Sunday, November 01, 2009


Unknowingly we are all in pursuit of Turandot, the cold, vengeful princess of Peking who confronts her suitors with her three riddles. Answer the riddles correctly, you will enjoy the conquest of the heavenly beauty of Turandot, and become the king of the vast land in the East; fail them, you will forfeit your life and have your head chopped off.

Is it worth it, to have that singular obsession, the pursuit of which makes us oblivious to all other matters in life? Is it wise to risk it all, to climb the steep and snowy mountain, in search of the legendary snow lotus, when there are so many beautiful flowers just by your feet?

Greatness is invariably born out of foolishness, a blissful state of ignorance in statistics. How much less we would have achieved if we could see into the future! Foolishness abounds; greatness, by definition, is rare. Many a prince had lost his head, literally, to the seductive beauty of Turandot, before Calaf, in a streak of good fortune, solved all three riddles, and eventually won the princess's heart. Deaf to the good advice of his father Timur, deaf to the imploring of the slave girl Liu, who was secretly in love with him, deaf to the wise words of Ping, Pang and Pong, who told him that there were a thousand faces and a thousand legs awaiting him if only he would forget Turandot and leave Peking, and deaf to the chorused dissuasion of the crowd, Calaf insisted on taking the test. A madman indeed. For him, death is preferable to the torment of a life consumed by unrequited passion.

All failures sum up to a number in statistics; success stands out as a singular event. While the severed heads of the princes before him rotted on the pikes on the streets of Peking, Calaf embraced a Turandot transformed by love. She declared to the king that she had learnt the name of Calaf, and "It is love!".

Love may there be, but surely there is a lot of luck.