After looking forward to this date for nearly a month, I woke up excited on the day of the event. I’m sure anyone with access to the internet and YouTube mixed with a tad bit of curiosity would have seen a TED talk once in their lives and while these talks cover a myriad of topics in this universe and beyond, one thing remains constant across them all – a feeling of learning something new, of harbouring a new perspective to something so customary and wonted, that we’re often surprised we never thought of it ourselves. And so, here I was, going to experience all of this, live, at my very own institute with TEDxMICA.
Weeks had gone by leading up to the event, from the theme launch, to the announcement of the speaker line up and finally the release of the schedules. I had promptly registered myself for the first session of the day which hosted speakers like Kunal Arora, Chintan Ruparel, Bhumika Bhatia and Saurabh Koushal, each doing something exciting in their respective domains. A photographer, to an Ad man to a Space Explorer, I knew that I was in for an experience like never before. As I walked towards the Auditorium for the talks I passed by, what is usually, a very desolate academic area. But today it was bustling with activity, everyone’s excitement and curiosity quite palpable in the air. The path leading to the auditorium was lined with easels showcasing brief pen portraits of each of the speakers.
As I entered the Mani Ayer Auditorium I was greeted by the white marble stage decorated beautifully and the iconic red circle in the middle. The first speaker of the day was Bhumika Bhatia. She spoke about her work as a photographer and shared her vision, motivating me in turn. I still remember as she said profoundly, ‘Do not be a student of the field, be the field. Get your hands dirty and find your own space there’.
As she ended her talk, I already felt a little numb and astounded from the realization that came with those words. But it was just a teaser to more that was coming my way, and I was all ears. Next up was Chintan Ruparel, the founder of Terribly Tiny Tales. As he spoke about his inspiration to set up TTT, he encouraged keen listeners to give their ideas a deserving chance and to do their best, because there is no such thing as bad ideas. He was followed by, Sourabh Kaushal, who took us quite literally over the moon. He spoke about his work in space exploration and what made him a rare breed of space entrepreneurs. The final talk was given by Kunal Arora. He raised a few murmurs as he walked up the stage in a manner which made it seem like someone was accompanying him and asked for a chair to seat his conjoint twin. He then introduced us to this conjoint twin- his imagination. As he spoke, our own imaginations grew wider and wider.
As I walked out of the auditorium and joined the lunch queue, I felt slightly overwhelmed. The noise and excitement around me slowly drowned the sound of my own thoughts. In the last 3 hours I had learnt much more than I had in the last 3 years that I spent in classrooms and lecture halls. Of course, I am no one to discount my academia, but this TEDx event stirred in me something more than what could be learnt in the confines of a classroom. I had now started to think ‘Beyond’.