Tedx Bombai, which concluded yesterday, showcased an interesting array of talent from environmentalists, industry people, health aficionados, to, Bollywood extras. Being the first there were bound to be certain shortcomings which I wouldn’t want to elaborate here, but all in all, whatever sessions I attended there was receptiveness in the audience and a sense of coming together of minds, which matters, after all.
Held at the night spot (sorry, I will rephrase that to day spot as it was held during the day) to watch out for, Blue Frog owned by Mahesh Mathai and his beautiful wife Srila Chatterjee, there is a sense of performance-space-combined-with-all-things-gastronomic about the place which I like. What more than good food, smooth drink, and a great ambience? It has a high-domed, glass-sheeted appearance and the acoustics is really very good. You can pick each word of what is said on stage even though you are seated on a stool in the back (I was abandoned here as I arrived late. Serves you right Late John, as friend Suniti is in the habit of calling me.) I had participated in a poetry slam at the Frog and I loved performing in its elaborate lighting and superb audio settings. Of course, I know Mahesh from earlier on, so it was nice to renew our acquaintance.
I wanted to cover all the sessions in detail but time doesn’t permit me that luxury. So I will only go through the highlights.
There was a video (in B&W) on David Blaine on holding his breath. But why a video? Is it a regular Tedx thing? I don’t know.
There was Andy and Anju extolling the virtues of dietary control to cure cancer. Anju’s words I remember, being crucial to all of us, “chlorophyll and blood are so designed as to regenerate every few days.” So the lesson here is to eat healthy if you want to live healthy. Also, “the liver regenerates every three months,” which is good for those livers with bad livers (sorry, bad pun!). You know, I have had a liver problem, getting better, the doctor said, so this is good news. So only clean food for the next three months.
Anupam Kher delivered the best of the talks. He is such a humorous and engaging talker, I wonder why all Bollywood actors are such good actors, that is, off screen. I wonder why he acts so hyper on screen while he so controlled in real life. “You must be yourself, don’t pretend to be someone else as you don’t know what impressions you are sending to others.” He is the actor I loved in “Khosla Ka Ghosla” and his most memorable was “Bend It Like Beckham” where he was subdued and very understated. He quite disarmed the audience with his takes on baldness, one of which is as below:
Baldies do all kinds of things to hide their baldness. They do the cross cut (drawing hair from the side or from the back over their bald patch.) If there are anyone with a cross cut here I would advise them to please cut it. It looks horrible.”
Yes it does. And in the train back home and I saw a baldie with a cross cut and he looked, well, terrible.
Then there was this talk by Dr. Raghunathan. He gave a nice presentation based about his book (I forget its name) and the best part was about the prisoner’s dilemma. Some of his observations:
“We (Indians) are pretty smart and probably dumb.”
For example he points out that we smartly calculate the advantage of throwing the garbage in the bin in terms of a SWOT analysis, sort of, [e.g. energy expended walking to the garbage bin while IPL match is on, resulting in catches and fours missed] and then decide to dump it on the road, thinking, the garbage guy will pick it up the next day, anyhow.
“We are too intelligent for our own good.”
Yes, that we are. If the building is to be painted, we reason, “Why should I be the first one to pay the contribution, while I can earn a bit more interest if my money is in the bank.”
“We have an abysmal sense of public hygiene.”
I notice this on the way back home. At Tilak Nagar station, they have installed new station shelters and within days there are an unending line of red betal-nut-and-lime spit marks on it already.
Kishoe Rithe spoke about his NGO that is doing a lot to conserve the tiger population. He says tigers only number around one thousand now and he presented slides about the efforts his NGO is putting to preserve the fast-dying species. Commendable indeed.
Steven Baker, a Brit, gave a talk on Bollywood extras, peppered by typical British humour. “Have you seen a movie called ‘Iqrar – By Chance?’” The audience laughs. No one? He had a bit role in it. His - nah, every Bollywood extra’s - life is all bits and pieces. He says that the place he lives in is a mini western country with white-skinned Bollywood dancing girls and IPL cheer leaders and even Russian dancers - who interestingly go to shops dressed in their costumes - and are stared at by all. They make a regular living because of the craze for white skin that our countrymen – rather, Bollywood directors, and ad model co-ordinators - have for white skin. Must remember to ask God to give me white skin in my next Avatar. At least I would be employable in Bollywood.
He says that the extras aren’t given vanity vans like the stars. Poor chaps, they are not given any vans at all and have to dress in the open. Ugh! That’s a bonfire of the vanities. Colaba, which is a fashionable district of South Bombay is from where the model co-ordinators get the white skins to act in their “item numbers” and ads.
Important: can the organisers ask the presenters to stand centre-stage and move about a bit, and not look frozen like stags or deers in the headlamps? Some of them took the very edge of left stage, and stood rigid and numb during their entire presentation. A bit more relaxed, a bit more energetic like Anupam Kher, okay?
Finito. I had to rush off to the office as persistent calls were coming in about unfinished work, and as I took leave of Blue Frog and Mahesh and Srila and the wonderful people behind Tedx (thanks “effervescent” Netra Parikh), I make a note to check this spot again for the vibrant community fit for intellectual discourse and performance, at least to me, that this pleasantly cavernous and awe-inspiring interiors represents.