Madras - Antonia Katharina Tessnow - ebook


Illustrated Version The Palm Leaf Library - Thousands of years old and an unsolved secret until today. The mystery of this place is the key subject of 'Madras'. The true story evolves around one of the greatest secrets of mankind. I have been there. I left my small hometown near Berlin and discovered a legend which says, that every life story is written on a palm leaf; every life story? No, but the live story of all those people, who will undergo the long travel to one of the libraries and search for it. That is what I have done. And this is, what I have found. People who have read this book: 'A fascinating book. Whoever wants to find the answer to the question: How many lives do we have? will find it here.' Günther Prinz, Managing Director and Chief Editor of 'Bild', Germany. 'So there is my entire life written on a Palm Leaf in Madras! This book completely changed my understanding of time and space.' Fritz Bloomberg, Ex-Vicepresident Burda Press, New York 'Mind blowing! The ideal book for everybody who wants to learn about the unbelievable truth behind our existence.' Gregor Tessnow, Germany Author of the bestseller and the script of 'Knallhart'

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Thanks to everyone who helped me

for India

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51


I am 28. Alexander and I are married less than a year when he wracks his motorbike and dies in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I was in a train to southern Germany by the time the accident happened and when I arrived, my phone had no reception. This is why I only received the news the next day, while taking a walk in the nearby forest, where my mobile finds a connection for a slight moment.

It is November 9, 2003 and it is a friend who calls me. We are not very close. I hardly know him. He has read from the accident in the paper. Now he is like a ghost, an empty voice on the other side of the telephone, that just appears to bring tragedy into my life. He disappears immediately after we spoke. I never heard from him again.

The foundation, which my life was built on, completely collapsed within seconds. I can see no future anymore. All dreams, all hopes, all future plans are gone in that very moment. My life died together with my husband.

The next two years I drown myself in work. My studies are something to hold on to and allow me somehow to go on. I'm taking full time classes in college, work on weekends, take late evening courses and work to pay, additionally to my education, for my expenses.

Drowning myself fully in my busy schedule is my way to knock my feelings out. I don't want to know. I don't want to see. I don't want to feel. I just want to forget. It is fear that makes me act the way I do, that makes me run around my life, that makes me work like crazy, that drives me to completely tire myself out. Because I'm afraid to slip and fall into the bottomless darkness of my pain.

I don't know where to turn to. Some say: People should follow their dreams. The pictures in your head and mind point into the direction you are supposed to go. Living the ideas that are given to you are the sense of your existence. But: What, if there are no pictures? No visions? No ideas? What, if the future is dark and there is nothing to see and nowhere to go?

What is the sense of my life? What am I here for? Who am I? Where am I going? What am I going to be?

I keep my feelings bottled up and don't talk to anybody. It takes two full years until the shock over my husbands death loosens its grip.

It is during one of my classes, holistic psychology. The professor mentions the Palm Leaf Libraries in India. She tells us, that they hold the written scripts of all life stories of every man.

That is it! Nothing else is said. Nothing else needs to be said. But this is when I woke up from my inner sleep. What is that: A Palm Leaf Library? What would I find there? Maybe the answer to my destiny? The answer to my future? The answer to my life?


An intense research begins. I'm collecting all information about Palm Leaf Libraries I can possibly find. The legend truly says that all life stories are written on leafs and kept in India, but only from those people who will once go there and search for it.

The history of the libraries goes back to Rishis and the visions they had approximately 5000 years ago. A Rishi is a master of meditation. He is able to read in the 'Akasha Chronic'. The 'Akasha Chronic' holds the worlds knowledge, the worlds memory, the universal information of all times.

To read in the Akasha Chronic, the Rishis reach a state during meditation which is known as the 'Eternal Samadhi'. 'Samadhi' means enlightenment. Rishis are enlightened. They are no searchers, they know. They live in the constant consciousness of being part in a timeless universe. They are aware of the fact that their souls are living eternally, that they are incarnated in a body and that they are fulfilling a destined karma.

Many thousands of years ago, they were meant to receive visions, to write them down and to found the libraries.

As the legend goes further it says that every 800 years a copy of every written Palm Leaf is made because the leaves get old and fall apart.

The entire story is too unbelievable for me to believe. I cannot imagine this to be true. But the libraries are there. Might there be something real about them?

I, now, can see a bit of hope. Some light brightens the depth of my mind. Maybe the time of darkness and confusion will come to an end here. The idea of this legend being true lightens a fire inside of me.

