Shehrbano Taseer, Journalist
THIS IS one of those times when there are really no words. THiNK 2011 was one of the most incredible, stimulating and inspiring weeks of my life. It was above and beyond anything I could have imagined.
From the second the plane touched down at Vasco de Gama airport, I could feel the exhilaration of the festival pulsating through the streets of Goa. I’m usually a nervous wreck before speaking, but the warmth that everyone I met exuded, instantly put me at ease.
What I loved most was the brutal honesty with which each speaker spoke. We had Nobel laureates, millionaires, blockbuster actors, brilliant editors, senior politicians, inventors and more on stage; big names and pioneers in their fields of achievements. But I looked at them in a different way after their sessions. They often had difficult stories. At the end of the day, they were real people who had forged their own paths in life.
‘Many said THiNK would change the way they work and approach life — there’s no better testament’
Senior Director, Events
The Newsweek Daily Beast Company
‘You have done extraordinary work. I admired the way you addressed a variety of complex issues’
Toledo International Centre for Peace (CITpax), Madrid
My favourite speakers were Shukria Barakzai, Mohammed Hanif, Omar Abdullah and Mani Shankar Aiyar. I live in a conservative country. I know it is immensely difficult for women to be brave. Shukria’s story — she’s gone from being publicly flogged by the Taliban to running for Afghanistan’s president in 2014 in a few years — moved me to tears. Omar Abdullah, an easy punching bag for the frustrated Indo-Pak people, has possibly one of the most difficult jobs in the region. I saw a man who was torn by his people’s suffering yet had the pluck to stand by his judgements. Hanif’s customary casualness and satirical take on just about everything had me laughing out loud. And what Mani Shankar Aiyar said about leadership during his panel will always stay with me: “Leaders are not made by following those whom you’re supposed to lead.”
Most important, during this three-day whirr of ideas, conversation, food, new people and tropical weather, were the lasting friendships I made.
I cannot thank the TEHELKA team enough for such a life-changing experience. I’ve come back recharged. I was seriously impressed with the seamlessness with which the conference flew by — and it all comes down to the innovation, hard work, organisation and vision of TEHELKA. I look forward to attending as a Thinker next year!