It was past six and the people were slowly filing out of Chanakya Hall. The speakers hadn’t left though, most were thronged with excited audience members. But all in all, it was over. TEDxNITCalicut had reached its conclusion, though Puneet would have begged to differ citing formalities that were yet to be completed. Now that this was the end, my mind was filled with pride to have been part of an event of such eminence; the pride tinged with sadness, now that all was over.

The week prior to the event was a blur, with work piling up all of a sudden and a lot of unexpected situations being thrown at us, we never knew rest. All the organizing members worked day and night till the worst seemed passed and we could get a breather.

On the day of the event, I found myself relaxed and was glad to find the others the same. We knew that we had worked hard and were sure that it was going to come off well. Not the curators though. For them, this was the day of reckoning. All their hard work had come down to this one day, and they were praying fervently for success.

I wasn’t a part of the ticket distribution. We had a limit of a hundred people audience, and I had no idea whether we would get enough people. To tell you the truth, despite my assurance that everything was in order, I was on the edge as far as filling of the seats were concerned. Usually I found my college mates slightly apathetic about social events. So when people started arriving in droves, I decided I could breathe freely.

We were very excited about the speakers. On the eve of the event, I had gotten the opportunity to interview two of the speakers – Tanvi Girotra and Hari Subramanian, and believe me, I haven’t met many people with gritty determination of Tanvi and suave dynamism of Hari. I’ll tell you more about them later though.

The event kicked off smoothly. I was pleasantly surprised to see handsome attendance from Calicut city and even a bunch of people from Cochin. Unfortunately my front desk duty prevented me from attending Dr.Sangwan’s amazing talk on eye surgery and cure for blindness. However you can find the entire talk here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BETomMIjTck

Thankfully, I didn’t miss any of the rest.

Gopinath Parayil, a dour social worker, talked about caring for the terminally ill and permanently paralysed patients. It was only from his talk that I realized the depressing situation of the people who are in such condition. In countries with better healthcare system, they are given special care, but sadly in ours, they are effectively left to die. Keeping this in mind, the Pain and Palliative Care Society was started. This venture has effectively become a beacon of hope for many people suffering silently because of the apathy of our system. This society has been awarded WHO collaborative status for its dedicated work and the change that it represents in our country. But of course, nothing comes easily in our world. The society has to continuously grapple with sponsorship difficulties. Despite all that, there are many driven youths – doctors mostly, who are enthusiastically taking part in this, and are trying their best to do their bit. So much so that the ‘Kerala model’ of Palliative care has become a model for our country. You can watch his talk here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dvNysqSWPU

Andrine Mendez was probably the most fun guy in the entire hall. Wearing a classy fedora, he stood out, his easy and charming manner, enthralling everyone who spoke with him. In his talk, he spoke about Definition You, what defines you in today’s era of social networking and what meaning does it have in day to day life. It was a fun and I enjoyed listening to him and seeing the way he was involving the audience in his talk. The new age media, Maslovian hierarchy and the relevance of social media in daily lives, in job and in many other things that may not immediately ring with us. Listen to his talk here (though mind you, he isn’t wearing his fedora here): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzR1oWNzDaM

Athira is a violin prodigy of international note. She has been playing on national and international stage since she was a child. In her talk, she talks about her experiences and the emotions involved in music. It nearly brought tears to my eyes  when she recounted an anecdote of her performance in an orphanage abroad. After that, she played her violin, a piece she played in our former President Abdul Kalam’s birthday party. There could be no way of describing it in words. Suffice to know, that her performance earned her the only standing ovation of TEDxNITCalicut. Enough said, here’s the talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMw1Cw2bfU8

Krishna Rao Jaisim is an acclaimed architect, who is the head of Jaisim Fountainhead Architecture. He said he was inspired in his work and philosophy after he read ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand. A firm follower of Objectivism, he is a steadfast person and probably the most intriguing man that I have seen. A real life Howard Roark, he made possible the ideal work hero that I believed existed only in books. His way of working is very interesting too. He invites his client to his home for an evening and has a conversation, talking about random things. Then from this little time, he will guess the person for who he is and like a poet writing an ode, he will make a house, a monument to that person. Jaisim doesn’t believe in 3D models, he works exclusively on paper and he never advertises. He never, ever advertises himself. His clients come to him solely from word of mouth advertising by the other clients. He considers architecture a form of art, he doesn’t make modifications based on client inputs. Jaisim admits that he has lost more than one client that way, but it never bothered him. For him, his art is everything. His talk was very interesting, and another name was added to my list of heroes. Unfortunately we couldn’t upload his video because we lost audio feed halfway through his talk.

Praveen Vettiyattil is noted inventor who has formulated an ambitious plan to end farmer suicide by the year 2015. He is involved in finding innovative ways of using power saving methods and devices, through invention. He is the head of Sharada Solutions, based in Coimbatore, doing exactly that. He already has many patents to his name and at present he is working on more than one project simultaneously. He has interacted with students from many colleges and is building up for his Plan 2015. Already a known savant, he has been noted for implementing many eco friendly projects during his tenure as the director of renewable energyof Noor-ul-Islam University. A man to be emulated, he is one of those people who are working on his own initiative for a social cause on what seems like an almost impossible task, but when you see his confidence, you can get some faith and hope. Find his talk here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=128ll4yXUfY

Tanvi Girotra is probably my favourite speaker in this version of TEDxNITCalicut. She is more or less of the same age as I am, but what she has achieved so far, seems beyond my lifetime. She has dedicated her life to rehabilitation of prostitutes and their families in the Najafgarh area of Delhi. She is filled with determination and openly admits that she has always doubted whether she would be successful or not. This takes a rare amount of courage to admit. She has been a representative of our country is international forums such as UN-ECOSOC and G(irls) 20 forum and has spoken about the suffering of women and children. In her talk, she speaks about what makes her happy and what it is that drives her. She and her team from Becoming-I-foundation have suffered many setbacks and opposition during the course, yet there is something that drives her. What is it? You can find her talk here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA4PFHmw9nE

After the event was concluded, I got the opportunity to interview Praveen as well and got him speaking more about the other projects that he is pursuing. I’ll put up the interview as soon as I can.

These speaker’s, I realized, are some of the finest people that I have interacted with. They are one of those people who force you to think and wonder, ‘What have I done with my life? What does it mean to do something meaningful for the world’? We did the packing up, the audience and the speakers left, leaving Chanakya quite, and we just sat there afterwards for sometime, thinking.

Now that our first edition of TEDxNITCalicut is done, it is time to look forward to our next edition. Vacation for our team is over and we are slowly shifting towards work mode.

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