I was in Manipal to give a TEDx Talk recently. Find more details about it here. The experience was exhilarating to say the least.
It all started with an innocent little mail in my inbox one day. It read:
We invite you to speak at TEDx Manipal to be held on 21st September, 2010. Please find attached the Speaker Invitation package, also let us know if you have any queries.
With your brand of humor and satire, we think you will be an amazing last minute addition to our event.
We first wanted to get Russel Peters, then Papa CJ, and then we tried Vir Das and when all three refused to move their ass, we are trying to get you to speak at TEDx Manipal.
Please don’t consider this as a formal invite yet. This is just a heads up for you – in case Rahul Roshan of fakingnews.com also refuses citing a busy schedule.
We will get back to you once Mr Rahul refuses. Looking forward to having you on board our esteemed panel.
Siddharth (I could reveal his full name, but don’t want my readers issuing a fatwa against him)
I read the mail and was mighty impressed with myself. I walked up to the mirror and said “Good Morning, TEDx Manipal!” a couple of times.
My wife knitted her brows and asked me, “So, what is the new gig? What is this new Manipal thing?”
“I am going to Manipal!”
“You have me, our daughter and your in-laws to feed…who will bring home the proverbial bacon. Besides, you are too old for college.” It was Rekha speaking …always worried about the long term security & stability.
I said: “Aree bhaagwaan, I might be giving a TEDx Talk there. Aren’t you excited?”
“Organizers should never invite for a speaking session based on the written word…they are going to repent their decision,” Rekha replied before walking into the kitchen.
That’s the good thing with my wife, she always finds out innovative methods of motivating me.
After a few days, I got another mail from Siddharth:
Dear Sir/Madam (just in case you have undergone a sex change in the interim),
Mr Rahul Roshan of fakingnews.com is playing hard to get. While we can sense that he is faking it…as he does with all of his news items….we can’t do much about it. Under the new circumstances, we invite you to be a speaker at TEDx Manipal.
We are handling the travel expenses of all of the TEDx speakers, but making an exception in your case since you are an exceptional speaker. You can book your own travel and be there in time for your Tedx Talk. Please remember to book your return tickets for the same day you arrive in Manipal, for we are making an exception of you when it comes to accommodation as well.
**If Rahul Roshan of fakingnews.com stops faking it in the last minute, we might cancel your talk but will give you the permission to sit in the audience as a guest attendee.
Looking forward to hearing your talk if Mr Roshan doesn’t come on board.
Jokes apart, my tickets were finally booked and sent across to me. I was to travel with Roshan of fakingnews.com from Delhi to Manipal. If you have never traveled from Delhi to Manipal, let me tell you that it is an arduous journey. One takes a flight from Delhi to Mumbai or Bangalore, then takes a flight from Mumbai or Bangalore to Mangalore…and if your flight doesn’t fall into the valley immediately after the runway at the Mangalore airport, you drive down in a cab to reach Manipal.
On the way to Manipal, while Rahul was sitting next to me…I was snoring away to glory. Though Rahul doesn’t admit it…I know for sure that my snoring inside the aeroplane inspired him to write a blog post for fakingnew.com….titled: Railways passengers to be fined for farting and snoring inside coaches). To ensure I didn’t come to know of it, he did three things…he back dated the post to Feb 2010, he changed the location from an aeroplane to a train and then….added farting as a nuisance too. What cheeky bugger, this Rahul!
Anyway, we were put up at a hotel called Orange Suites in Udupi. Just in case you didn’t know Udupi is a small town right next to Manipal.
On day one, I met up with few of the other speakers like Rashmi Bansal, Prof Prabhat Ranjan, Nakul Shenoy, Somen Dawn, and Prakash Shesh for dinner.
The problem with spending time with intelligent people is that one has to act like an intelligent guy. Here are some of the statements I used at regular intervals to act like an intelligent guy:
Having successfully faked my intelligence, I finished my dinner in peace.
The next day, we were at Hotel Valley View, the venue of TEDx Manipal…and I was to be the second speaker. The problem with being one of the initial speakers is that you know that the audience hasn’t exhausted its tomatoes & potatoes. I took the risk, and agreed to be the second speaker.
So, at 10.30 a.m. on 21st September 2010…I was standing in front of an audience of 400-450 students holding a mike in hand. Some famous guy had said that at various times in your life your whole life will flash in front of you. What he didn’t say was that it could flash in front of you even when you were standing in front of 400-450 students who looked up to you to deliver the best TEDx Talk ever.
“No, I am not shivering!”
Yes, those were the first lines I managed to utter. The crowd laughed…they thought it was part of the planned speech. My knees started knocking…the crowd thought it was planned as well and started clapping. The mike slipped from in between my sweaty fingers…the student audience clapped again.
I don’t know how the next 18 minutes went…I do remember that everything was dark around me (but my eyes were wide open) and I was hearing students laughing and clapping in between. My speech was supposed to be on what corporate are all about – and I vaguely remember that it was supposed to be funny.
After 18 minutes of talking, I remember saying “Thank You!”….and the moment I said that…I started breathing again. And when the MC got the mike from my hand and said, “Thank you Mr Jamshed for the so-so speech,” I sighed and was happy that the worst was over. To top it, I had survived.
Before I left the stage, I looked around to see what the students had thrown at me. There were quite a few items: 7 tomatoes, 4 cauliflowers, one completed answer sheet of the Radio Electronics exam, 2 eggs, one engineering book titled ‘Instrument Engineer’s Handbook’ authored by Bela Liptak & one jackfruit.
Many speakers came and went after that…but my thoughts were only on one thing. Will the TEDx Manipal organizers post the video on the web? Unfortunately, the answer was yes…so I came up with my plan to sabotage the video.
I walked up to the video grapher and said: “How much are these videos worth?”
“In cash or kind?” The videographer sure knew his Economics.
We Rajans aren’t that bad with Economics either, so I replied: “In cash. If I can buy you in cash…it is as good as me buying you in kind.”
“Yeah, maybe. But what do you really want?” The videographer leaned over to see the stage. Perhaps, he didn’t want to miss out the antics of the last speaker – Mind Reader Nakul Shenoy.
“How much will it cost me to buy you? I want you to tell TEDx Manipal organizers that the videos didn’t get recorded at all.” I was a hard bargainer and I knew the price I was willing to pay.
“Hmm…can’t really put a price to it,” he said and continued to decipher Nakul Shenoy’s antics on stage.
“Why so? Don’t you have needs? A new TV maybe…a new sofa?” I insisted.
After a long discussion (mostly one sided) I came to know that videographers are difficult to buy. They can be rented…but not bought.
It has been three days since, and we are all back to our respective lives.
But I have a few things up my sleeve – like organizing an accident when the videographer goes to the Manipal Institute of Technology to deliver the videos – but till then, I live in the fear that soon the video will be up and yours sincerely will be exposed.
*BTW, I did give two autographs after my speech was over. I just wish, it wasn’t stage managed by the organizers to make me feel happy.