recent rains. and remain at the top for 30 seconds to be photographed. Col.” Karachi pointed out the difficult weather conditions he faced on January 7. Mr Price’s explanation of the method used is no doubt right in principle. but I do claim to perform the first part in such a way as is inexplicable to materialistic investigators. Elliot. Sir. but he would not have been pleased with the dismissal of his feat as a mere showman’s trick with such a simple explanation. but of two hundred guineas. The intermittent sleet which swept the ground during the performance must have rendered manipulation of the rope unusually difficult. Elliot.” It began: “I am delighted with Mr. Then he made this intriguing statement: “I do not claim except as an illusion to perform the second part of the trick.” [19] Like any showman. the vanishing of the boy. the open place for performance would be chosen by the neutral . Karachi’s achievement was remarkable…. Harry Price’s guesses as to the principle used in my performance of the Indian Rope Trick. but the spectators were left guessing as to the precise details of its application. Under these conditions. Lt. knows more about the Indian Rope Trick than these scientists at present. and have offered five hundred guineas to anyone who can perform it. was of heavy clay soil. who had not been present at the performance. In the next issue of The Listener he pulled off a master stroke. His letter to the editor appeared under the headline. as it has done in Karachi’s case. which seem to require extraordinary dexterity.

In the next issue of The Listener three letters appeared accusing the Committee of cowardice.” From Elliot’s point of view. and partly from apparent desire for publicity. Now. “Is Karachi a real person? Or is he in league with the Magic Circle? Is a paltry five or two hundred guineas going to stand in the way of the truth being finally exposed? I am sure I speak in the name of many listeners when I say: Get on with it. even to the point where he forgot for a moment the conjurers’ code of ethics. They sensed that Karachi was being unfairly treated. Karachi ended his letter with this astonishing statement: “I will add that I am able to perform all my Rope Tricks on a table which can be examined beforehand. 1934. but he wanted a disappearance of the boy at the top of the rope. But now. and then running away from anyone who offers to demonstrate that it is possible. That was when the 500 guinea reward was first announced. with the spectators remaining at a distance of not less than 15 yards in front of the carpet which marked out his performing area. he felt justified in attacking Karachi in true military style. not interested in Karachi’s rope trick as it was merely “a conjuring trick. which. His next letter fumed: “So far from giving Mr Darby 200 guineas for this trick. F. things were getting out of hand! Elliot made it clear the original offer still stood. and this much disputed tradition will become a reality. and the rope would be handed to him after examination at the commencement of the performance. Edward Pitt-Arkwright of Melton Mowbray wrote of “the Magic Circle. If he likes to challenge me I will tell your readers exactly how he does it. Let the laws of gravity be defied by Karachi. brought together and tested at the bar of public evidence. your Karachis. your denials. This disposes of the suggestion of bamboo canes. and the Plymouth showman began to receive enormous support. has now got itself into the false position of first offering 500 guineas for the performance of a feat which it alleges to be impossible.” [22] The Magic Circle’s Occult Committee had staged a big meeting on April 30. nine months later. and believing that Blavatsky’s “mystic” theory of it was a foolish superstition. where magicians and prominent people with much experience of India thought they had killed the Indian rope trick story stone dead.” [20] After this. A letter from Basil Holywell of Eastbourne asked. and if the Magic Circle is really seeking enlightenment it will accept my challenge. Is . believing the complete trick was impossible. the general public entered the fray. but Karachi wanted access to it for 48 hours beforehand without being spied we would not give him twenty pence for it. W. your Magic Circles. your photographs. Mills of Surbiton wrote: “Is the Magic Circle virtually offering 500 guineas for performance of a miracle? Anything less is apparently dismissed as ‘a conjuring trick’. telescopic rods.” [21] Elliot was furious. your articles. Let the Magic Circle be squared. Let us have your challenges. He was. he said.” [23] P. and his purpose was to destroy the idea that the trick was supernatural. etc. Sir. But the public had little sympathy for Elliot and his Committee. these are fair conditions. partly out of credulousness.

