Sunday, June 28, 2009

Facing the future in Malaysia

Vacation To Malaysia

Night market vendors dickered over deals with locals. Kuala Lumpur's humid May heat - unabated even in late evening - generated sweat beads road-racing down my spine.

Beyond the Buddhas and joss sticks the casually dressed Malay caught my eye. "You like?" he asked indicating a small carving.

I smiled and declined. Unfazed, he nonchalantly flipped an ace from a deck of cards anchored in his right fist.

"Perhaps my brother read your cards?" he wheedled coyly.

Indicating a yellow table flanked by two palmistry symbols taped to the black door behind his stall, he assured me the price was right. Fifteen Ringgits (about $4). It was the second time in three days South East Asian soothsayers had offered to surf my future.

"Right!" I agreed.

Responding to a shrill whistle, the promised ’relative’ miraculously materialised from the depths of the alley.

Perched on a red stool, my future was cast in expertly dealt face cards emerging over the table top. My advancing years appeared to warrant more than one deck.

"Luck! Much, much luck!" A quizzical glance at me didn't delay dealing out my fate. "You got luck all round. Lots!" He sounded genuinely impressed. I was encouraged. Things were looking up. At last I'd made an investment that might pay dividends.

"You drink?" he suddenly demanded.

"Should I?" Giving the right answer seemed important.

"Alcohol? Spirits?" he clarified.

"Well - not a lot!" I hedged defensively.

"You drink red wine - warm red wine. No hard spirits," he instructed. Unaccountably I was relieved. "and champagne," he added as an afterthought. With my newly bestowed Malaysian luck I hoped this included the new five-star Spa fad of bathing in red wine. Before I could nail that down he transferred his attention to my grubby fist.

"Why you so stubborn?" He angrily prodded the beefy slice of palm below my thumb. "Who? Me?" Between my growing indignation, and K.L's close proximity to the equator I was beginning to glisten and glow. I wondered when my 15 Ringgits ran out.

Why you don't trust no one?" he demanded beginning to glare at me. "You stressed right out. Why you worry so much? Why you stressed? " Still gripping my hand he waited for an answer.

"Well, I worry about my kids." "Don't worry about the kids," he was briskly dismissive.

" business, I worry about that."

"Pay others to help," he tersely interrupted. "You not the only one that can do everything you know!" Oh... fine for you to say, I thought indignantly.

"Business no problem. Still money to be made. Don't worry." I perked up again.

"You play sports?" Without waiting for my answer he dismissed the very idea. "Forget it - you might break something."

Reaching for a paper and pen he wrote down three numbers, the months of the year, and sketched some circles and squares. "When you go home you change your office desk around. Put it to face south.. or east. Very important." My north-facing office housing my east-facing desk can accommodate three gnomes standing shoulder to shoulder. I recognized a challenge.

The numbers were lucky, he said; so was every month except June - which (he shrugged) wasn't really all that bad. Wear gray, blue or red, he instructed - and, flipping me a business card, he commanded, "don't forget to write." Whether he meant a best seller or a post card I wasn't sure, but I reckoned it was time to go. He handed me the paper and smiled. Later I turned it over. Spidery script on the back read: 'fiery, hot tempered, writer.' Wasn't that Hemmingway?

Fortunes and Feng Shui are phooey, of course. Although - come to think of it - I didn't tell him I was a journalist, a mysterious ailment interrupted my life June, and the office could do with some renovating. Would you pass the champagne?

If your fortune features Malaysia: Air Canada connects with Malaysian Airlines through Los Angeles to Kuala Lumpur.

For more information on this truly Asian destination check Malaysia’s website at

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