The libraries, including all the leaves, are holy. The leaves are read out loud by a so called Nadi Reader, but not given away. That is an unwritten law. Even though, two German scientists were allowed to take their leaves home. They brought them to the University of Heidelberg where it was possible to do some research on their date and substance. The outcome verifies: The youngest Palm Leaf ever found, that describes a true life story, is 500 years of age.


Uncountable questions are flooding my mind. When this legend is real, when this unbelievable story is true, isn’t it so, that everything was already written before I was even born? Has it always been clear that Alexander would die? Was it meant for us to meet, to live through a very own reality and to separate the way we did? If that is the case, than reality must have a much higher sense than I have ever imagined. But what is the message behind my destiny?

Life in India is rooted in the philosophy of rebirth and karma. It says, that the existence of the soul is infinite. It says, that all things in life are configured in a way that allows our mind to raise to the next higher level of consciousness. All circumstances in life, including the country we are born in, the family, the surrounding, everything, is not just a chance; it is meant to be. Everything is made exactly the way it is for the only and one reason: That our soul can widen and develop, for our understanding to expand and for us to grow spiritually. It all exists for the pure essence of experience.

That all sounds logical to me. I can understand the idea behind this philosophy. But to read books about it is one thing - to know about libraries which hold scriptures, thousands of years of age, describing destinies, is something totally different. Are the libraries the proof that we have more than one life? Are they proof that there are far more and higher levels of consciousness than we know of?

What does the worlds wisdom reveal about my life which I'm meant to live and which is such a burden from time to time? What is the sense behind my feelings which almost rip me apart once in a while? What is the essence of my experience and which level of consciousness is my soul supposed to reach?

I hardly finished asking myself all these questions when suddenly my life enfolds in such a way, that a trip to the libraries seems to be inevitable. The trip gets, in the most miraculous ways, organized all by itself. I am not doing anything to it. It almost seems that it was already planned before I got the chance to do it. Maybe it was already planned. It probably was. Long before I even knew that the libraries existed.


Two weeks after my research began I'm visiting the anniversary party of the Potsdamer Table in Teltow. It is an organization that collects food from supermarkets and gives it to poor people for free. A social food counter. I work there now for two years, every Saturday, ever since the branch in Teltow opened. Many people are there, some officials and even more visitors, and even though I know a lot of people around here I am only recognizing a few faces. I did not talk to anybody about my plans yet. Not even with my friends and family. No one knows that I plan to fly to Madras, South India. No one has a clue. Nobody a guess. But surrounded by all these people I get involved in a conversation with that guy I have only seen a few times. I don’t even know his name. All of a sudden I have the impulse to say:

“I'm going to India.”

“Oh really?”, he is keeping his voice just as low as I keep mine, “I have a cousin in India. He lives … wait … somewhere in South India. In Ma … Ma …”

“You don’t want to say Madras, do you?”

“Madras! Exactly! How did you know?”

“Can you talk to him for me?”

“Not necessary. He will be in Teltow, somewhen in two weeks or so. I’ll introduce you. Than you can talk to him yourself.”

Our conversation is over. No need to say anymore. I`m stunned. No one heard us. Everybody is busy having conversations themselves. It is loud. The noise allowed us to talk unheard.

The short conversation turns out to be the beginning of an invisible chain of circumstances leading my way, on which it seemed to be impossible to fail.

Another two weeks later. I am meeting the cousin from Madras. He picks a small coffee shop in Teltow, not knowing, that this is the place where I have seen my husband for the last time in my life. Mr. Bilson, whose first name also is Alexander, is already waiting in front as I arrive. I immediately recognize him even though I have never met him before.

He is nice and very friendly and he seems to enjoy me listening to his stories of India, that he chose thirteen years ago as his home country. He talks about his wife who is Indian and about the culture he understands very well. He draws with his words pictures and fairy tales in the air, funny stories and dramatic scenes, so colorful, that I can see them all.

His wife works as a flight attendance for an Indian airline. That is why he and his family are living close to the airport. He assures me that I will be picked up, spend a night at his house and stay safe in a resort during my visit. He will organize it all.

“This is the Indian way of treating a guest”, he explains and smiles a smile so warmhearted and nice that I will never forget.

The next person I'm talking to, telling about my plans, is Sally, a friend. We are not too close, but she helped me through the long and dark nights of grief and despair, even though she never knew my husband.

I have no idea why, but just as I am telling her about the Palm Leaf Library she says:

"I owe you something. Let me take care of the ticket, will you?"

What does she mean? I have no idea. I rather feel that I owe her a lot! A lot of time, a lot of patience and an endless number of uplifting words.

