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For Paulo Coelho, archery is the vehicle for the clear truths of life

Anyone who reads Paulo Coelho is changed in some fundamental way. The power of his words is rare, and the breadth of his scope is not easily matched. Here is an excerpt from his newest book The Archer, exploring truths of life through an impactful metaphor:

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‘Tetsuya.’

The boy looked at the stranger, startled.
‘No one in this city has ever seen Tetsuya holding a bow,’ he replied. ‘Everyone here knows him as a carpenter.’

…Tetsuya made as if to resume his work: he was just putting the legs on a table.

‘A man who served as an example for a whole generation cannot just disappear as you did,’ the stranger went on. ‘I followed your teachings, I tried to respect the way of the bow, and I deserve to have you watch me shoot. If you do this, I will go away and I will never tell anyone where to find the greatest of all masters.’

The stranger drew from his bag a long bow made from varnished bamboo, with the grip slightly below center. He bowed to Tetsuya, went out into the garden, and bowed again toward a particular place. Then he took out an arrow fletched with eagle feathers, stood with his legs firmly planted on the ground, so as to have a solid base for shooting, and with one hand brought the bow in front of his face, while with the other he positioned the arrow.

The boy watched with a mixture of glee and amazement. Tetsuya had now stopped working and was observing the stranger with some curiosity.

With the arrow fixed to the bowstring, the stranger raised the bow so that it was level with the middle of his chest. He lifted it above his head and, as he slowly lowered his hands again, began to draw the string back. By the time the arrow was level with his face, the bow was fully drawn. For a moment that seemed to last an eternity, archer and bow remained utterly still. The boy was looking at the place where the arrow was pointing, but could see nothing. Suddenly, the hand on the string opened, the hand was pushed backward, the bow in the other hand described a graceful arc, and the arrow disappeared from view only to reappear in the distance.

‘Go and fetch it,’ said Tetsuya.

The boy returned with the arrow: it had pierced a cherry, which he found on the ground, forty meters away.

Tetsuya bowed to the archer, went to a corner of his workshop, and picked up what looked like a slender piece of wood, delicately curved, wrapped in a long strip of leather. He slowly unwound the leather and revealed a bow similar to the stranger’s, except that it appeared to have seen far more use.

Front cover The Archer
The Archer||Paulo Coelho

‘I have no arrows, so I’ll need to use one of yours. I will do as you ask, but you will have to keep the promise you made, never to reveal the name of the village where I live. If anyone asks you about me, say that you went to the ends of the earth trying to find me and eventually learned that I had been bitten by a snake and had died two days later.’

The stranger nodded and offered him one of his arrows.

Resting one end of the long bamboo bow against the wall and pressing down hard, Tetsuya strung the bow. Then, without a word, he set off toward the mountains.

The stranger and the boy went with him. They walked for an hour, until they reached a large crevice between two rocks through which flowed a rushing river, which could be crossed only by means of a fraying rope bridge almost on the point of collapse.

Quite calmly, Tetsuya walked to the middle of the bridge, which swayed ominously; he bowed to some- thing on the other side, loaded the bow just as the stranger had done, lifted it up, brought it back level with his chest, and fired.

The boy and the stranger saw that a ripe peach, about twenty meters away, had been pierced by the arrow.

‘You pierced a cherry, I pierced a peach,’ said Tetsuya, returning to the safety of the bank. ‘The cherry is smaller. You hit your target from a distance of forty meters, mine was half that. You should, therefore, be able to repeat what I have just done. Stand there in the middle of the bridge and do as I did.’

Terrified, the stranger made his way to the middle of the dilapidated bridge, transfixed by the sheer drop below his feet. He performed the same ritual gestures and shot at the peach tree, but the arrow sailed past.

When he returned to the bank, he was deathly pale.

‘You have skill, dignity, and posture,’ said Tetsuya. ‘You have a good grasp of technique and you have mastered the bow, but you have not mastered your mind. You know how to shoot when all the circumstances are favorable, but if you are on dangerous ground, you cannot hit the target. The archer cannot always choose the battlefield, so start your training again and be prepared for unfavorable situations. Continue in the way of the bow, for it is a whole life’s journey, but remember that a good, accurate shot is very different from one made with peace in your soul.’

