Past, Present and Future Tense

james.jpgBy James Austin Farrell.
Excerpted from an article in Chiang Mai Citylife

Dogma: Also known as palmistry or Chiromancy, it was thought to start with the Roma (Romanian gypsies) and is now practised all over the world, although not always with the same techniques. Palmists look at the lines and bumps in your palm, as well as the texture and colour of your skin; your fingers, hand shape, flexibility and even finger nails. All this determines your reading, purporting to tell you about your characteristics as well as the past, present and future, including your ancestry and your relationship with them. “I am looking for clues, as would a detective,” said Dennis Gillman, avid palm reader who looked like he was in disguise with his large mustache, sunglasses and hat. “I look for interesting signs . . . the wounds are your gifts, suffering in your palm can be a gift.”

First he explained some history of palm reading, from the Navaho Indians’ use of palmistry to find suitable vocations for tribe members to Cheiro, the nineteenth century palm reader who wooed celebrities and inveigled impressionable women into bed. Dennis himself is a skeptic and believes that many palmists are charlatans; he had never met me before in his life, and after a short chat we got down to business – him romantically holding my hand in a coffee shop outside Kad San Kaew while farang passers by commented on the liberation of homosexuality in Thailand.

Conclusion: I listened carefully, enthused and enlightened as Dennis tenaciously maneuvered around my hands while talking without seeming to take a breath. He started with the backs of my hands, then to the fingers and thumbs and on to the actual lines ingrained in my palm. Whether or not he could glean some of my characteristics from my appearance shouldn’t matter, because almost everything he said was true: down to my blatant idiosyncrasies to more latent opinions, fears and ambitions, to how I deal with anger, sadness and failure. It truly was a disconcerting half an hour listening to this man deliver a monologue that could have been a mystic’s ‘This is your Life’ . . . “In 1984 you suppressed the urge to kill your mother with a washing line, and now she’s not here today . . .” He didn’t actually say that. “Synchronicity” he told me while describing character positives and negatives – “What you think as negative is also wound up in the positive.” He explained that he is not a therapist, nor a psychologist, however, the experience was insightful even if you don’t buy into palmistry.