It is not every day that you’re sitting in an audience that a Josh
comes up on stage and talks about behavioural contagion at a time when
every one of us is curating an audience of our own through our posts and tweets
or an Irrfan Khan
lets you in on his love for the great outdoors as he comes in
defence of the need to leave our forests untouched so that tigers, elephants
and others are free in their own habitat.
It is not every day that one gets invited to attend an event at the
scale of the INK Conference
|Making the most at #INK2015|
A week before the event, I received an email from the team at BlogAdda
that they were sending 20 of their bloggers to INK Live 2015. Would I be interested?
INK was not entirely new to me. I was acquainted with INK Talks and had
separately watched Lakshmi Pratury
live in action in 2014. A chance to attend INK
2015 was not something I would let slip. As it turned out, I had made the shortlist
and BlogAdda was granting me special access to attend. Needless to say, I was
INK 2015 to me was about the ordinariness of the extraordinaire and
the extraordinariness in the everyday.
At the individual level, as someone who has recently made her foray
into the freelancer’s world, I seek inspiration in its human embodiment now
more than ever. Resonating with the offbeat in a world that takes comfort in
the formulaic, I find myself constantly sniffing the air for more. And as a
travel blogger who is a staunch practitioner of responsible travel and mindful
presence on social media, it is no wonder then that Josh and Irrfan’s words have
left an indelible mark on me.
And it wasn’t just them. I also found resonance in listening to INKFellows
share nuggets from their journeys.
If you (like me) thought mind-controlling parasites was the stuff only
sci-fi novels and films are made of, prepare to have your mind blown! Because
we had Anand Varma
share his field of interest (i.e. parasites) with us. It was
his idea of wanting to communicate science more visually (i.e. outside the
realm of writing research papers) that led him to stumble upon photography as a
medium. Which in turn led him to bag projects – including one on mind-controlling
parasites – with The National Geographic Society.
But before I was done ruminating over parasite-based fun (and not so
fun) facts, I was made to realise that disaster rehabilitation and mass events
have a lot in common; they both have humans living in squalor-like conditions.
Therefore, there is this need for ‘housing with dignity’. With that Scott Knox
us in to the topic, by describing his design for modular housing units: a fully
equipped village that has all of the basic facilities right down to sanitation
and is designed incorporating sustainable practices such as rain water
harvesting and use of renewable energy.
The power of ideas gained further momentum when Arshiya Bose
about wanting to make her PhD thesis something more than what three people
would read. So she delved deeper into the interconnectedness between coffee
plantations and biodiversity. With the advent of sun grown coffee taking over from
shade grown coffee (which deforestation is largely responsible for), there have
been damaging consequences for nature and livelihoods. That’s how Black Baza Coffee
was born. Though protecting nature while growing coffee has begun showing
results, it turns out that disrupting people’s ideas about the kind of coffee
they drink (and its source) has been more challenging.
Then Arunabh Kumar
of The Viral Fever (TVF)
struck a chord closer to
home when he spoke about how the votes were split within the Indian
entertainment industry on who comprise the Indian youth when he was starting
out. He pun-ily commented on the state of affairs saying, “The only fiction
Indian youth watch for entertainment is news” and went on to demonstrate how
TVF has been making a dent in trying to change that with India centric content.
If you were asked: How many people do you know who do not want the tag
of being the youngest doctor at 17 to be the only thing they ever get known for
– what would your answer be? That’s how we met Dr. Bala Murali Ambati
claim to fame besides the aforementioned is that today as an ophthalmologist he
volunteers with ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital
– the only one of its kind –
providing care to under privileged countries. This flying hospital is like most
other aircrafts on the outside but it hosts an ophthalmic hospital and teaching
facility right on board!
When Sharath Gayakwad said, “Sports transforms lives; it certainly has
transformed mine” we were certain we knew what he meant. Speaking of being forced
to enter the pool as a kid and surrendering himself completely to his coach,
Sharath left many of us inspired. It was the course of direction in his life
that led him to being a Paralympic swimmer who today has more than a hundred
medals to his name.
These are only but six of the voices. Spread over two and a half days,
people from different walks of life shared a wide range of thought provoking
ideas, leaving me in particular with just the dose of inspiration I needed. Turns
out Lakshmi was right after all when she said, “The reason we do INK is so that
people can see the real person, not just the headlines.”
But INK wasn’t only about listening, it was also about spending time
doing. Every attendee at INK Live could register for two workshops. My choice
of selection was the design thinking workshop and the drum circle workshop.
At the design thinking workshop, paired with a friend I had to come up
with ideas that would help them address a current challenge such that the gains
would outweigh the pains. The exercise pushes you as a person to not just walk but
also run in another’s shoes when coming up with solutions for them. The bottom
line always being the need to be empathetic towards the other.
If the first workshop was an exercise for my tiny cranium, the drum
circle workshop was perhaps a way of redeeming my inner child. Facilitated by
who is the force to reckon behind Dharavi Rocks
, the bottom
line here was to create beats using materials of trash. We had had the
privilege of watching Dharavi Rocks perform and take the energy levels through
the roof at INK Live on Day 1. On Day 2 it was up to us to at least try and
replicate some of it. It goes without saying that we were no match in
comparison but letting ourselves loose on paint buckets turned into drums was
an experience beyond comparison!
It’s a challenge to put in words something as wonderful as the INK
experience in a blog post. And so at the risk of sounding corny I’ll quote Rumi
and say that ‘what I sought came seeking me’ albeit via BlogAdda. It put me in
front of a screen that had individuals who have paved a non-formulaic pathway
of their own.
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