The stranger made another deep bow, replaced his bow and his arrows in the long bag he carried over his shoulder, and left.

~

We can’t wait to settle in with The Archer this winter.

 

 

 

5 Facts You Did Not Know About Paulo Coelho

Bestselling author Paulo Coelho has just released his long awaited semi-autobiographical work, Hippie, adding to the literary legend’s incomparable bestselling history. Coelho’s titles have been bringing people across the world solace and wisdom for decades, and his latest title is no different. This book is a rare glimpse into Coelho’s life itself, giving readers insight into what made Coelho the writer he is today. Along with the heartbreaks of his own life, we travel with Paulo through his formative years, and through revolutionary days of modern Western philosophy – the 70’s.
So what do you need to know about Hippie?


Paulo Coelho Loves India:
While never having visited India yet, Paulo believes that Indian culture has been a huge influence on both himself and western philosophy.
As quoted in this interview with the Hindustan Times, Coelho talks about how he has been critically influenced by Rabindranath Tagore. He quotes a few lines from the Gitanjali at the beginning of Hippie, saying “Poetry is another way of seeing the world. These days people don’t pay enough attention to poetry. By quoting Tagore at the beginning of the book, I wanted to bring back attention to his work.”
Coelho first wanted to title this book ‘And where the old tracks are lost’, from the same Tagore poem. He decided against it as he was unsure as to whether it would translate across languages, and settled instead for Hippie.

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Paulo Coelho’s Parents Did Not Understand Him:
Paulo Coelho’s parents, worried that he wanted to become a writer and an artist, put their son in an insane asylum three times before the age of 20. He says, “My parents thought I was psychotic. That was the diagnosis. I used to read a lot, I was very shy and I didn’t socialise very easily. They were desperate. It wasn’t that they wanted to hurt me, but they didn’t know what to do.
“I have forgiven them. They did not do that to destroy me, they did that to save me. And it happens with love, all the time – when you have this love towards someone else, but you want this person to change, to be like you. And then love can be very destructive. It is up to you to say, ‘Stop, I love you but I’m going to do what is better for me and at the end of the day, you’re going to realise that I was right.”
After some therapy, he came to the conclusion that everyone must live out their madness a little bit. Now, he says, “If madness means being other than “normal” that is fine with me. If it is threatening for oneself and society, there is a problem. My motto is: A little bit of madness is quite healthful.”

~

Paulo Coelho Wrote Radical Songs That Sent Him To Jail:
After years of hedonism on the road, Paulo returned to Brazil to pursue a career writing songs. He built a strong and lucrative career doing this – in 1974, he was even arrested for ‘subversive’ activities by the ruling military government for writing revolutionary lyrics. He went through torture in jail at the time. He says, “I think I was more frightened when I was in jail than I have ever been, and afterwards I was frightened for seven years… it is a traumatic experience, but then after seven years, time heals everything and today I’m engaged in several projects of civil rights, Amnesty International included. Every time that I see there is something wrong, I think it is my responsibility to voice my opposition. It may not work, but at least I am not silent. I’m not a coward. I have my fears, but I am not a coward.”

~

Paulo Coelho Has a Fascinating Writing Ritual:
The theme of omens has influenced Coelho’s work from the Alchemist onward, and it is a facet of his writing influenced from his life. Coelho pays a great deal of attention to omens, and one in particular – he will start writing a new book only after finding a white feather.
“The white feather thing started before my first book, The Pilgrimage. I asked myself, shall I write that book? I was not sure and I said if I see a feather today, I’m going to write; if I don’t see it it’s not in my destiny. I found it so I said I have to write. And the next book, I followed the same ritual and then it became a tradition and now I cannot write unless I find a white feather.” This has since become more specialized, as white feathers grew increasingly easy to find. As of 2005, his challenge was to find a white feather in the January of an odd year.