A few days later I find my ticket to India in my mailbox. I'm not surprised. Right now I'm not surprised about anything anymore. I'm so into the legend of the libraries and the idea about the Rishis and their visions that nothing seems to be happening by chance anymore. Everything seems to be destined. The short conversation with the guy I hardly knew, the meeting with the man from Madras, the ticket from Sally in my mailbox, everything is happening as it is supposed to. I'm just waiting, watching. I'm an observer of my own life that enfolds right in front of my eyes.

And now there is someone else in the picture of my life. A close friend who is very important to me. We spend almost every evening together, sometimes without even really talking or doing anything. She lives two blocks away from me, not even five minutes by walk. During the day we write SMS and when she comes home from work I usually go see her. Sometimes I take a book with me and when we hang out on the couch, she watches TV, I read. Just being together feels good to us.

On a certain point of time, not long before the mystery of the leaves entered my life, we discover the ‘Lord Of The Rings’ trilogy and we are fascinated. The fantasy world which opens up through the story is a good distraction for our minds and our lives, which require lots of strength from each of us.

‘Lord Of The Rings’ tells the story of Frodo who must destroy the ring of evil, symbol of darkness and destruction, to save the world so it can be reigned by light and love. And it tells the story about his loyal, devoted friend Samwise Gamgee, called Sam. Sam is always there and supports Frodo with whatever he does. He undergoes all efforts to help him and follows him through every kind of trouble.

The character ‘Sam’ touches my heart. I also want to have a ‘Sam’, and that is exactly what I'm telling my friend. I'm longing for someone to share my life with. A companion and comrade, an ally who gives me strength and support. Because sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by my feelings that I don't know how to cope with them. Maybe someone like a ‘Sam’ in my life could safe me from falling? And it seems like I will fall, sooner or later, unless a miracle happens. Especially when I keep doing what I do right now: Drowning myself in work and studies, running away from myself without taking a second to breathe! Such a good friend like Sam, as described in the movies, might rescue me from my life and its heaviness. And to be rescued from my life and its depressing moments is what I long for during sleepless nights which sometimes appear to be endless.


November 15, 2003. My exams are up. It is my 30th birthday and I spend all day studying. My flight leaves on November 30, through Paris to Madras. I already took an exam earlier this year and passed through physiology. Now, holistic Psychology and veterinarian Science are up. The hardest and longest class, holistic medicine, will be finished somewhen during May 2004. This is what I will concentrate on as soon as I get back.

I'm excited. The last trip I took is 15 years ago. I visited Poland together with my mom. Alexander and I never went anywhere. Every moment we spend together was like being on vacation. There was no need to go somewhere.

Nothing extraordinary ever really happened. My life went relatively smooth. Only when Alexander died I sank into this endless circle of work, college and studies which kept me going and my eyes shut. It is time for this crazy lifestyle to come to an end.

My trip to India is now official. I don't keep it secret anymore. Even though I don't tell everybody, some know and the news are spreading. After my exams, before my trip, there is one more person I meet who turns out to be part in this weird chain of circumstances. His name: Alexander. He is a student in the dame college I am, going for holistic medicine, too.

"When you go to India, you HAVE to read 'The Alchemist' from Paulo Coelho! Have you ever heard about it?"

"No, I haven't. But I don't think that I have the time to go and buy a book before I leave."

"You HAVE to read this book, believe me!", he persists.

"I don't have time! I have to work and also study, ya?"

"You HAVE to read it! This book is made for you! I'm telling you!"

"I ... I ... don't know ...". Actually I wanted to say that I don't want it, but who knows why I'm meant to read this thing?

He smiles.

"Okay", I'm giving in.

"Okay! Let me get it for you", he says, "but to make it clear: If you don't read this book on your way to India, I will never talk to you again!"

"I got it!"

The bell rings and we have to go to class. Just on my last day in college he truly brings that book. I thank him and take it, then I go home and pack. The book goes into my handbag.

November 30th, four o'clock in the morning. The taxi leaves to the airport Berlin Tegel. The roads are empty. The city still sleeps. I'm wide awake.

While the plane takes off I'm staring out of the window. I immediately recognize buildings and places that are linked to all kinds of memories. I see the horse stable beside the Olympic Stadium where I work. I see the Charlottenburg Parlais and Brandenburg Gate which get smaller and smaller until they vanish from my sight.

I'm on my way to Paris. There is no direct flight from Berlin to Madras. International flights are only leaving from the big airports in Europe: Paris, Frankfurt, London.

