This is Why Fortune Readings Are a Bad Idea

I believe that most things are worth a try at least once. Getting my fortune read for the first time was not one of these things.

I am not a superstitious person. Call me a rebel without a cause if you will, but I’ve always seen superstition as an excuse to prove people wrong.

For example, if I’m told that I need to spring clean my house, or wash my car before Chinese New Year, I’ll do it a day after – just because. If the number 4 is supposed to be a traditionally unlucky Chinese number, I go ahead and rent out the 4th unit on the 4th floor as an office space (I’m not kidding, Rice Media’s office unit no. is #04 – 04).

I simply don’t like being told what to do – not by teachers, astrologers, mediums and the like. I’m also really sceptical. So when the team was looking for someone to write a piece on fortune tellers, I happily volunteered.[/TS_VCSC_Advanced_Textblock]

I was told that I’m going to have an extramarital affair in three years

Over the course of a rainy Thursday morning, I visited three different fortune tellers along Waterloo Street in Singapore.

For those who are unfamiliar, this area is home to many vendors who claim to be able to see into the future. From general divinity, to lottery number predictions, to love and career advice, this is the place to go for people who are looking for answers to burning questions (for which there are no answers).

It can also be overwhelming given the plethora of choices. So being a novice at this fortune telling business, I decided that the best strategy was to start from the most expensive, and then work my way down to the cheapest.

Fu Lu Shou Complex – S$88.00 for 30 min reading

The first stop was at a unit on the 2nd floor of Fu Lu Shou Complex. The signage on the front of the store mentioned something about astrology readings and being the “only disciple” of some fabled monk from Cambodia. Pretty mysterious if you ask me, but I guess that’s the whole point.

These guys use a mixture of astrology, a dharma wheel and a deck of cards to divine the future.
If the newspaper clippings won't convince you, the "Top 100 SME" award will.
At this point, I had just asked her to tell me when I was going to die. I was just joking, but I don't think she found it very funny.
I was told to write my birth date and birth time on a piece of paper. I had no idea what time I was born, so I made a wild guess that I was born in the morning as it seemed luckier. Looking back, this probably invalidated the whole reading.

I hope it did because I was told that I’m going to have an extramarital affair in three years and that I’m also going to be broke. This woman that I would have an affair with would also be responsible for my death. Yikes!

Thankfully, I was also told that I could avoid my fate by moving to the South-Eastern end of Singapore (I currently stay in the North East). Don’t worry, I didn’t understand this advice as well. It’s some feng shui thing apparently.

I’ve since told my wife to prepare for the worst, and she’s probably made some backup plans of her own by now.

Somewhere along Waterloo Street – S$20 for 15 min reading plus massage

After my session at Fu Lu Shou Complex, I came across a lady in her mid-20s sitting outside one of the temples nearby. She looked studious and had an earnest demeanour. She also seemed a little too young to be reading my fortune, but as it was just S$20, I decided to go for it.

Her instructions for getting rid of bad energy include buying a red water bottle and hugging it to sleep every other night.
Like the previous guy, she asked me for my birth date and time. But she also threw in a weird massage which was meant to cleanse my body of bad energy. All it did was made me feel ticklish, and a little embarrassed as the performance drew a crowd of curious onlookers.

According to her, I carry a lot of “negative energy” with me, which would supposedly “cause my downfall” sometime in November this year. I can’t wait.

I pressed her to be more specific and she then gave me detailed instructions on how I have to buy a red water bottle and sleep with it on alternate nights. Unsurprisingly, she also happened to be selling red water bottles which she offered to me at a discount. I guess this is the answer to all my problems.

Fortune Centre, S$5 for 15 min reading (only accurate for 3 months)

The second last stop was at a modern looking establishment in Fortune Centre. The interiors were well appointed, and it had a welcoming ambience for first timers such as myself. Upon entering the store, I was greeted by a corporate looking sales lady who wore a pantsuit and who also happened to be the person that would be doing my reading.

I was told to remove coloured stones from this bag and arrange it on a piece of cloth.
At only S$5, this was the cheapest of the lot. And like the other fortune tellers, I was told that I would have a troubling year. October would be particularly challenging, and I would need to “prepare myself” accordingly. Which on hindsight, didn’t make a lot of sense as this S$5 reading was advertised on the store front to be only accurate for 3 months. I guess this is a way for them to make you go back for more readings.

Zodiac predictions outside Fu Lu Shou Complex, free

After three consecutive readings of ill fortune, I was in desperate need of some encouragement.

So I made a short walk back to the entrance of Fu Lu Shou Complex where they had put up free Zodiac readings for the year of the Rooster. But to my dismay, it turns out that my even Zodiac predicts a shitty year ahead.

Things aren't looking great for those born in the year of the pig (like me!).
So at the end of the morning, I tallied 4 different readings with 1 similar message: my life is going to suck.

I’d love to sit here as gung ho as I sounded at the start of the piece and say “fuck superstition”. But I’d just be lying to myself. The truth is, like with a lot of other things outside of fortune telling, hearing consistently negative messages will affect you on some level. It’s hard to ignore.

The tendency of course is to rebel against what has been said – after all, we are often told by society that we are supposed to rule ourselves and make our own luck. But rebellion is still a reaction. A reaction that would not have taken place if I hadn’t gone to get my fortune read in the first place!

And on the other end, there’s always going to be that lingering doubt – what if what they said came true? Should I just resign myself to my fate? I guess this is why they call it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But after some internal conflict, I’ve realised it doesn’t matter at all whether the predictions are accurate or not. In truth, I wasn’t so much interested in finding out about the future as I was in hearing good things about myself. All I really wanted was some kind of affirmation, even if it came from a total stranger.

While I guess it’s only human to feel this way, this experience has reminded me that perhaps my efforts are better spent on more constructive endeavours, on things that I can actually control, such as the present.

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