The event was after three days, on the 16th, and I knew I had slim to none chances of being rolled out an invite. I still took the time to apply. As expected, there was no invitation on the 14th. Pretty much half of 15th was also gone by, until I finally got an email in my inbox screaming “Confirmation: TEDxIslamabad 2014”.
I was one of the few lucky people who were forwarded rejected passes by other people that were kind enough to let TEDxIslamabad organizers know they won't be showing up. God bless such epic people.
Wow. I’m going to a TEDx event. Now that’s big news for me. Better than sitting idle in bed over the weekend, right? Also, I had never been to a TEDx event before, and with Muzammil being a speaker, I really looked forward to it.
That’s how I landed at the venue on November the 16th, which was Awan-e-Quaid at the infamous Fatima Jinnah Park. The audience was mostly youth, and even though there were a few uncles and aunties sitting around the auditorium, I knew they all belonged to well-educated households. This was for sure going to be an excellent event.
And soon as Mr. Pervez Hoodbhoy came on the stage and I was told he is an accomplished nuclear physicist, I buckled up for an evening I would be remembering for a long time. He amazed me by the rise of unreason, and even though I was brought to the tunnel at the end of which I saw no light, I was told change will come one day, and it will be from myself. It will start from each of us. No 100-day sit-ins could bring the change Pakistan needed.
From the very first talk to the next one by the amazing 14-year old Khadija Niazi, I felt all my student life has been of no use. I had learnt nothing. I was no genius. But this shame was in fact the inspiration I needed to do something that can stand out. Khadija, by the way is so intelligent I felt I belonged to the Stone Age.
Dang, the feels. You know how bad it is when you’ve been an average student all your life and your dad is sitting in the same auditorium and a brilliant student like Khadija Niazi is speaking, right?
Anyway, I forgive you, young lady.
After Khadija, Marc-Andre Franch took the stage. He told us why after all the troubles he has faced, he decided to stay in Pakistan. He showed the “well-educated society” some of the faces of the real heroes that make us proud of being a nation. Marc’s talk taught me how I could be the change I always needed.
His strong communication skills shined through and he ended the talk saying something excellent which I don’t quite remember just because TEDxIslamabad did not provide us pads and pens to jot down whatever we felt like. This was the only flaw I could spot in the entire event. No pads and pens while the wonders were among us? Why?
After Marc’s talk, we were given a snack break. When we returned, Dr. Waqas A Qazi was to talk.
Waqas A Qazi
Everything was going great, until the unpredictable power had to cut down and spoil everything. Waqas had a bird’s eye view of the infamous Metro Bus Project plan, through which he wanted us to see to understand how satellite imagery helps scientists at NASA and other institutes achieve the impossible.
The power was restored, and we were taken back to the tour, which did seem a little slow the second time around. So, well, it wasn’t Waqas’s fault, but more of WAPDA’s. Waqas left us to an excellent quote, which I was quick to search for after I landed back home that evening. Here it is:
I won’t think a split second to say Nadine’s talk was the absolute highlight for me, and she proved we have been taught the wrong way. Our education system has failed to bring up geniuses. In the market, we’re all just trained sheep trying to convince each other.
Nadine felt like she really felt sorry for all of us. The emotions in her voice were loud and clear. It felt like she was enraged at the education sector. For letting so many talented minds out on the streets to beg and collect litter to feed on.
I couldn’t resist but stand up and clap for her when she finished [even though she didn’t notice. Oh well.]. So, yeah, Nadine was the high watermark for the TEDxIslamabad event. Don’t forget to listen to her talk whenever it is out.
Syed Muzamil Hasan Zaidi
Muzamil came on the stage with his phone, and the network played the rhythmic tone on the speakers as he was about to receive a text message. “Toot too-too-toot too-too-toot” it went. We all laughed.
Mission: already accomplished!
Muzammil, being a fellow social media expert, stressed on the importance of a social change and how we are barely scratching the surface of the concept. The content that we share plays with the minds and hearts of millions. At the end of the day, we’re all superstars. He left us all with a question, “Which side are you on?”
Wow. I didn't really think social media could be making that much of a difference. Each and everything we like, post, retweet, share, repost, comment, DM, inbox or reply, we're actually taking sides. And that's true. That left me with quite some thoughts.
TEDxIslamabad was given the perfect ending by the emotion-filled talk by Pakistan’s proudly owned Muniba Mazari. Her story in itself is an inspiration you’d ever need to get up and do something better for yourself and the others around you.
I knew of Muniba and her talent long before the TEDx event. But what I didn’t know, was how she met this talent of hers. Muniba has been a content writer. It’s no surprise her words were powerful enough to get a huge round of applause and a standing ovation. From everyone. Every single last person in the auditorium. An ovation well deserved. The power of words is undeniable.
In short, TEDxIslamabad was the best Sunday evening of 2014. No doubts about that. Were you present there? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment. If you weren’t there, check in from time to time to see the latest talks as TEDxIslamabad makes them available.