The airport in Paris is gigantic. Thank God that I have enough time to find my way through this labyrinth of Hallways, uncountable signs and arrows. After a while I find my gate. While I sit and wait, the waiting area becomes more and more crowded. Many Indians. I can tell by their dresses, the color of their skin, the black hair and the marks on their foreheads that most of them wear.

The check-in begins. My excitement is going up.

Inside the plane are three long rows of seats. One on each window site, one in the middle. I get seated. I'm supposed to sit in the middle row in a middle seat. It is so stuffy that I wonder whose brilliant idea it was to design planes like that. Human beings do not become miraculously smaller only because one builds small seats, do they? Who is supposed to sit in here for eight hours? Me! Great! I squeeze myself into the seat, feeling like an orange squeezed into a juice.

I look around. The last row by the window is empty. The emergency seat! This is an emergency, no doubt. Right after the plane takes off we are allowed to move around. I immediately change my seat. Now I have two all by myself.

My adventure begins right here. I'm looking out of the window. The next stop is Madras. All I have to do is to wait.

We fly over Germany, Austria, the Alps which are stunning to look at from above. I can hardly believe it: I'm really sitting in an airplane flying into another world and I'm still the same. Will I stay the same?


As my feelings of awe release me, I'm taking the book Alexander has given to me: The Alchemist. I'm reading the back of it to see, what it is all about. The book talks about a boy who is dreaming about a treasure in an oriental country, and who leaves his home to find it. But instead of gold and goods he finds something 'that can never ever be taken away from him ever again'.

I open the book and start reading:

'People need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want.

We are afraid of losing what we have. But this fear vanishes when we understand that our lives and the history of the world were written by the same hand', Paulo Coelho writes.

My colleague hardly knows me. We never really talked to each other. There has just been this short intermezzo where he has given this book to me. Nobody at the academy knows my history. No one knows what drives my decisions, no one knows my feelings, the desperation and the emptiness deep inside of me that drives me out of the life I have lived until this trip began.

The book talks about following signs. And that we should not get hasty or become impatient, otherwise we would fail to see the signs and omens left by God along our path. He talks about being closest to the Soul of the world when we wish for something, when we wish for something with all our heart. Because it is a positive force.

How long have I not had a true wish, captured in this futureless life?

But my trip to the libraries has been a wish, hasn't it? Didn't I desperately want to go there? Throughout the last weeks my life has configured itself all by itself accordingly to that wish so that I, now, sit here in this juice-squeezer, really going to India. Unbelievable!

'Actually, it wasn't that those things in themselves revealed anything at all; it was just that people, looking at what was occurring around them, could find a means of penetration of the Soul of the World', Coelho writes further.

Maybe I hope to find the meaning of the soul of the world in India? Maybe I hope to get closer to the Soul of the World? To find peace. And happiness?

I feel alone. I feel left behind. I feel weak. Going into denial took so much strength away. I didn't even look left or right once, let alone that I have realized a single sign along the way.

Further the boy meets a seer and wants to know his future. The seer described in Coelhos book says: 'I know the science of the twigs, and I know how to use them to penetrate to the place where all is written. There, I can read the past, discover what has already been forgotten, and understand the omens that are here in the present.

‘When people consult me it's not that I'm reading the future; I am guessing at the future. The future belongs to God, and it is only he who reveals it, under extraordinary circumstances. How do I guess the future? Based on the omens of the present. The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his children. Just trust. Each day, in itself, brings with it an eternity'.

'Confidence' doesn't mean much more to me than any other empty phrase. 'Trust' is a hollow word with no meaning. How can I trust? How can I be confident? What can I set my trust in to? That we're always taken care of? I have desired to die much too often, longed for death as the liberation of my pain too intensely that I feel able to look confident into live, to set trust in it, to be hopeful. I'm not able to believe in good anymore. I feel my confidence got robbed and my hope is taken away from me.

I miss Alexander to no end. It hurts so much to think about him that I'm afraid to allow this pain to fully reveal itself. This is why I'm running away. I paralyzed myself. Used all my power just to distract myself from my own grief.

I hate the world. I hate all things. I don't want time to go on. I want to hold on to it! I want it to stop! I want to turn it back to the moment when everything was all right. I can't be confident about life; I can't trust that time will tell and heal, because it is time that slowly carries me away from the last moment we have spend together.


