It was late 1981 when an old lady approached me in Bangkok's Lumpini Park offering to read my fortune. As the oversized tarot cards turned, she foretold a life in Thailand with a career, family and more. I was recovering from a bout of dengue fever and knew this to be nonsense. In a matter of weeks, I would be back in London selling features on malaria, political repression in Burma and preparations for the Rattanakosin bicentennial -- the 200th anniversary of Thailand's first Chakri king.
I did not give the encounter a moment's thought until years later, when I came across my jottings in an old notebook. By then I was back in Bangkok, married with a family and reviving a fascination with what was to become Myanmar -- the closed country that had first drawn me to Southeast Asia. The old soothsayer, I had to concede, had been uncannily accurate. Maybe there was something to astrology after all.