When a Hong Kong fortune-teller warned Tiziano Terzani that he should avoid plane flights in 1993, he decided to take the old man's advice. Fortunately his employer "Der Spiegel" did not seem unduly perturbed by the idea of a Far Eastern correspondent who wouldn't board an aeroplane. So by foot, boat, bus and car, the author visited or re-visited Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, all the while receiving much advice about the future, because he made a point of consulting fortune-tellers throughout the region. Underlying all this was a serious matter: the problem of destiny, of good or evil fate and how to deal with it, and the problem of identity now that the ancient world of diversity seems about to succumb to the strident demands of economic growth. The consequences of Terzani's decision was a year full of unexpected events and encounters, in which he reflects on his own fate and on that of the people he meets. And the fortune-teller did save him from an air crash when a UN helicopter on which he was to have travelled went down in Cambodia.
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When a Hong Kong fortune-teller warned him not to risk flying for a whole year, Tiziano Terzani, an experienced Asia correspondent, decided to face the challenge directly. It was, he writes, 'like the first step into an unknown world'.
In the course of that year, the author travelled by foot, boat, bus, car and train, visiting or revisiting Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia – all the while consulting fortune-tellers, shamans and sorcerers and receiving much advice – some wise, some otherwise – about his future.
With time to think, he learnt to understand, respect and fear for older ways of life and beliefs now threatened by the crasser forms of modernity. He also, in the company of monks and magicians, meditated on the general problem of destiny, of good or evil fate and how to deal with it, and on the problem of identity now that the ancient world of diversity seems about to succumb to the strident demands of 'development'.
The result is an immensely engaging, insightful and idiosyncratic journey, filled with unexpected delights and strange encounters. A best-seller and major prize-winner in Italy, the book – by 'one of Europe's most accomplished writers' (in the words of William Shawcross) – is a powerful warning against the new missionaries of materialism.
(And – yes – the fortune-teller 'did' save him from an air crash.)
"My undertaking not to fly turned into a game full of surprises. If you pretend to be blind for a while, you find that the other senses grow sharper to compensate for the lack of sight. Avoiding planes has a similar effect… It turned out to be one of the most extraordinary years I have ever spent: I was marked for death, and instead I was reborn."
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1997. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0002558416