TEDxDhaka 2013 Session 4: Beauty and Beast

Wrapping up this year’s TEDxDhaka event, three women and one man enlightened us with their breadth of knowledge, powerful thinking, and insightful perspectives. The first speaker was Wasfia Nazreen, one of the first Bangladeshis to climb Mount Everest, who galvanized the audience with stories of her physical and spiritual journey to the summit of some of the highest peaks in the world, including Mount Everest. Then, Shahid Hussain Shamim illuminated the untold stories of weavers who weave Jamdani, educating us about about these artisans and their craft. Finally, Anushesh Anadil, a singer and a celebrity, spoke and sang of feminism, bipolarity and religion.

“I knew little about climbing two years ago,” claimed Wasfia Nazreen, “but I learned all the skills I needed like mountaineering, ice masonry, and first aid,” that let me accomplish my goal of showing the world that Bangladesh is more than a place that floods every year.  Wasfia is truly a national treasure, and she exuded the same courage on stage that helped her to reach the top of the world’s highest mountains.  She described her emotional and philosophical connection to nature and the unimaginable perils of climbing at suffocating altitudes, sarcastically recalling her two options for death when walking on a steep, snow-filled path between Nepal and Tibet. “If I fell on the right, I would die in Tibet; if I fell on left, Nepal.”

Shahid Hussain Shamim is an expert on traditional weaving culture and techniques.  He played clips of two distinct styles from different regions of Bangladesh, both of which are at risk of being lost as demand for intricately woven textiles dwindles. He showcased the generally unknown backstory of artistic masterpieces like Jamdani and Tangail Jakarta saris. Demonstrating the intricate artwork of a beautiful piece of red cloth, his talk revolved around the hard work and talent that goes behind these works of art.

Anusheh Anadil’s talk ranged from the bipolarity that lives within all of us to the connection that we unknowingly possess with each other; from the frustrating way that gender imbalance still resides in our society to how just by looking at a tree, one can learn about all of life. Her message was unique, and yet simple. She preached of love overcoming fear and opening us to new connections. When faced with a choice, she’d choose water over fire; patience over impatience; smiling even in the face of suffering. And mixed in all of that, she communicated with a number of heartfelt bangla folk songs. Anusheh was able to truly captivate the audience with her heartfelt words of wisdom.

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