I met Succeed Gnermp~ (there is much more to his surname) in June 1985 while wandering through Bangkok. Succeed had seen me talking into my tape recorder and asked me if I would tape from an English text book so that his student could hear an Anglo accent, and if I could join he and his niece in their English lessons. Charmed by his straightforward request, I spent a delightful hour or two with them; and accepted his invitation home to tea, and to meet his family of daughters and grandchildren.
Succeed was an intelligent, witty, and wise man. He had once been a military officer, then a policeman and eventually a monk. Retired, he was now an astrologer. He was a courteous and educated tour guide, too. On one occasion, a Buddhist holiday, he secured special permission for me to join him in the Grand Palace during some otherwise restricted religious festivities. He never asked me for money. The only concession he sought from me was for me to meet his second daughter. I suspected he wanted me to court her. That would not have been a displeasure: she was a comely woman, a stewardess for Thai Air, with splendid English.
Succeed asked me to let him cast my horoscope. I was happy to oblige him at his office in the Chinese part of Bangkok, 1/8th of a ground floor shop space, shared with other vendors. I was so amused by his reading that I wrote several of his predictions in my dairy:
- I will rise to the rank of colonel in life
- I must beware animals (snakes) in the grass when I walk
- I receive only half from the people what I give to the people
- I must not trust the people
- I will marry at least one more time
- I have a gift of smiling to the people (charm)
- I spend as much as I earn and I can earn much
- I will live long, into my 90’s
- God has given me the gift of sek (sex) all my life
He did not charge me for the reading. In payment, I suppose now I should have courted his second daughter. But likely then this colonel, smiling to the people, would have had to beware the sek and other hazards lurking in the grass- although such dangers and comely temptations had rarely stopped me before (or since)…