What he said he would do. and so had full access to all Price’s correspondence. not only some members of the Magic Circle. but the offer was gently and politely refused. but he had reaped months of free publicity. He wrote again to The Listener with a quote from the Circle’s publication. and his fame was greater at this point than at any other time in his life. Nine months later he offered Harry Price the secret for £50. In his biography of Price.” [26] But most interesting was a second letter from Manchester’s Hugh Morrison. Colonel Elliot and his friends can hold another meeting and kill the Rope Trick all over again. resulting in splendid publicity for them both. ‘and I may make a short piece as a specimen. Paul Tabori. Karachi wrote to him after the demonstration: ‘I agree it was a poor show. Levey of Deptford who wrote: “it is little short of impudence on the part of Karachi’s supporters to take up this challenge and so to distort its meaning as to make it cover Karachi’s performance. would have been quite incredible. It was actually snowing at the time …’ Surely. in turn. He would not have made this very public challenge if he could not deliver the goods. challenged the world to do better – and no one took up the challenge. told him the principle on which he based his trick. he took every care to have the interest of his fellow magicians protected. The pretend dispute in the pages of The Listener between Karachi and Harry Price over how the trick was done is shown in a different light by Harry Price’s biographer. .” [25] Of course.’ he wrote to Karachi. away from trees and buildings. Tabori wrote: “When he staged the demonstration of the Indian Rope Trick with the conjurer Karachi. After Price’s death in 1948.’ Karachi. have cause to regret that his challenge was never taken up. ‘This would make a good rope for the trick. Harry Price emphasized throughout the experiment that it was a ‘trick’ and not some supernatural achievement. who was evidently a member of the Magic Circle. or only its Occult Committee. on a raised table. Elliot had his supporters. but magicians generally. They are afraid. though he gave no details. Harry Price a little later. and will be disappointed if it is not. and had milked the situation for all they could get. The Magic Circular. a poor setting for an Indian rope trickster! Karachi. Lt.” [28] The two men had obviously become good friends. Tabori was the administrator of Price’s literary estate. But in common justice to the Plymouth the Magic Circle as a whole. however. and commented: “It is obvious that many members of the Magic Circle expect Karachi’s challenge to be accepted. which has ceased to be interested in conjuring tricks?” [24] Hugh Morrison of Manchester wrote: “the London conjurers have become suddenly nervous and have refused Karachi’s challenge. To this day. they should stifle their timidity and give him a chance. Should Karachi fail to win their award. out of doors.” [27] Karachi’s challenge was never accepted. Col. or at any rate had access to the Circle’s exclusive periodical. such as A. invented a mechanical rope for the rope trick. but you are a man of common sense and quite know the difficult condition.

An advertisement in the theatrical paper. Josephine. but this was bombed and destroyed. and outgrowing his role as climber of the rope. a well known comedian. announced: Under Royal Patronage. with his BIG ROAD SHOW and his All Star Variety Artists.With fame came some changes to Karachi’s act. He worked as a machinist for G. Arthur. to give him his real name. Edward VIII.three kings occupied the throne of England in rapid succession in 1936. George V. Belgium and Germany. He was to follow them to Australia later.” World War II brought enormous changes to all in Britain. Gainsborough on November 6. M. though admittedly he was fond of saying that!). in 1947 Cyril migrated to Australia. The Stage. [30] Karachi himself performed with ENSA. Karachi built up an ambitious full evening variety show and took it on tour. no. together with their three youngest daughters. France. and Will Ray and Partner. Horrie was still in the army in Egypt. [31] In 1944. Cyril must have given a very favorable picture of opportunities in a new land. but joined the Royal Navy in World War II. Karachi’s advertising included the line. It defined him as a magician. He performed before allied troops in England. During the voyage Arthur performed his rope trick for the passengers and crew. The show’s manager was Jack Humphrey. Polly and the three girls arrived in Fremantle in January 1949. Edna Graham. saying that Arthur was looking for “a . Billy Newman. Bradford (“All Records Broken” according to the theatre’s operator. For a time before the war Arthur owned a cafe in Southampton. settling in Perth. V. and Arthur Darby and his family were not exempt. Cyril. and mentioned he had been performing the trick for 15 years in England. Dorsetshire. From now on the Indian rope trick would be the great feature of his performance. and at the King’s Theatre. bound for Western Australia.[34] The Daily News of January 22 carried good publicity. the organization which sent shows to entertain the troops. He became not just Karachi. or “Boy Kyder” as he was sometimes called. Martins Electrical Engineering firm. was growing up. and George VI). “The Box Office Attraction” – THE GREAT KARACHI – KING OF MAGICIANS. although this is not certain . left England on the migrant ship. 1949. for on December 10. G. and his rope trick was seen by thousands of wounded American and British troops in those countries. He was in the landing craft during the invasions of Sicily and France. plus quite a few others. for he was supported by some of the top artists of the day: Jack Strand. “Under Royal Patronage. W.A. Cyril was their sponsor. was the first to announce he was in town. although no one climbed the rope on board ship. and the Perth newspapers were quickly made aware that the famous Indian rope trick performer had arrived. a veteran British comedy juggling duo. Gloria and Olive. 1948. but “The Great Karachi.[32] This would have been an excellent show. a comedian who had done much work with ENSA. [33] After the war. eccentric dancer and producer. The West Australian of January 18. The only man in the world who performs the Indian Rope Trick. Arthur and Polly. Eric Martin. not the famous New Zealand-born soprano but a brilliant and glamorous xylophonist. Thereafter. appearing at the Mechanics’ Theatre.[29] Kyder.” He appeared before royalty (probably King George V. but met up with them briefly at Port Said. began work as a hotel page boy. The show played in the Midlands in that year.