~

Paulo Coelho’s Spiritual Journey began at Age 42:
For those with a taste for literary laughs, this might be the answer to life the universe and everything – when did Paulo Coelho gain enlightenment? At the age of 42.
In 1986, Coelho took a walk down Road of Santiago de Compostela, a 1000+ km walk of pilgrimage in Northern Spain. He would say, “I was very happy in the things I was doing. I was doing something that gave me food and water – to use the metaphor in The Alchemist, I was working, I had a person whom I loved, I had money, but I was not fulfilling my dream. My dream was, and still is, to be a writer.” He decided he had to do it and never looked back. Today, nearly thirty years later, he’s bringing us another exquisite walk through his life and soul, in Hippie.


In Hippie, his most autobiographical novel to date, Paulo Coelho takes us back in time to re-live the dream of a generation that longed for peace and dared to challenge the established social order-authoritarian politics, conservative modes of behavior, excessive consumerism, and an unbalanced concentration of wealth and power.
 

6 Wonderful Books You Should Gift the Women in Your Life

“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them,” Neil Gaiman once remarked. This Women’s Day, do you want to gift her an inspirational world of stories? Worry no more as we have got you covered.
Here are six contemporary books that the women in your life will absolutely love to have!
This Wide Night
If you want to honour the women in your life who rose above unfavourable circumstances and came out on top, then this book is for you!
In this evocative and gripping novel, Sarvat Hasin depicts four beautiful sisters and their unconventional mother, living alone and together in a deeply patriarchal world. The Maliks, as they are called, live a life of relative freedom in 1970s Karachi. It is hard to break into their circle as they have forged the rules of their own universe. In a quietly seething world of This Wide Night, the unconventionality of these women collides with the dogmatism of the society around them.
The Wide Night front
Me and Ma
A moving memoir from one of the most talented artists of our time, Divya Dutta celebrates her mother’s struggles to turn her into the woman she is today. Capturing the beauty of a mother-child relationship, Divya Dutta walks us through the most intimate memories of her life. The incredible bond she forged with her mother helped her through tragedies and difficulties, and led her to become an award-winning actor of stature.
Me and Ma is one of the most beautiful tributes that you can give your mother!
me-and-ma-front
The Spy
Is there a woman in your life who defied conventions? An epitome of fierce independence? If yes, then this enthralling tale of Mata Hari by Paulo Coehlo is one of the most perfect gifts for her!
Arriving penniless in Paris, Mata Hari swiftly became the most celebrated woman in the city at the back of her delightful dancing and showmanship. She led a liberated life and courted some of the most powerful men of her time. Not before paranoia consumed a country at war and the powers-that-be clanked down upon her, suspicious of her lifestyle that led them to believe she was a spy.
The SPy front
Devi, Diva or She-Devil
Do you know a woman who combines her personal and professional responsibilities with masterful ease? Then Sudha Menon’s take on smart career women would prove to be an enchanting tribute!
The book explores a myriad of complex issues faced by Indian women at the workplace, such as dealing with family pressures, gender perceptions, the glass ceiling, leadership challenges and bringing up children while also excelling in their careers.
Devi, Diva or She-Devil front
Mr and Mrs Jinnah
Sheela Reddy’s fascinating account of a marriage that shook India, that of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Ruttie Petit’s, brings to the fore an unlikely and unforgettable love story.
It was her intelligence and the fact that Ruttie was so widely read that attracted Jinnah. Apart from her beauty, Ruttie’s fierce commitment to the nationalist struggle struck a chord with him. She came across as a young independent woman who saw above the trivialities of the day.
This lucid account of an unlikely union that took the society of the day by storm is a must-give to the women in your life who share Ruttie’s exuberance and intelligence.
Mr-and-Mrs-Jinah-frontThe Girl Who Chose
Over the centuries, hundreds have retold the Ramayana, one of the two great epics from ancient India. They added new twists and turns but few have noticed that the tale always depends on the five choices made by Sita. In this charmingly illustrated retelling of the epic, Devdutt Pattanaik brings to the fore the often overlooked story of Sita.
As an epitome of freedom, Sita, the girl who chose, stands tall as a woman who decided not be bound by rules. Gift this book to one of the women in your life and let her know your admiration for her independence!
The Girl Who Chose_bookcover
We hope that the list above solved your worries and provided you with wonderful options for that perfect gift – ones that the women in your life truly deserve!

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