Further the book talks about following the signs that are send from the depth of the universe into our personal life and to follow what the heart tells us. It talks about that our heart is where we will find out hidden treasure. This treasure must be discovered so that everything that we experience can make sense. And it talks about the sad scenario that can take place if we fail to follow the whisper of our heart and miss the possibility to find our treasure. We got to be careful not to lose ourselves within the variety of all things. Because it might happen that we forget about the search and that we put our life under the service of somebody or something we don't belong to; we unlearn how to read signs, because they don't reveal themselves anymore to us as soon as the conscience about them is overpainted by short term amusements, and than forgotten and gone. The ability to recognize the signs will fade and we'll find ourselves as slaves to all kinds of things and love-stories. Maybe one day we'll wake up and understand that we did not follow our personal path of life and that, now, it is too late, 'without that we ever understood that life and love never keeps a man from living his Personal Legend. If someone abandons that persuit it is because it was never true love … the love that speaks the language of the world'.

Has my 'love' kept me from following the way of my heart? In some ways, yes. Because my heart is broken over the loss of it and no one can follow a broken heart because it can't show any way anymore.

'Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him’, his heart said. ‘We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, towards its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them – the path to their Personal Legends and to individual happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.

So we, the hearts, speak more and more softly. We never stop speaking out, but we begin to hope that our words won’t be heard: We don’t want people to suffer because they don’t follow their hearts.’

Or don’t dare to follow their hearts because they can't bear the suffering. Not to be able to cope with pain and suffering is no sin; neither it is weakness. It is life itself that sometimes puts us in front of unsolvable situations and problems, because of which many break apart or fail for none of their fault. The abyss of feelings that some look into can be so frightening that running away seems to be the only solution.

At the end of his journey, the boy finally meets an alchemist who tells him, that we never see the great treasures in the world when they are right in front of us because we don't believe in treasures anymore; and that the world is only the visible part of God. That everything is possible when we love because in such a state of mind life takes place inside of us. And most of all: That we should not give in to despair. Otherwise we can't communicate with our heart that is supposed to be our guidance on the search for our treasure.

I'm deeply touched because I'm also searching for the connection to my heart and for love that I somehow lost during all the countless, long nights of tears, loneliness and darkness. I'm searching for my treasure. The shepherd has found his. I, on the contrary, am just staying at the beginning of a search from which I only know now that it is one.


Because of the book two flight attendances, one after another, came up to me and started talking:

"Oh, this story is an eye-opener", the one said enthusiastically.

"It gave me so much strength and power", so the other one.

The more people are reacting to that book, the more I sense the magic it holds. And the longer I read, the deeper I fall into it. Unfortunately I'm not alone for long. A man sits down beside me, without asking, without waiting for my approval:

"Oh, you are reading the Alchemist", he almost screams. Then he immediately starts talking:

"I've been very sick. This book has brought a lot of hope to me. And the faith that everything can be good again someday. My life went into a completely new direction. When I overcame my sickness I went to the Dalai Lama in Dharmsala."

I'm listening without saying anything. I'm just nodding once in a while. This man is unsympathetic to me. He talks too loud and is very self-centered.

"I'm a banker from New York. I was the financial adviser of the Dalai Lama. I'm going to visit my parents in Chennai. This is how the Indians call Madras, did you know that?"

Even if I would have wanted to answer, I couldn't have. He is talking without the slightest brake. It almost seems he doesn't even breathe.

"I have so many friends everywhere in the world! In the United States and in India of course ..."

"Would you please leave. I would like to read", my first try to interrupt him. He doesn't.

"So many friends! Oh man. I have so many friends!

I'm living in the States for 20 years now ..."

"I would like to be alone", my next try. Failed.

"My father is sick, you know? But he has a nurse at home. This is how it is in India. And my mother is there, too. He is taken care of. I don't have to worry about it ..."

"The book is exciting. I would like to keep on reading!"

"I have three brothers and two sisters. They are all living in America. My sister just got her first baby yesterday. That must have hurt! Poor thing. She lives in Atlanta. And I'm on my way to Chennai, can you believe this?"

He does not stop whatsoever. He wants to know where I come from, what I do and why I'm going to India. I don't feel like talking. Confident that he will be leaving when he gets my contacts I'm giving this strange man a business card from me. I just published two new CD's with piano music. If he is such a brilliant banker as he claims to be, and if he has only half of all the friends he says he does, maybe he buys some.

He is fine with my business card. He handles me one of his, writes another number on the back than the one that is printed on the front, gives it to me and leaves. Finally! I don't care for his card. I let it fall into my bag and keep on reading.

The man I met will turn out to be the most important person throughout the next years of my life. His name is Sam. The Sam I wished for and prayed to meet. I never imagined he would appear in the shape of an investment banker who I would unbelievably learn to love and to live with.