and the Levitation. Flood. and is reminiscent of the Harry Price – Karachi exchange in The Listener in England years earlier.” The story also stated that Arthur offered 500 pounds to any charity if any person could prove that the rope had any connection or any material in it to make it rigid. the Head on the Sword. when I questioned them.” Like Arthur.” insisted the Indian rope trick was a myth. not a joiner of magic societies. with an illustration of an oriental magician on a magic carpet and the rope rising like a giant cobra. Karachi now built up a travelling tent show with which to tour Australia. a ventriloquist and an artist. his great feature act. uncovered some old lists of members which contained the two names. Mr Flood considered the claims “a publicity stunt. and signage which proclaimed him as “King of Magicians” and “The Man Who Challenged the Magic Circle. He was Alvin Darby. Darby listed as a member of WASM in the 1950s turned out to be another man entirely. a monkey. Where does he get his information? I don’t talk about it. Digging down into old documents. he was a magician. This certainly seemed to add weight to the idea that this exchange of letters was a conspiracy. These included the Dagger Box. Cyril was now too big to climb the rope. but Arthur’s daughters. who called himself “The Great Alvini. The West Australian carried a letter signed “Len Flood” objecting to Arthur’s claims that the trick was “genuine” and that he was the only man in the world who could do it. But the Indian rope trick was. [36] Arthur’s spirited reply appeared in the newspaper’s correspondence column the following Monday: “May I state that he does not know what the rope trick is. [35] Then on January 25. or a cockatoo to climb the rope when he performs the Indian rope trick.” . and especially into the secret of his rope trick. Perhaps his experiences in England with the pretended “rewards” offered by prominent magicians for a performance of the rope trick affected his opinion of other magicians permanently. the more senior members of WASM could not remember Karachi attending any club functions. where a disembodied head was balanced on a sword placed across the arms of an impressive throne. “A rope cannot remain suspended in mid-air without aid of some kind” he wrote. A.” [37] This exchange looks very much like a publicity stunt arranged by the two letter writers. Darby and L. He painted his own vivid signs. who had been a member of the West Australian Society of Magicians (WASM) in the 1950s. Further enquiries revealed the astonishing truth: the A. [38] Yet. and always would be. his “flash” as he called it. [39] But Karachi was a loner in the magic world. magician and journalist Jamie Bentley. where 16 year old Gloria floated in mid air.small boy. and challenged Arthur to perform it. where a girl’s head was penetrated by a number of knives and then vanished. He was very secretive. and always suspicious that other magicians were trying to delve into his secrets. although some did remember Karachi’s performances in Perth. I perform it. Karachi built and performed the standard illusions of the 40s and 50s. Josephine and Gloria. were perfect as assistants for his illusions.

” [43] Jamie Bentley also has a distinct memory of Karachi hissing at the rope which lay in a coil. Mike. He (he was always dressed like an Indian sultan with a jewelled turban) started by laying the rope full length across the front of the performing area then ‘whipping’ the end to send waves through the length of the rope. [40] Towards the end of 1950. was only about one and a half metres from the spectacle of the rope rising and collapsing. Society entertainer. In the heat of a Perth summer. The showman would take a deep breath. seems to be the version of the trick with which Karachi toured around Australia. Both thought it very effective and memorable. Nobody at any point climbed the rope or disappeared and the rope never moved of its own accord. He had a rope about 6-metres long and about 10-cms thick. Terms moderate. in the front row of seats. she was laid to rest the very next day in the Karrakatta cemetery. very similar. then. 1949.” [41] A story with pictures appeared in the Australian magazine. This. Greenhalgh and Jackson. on the other hand. Jamie remembers the trick being performed in the center of the tent with an audience standing all around. who ran many sideshows . Mike thought). Illusionist. but has always been fascinated by magic. He then knelt at one end of the rope and starting with the end worked the length through his hands all the while making a hissing noise at the rope … As the rope passed through his hands it became stiff so he could direct it up until the end touched the top of the tent … he seemed to twist at the rope as he passed it through his hands … When he had stood holding the rope now erect and touching the tent he suddenly gave it a shake and it fell to the ground. Karachi stepped down onto the grass in front of the stage. He manhandled the rope into the shape of a cobra about to strike. His beloved Polly died suddenly at home on December 8. saw performances where there was a stage on which Karachi performed illusions and his card manipulations (which were his best feats. until the end of the rope almost touched the top of the tent about 12 feet above the ground. who is not a magician. [42] My enquiries in Perth unearthed several people who witnessed Karachi’s rope trick at the Perth Royal Show in the early 1950s. Arthur received a terrible blow. and whose memory of what he saw as a ten year old boy is remarkable: “I saw his performance several times at the Perth Royal Show around 1953. including Indian rope trick. PEOPLE. But when it came time to do the rope trick. under Royal Patronage. and the keen-eyed Mike. then hiss loudly as he sent up each coil. She was only 50 years of age. telling of the Cottesloe Rope Trick Expert “who also claims to cure and prophesy. limp as before … he could return the rope to its flexible state so quickly … He did another demonstration with the rope. Hypnotist. In 1952 he worked with the promoters. and not an effort to cover up some other sound.Before the year was out.” It seems Arthur also dabbled in mentalism and curative hypnosis. Ventriloquist. Then shook it loose as before. Both witnesses thought the hissing was simply showmanship. By far the best description came from Mike Roeger. Karachi was advertising and promoting his magic in a Perth newspaper: “THE Great Karachi King of Magicians. This showed us that the rope was quite flexible and limp.

