Midnight Heat, A Fortune Teller & Getting Lost in Burma

The sticky pre-Monsoon midnight heat was the reason none of us had left the bungalow.  There was a steady supply of gin tonics and talk about how seriously the country took astrology. One French friend, Valerie, was surprised when I told her that I had not been to see anyone. In Yangon, everyone had a personal astrologer. Why, even the top military generals made regular visits to psychics, traditional astronomers, palmists and in some cases, they visited a combination of all three.


I left the party after two and went back home via rickshaw. Once there, I fell in to a deep sleep.


The next day, with a severe bout of mental block, I abandoned work on my novel and went to the hairdresser for a long head massage. When I surfaced from my two-hour marathon of bliss, I drove by Valerie who told me she had been looking for me since the morning. She had managed to secure a meeting with a famous palmist over on Golden Valley Road in the Bahan Township. She made me tea, hailed a taxi and sent me along my way.


Of course, we got lost. The instructions were wrong. We kept driving around and around when finally I stopped my taxi and showed him the name and pointed at the lines in my hand. He walked up to an old woman with a patch over her left eye and said the man’s name. She turned and looked at me with her one eye.  Then she looked in the other direction and explained to me how to reach my destination.


The driver and I continued down a long dark alley, with sullen Monsoon clouds looming overhead. We stopped. I paid him and he showed me the name and the floor number, then left before I could tell him to wait.


Well by this time, I was getting the heebie jeebies. I mean really: the old woman with a pirate patch, the threatening look of the clouds, the confused taxi man. I climbed the four floors and knocked on the door.


I waited ten minutes and was about to walk away when the door opened. An old man looked at me and called out to someone. He led me to a seat and I waited some more.


A young man, wearing jeans, a white t-shirt and converse running shoes, came to greet me. He spoke impeccable English. He lead me into a small room with hundreds of books stacked upon one another and sat me in front of his small table.


Hard to imagine that some of the top generals were entrusting the future political scenarios that would engulf this country, I couldn’t exactly say. But when the young man, with narrowing eyes and hands that looked like ET, wrote down my name and birthday and began to read my palms, I sat dumbfounded, bewildered by the accuracy of what he declared to be my past. Everything from a horse accident I had when I was eight, my parents divorce, my imminent move to another country, the first man I loved, the arrival of my daughter, my profession. Then he told me I’d have a son within the year. True. He foresaw my work changes.  Trips I’d make to foreign countries. The list was endless. The only thing that remains is still to come: the year 2013 he promised will bring major change.


Fat rain drops pressed themselves against the sidewalk when I went out into the street. Monsoon was clearly here.