Guruji was arriving in Bangalore at 9:30 pm. Our flight to Goa was at 4:30 pm. What horrible timing!
We grudgingly left Bangalore ashram for the airport, hoping that maybe our flight would get delayed or some other such miracle. Didn’t happen. As we boarded the aircraft, we realized that it was the ATR. Possibly one of the most uncomfortable airplanes to ply in Indian skies. Take a truck and stick some wings on it. Add the noisiest propellers you can find. See, it flies!!
It managed to lurch its way to Goa in record time though, and soon we were safely on the ground. We had a pretty big reception… Hema, Devang and all the people from BITS Goa were there to escort us to Hotle Fidalgo … a blot on the landscape of Panjim. It’s a really ugly building. BITS Goa were having a TEDx event and I was invited to talk there… For reasons unknown, they had decided to put the speakers up in one of the ugliest hotels they could find :)…
After a very nice meeting with all the speakers at the Panjim Inn, a beautiful, old heritage building, we moved out of Hotel Fidalgo and went to Nanutel Resort at the other end of Goa, a picturesque little place on the beach at Betalbatim.
I finished off my presentation and rehearsed it a few times before going to bed at about 2:00 am. Next morning, we had a Sahaj course with 50+ participants and after initiating them, we went off to the BITS Goa campus for the TEDx.
BITS was holding their annual techfest Quark, and the campus was abuzz with activity… We made our way to the convocation hall where our event was scheduled.
I was slated to speak at the very end of the conference and so settled down to enjoy the rest of the speakers.
All were pretty good, some were brilliant, and inspite of the buggy projector and a few technical glitches, the TEDx BITS was a fantastic show.
The ones that stood out for me were, in no particular order:
Young Bennet Orlando, a 13 year old who is world champion solver of the Rubik’s Cube. He does it in 15-20 seconds! He does it with just one hand. He even does it blindfolded!
Mr. Himanshu Parikh of Ahmedabad who has pulled ½ a million people out of poverty by bringing in water and sanitation to slums there. He had some amazing facts ratified by Cambridge University, about how simply providing water and sanitation to individual families can completely transform the quality of life of that family and their neighbours. Cost per family a measly Rs 6000! An amazing, benevolent man. Was a pleasure listening to him.
Mr. Amar Sen did hand shadowgraphy. A source of light, a simple screen and his hands. He did an entire show which kept all of us utterly entertained. Simplicity and Innovation personified.
Mr. Chris Csikszentmihalyi, I defy you to pronounce his name 🙂 from the media lab of MIT, USA did a brilliant little presentation about what his students are working on. I utterly loved a blender that worked only when growled at 🙂
Mr. Arvind Gupta a physicist who works at IUCAA in Poona demoed his toys. Wonderful little things made out of everyday junk. He had all the engineers at one of India’s leading tech institutes enthralled with clever toys made with bits of paper, pencils, magnets, broken cds, bicycle tyre valves and tubes and other junk that others routinely throw away… It was really inspiring to listen to. His talk and Mr. Parikh’s talk were the ones which really made me feel… Science is exciting!
And then, of course there was my talk. It was one of those talks where everything works and falls into place at exactly the right times. Even I loved it. But I am not going to tell you anything about it other than the title which was “Mostly about Om”. Hopefully I should get a video recording of it and we will put it up on youtube and you can see it for yourself then ?
After the TEDx talk, we had another round of QnA with about 300 people from the BITS campus… I will leave it to them to put the transcript of what I spoke there.
Oh yes, there was an incident with the taxi drivers… but it got resolved before it could get interesting enough to merit more than this line over here.
The next day went by in a blur, the evening was very nice, we had a superb dinner at the Park Hyatt’s Italian restaurant, i would heartily recommend it… It was quite expensive, but really, really tasty. During desert, there was a lovely firework display outside which was a perfect ending to a brilliant meal. Later, we went for a midnight walk on the beach… and all too soon it was morning the next day and time to leave for Mumbai.
Harsha, Niraj, Jatin, Vaidahi, Poorva, Krupa, Archa and many others all took great care of us, as did the main organizers of TEDx Swetanshu and Shalini. A big thank you to all of you for making our stay in Goa so very nice!
PS I hope this loooong post makes up for my silence for the past week … Watch out for some really interesting stuff about Mumbai in the next day or 3