A Fortune-Teller Told Me
by Tiziano Terzani
As only hindsight can, I’m just now, as I sit to write this, realise what a marvellous irony this book was… I stumbled upon it utterly by chance in my favourite second hand book shop, Grub Street Bookshop in Fitzroy, a book about fortune-tellers the future, about chance and destiny, at a point in my life where I was seriously questioning mine. I don’t know what it was about this book, written by an old Italian guy travelling through Asia, that called to me, but it did. Does that ever happen to anyone else? When you’re in a bookstore full of old books, and one catches your eye for no apparent reason and you know you’re meant to have it? It happens to me a lot…
Anyway, it didn’t take me long to devour it – this man was a journalist, who was warned by a fortune teller in Hong Kong that in 1992 he should absolutely NOT travel by plane. Pretty hard to do as a journalist who is meant to be covering foreign events as they unravel, however he does heed this warning and pursues a year of travelling by any and every way but by air. What ensues is a story not only of Terzani’s quest to seek out fortune tellers and seers across Asia (and their predictions for his life), but also (and perhaps more importantly) of the lost joy of the journey (as opposed to the destination), and of ancient lands and lives and rituals, all being lost to modernisation and “development,” which you truly come to see as a tragedy by the end of the book. His writing style is informative and easy to read, giving you as a reader a simple background of the events and history that shaped his story.
How funny, that a book about destiny, chance, choices, came to me by random chance… I could have been anywhere that day, but I found myself at that book store. Anyone else may have picked up that book, but I did. Maybe there is something to say about destiny..
Brilliant, mind-altering read, that I can’t recommend highly enough for anyone interested in travel, Asia, the art of travel, the journey, destiny, and the dangers of modernity… you can pick up a copy here!