Mr Golden

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First published 28th January, 2005

"You are a very lucky man. A very happy man. You are a lucky man. Do you know why you are a lucky man? Show me your palm. How is it that I can tell you the name of your mother and your girlfriend? How is that I can tell you your age and how many brothers and sisters do you have? How is it that I can tell you what work that you do? Come with me to my place. Come."


Four crisply-dressed gentlemen in turbans stalk the end of the alley joining Khao San and Rambutri Roads. Your step is broken as you try to work out whether one is talking to you. The tall man holds out a card reading Golden Fortune Told. How is it that he knows you are a lucky man?

You are given no chance to protest before you are following him into the rat run of twisting alleys behind Khao San's fa?ade. He leads you in at a brisk pace, not looking back to see if you are following. He grabs a black handbag hanging from a nail. You are a very lucky man.

Cross-legged on a chalky floor. He produces a battered black and white photo showing a bunch of poorly focused bearded men with stern faces. "I was taught by this man," he says, obscuring with a brown finger the face of the man in the centre.

He writes on a piece of paper and screws it up. "You are a very lucky man. Tell me a number less then nine." You say "Seven."

"Please blow on the piece of paper. Say 'good luck come', please."

"Good luck come."

"Say 'good health come', please."

"Good health come."

You open the scrap of paper and the number 7 is scrawled on it.

"Put it in the book." He opens wide a ring-bound collection of gurus and deities and scraps of paper.

"Now put in money, please." You acquiesce.

You give him your hand and he studies the lines on it.

"Say 'good luck come', please."

"Good luck come."

"Say 'good health come', please."

"Good health come."

"You will not be a rich man." He's changed his mind?

"You will not be a poor man. You will be a medium man. A lot of money will come to you. A lot of money will go from you. Now how can you know that I am a true yogi? How is it that you can believe me? I will say the name of your mother, I will say the name of you girlfriend, the number of sisters you have, the number of brothers you have, how old you are and what job that it is that you do. If I get them all right you will pay me one of these sums."

He scribbles 2,000, 3,000 and 5,000 on another scrap of paper. "This is for the poor man," he underlines the 2,000. "This is for the rich man," he does the same to the 5000. "And this is for the medium man," he indicates the 3,000.

He scratches away at another scrap of paper, documenting his omniscience.

"What work do you do?"

"Isn't that one of the things you're going to tell me?"

"So sorry, of course." An apologetic laugh. He screws up the scrap of paper. You hold out your hand and clutch it. "Blow on it please. Say 'good luck come', please."

"Good luck come."

"Say 'good health come', please."

"Good health come."

Once again the ring-bound gurus and deities open to receive the folded paper and your money.

What have you given away without realising? He asked you about your favourite flower and favourite fruit and favourite colour.

"This piece of paper is your guarantee," he announces, pulling out another scrap. "Spell for me please the name of your mother." You do. "Spell for me please the name of your girlfriend." You do. "Spell for me please the work that you do." You tell him how many sisters you have and how many brothers, and you tell him your age. "You look much younger," he says with his polished smile. He hands you your guarantee.

He explains again that he will return your money if he does not get everything correct. He removes the folded piece from the book.

On it is written your mother's name. He has your girlfriend's name right. He has written down your occupation. He knows your sibling count and your age, even though you look much younger.

"I'm impressed," you say.

He reaches into his black handbag and pulls out a long wooden-beaded necklace and puts it round your neck. It smells of fenugreek.

You have your hand shaken and you take your leave. You are a very lucky man; a very happy man; a man to whom money will easily come; a man from whom money will easily go.

by Hamish Chalmers



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