and the neighbors next door had a mural of white swans on a lake. which Maureen remembers seeing both in the tent and at parties in her parents’ house.” and as a wonderful artist. East Perth. meant that he developed the Indian rope trick to a greater extent than any other 20th century magician until the time of the Indian performer. the “sideshow alleys” of the Royal Agricultural Shows. [44] To magicians it is evident that Arthur had several different methods for performing his rope trick. W. untouched by Arthur. Ingles Rogers. Newspaper advertisements from 1952 indicate that Karachi appeared in Sydney in April of that year. Then it rose straight up as high as the ceiling. Things changed for Arthur in the late 1950s. Maureen Roberts. manipulate this rope so that it will stand on its end on the ground. His family had grown up and moved on to live their own lives. in the 1990s. The companionship must have suited them both. Then Arthur played upon a flute. It seems Karachi soaked his ropes before a show. The World’s Fair. These Shows ran consecutively around the entire country. Maureen remembers the ropes soaking in some solution in the cement . She also remembers another curious fact. signing them “A . and Arthur toured less and went to board with a widow in Perth named Beatrice Barlow Joyce. will then produce coloured fires. At this time Arthur was still performing his rope trick.C. one usually used in a tug-of-war. for he lived with Beatrice for many years in Wellington Street.” but none seem to remain today. This really underscores his secrecy and unwillingness to mix with other magicians. and then what appears to be a small boy or monkey will slither up the rope and disappear. rose up out of the basket to the music. and the sideshows only have games and rides. Arthur had different versions of it. Arthur also painted murals in public places around Perth. Cairns in July. the basket lid moved and fell open. Arthur placed the rope into a basket about the size of an ottoman footstool. wavering at first like a snake. Yet. today. remembers him as “Uncle Arthur. She gives a very different description of the indoor trick which she saw more than once. Beatrice’s granddaughter. the editor of the showmen’s newspaper. and always well groomed. This was the “show circuit” which had showmen working for much of the year. At the end.” But his inventiveness. and his adoption of the trick as his signature piece. He painted the front of her weatherboard house with murals which made it quite a local attraction for a long time. the entertainers are gone. and of course many smaller towns in between. without any wires or batteries. Several excellent magicians worked this circuit very profitably in those days. I do not doubt that he obtained a method in his early years which he regarded as a “genuine Indian method. Ishamuddin. I have found no magicians in the eastern states who remember him. wrote to The Listener quoting a letter he had received from Karachi describing the effect of his performance: “I will take a thick rope. and Adelaide in September. Brisbane in August.” [45] Maureen Roberts remembers her Uncle Arthur as a snappy dresser. Even in his earliest days of performing the trick. In January 1935. dropping to the floor. Maureen’s parents had a beautiful lake scene painted by Arthur over the fireplace in their home. surprisingly. and the rope. the rope just collapsed. It had a hinged lid which was closed. Darby.

He certainly had talent. and the rope really could be examined and cut up afterwards without revealing any secret mechanism. The tendency towards secrecy has come down in the family. and if I did know I wouldn’t tell you!” Karachi’s granddaughter. he gave it as “showman. My public requests for information in the “Can You Help?” columns in The West Australian brought me the following letter from Peter Thorpe which shows that the old magician never lost his attachment to his wandering showman’s style of life: “In the late 50s or early 60s Mr Gan Leuba brought a character home from Perth.” . Horrie. But if there was such a substance.troughs in the laundry. Gloria. If memory serves me correct he was not a wealthy man and arrived with only a small suitcase. and they would be used as towropes. I think he was just washing his ropes. Carlene. and nothing attached to the rope to draw it upwards. Karachi would bring out the Indian ropes. I think entrance was 10 pence. I do not know where he went after that but this man was definitely ‘The Great Karachi. However it was very impressive. Gan organised a shed at the show grounds and he performed his tricks. just ordinary manila ropes about as thick as a man’s arm.’ stayed in our home for several months. She said a magician’s secrets should die with him. it could well explain how he could make his 500 pound guarantee that there was no mechanism inside the rope. This story seems to negate the theories of those who postulate some ingenious or delicate mechanism inside the rope. I do not know about the painting as the walls were asbestos. knew how the trick was done but would not tell her children. “I don’t know how the rope trick was done. His name was known as Karachi – a magician and artist. including magician’s tricks. When I first spoke to Horrie. For board he did odd jobs for Gan (who owned our house) and painted a mural on our kitchen wall about 8 ft high and 4 ft wide. a wheat farming area 220 miles north of Perth. At our Agriculture Show. I think it might have displayed the Taj Mahal (only guessing). Arthur gave his occupation as “artist.” Karachi would be delighted that his secrets are still secure! Maureen Roberts told me that when Arthur was staying with her grandmother Beatrice he would sometimes disappear for weeks or months and they never knew where he went. Carlene says. in 1958. We left Perenjori in late 60s and the house was pulled down. Personally. Horrie told me how sometimes when travelling an emergency would arise where a vehicle had to be towed. one of the first things he said to me was. it is nice we don’t know as it then can’t be exploited and it keeps the mystery alive.’” [46] It is interesting to note that in the electoral roll of 1949 when he first arrived in Perth. It sometimes caused trouble with the womenfolk when they wanted to wash! He was fastidious about appearances. told me that her mother. “In fact. and again later in 1968. still has two of his father’s ropes. and the old showman’s grandchildren accepted that. so was he simply washing his ropes? Or did he impregnate the rope with some “solution” which made it rigid or slack as he required? Today’s magicians know of no such product. The town was Perenjori.” But in between. but who knows? Arthur’s son. Karachi. known as ‘The Great Karachi.

