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Of course, you can buy them anywhere, but my Chinese fortune sticks came, somewhat aptly, from the gambling dens of Macau (courtesy a dissolute friend). Kau cim, the Chinese practice of telling the fortune with sticks, works in mysterious ways. The tools of the oracle’s trade are simple enough, though — 60 flat sticks, each with a number assigned (and an associated fortune) and a long bamboo tube, in which the sticks are stored. You think of a question, try and hold on to the thought and shake the bamboo tube in a near horizontal position until just one stick falls out — an auspicious one, if you’re fortunate. I drew No. 36: “You’ve years of happiness in store,/ But, friend, be warned in time,/ Hard luck is apt to visit you,/ If so, ’twill be through wine.” Darn!
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