One book that defied my speed reading skill was “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari. Almost on every page, I had to stop and ponder the author’s points, underline them, and make notes. Not just the book, even the author’s name took some time to register in my mind. And, adding to my woes, he has turned out to be a prolific writer! Even before I digested the contents of “Sapiens,” his next book “Homo Deus” was published. And before I could pick up the second book from the stands, his next work, “21 Lessons for the 21st Century,” hit the shelves. I could have read these books on the Kindle app on my iPhone or iPad. But with special books, I love to touch them, feel the texture, smell the new pages, hear the rustle as I turn each page, underline my favorite points, and make notes in the margins. Ah, the ease with which one can digress to social media on an iPad or iPhone!
I picked up “Homo Deus” from the Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata. As I boarded my late-night flight, I was dead tired after a hectic five hours of marathon teaching at “CME on Radiology Update in ENT.” But as I turned the first few pages of the book, during the flight safety announcements, the dedication page chased away my sleep. My heavy eyelids suddenly became feather-light, and my slouching back braced up. Yuval had dedicated this book to his teacher S. N. Goenka, a Burmese-Indian! I made a quick search about this man on Google before the flight attendant announced to switch off electronic items. Putting aside the details of this Padma Bhushan awardee, he was a teacher of the Indian meditation technique Vipassana. One notable quote from this great man, who passed away in 2013, is, “May all beings find real peace, real harmony, real happiness.” Several principles of life from ancient India continue to inspire many around the world today. However, it’s a paradox that while we have many teachers among us preaching these ancient principles, only a few practice them.
According to the back cover of the book, it is supposed to reveal “What does our future hold?” I am eager to find out as I get ready for the next leg of my journey this week!
Prof. Dr. Prahlada N. B
8 October 2018