References: [1] The name Arthur Claude Darby is often misspelled in magicians’ literature and other documents. Their robed figures against the background of the Devon moorlands form THE enduring image of the most famous of all magic’s illusions. who was accidentally killed on November 13. 1934. 1935. 1934.” [3] I first interviewed Horrie Darby by phone on January 22. . page 1043. July 13. December 19. Saturday. Saturday. 1987. 1934.Arthur Darby. his tombstone. at the age of 22 years. May 16..A. H. voyage departing Liverpool December 10. Wednesday. June 15. page 6. 1934.A.V. page 41. page 8. England). [9] The Listener (London. page 10. Wednesday. [2] “Watchmaker and jeweller” is from the 1911 census.Y. “Dorsetshire” of the Orient Line. England). [47 Cyril. 1971. this father and son will never be forgotten. Saturday.. chapter 13.P. N. Friday.W.” died suddenly on July 17. England). Arthur John Hendry. November 24. [4] Passenger list for M. and is buried in the Lakes Memorial Park Cemetery in Mandurah. England). In other places Horace is described as a “jeweller (notem)” or as a “journeyman jeweller. 1970 aged 82. W. Cyril died on April 1.” married. 2013. this story was retold in the Mirror (Perth. [48] But as long as magic enthusiasts discuss the Indian rope trick. [10] Western Morning News (Plymouth. [7] The World’s Fair (England). November 9. aged 63. page 843. N. 1934. and also in the Barrier Miner (Broken Hill. page 5. 1944. page 1043. 1934. 1934. and Western Morning News (Plymouth. December 5. “The Great Karachi. [13] The Listener (London. December 1. page 9. Wednesday. Isis Unveiled (Bouton. 1935. He is buried in Perth’s Karrakatta cemetery with his wife Polly and a grandson. [8] Blavatsky. December 19. W. 1877). Wednesday. The spelling I give here is in accordance with his birth certificate.). [11] The Listener (London. [5] Originally from an unnamed English source. and family usage. page 959. Thursday. [12] The Listener (London. England). [6] Advertisement in The Stage (London. who had been “Boy Kyder. England). Part I. England). Saturday.). but he and his wife Lillian had no children. 1948. November 23.S.

Harry Price – the Biography of a Ghost-Hunter (Sphere Books. as was the editor’s footnote. December 19. page 60. 1944. February 13. November 23. 1936). 1935. The other details in this paragraph come from a letter published by Karachi in The West Australian (Perth. 1934. told me this in February 2013. England). page 421. page 36. Friday. 1935.[14] The Listener (London. England). England). February 20. July 15. Wednesday. page 7. page 6. 1935. Carlene. Thursday. [31] Horrie told me of ENSA. [33] The Stage (London. but in the book Price’s suggested method of how the trick was done was omitted. January 16. page 8. Thursday. England). page 98. [29] Arthur’s granddaughter. Wednesday. England). January 30. [30] These details of Cyril’s life come from his brother. page 506. January 2.). January 31.” The Archive dates it to 1955. England). page 334. W. Scotland). [15] The National Archive of Australia has a copy of this photograph (image no. March 20. [28] Tabori. England). [32] The Stage (London. Confessions of a GhostHunter (Putnam. November 9. [22] The Listener (London. page 204. [18] Dundee Courier and Advertiser (Dundee. January 18. “Yours truly Karachi and Boy Kyder. 1935. [27] The Listener (London.A. page 163. [17] The Listener (London. Monday. 1934. [26] The Listener (London. page 17. England). England). W. [19] The Listener (London. January 23. daughter of Gloria. Horrie. 1935.). Wednesday. 1949. 1949. [21] The Listener (London. somewhat edited. England). [16] Western Morning News (Plymouth. Tuesday. [34] The West Australian (Perth. 1935. This article. Wednesday. Wednesday. 1935. Paul. 1935. [23][24][25] The Listener (London. 1935. Wednesday. Monday. page 5.A. 1944. February 6. 1935. Wednesday. . was reprinted as Chapter XXI of Price’s book. page 5. [20] The Listener (London. Wednesday. page 294. Wednesday. England). A1861:7671) autographed with the words. Wednesday. England). September 14. England). and The Listener (London. 1974 – the Dennis Wheatley paperback edition). March 6. page 252. page 1043.

