TEDx Karachi – Rising above

“Khudi ko kar buland itna

Ke har taqdeer se pehle

Khuda bande se khud puche

Bata teri raza kya hai”

(Endow yourself with such will

That at every turn of fate

God himself asks of his slave

What is it that pleases thee?)

-Allama Iqbal

As I read this, excitedly grasping the TED invite I had received by post, it made me think more than it ever had before. I had always interpreted this empowering piece of Iqbal’s poetry in terms of spiritual elevation, but the prospect of speakers talking of the meaning of ‘rise above’ in their terms made it seem like an adventure. I was more than happy at being selected from the scripTED contest to get an invite, especially because I had already missed out on a chance to visit a TED event. TEDx Bangalore took place on August 3 this year, but it was a short trip to India and spending a day away from family did not seem fair. Moreover, it cost Rs. 1500 a ticket (PKR=2500) so it wasn’t really light on the pocket either! And here was TEDx Karachi, offering so many people a chance to get invites! Being one of them was like a child being offered towering piles of books to devour all day.

TEDx Karachi was made even more alluring by the prospect of getting badges, shirts and generously filled bags. There were notebooks, a brownie and cookies, discount coupons, and assorted products for the home in those ‘swag bags’. The event started a bit late, at around 6.15, with Umair Jaliawala as curator. He led us through the programme with his own small doses of humour. The first speaker was

Naeem Zamindar – RejuvenaTED

Mr Zamindar talked of spirituality and how mental positivity helps you go through life. To demonstrate this, he made the audience practice a small step that he learnt in the Art of Living course. His emphasis on ‘letting it go’ was a good head-start into listening to the rest of the speakers with an open mind and heart.

Next was

Mobeen Ansari – PixilaTED

Mobeen Ansari contracted meningitis at the age of three, yet his brave mother did not admit him into a school for children with special needs. He narrated his story of how he grew up, observant, since his sense of hearing and smell, as well as speech had been weakened due to the illness. Mobeen’s honesty did not only invoke an inspirational lull in the hall but his personal comments on the stories behind his work, added cheer and made the audience laugh whole-heartedly. His time-lapse photography featured before the event began, was breathtaking and so were each of his pictures. He received a standing ovation from a teary-eyed audience at the end of his talk.

Mobeen has also released a book ‘Dharkan’ and is working on another which is on people from different faiths in Pakistan. He treated us to a preview of this book which was truly beautiful.

I viewed the rest of his pictures on: https://www.flickr.com/people/mobeenansari/

Rabia Aziz Rizvi – ParenTED

The story of how Rabia rose above society and self-pity to make it easy for her daughter who was born with Apert Sydrome was the story of a mother’s strong will-power. It was a powerful TED talk that made Aliya, her daughter a heroine above all, with her mother as the flaring torch to guide her. Rabia’s fight against the odds, her resilience truly shone through and her comment, ‘Aliya is my attitude and I wear her everyday’, stood absolutely true.

Mariam Paracha – ElocuTED

Founder of Spoken Stage, spoken word artist and writer, Mariam Paracha has brought spoken word performances to the fore with a lot of confidence. I was especially looking forward to her talk. She began and ended it with spoken word poems, that were very enjoyable and rang true and clear, like such performances should be. I found the poem she ended with (‘Write to Ignite’) on her blog,


She also highlighted her initiative in the TED talk, showing how it is vital to express yourself, in her words, how writing makes ‘ideas tangible’ and clears the lens through which you see the world.

Sania Saeed – UnscripTED

“I so cannot do this,” was what she began with yet at the end of her talk, Sania Saeed couldn’t bring herself to stop. Her personal story of how she chose to become an artist with social responsibility rather than an ‘entertainer’ was riveting. She recounted plays she had done where the audience had responded to the message and it was a reminder of a very different era. I hope we can revive it!

Sania’s talk about choices was surely one of the most enjoyable that evening.

Suhaee Abro  – ReflectED

Suhaee’s form of expression was brought to the fore as she spoke from behind a screen, only to come forward wearing a mask. She danced with full expression, tearing off her mask and  leaving the audience awe-struck throughout. It was starkly different and very poignant.


After the intermission, came

Ahsan Jamil – LiberaTED

Mental illness is surely one of those issues that are sidelined, not considered ‘important’ yet Ahsan Jamil convinced us that evening how important it is to cure ourselves of it. He talked of how it is essential to be guided by our ‘internal compass’ and I was reminded of something I had read a few days earlier: http://www.brainpickings.org/2012/12/14/how-to-avoid-work/

Ahsan Jamil spoke exactly of how his work is life, not a job for him because he loved doing it. He quoted a couplet which is still ingrained in my mind:


Daniyal Noorani – IntrospecTED

Daniyal Noorani was one of those speakers who underpinned our social responsibility by showing a video of his venture ‘ Quaid se baatein’. He spoke of how it’s so essential to know ourselves with a very interactive exercise. He emphasised on how important introspection is as citizens and as human beings.

Jameel Yusuf – CriminaTED

The ‘dark knight’ of Karachi, Mr. Yusuf is a former CPLC head. His immense bravery in tracing down criminals, regardless of them being businessmen or elite, made him and still makes him a force to be reckoned with. He recounted instances of when he came to the rescue and it was highly engrossing. More than that, he left a lot to be inspired from as he stood up against corruption and crime.

However, his talk lasted for more than the stipulated time of 18 minutes and since it was already around 10.30, it was time for me to leave. Unfortunately, I missed out on the talk by Tina Sani (ConfronTED) and performance by Yusuf Kerai (ConcerTED).

TEDx Karachi inspired me to no bounds. It brought new meaning to ‘Khudi ko kar buland’. The speakers succeeded in getting their message across by adding a very personal touch to what they had to say. Individuality and real success was in full display on the stage.

Kudos to Naya Jeevan, to each of the speakers and organisers!

All the talks can be viewed on the following link:


Website: http://tedxkarachi.pk/


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