TEDxMargalla – A Journey in Tweets

This guy's t-shirt says it all.

This guy’s tee is the best way to describe a TED event! Ordinary people, extraordinary ideas!

TEDxMargalla had me tweeting like a woman possessed! There was just so much to talk about and tell people despite Wi-Tribe’s best efforts to stop me thanks to their sucky connection.

I am going to tell the entire awesome story of the event through my personal tweets and others. So without further ado – here we go!

@Saher Tariq – Host

2001 – got accepted to Yale University – all previous ideas of becoming a doctor went out the window.  9/11 happened while I was there. The changing world didn’t make any difference to me. I was committed to coming back to Pakistan. Wild boars became timid before the bombers. (Quoted from Man in the Arena by Roosevelt). (I could help doing) A simple thing like showing up for work every day and doing your work with honesty and integrity. I welcome you to this arena called Pakistan.

You are obviously very talented – not everyone gets a scholarship to Yale – but you are a Mobilink employee which was the official sponsor – the  curator being a Mobilink-er I can understand, you being the host I can also understand, but you giving a TEDx Talk I can’t.

@Flora Mahmood – Drama-writer, Teacher

Tale of a Pakistani girl (raised in Scotland) who hated Pakistan with her whole heart. Her feathers weren’t just plucked out but were cruelly pulled out. She was suddenly told to consider a future entirely different form the one she had anticipated since a kid. She was told to consider wedding proposals. The evils in this story are not people – the evil in this fairytale is fate itself. Was accused of International parental kidnapping for committing the heinous crime of being a mother.  Why have I received Only this – Only through this you will receive that – Rumi! Rethink yourself – not Pakistan. (Pk) is a country she stole into frightened – like Jonas in the belly of the whale; instead it took her back like a child into its womb.

Dear Flora, this was very touching and thought-provoking but where was the idea? What was the idea? The tale of a ‘princess’ who was cruelly forced to face real life and go through some very challenging times to become an independent woman and learn to love the country the very thought of living where was stifling for her just doesn’t make for a TED talk.

@Asad Umer – CEO Engro

Asad had this wonderful voice that just made me want to sit up and listen to him. He was the first of the 3 speakers so far who were actually dressed casual. He caught my attention with this line: “The President’s address to assembly made me think, Sounds like a damn good country to me.” – yeah, that was funny or maybe it was just the way he said it. But here is my problem – he used TEDx as a self-promotion platform – the reference to Engro and how it was all ready to face Amul head on was a no-no. And what is it with the Pakistan vs India thing anyway? Looking back through my notes I recall him saying, I truly believe that Pakistani people are destined for greatness!” and also “Power needs to be distributed amongstpeople of Pakistan! We must stand up for the less fortunate!” Yes, we know that, Asad. The question is, HOW? What ideas do you have for attaining just that? Statements are easy – solutions are tough.

@Romano Karim – Filmmaker

Sighhhh … he didn’t even give a TED talk – he merely used it as a platform to show his no-doubt riveting documentary on Rehana Sehgol called “The Petman Girls”.

@Khalida Brohi – CEO of Sughar

And now we are talking! I have shouted it out in a hall full of people and I’ll shout it from rooftops if I need to – THIS WOMAN IS PHENOMENAL! When she came on stage I thought to meself, “Ugh, a wanna-be Rumi, eh?” HOW WRONG I WAS!

Where is God they ask me? I dont have to respond or if I do I just smile. Because right there in that moment he is also smiling. These women (working at Sughar) learn to say NO to the traditions that are against them. We’re not doing a lot but the little change that we are bringing everyday is very beautiful.

After the talk I went up to her and gave her a huge hug. I hope I was able to channel all my love and appreciation through it. There was so much I could relate to but she had the courage to stand up there in front of a hundred people and more watching on a live webcast and talk about the problems and challenges facing women in her village. Ms. Brohi, you have won yourself a huge fan and your talk truly encompassed the spirit of TED. Salute!

@The Thespian Alliance – Mime Troupe

Now I am not a big fan of mime – actually I am not a fan of the thing at all. But these guys were AWESOME I tell you. I mean you couple the word “mime” with “Pindi” and you think “boyzez” but they gave a stellar performance and left the audience mesmerized.

@Adil Najam – VC Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

This is the best time to be a Pakistani. I didn’t say it was the easiest time. I don’t want to talk about rethinking Pakistan but about making Pakistan. (To do that) we will have to rethink the way we think about the rest of the world.  Imagine you are on another plant and looking down on this planet called Earth and looking at it as a country. (You will see that) You live in a country where 2 billion ppl live on less than $2 a day. Your country Earth isn’t just a poor country but a degraded country. You live in an insecure country. If the US State Department had a say on travel to Earth they would say catch the first rocket out of here. We live in a third world country on a third world planet. Development is not GDP but dignity. Number of Indians troops killed in 60 years of Indo-Pak conflict is less than kids killed in Delhi in 1 year due to dirty water. Development is health, wealth and knowledge. Only one number counts – the number 1 because the one is you, me, and someone who says I am not going to wait for someone else to bring a change.

Based on the random excerpts from his speech from my Twitter feed I don’t have to say how this is a superb TED talk at so many levels. He was eloquent, charming, knowledgeable, and I am no tree-hugger but he made me sit on the edge of my seat. Adil got a standing ovation and a well-deserved one. However, we could have done without the reference to stats from LUMS and the watermark logo on all slides.

@Sami Shah – Funny Guy and Marketing Dude

Have you noticed how people hug nowadays? It’s a defense posture. The suicide jacket is mummy’s hug. We have become tourists of the past. Pakistan is (an) obnoxious kid now and we are the panicking parents. We all have uncle munawar in our families – he is the uncle who believes in conspiracy theories. One guy emailed me (and) he asked, “Do all Pakistanis live in caves”? Think about the irony “He emailed me”. By ridiculing things we are frightened of, we beat them.

The first stand-up comedian who did not use religion to get laughs. He didn’t use sexual innuendoes either. He was just plain funny. I heard this was a much mellowed down version of his usual performances but hey – he was perfect that evening. Of course, I spoke to him afterwards and he was so down-to-earth and so-not-snide and those, my friends, are rare qualities in a person who uses the eff word liberally in his tweets and speaks good English in Pakistan.

The event host quoted from the Man in the Arena again and if last time it was cheesy this time it was painful.

But … I LOVED THE EVENT! Yes, they had an average host, 1 average speaker, 1 disaster, 1 non-speaker (???), a brilliant performance, 2 absolutely magical talks and a genuinely funny talk with no cringe-worthy moments – don’t you see why I am going ga-ga?

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

P.S. I wonder if Adil Najam moisturises his hands with Vaseline and keeps them in cotton gloves overnight coz a handshake with him made me want to run for that manicure.