1949. Saturday. Australian National Archive. W. Wednesday. Monday.[35] The Daily News (Perth. [42] PEOPLE. W. W. Jan Conoplia. December 9. British Newspaper Archive. Wednesday.A. page 36.. page 22. Section 1. 2013. but at the time of writing it has not yet been disturbed. W. W. [41] See. The Daily News (Perth. grave no. 1949. page 10. [36] The West Australian (Perth. Mandurah. 1949. page 17.). [37] The West Australian (Perth. 1950. [38] These lists of members were printed on the backs of the menus for the WASM Annual Dinners for 1953 and 1958. Noel Clutterbuck. [43] Emails and phone calls exchanged with Mike Roeger.A.). January 2. 1950. A collection of PEOPLE is in the National Library of Australia in Canberra.).). page 11. 0125. The names of these and other helpful past and present members are included in my “thank you list” below. W.A. Friday. [46] Letter from Peter Thorpe dated January 21. January. Even 102 year old Alfredo DeCampe took the trouble to write to me with his memories of Karachi. grave no. 1950. page 1. [44] Emails and phone calls exchanged with Maureen Roberts. Acknowledgements: My special thanks to Arthur Darby’s son Horrie Darby and granddaughters Carlene Davidson and Sandra Thomson. I have not been successful in locating a copy of this issue. [39] For this amazing detective work. [47] Jamie Bentley found the grave and photographed it for me: Karrakatta Cemetery. W. issue on sale October 18. requested it. January 25. January. Jamie Bentley. but this issue was not in that collection when my researcher. The information given here is from a newspaper advertisement for it which can be found in The West Australian (Perth. October 18. [40] Polly Darby’s death notice and funeral notice appeared in The West Australian (Perth. page 19. Roman Catholic Section ZA. England). [45] The Listener (London. November 11.A.A. and also to: Rene Ahnstrom. [48] The Lakes Memorial Park Cemetery. for one example.). 1949.A.A. Jan Conoplia. 1935. The grant for this grave expired in 1999. Tuesday. 140. January 31. January 22. 2013. my sincere thanks are due to the office bearers and senior members of WASM who have been very kind to me. 2013.). Saturday. Patrick .

before an amazed audience on the southern edge of Delhi. O’Connor. Jan Masson. it made headlines around the world . When. Steve Walker. Sheffield. Ishamuddin managed a convincing rendition of the legendary Indian rope trick. Angela Greenwood and the National Fairground Archive. Mike Roeger. Ishamuddin Khan is a man of remarkable talents. Back in 1995. Jim Hanney. David J. Tom Tulp. completed the first successful outdoor performance of a trick that had been whispered about for centuries but that no one before had mastered. UK. Peter Thorpe. this traditional Indian magician or madari. Dorothea Thompson. Vicki Morrow. Maureen Roberts. Andrew! Ishamuddin Khan 1/3 Suggested Topics  Ghosts  Mcdonald's  Circuses  Stage Magic By any standard. Alfredo DeCampe.Cordier. The Listener Historical Archive. Ian Moffat. National Library of Australia. and finally many thanks to my “silent partner” who edits and puts my material online – couldn’t do it without you. Jenny Kohlen and the “Can You Help” column of The West Australian.

Almost 15 years after he performed a trick that many experts believed to be impossible – in 1934 the Magic Circle in London offered a prize of 500 guineas to anyone who could do it – Ishamuddin is struggling. "But rich people in India are offended if you talk about street performing. While he has toured Britain. "Every capital city around the world that I have been in has an area for street performers. stories have been told in India and beyond about a magic trick in which an ordinary rope is made to rise upwards before a young boy climbs up and disappears into the sky. who lives in a crowded cluster of tiny homes in west Delhi known as the Kathputli – or puppeteers' – colony: an area rich with the skills of performers. Ibn Battuta. also wrote of seeing such a trick performed in China. he says that India is increasingly turning its back on traditional performers such as himself in its race to become all things modern. he sometimes works as a conjurer at McDonald's. To supplement his job devising magic tricks to encourage school children to learn science." For centuries. The spellbinding story may have been partly inspired by the fairy tales of King Bhoja. I am poor but I am suffering not so much from poverty as I am from the attitude of the Indian government. who throws a thread into the sky and then ascends. Yet that has not happened.that ought to have secured his place in the history of magic and won him lasting recognition at home. whose memoirs were first translated in 1829. not only for recognition but simply to get by. Europe and Japan to display his mesmerising skills." said the 42-year-old. I would like recognition. . while mention of the deed in India was made by the 17th-century Indian emperor Jahangir. a 14th-century Moroccan explorer and scholar. I am happy in my poverty but I would like people to respect me as I am. musicians and craftsmen but sorely lacking in facilities. They are only interested in computers or software.

