Meet Grandma Hu, the Oracle.
Her eyes are piercing. Her smile is warm. Her laugh is infectious.
For the better part of 50 years, the people in her community and now people across Taiwan travel to Tainan to ask for her guidance and blessings. Sometimes the line stretches from the prayer room of her traditional Taiwanese farmhouse to the street. The scent of incense from burning joss sticks fill the air in her courtyard. Her two dogs ignore the crowd of people waiting their turn to see her. Instead, they yawn and bask in the warm Tainan sun.
She makes a mean vegan 鹹稞 (salted steam rice dumpling). I’d show you pictures, but the plate was emptied before I could grab my camera. People exclaimed in surprise, “It healthy! Why does it taste so good?” My friend who came to visit her saved me a piece. It really was good. Soft, chewy outside, crunchy and savory on the inside. The Oracle looks at me and smiles, “Wood ear and water chestnuts are the secret.”
People enter her sanctuary with their worries and the leave relieved. When she was young, she experienced a calling to help the people in her community. Her counsel and intercessory prayers give those who seek her time to reflect on their lives and their activities. She is no-nonsense but kind and thoughtful to those who seek her advice and blessings.
You can see the energy radiating from her.
If you can’t make it, she might even take your call via FaceTime. At 83, she shows no sign in retiring nor do the people want her to.
As a strategic consultant, I manage chaos for a living. So travel is easy for me. Heh. I travel to understand people and culture more deeply than a newspaper or tv show could ever tell me. I break bread to build bridges across political and social boundaries. Travel inspires me, teaches me and humbles me such that I appreciate my part of the world more deeply.