Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Fortune Teller Told Me

It must be thirteen or fourteen years since a friend told me about a book he was reading at that time. He said that it was one of the most remarkable stories he ever read, an absolute must. Intrigued by his account I bought the book and could not stop reading until I found out what happened in the end. It was, indeed, a remarkable book, probably most amazing travelogue I remembered reading.

Now, years later, A Fortune Teller Told Me still remains one of my favorite books. It is a perfect book for the spring when the nature renews herself; and a perfect book for anyone who wishes to reflect upon his good or bad fortune. 

Warned by a Hong Kong fortune-teller not to risk flying for an entire year, the author Tiziano Terzani (1938-2004) - a very experienced Asia correspondent for the German magazine Der Spiegel - took what he called “the first step into an unknown world." He followed the advice and experienced the most extraordinary time of his life. He was marked for death, but instead experienced an incredible personal transformation which he is not shy to call rebirth.

Traveling by foot, boat, bus, car, and train, he visited Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. The journey itself was a multidimensional experience. Obsessed with the foretold truth, he consulted soothsayers, sorcerers, and shamans everywhere he went. He received much advice about his future - some of it wise, some not so.

With enough time on his hands, he learned to understand, respect, and fear for older ways of life and belief systems in Asia that were threatened by the extreme forms of Western modernity. Asian traditions seemed to be on the verge of total extinction, an observation most travelers to Asia share.

During his remarkable sojourn in Asia he rediscovered a place he had been reporting on for decades and  managed to become a different man in the process.

Tiziano Terzani was an experienced journalist and as such had a very sharp eye. At the same time, his writing is full of passion, tenderness, and love. His journey was a remarkable one and I am convinced that his story will touch your heart, in one way or another.

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon©2017


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