It's the best version and I am happy to say that I don't know how he does it. At that point. The story was entirely invented and. of the University of Honolulu. Yet the evidence of the trick ever being performed was almost certainly fabricated. while some magicians had managed the trick on a stage (with the assumed assistance of hanging wires or some other help) no one had done it outdoors. disputes that he told the young man that rewards were still available for anyone who mastered the rope trick. after the young boy ascends the rope. said: "Ishamuddin has a version of this trick and it's a good version. With events such as the Commonwealth Games to be hosted next year in Delhi. After he too vanishes. the newspaper printed a retraction. Ishamuddin said his interest in mastering the trick was sparked in the late 1980s by one of several visits to the Kathputli colony by US academic Lee Siegel who was researching a book on Indian magic. "but we say that the modern legend came to be because of the article in the Chicago Tribune. "There are lots of very old stories from all over the world [about such a trick]. the magician calls after the boy and. and then in 1995 I did it for the first time. several months later. but either way the street magician decided to try to crack the mystery. unharmed. While he learned from his father how to master favorites such as the Indian basket trick (in which a boy disappears and then reappears in a basket). Dr Peter Lamont. puts on the lid and – after a moment's pause for maximum dramatic effect – the young boy climbs out. himself a magician. In his book. reveals that stories of the trick started receiving international attention only after 1890 when a report appeared in the Chicago Tribune by a reporter who claimed to have seen the trick performed. The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick: How a Spectacular Hoax Became History. He did more than anyone had done before. a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. I read the books." said Ishamuddin. angrily climbs the rope himself. may have been significant. lamented that the skills of Ishamuddin and others who performed at Udupi had not been better recognized. Tejaswi Shankar. whose father. Video recordings of the event are posted on the internet. some have wondered why India has not done more to promote its ." said Dr Lamont." Another Indian magician.000 spectators that saw it. the mango tree (in which a mango seed turns into a small fruit tree) and sleight-of-hand tricks. "I decided I would do the trick to get the money.In the version of the rope-trick story most commonly told. a repeat of the trick two years later on the coast at Udupi in southern India became famous. who has six children. it was clear that the rope trick was not part of the traditional repertoire. places the flesh into his basket. But by then it was too late: the trick had gained a life of its own." While his performance in 1995 outside Qutub Minar. Dr Lamont. who was among the 30." Ishamuddin said that when he was a boy he heard stories about the rope trick but that no one knew how to do it. The magician then climbs down the rope. pieces of severed limb fall to the floor. I spoke to the elders. a 12th-century minaret in south Delhi. "I spent six years to figure out how to do it. organized the 1997 event. receiving no response. Mr Siegel. also a performer.

He "severed the head of a goose. To the inexpert eye it offered no clues. his sons were learning the traditional tricks. Ishamuddin said that. outside Cairo.000 Indian rupees (about £650). but I also want to be an engineer. has even accompanied him on a tour of Japan. to allow his magic rope – or at least one of them – to be inspected. As his wife served cups of hot milky tea and a plate of raisins." said the teenager." For my next trick. duck and ox. the Pepper's Ghost illusion. On the video he then helps a young boy grip the rope and the boy climbs. Ishamuddin narrated over the performance of himself conjuring the rope from a basket and watching it rise 20ft into the air. No rewards have ever been paid to Ishamuddin. "subsequently restoring the slaughtered beasts to their living states.. while his daughters were studying in school. "I like all of the tricks. just as he did." according to a magic website called Miracle Factory. appear to show a conjuror bamboozling a spectator with a demonstration of balls vanishing from underneath cups. keeping his options open. If I can do magic I will do. mind-reading and the old favorite – a variant of the decapitation trick enjoyed by Cheops – in which a magician saws his assistant in half. the builder of the pyramid of Giza." At his small but spotless home amid the narrow. wondrously. which used mirrors and projection to conjure a ghost." said Mr Shankar. and for a repeat performance he asks for four days' preparation time and 50. "When I was in Japan I saw lots of engineers. A history of magic * Murals on the walls of crypts in the village of Beni Hassan.traditional performers. A similar trick was described by Seneca the Younger in the first century AD. the magician would give no clue as to how he performed the trick. maybe to a height of about eight or nine feet. however. Ishamuddin took a video from a metal cupboard and pushed it into the player. "I saw him in 1997. around 2600BC.aspx . * Another trick of equal age involves the decapitation of birds and animals. 14-year-old Altmash. despite him being generally recognized as the first performer of the rope trick. * Other ancient tricks include the feats of escapology perfected by Harry Houdini. His eldest son. http://baracata. He was happy. dank alleyways. Understandably. who goes by the name Shankar "There are many other performers but Ishamuddin is the closest you can ever get to the legendary Indian rope trick. loses its stiffness and falls to the floor. The boy then climbs down and the rope. none the worse for wear". which a magician called Dedi performed before Cheops.

but rather it involves the use of a Leprechaun. Ishamuddin Khan by Mridula on March 3. it is not a magical trick otherwise many people will be doing it. while the other two lift up the Leprechaun mounted on the back of the monk. It is similar to the antics of gymnastics. the magician owns the rope.Travel . 2010 in India. The iron rod used in this trick is owned by the Leprechaun. I summoned my Leprechaun to appear before my guardian angel Ramamel and we questioned him about the Indian rope trick. and the reason is. He explained that to perform the trick a Leprechaun owned by the magician is summoned and the Leprechaun gradually inserts a thick rod into the rope causing the rope to rise.Indian rope trick explained In India one of the most popular and baffling trick of magicians is to cause a rope to rise into the air while playing a flute. One mounts himself to the back of the monk. where one person climbs on the shoulder of another. This trick can only be performed by a few magicians in India. and is lifted up into the air. In the case of the levitating monk. Yes the Very Trick. by Mr. The Great Indian Rope Trick. three Leprechauns perform the trick.

