• Royal Court Hotel Shanghai
• Ruitai Jing An Hotel
• Shaanxi Business Hotel
• Xin Dong Fang Hotel Shanghai
I never had any faith in fortunetelling or black magic. Always I believed that those were for people who do not have confidence in themselves. It is a way to rely on an unknown entity for your prosperity and happiness when you lose control over yourself. And grabbing that opportunity someone else takes charge of your mind by exploiting your fear. But the paradox is even after knowing what is going to happen in future the future always remains unpredictable and in the bargain you just lose the thrill of living life.
During my travels I often see them across Thailand, virtually everywhere from a city like Bangkok to a remote sleepy town in Isaan, surrounded by people with solemn faces visibly going through a difficult phase in life. Also I have seen people wearing multiple amulets indicating their blind faith and fear. But they never really generated any interest till my friend Duan one day suggested to visit one of them.
At first I politely declined her offer “Duan, my life is going fine and I am happy with it. So I don’t need to see them anytime soon."
But she insisted “At least you can go once for the sake of experience, just for the fun of it."
In order to know her opinion about them I asked “Do you have any faith in their words?."
“Not sure. Once I went to a fortuneteller in my hometown of Korat and part of what he had said turned out to be true in my life. It was regarding my break up with my ex-boyfriend after finalizing the marriage date and all the other necessary arrangements."
I was not entirely convinced but it triggered interest. I said hesitantly “Then maybe on my next trip to Korat we should visit the same fortuneteller together."
Even though we had talked about it but we never got an opportunity to visit that fortuneteller as Duan got married and moved to UK and with that the possibility of going to Korat and meeting the fortuneteller ended. But the desire to see a fortuneteller did not die as she could see she successfully planted the seed of inquisitiveness within me which grew every time I saw one of them seating on a pavement or in a temple surrounded by a cluster of bleak faces.
Although visiting a fortuneteller was not a necessity, a strange attraction towards their intriguing mystical world stayed with me. So during one of the numerous trips to Pattaya I made sure to ask the receptionist at my hotel about a local fortuneteller I can visit. She was surprised and asked me again probably to make sure she had heard it right “Whom do you want to meet?"
I repeated “A Thai fortuneteller. Do you know anybody here in Pattaya I can meet?"
She smiled “I know a fortuneteller who lives near the big Buddha statue up on the hill."
“How do I go?"
“Tomorrow morning I will arrange a tuk tuk for you. I will tell the driver where to go."
I thanked her “Kharb Khun Krab."
The tuk-tuk driver looked at me with the same amusement of watching an orang-otang in a zoo. Then slowly his mouth gaped and a grin decorated with nicotine stained teeth flashed. In his entire life I was probably the only tourist he saw visiting a Thai fortuneteller in a place like Pattaya.
Through a narrow winding road climbing the hill overlooking the bay he took me to the big Buddha statue. Then he pointed towards a small hut with a tin roof where the fortuneteller was sitting on a mattress on the floor. On his left side there was a glass case full of amulets and small stones. He was probably in his mid forties. His face was etched with many cracks and speckled with deep spots left by disease like small pox. He had a mask of thoughtfulness with a tranquil countenance for which you can not take him lightly. And probably that suited his profession. He had multiple amulets of different monks tied around his neck protecting him from potentially hazardous clientele. Not sure though whether they were a result of his own prediction or his guru’s.
He was talking with a Thai lady who was sitting in front of him. She had long black hair resting on her lap. And she was in a traditional Thai dress, a long silk skirt and a blouse. Her face was serious, leaned over a paper the fortuneteller was writing on so I assumed that her life was going through some difficulties and she was there to find a way out.
I sat quietly waiting for my turn. The midday sun was hot and everything was radiating heat. From the hilltop I could see an endless stretch of beach and beyond that a sprawling city with high-rise hotels and condominiums. The sea reposed under tropical sun with tiny wavelets slapping. The big boats were anchored and lay contended where sea and sky touched each other. The water scooters and banana boats were zipping over the waves leaving a long white trail. The parachute riders were black dots on the sky, swaying with the strong breeze.
