Another visa run. A new country. Every country I have been to has a unique feeling. It’s just surprising how quickly you get to sense it.
I was prepared for the onslaught of hawkers peddling fake brand-name cigarettes, fake DVDs, and genuine Burmese prostitutes. Not feeling tempted, I walked purposefully away from the roundabout up a road that seemed to fit the purpose, to get away from hawkers. I did not have a clue where I was going, as I’d neglected to do any research, but I wanted to see Burma. As much as that was possible in the three hour gap before my return bus.
Dirty, open-air restaurant. An old Burmese man with grey, blond-streaked hair, and teeth that were falling out. Danny. He was the only Burmese man in the restaurant that spoke any English. And what English. He opened with a one-liner: “love can create anything”. Taken aback, but interested, I let him go on. It was not long before he was talking about wave-particle duality and matterless motion.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember too many occasions where I spoke about matterless motion with a guy I met in a restaurant in south-east Asia.
He sounded genuinely crazy, but as we went further into his Christianity I couldn’t help but feel we understood each other. He talked about the ground of our lives that is love beyond knowledge. I probed: what of the people who call it God, and claim to understand it–to have captured it inside knowledge? Without hesitation he replied: “Bullshit!”
When we’d stopped laughing, I gave him a hundred baht (three US dollars), securing him as my guide to Tachilek.
Danny talked of how he had ostracised himself from the local Reverend and community because of his heretical opinions. (Yes, much of Burma is Christian. The missionaries did their job well.) We talked about sacrifice in chess and life, and how so many wish to sacrifice their time, energy, love, money, but refuse to see that what is needed is to sacrifice the self.
He had a gift for seeing the future, and in the end I risked missing my bus back home and asked him to read my palm. Over a cup of the local sweet, milky tea for him, and a Sprite for me. I was a bit scared, but something inside me wanted to try it.
Danny told me how he had predicted a lying preacher would die within three months, and how he did. The other foresights he described were also of sickness and death. The words ‘he is a messenger of death’ came to me. My fear heightened further when he started saying that the spirit cuts through all lies, and does not tell us what we want to hear, but what is true. He seemed to be prepping me for something.
Gulping down a little more Sprite, I held out my hands for this ruthless seer to inspect.
Now I’ve had a palm reading done before, by a Thai man, whose insight was limited to generalities and one specific prediction: that I was an English teacher. Not breathtakingly impressive. I know a lot of people that could predict that a white guy living in Thailand is an English teacher. But Danny was good. He told me some very difficult to guess things about my past and then made a couple of suggestions about my present, which were penetrating. He helped me understand my own situation.
This was not an every day occurrence; Danny is not the kind of person you meet every day. When I got back to my room, later in the evening, I had the feeling that something special had happened. My first trip to Burma, and I doubt my last.