TED India and TEDxDubai

tedindiaThis weekend I had the privilege of meeting with someone who has my (newly recognised) dream job. Lakshmi Pratury, former marketer, venture capitalist, and social entreprenuer, now works for TED – one of the best organisations on this planet, dedicated to bringing spectacular people together to change the world.

Those of you who are not familiar with TED: it’s an annual conference that brings together fascinating people who have incredible ”ideas worth spreading” and are asked to talk about those potentially life-changing bursts of wisdom in 18 minutes.

Richard Branson, Benjamin Zander, Bill Gates, Tim Ferriss, Isabel Allende, Phillipe Starck, Al Gore, are just a few of the 400 odd mind-blowing talkers that have spoken at the TED conference. TED began in 1984 where it concentrated on topics related to technology, education and design, however today, its scope is much beyond that.

The launch of TED.com about 2 years ago has made this otherwise exclusive closed-door conference of eclectic people, accessible to anyone with access to the internet. Log on, watch a talk, and believe me, you will be hooked. When I lack inspiration (which is quite often these days), a couple of talks on TED.com and I’m ready to seize the day again. The best thing is the diversity of talks you can watch; depending on your mood, you can watch talks that are “jaw-dropping”, “funny”, ïnfomative”, “persuasive”, “ingenious”, “courageous”, or just plain “beautiful.”

TED.com is one of the best gifts the web has given the world. A must, MUST look at.

Lakshmi was here in Dubai to talk about the launch of TED India. The conference will be held in Mysore November 4-7. You can still apply to be an attendee (you have to be accepted to attend) or a Fellow (deadline June 15), full details can be found here.

When I found out that Ted Fellow applications for India were open, I jumped on the process with full intention to apply. Careful study of the application process made me feel too inadequate to apply since they are not looking merely for people with potential, they are looking for people with potential who have already tried to do something that matters with that potential. I get severely stumped there. I have done nothing with my capabilities that will help anything  in any way, nor do I yet have a conceivable idea to do the same. A look at this video and a read of previously selected Fellows and you’ll know what I mean. The process, however, has made me want to look at things differently and get moving on ideas that might actually matter some day.

Lakshmi, at the session at Knowledge Village, gave us further insight into TED and what it means, and how everyone can participate if they really want to. She gave the example of William, a 19 year old boy from a village in Malawi, who built a windmill from scrap with his bare hands. That windmill gave his home enough energy to power 4 lights and a radio. The awe-inspiring session from this young African boy at TED can be seen here.

“The only thing that stops us from doing is our own mind” she said to the group of 30 odd people present. So true. That, and the lack of self-inspired motivation and commitment to doing something that really matters.

TED will make a little mark in Dubai as the licence to hold TEDxDubai has been obtained. On October 10 in the city will be a local rendition of the actual TED. Unlike TED India, this is not THE TED as it will be managed independently, but something similar. More details are yet to be revealed by the licence holders; you can follow their blog or twitter to stay updated. If you know of any speaker based in Dubai, who has an “idea worth spreading” be sure to submit your recommendation to tedxdubai@gmail.com.

TED.com. Log. On. NOW.

Monkey Business

There’s a restaurant in Japan where monkeys serve you drinks and bring you hot towels in exchange for soya beans. Just too awesome, see a video here. Japan used to be low on my priority list of places to visit. But it’s slowly getting higher and higher.

Looking at monkey stuff, I also came across this video of a man disguised as a monkey in Lucknow; he is there to frighten away monkeys that trouble passengers at the local train station. I don’t get that though, if he looks so much like a monkey, wouldn’t he befriend the monkeys instead? I think the monkeyman would be successful in scaring me more than the monkeys.