But then I am running ahead of the story. “Come and see the Great Indian Rope Trick performed by Ishamuddin Khan. He came to our place along with a crew which is making a film on his life. He set his shop and started his show and had us spell bound. OK.Mr. When the day of the performance arrived many of my students also mentioned it.” I vaguely nodded my head and moved on. . Oh Boy! I am so glad I went. I implore you to read this background article in the Independent about Ishamuddin Khan. headed by a Japanese (but not of the Japanese origin) gentleman. Now I thought. I saw the same feat live at a different venue After the show I along with a colleague had a chat with him and he said. He got interested in the rope trick because he got to hear that there were rewards attached to it to the tune that “meri saat pusht bhi nahin kaama pati” (which his seven generations would not have been able to earn). let me go and see what is this stuff all about. That day we had a combined lunch and we were requested to attend the show. And as Calvin would say. Ishamuddin Khan Performances the Great Indian Rope trick While moving along in the corridors of my college (where I teach) I saw a poster. “Mein tou tahra Madari” (I am just a street performer). I once again thought I had a lot of work and I would see if I venture out later but honestly I was quite disinclined to go. Before you venture to read out any further.

he replied.” He continued. The funny part was he kept telling the girl. go search the Youtube and you will get my videos. Then he would angrily go up the rope and the limbs of the boy would start falling to the ground. gather the parts. “Don’t misplace the egg or I will charge you three rupees seventy five piase. I asked him quite timidly. “It is obviously a trick but it takes my entire family a few months to make this rope. the rope trick. Now my kids go to school. “When I did the trick at Udupi. The legend has it that the original Indian Rope trick was more elaborate. His first show involved two small school girls holding an egg and the egg doing the vanishing trick. I wish I had a picture or better still a video but that filming crew made a request of keeping our cameras off. They asked and so can you. And not only can he speak the language for his show. put it in a basket and the boy would come alive again! That for sure is stuff of legends. Then came his class act. In ancient times. He later said. The magician would them climb down. people have been able to perform it only on a stage.I wonder where and when he picked up his English because for sure he was not educated into it. “the global media asked that the kid should disappear in the clouds and I told them. what mechanism to attach. But then I am again digressing. Before him. I had to face the global media. This anyway is the age of the internet. give a rope that big and I will do the same!” I said if I could ask another question and . “Can I ask you how do you do it?” And he laughed and replied. I wonder if any of the college students joined the queue. It took me six years to figure out how to do this. “mein tou tahra madari jab pahle baar logon ne autograph manga. mein tou pareshan ho gaya ki inko chahiye kya?” (I am a mere street performer and when the first time people asked for my autograph I could not for my life figure out what were they asking for). A young boy (probably his son) goes up a little way on the rope. I will charge it to the accounts department!” Of course the egg got lost and was found via another small boy. or rather closer to him in the open ground and he was signing a few autographs for the younger lot of the school kids. “OK no worries. we had great magicians such that the rope would disappear from the site. A young boy would climb up the rope and vanish. Then his father did the levitation trick (note the use of the word trick and not magic) and our collective eyes were popping out. The magician would call him back but would get no reply. I got interested when Peter Lamont visited our small colony in Shadipur for his research and I go to know about the prize money. he can converse in it. He said.” I can imagine what kind of a struggle (or can I?) it would have been for him.” When that small girl said she didn’t had money. Then it seems that the capability to do the rope trick vanished out of the memory and now Ishamuddin Khan is the first magician who can performed it under the open sky. The rope just starts shooting out of the basket and stands straight. We went backstage.

Mr Ishamudin Khan can be contacted at. . Ishamuddin Khan for doing this for us. I am for sure going to turn up! Thank you Mr.ishamudin at gmail dot com and his phone number is 0091-9811730682.he gave his go ahead. Ishamuddin. so I asked “What is different about performing it in the open?” He laughed. And then he started performing abroad too. Next time there is a magic show. After this the Japanese maker of the movie got in a chat with us and soon it was time to take our leave from Mr.and who could prove that was true. And to think of it that I wanted to give this a miss. “On a stage you have three sides to yourself where as a street performer is surrounded by people in a circle and has to be that much more clever!” He said after Udupi other shows happened and then the embassies in Delhi got interested to have him perform. In the 1960's. I have his permission to post his contact details. an Indian offered to teach a secret mantra of the trick to any penitent who would avoid eating meat and having sex for three weeks -.

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