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How to be a good (fake) palm reader | Don Wijewardana | Wellington

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ශ්‍රී LankaNZ is a free distributed Sri Lankan Community Newspaper that aims to reach a Sri Lankan population of over 18,000 all over New Zealand. The demand for entertainment in literacy media itself gave birth to ශ්‍රී LankaNZ

It all started as a joke. 

One day the social club at my office decided to hold a fundraising social event. In preparing for that, each one of us had to come up with ideas as attractions for the evening. I am not very good at that sort of thing. So after much thought I made a feeble offer of a palm reading event, which I thought they would simply dismiss as a mad idea. But to my horror everyone thought it was great.

I had never read a palm and never knew much about the lines that crisscrossed the palm either. I knew there were three main lines called lifeline, fate line and the headline. That was the full extent of my knowledge of palm reading. Yet I knew I had to make it work on the day without letting the side down. Since it was a fun event I thought I could get away with a few jokes. Still I needed some core stuff.

The night before the palm reading evening I sat up and thought, maybe I should look at it from the other end: what do people want to hear? I listed the ideas.

  • Generous person
  • Very helpful to friends. Sometimes I got into trouble because of this.
  • Loving childhood, loving family (correct most of the time)
  • Too much trust in other people. Has got into trouble because of this. (Often true)
  • Self-made person (who is not)
  • Whatever task undertaken wants to do well (true for everyone)
  • Not very good with financial management
  • Need to take care of your health (everyone should)

These were all things people like to hear about themselves. You couldn’t go wrong using any of these statements. And using them appropriately I knew I could read anybody’s palm without a word of lie.

On the day, I dressed in a colourful sarong, a batik shirt and a turban using a lady’s scarf. I looked the part really well. I also had enough material to manipulate for about a 20-30 minute reading. People were queuing up. That turned out to be the most popular event of the evening. I never realised it was so easy to con people.

By the following day my reputation as an accomplished palm reader had spread far and wide in the office. Invitations were pouring in for me to join palm-reading dinners. However much I protested nobody would believe me when I said I was not a palm reader. Perhaps, there was a thirst to know the future and I unwittingly filled that gap. Whereas, such things were commonplace in Asian countries, where it was easy to fleece the innocent and uneducated, it was not so in the west. At least that is what I thought. Anyway I spent a few evenings  with fun palm reading.

That is not the end of the story.

The following week I was walking down High Street in Lower Hutt, a suburb of Wellington. I noticed a queue of ladies outside a ground floor room in a largely unoccupied building. The signage outside the room read: Sadhu (somebody) Palm Reader. I also saw a Sri Lankan lady I knew in the queue and approached her. She told me this was a famous Sadhu from India renowned for his accurate reading of the future. I tried unsuccessfully to persuade her to go home.

Later on, when talking to a reporter friend of mine about this “Sadhu”, I learnt a lot more. He was from India on a tourist visa and had previously been ousted from Canada for doing the same thing. He not only read palms but more importantly visited homes and “exorcised clients to rid them of evil spirits”  (and also their wallets)- FOR A FEE OF $25000. What a rip off. From the number of people in the queue I thought the scam would have been lucrative.

The following day I went to the Immigration Department and told them the story. To cut a long story short, it took another fortnight before the man was deported. But I knew it was only a temporary solution. Another day, another “Sadhu” will arrive to dupe another group of unsuspecting gullible souls.

So, interpreting the influence of traversing lines in your palm could be innocent fun at one end of the spectrum. At the other end, it could be a colossal money-spinner for the evil minded. Buyer beware.

By Don Wijewardana – Wellington

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