When the tuk-tuk driver called me to get my attention, I was deeply engrossed in watching the bird’s eye view of the sea and the city. The fortuneteller indicated me to take my turn. He first brought out a deck of cards and kept them in front of me and then instructed me to pick one out of them. I picked up a card randomly and gave it to him. Then he started writing something in Thai on a paper. After finishing the writing he again instructed me to pick another card. I did the same and handed him the card again. And he again scribbled in Thai on that paper. I had to repeat that act five times. Then he looked at my palm and eyes carefully. Not sure why he had to look into my eyes so deeply, maybe to make sure that I am sincere and respectful towards what he was doing.
I left the place with that sheet of paper having his predictions written in Thai. On my way back to my hotel I glanced at those words several times but they did not reveal any meaning to me. It was really an uneasy feeling to hold your future in your hands without knowing what it is. First I thought I would ask the tuk-tuk driver to do the translation but decided against it thinking he may take advantage of the situation.
Upon arrival I requested the lady working in the Business Center of my hotel to do the translation. She did the translation from Thai to English and told me that I would come across two women in my life but I should choose one. The fortuneteller repeatedly advised me to be patient and not to rush to a decision. He also wrote that I should know them over a long period of time before taking any such decision. The last thing he mentioned was that I am lucky in love and romance.
Then she cast a mysterious smile, a smile which could be interpreted in many different ways. I was not entirely sure what to read out of that covert smile. And moreover I was happy with my life and the freedom I was enjoying so I remained silent without any visible reaction. Choice always leaves me with the burden of making a decision.
She continued “For a long term relationship you have to have patience and understanding. So that when you face problems it can be solved mutually through open discussion." That bit of advice surprised me. I did not expect such a loaded statement from her. It had a touch of sincerity from the heart which was more than casual advice.
Nodding my head in agreement I said “I do appreciate your advice. I will remember your pearls of wisdom."
“You are welcome." then she wai’d “ Chok Dee Ka."
I almost forgot about the fortuneteller and his notes. It was kept as a page marker in one of my books I was reading at that time on beach. One day my wife discovered that piece of paper while dusting my bookshelf. She enquired “What is this?"
I told her the story. Then she asked “What about the other lady?"
I said “There was no other lady. I never met the other lady" then laughed. “May be she is waiting for me somewhere and someday in future I will meet her accidentally."
“Are you sure?" looking at me straight she was expecting an answer of some short but I was quiet. Then after a pause she told “Maybe we can meet him on our next trip to Pattaya."
I was reluctant “I don’t have lot of confidence in his ability especially after such predictions."
After my marriage me and my wife traveled to Pattaya many times but never went up to visit the fortuneteller. For me, the truth in his prediction is very disturbing and sometimes unsettling. Yes, I knew Ann long before I met my wife. For a long time I was in a dilemma, struggling with myself for whom to choose as a life partner. His predictions remained in my mind like a looming shadow bringing more confusion than clarity. It posed many questions for which I did not have any answer. How long I should observe? What to observe? When and how do I know that I am ready to make a decision?
But one day ruminating over what he had said I realized that the fortuneteller told me to observe and may be he told me to observe my heart, to know deeply with whom I am in harmony and with whom I feel there is a connection between souls. He told me to take time only because it takes time to know oneself beyond the layers of fear and expectations. And I saw the sunshine bright and warm after I could peer through the mist of confusion. After that I didn’t have to make a decision from mind, my heart led me to the right woman for my life.
Till today it is one of those things for which I have no explanation. I couldn’t take it out of my mind as a mere fluke but whatever it is I don’t want to know my future again and loose the thrill of life.
I have never been to a fortune teller myself. It would be interesting to hear from other readers who have.