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Mind spa: How to refresh and restart

Last updated: 24 October, 2009
DIPTI NAIR 15:40 IST

Now the question is how does one keep that bulb on forever. Or is it? Obviously thats not the idea here.

The idea is to have as many moments of ‘switch ons’ as possible so that we can comfortably navigate through the tunnel of our present situations made darker by our inability to see beyond our problems.

Many have told us to ‘talk it out’, some have suggested various meditation techniques or a rejuvenating retreat to refresh and restart. So what happens when a technocrat on a holiday leaves his high chair behind and learns to row from the boatman taking him on a cruise in the backwaters? The technocrat acquires a new skill, while the boatman perhaps has tested his broken English. Ideas have been exchanged.

And what would be common between, say, a woman Olympic-class sailor and someone who runs an innovative rickshaw business? Or think what a robotics developer would talk to an online entrepreneur who connects employers to informal-sector employees in the developing world — such as domestic helps, cooks and office helpers? Ah ha... a lot you may think!

With precisely this in mind, TED (technology, entertainment, design) — an academic organisation owned by an American NGO — has been devoted to ‘ideas worth spreading’. Known for its annual conferences that include people from all walks of life, academics, engineers, environmental scientists and pollution experts, human-rights activists, musicians, athletes and filmmakers, TED is a “clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and is also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

As Lakshmi Pratury, co-host of TEDIndia, says, “This is the best mind-massage that one can hope for.” Someone who has been a TED attendee for the past 15 years, Pratury should know. “I have been attending this conference to rejuvenate my thought processes. Every idea need not be only about minting billions,” she says, quickly adding with a smile that she would not refuse the multi-million dollar idea though. “The way one dresses can be an idea too,” she offers.

To be organised in Mysore between November 4-7, TEDIndia, ‘The Future Beckons’, will be co-hosted by TED’s curator Chris Anderson and Pratury, who has spent years building bridges between India and the West as the CEO of Ixoraa Media. The already sold out conference has attendees from 46 countries who will sit through nine sessions which will have as many as 40 speakers from India and elsewhere.
“You know, for me there are just three simple things that I would like our attendees to take back with them,” says Pratury of her expectations from this maiden venture. “We sit through many talks and seminars but are not always there hundred per cent. So even if it is for a second, I would like my audience to have that one awe-inspiring moment. A moment when they feel they would rather be here than anywhere else,” she elaborates. The other expectation is that her audience can at least meet one person who becomes a friend for life. Finally, she hopes people will pick one idea that is not from their interest area.

No wonder the speakers’ list is as colourful as it can get. Doctor and researcher Hans Rosling will share data on international health; Horst Rechelbacher will talk about his new life as an ecopreneur; and mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik will talk about the link between mythology and business. Among the other voices will be Ryan Lobo, photographer and documentary filmmaker; Pranav Mistry of the MIT Media Lab, genius behind the blockbuster SixthSense demo; Bangalore-based artist Balasubramaniam; Anil Gupta from IIM Ahmedabad; Charles Anderson, marine biologist; Eve Ensler, playwright and activist; and cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle, among a host of others.

Pratury, who spent a year shortlisting the speakers, says the idea behind TEDIndia is to “take global ideas and mix it with some Indian flavour.” And this fusion will, hopefully, articulate who the young thinkers and doers of the future will be.

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