Category Archives: expat

TED Talks Worth Your Time. And how!

Movies, TV, Books… and TED talks

I used to post short reviews of good Bollywood films. This is becoming a lost art because they are so few and far between. Living in India, I rarely see movies anymore – the junk they churn out week after week after week. That is why I am amazed when I happen upon a jewel like this. There has been an interval of some six months between good movies, so clearly I’m not going to be spending too much time on this form of entertainment.  

Then, I posted on Indian TV shows. But there was really only one (and what a one that was!). That season’s over too. 😦

Books. Ah…those will never end. I hope that capacity to inhale books will never end either! I read and read. Voraciously. I consider it a precious gift when someone tells me about a good book. Note to myself: I need to get more active on posting about good books and passing it on.

Finally, there are TED talks.  Most are worth every minute of your time. And more.

Why TED Rocks

However, there are thousands of TED talks to pick from. Where do you go?

My secret sauce is to subscribe to TEDTalks on Google Reader. And then, every now and then, I wander over there to see what new talks have been posted. Google Reader has a crisp summary of each and so I just pick up the ones with topics that interest me.   My hit or miss ratio is about 98:2. (The very rare ones that didn’t make the mark were those that did not come across as authentic – more style than substance).

Or you could just go to the TED website and use their search engine to pick what you are interested in.  You can even search on “Rated jaw-dropping“. 🙂

It is no accident that quality is so high. TED talks are carefully constructed and eloquently delivered by TED speakers who are meticulously, I mean meticulously selected. Each of them are given a very precise amount of (short) time – in the 4, 9 or 18 minutes range to deliver the goods.  That’s it.

Many of these talks revolve around topics that the speakers have spent years or even their lifetimes studying.  They are passionate about their topics and they are forced by TED to encapsulate their talks into digestible morsels of time. How can they help but be brilliant?

So, I submit to you, that anyone who has not taken advantage of this wonderful resource by watching, absorbing, learning from many of the TED talks that are freely available, is losing out. Big time!

I have become somewhat of an addict. I think of those few minutes as a great investment. Especially when I think of what else I could have been doing at that time (sleeping, eating, watching the idiot box, watching an idiotic movie….?). I’m a winner all the way. And you can be too.

If you’re not already there, I hope you get on this bandwagon. Pronto.

A Few Recent Picks

To get you started, I present to you my newest picks, each and every one of them definitely worth a watch.

Yah, yah….I know, everyone is too busy in life, blah, blah, blah. But (enter preacher) I tell you, you should make some time in that schedule of yours and if you do, I promise you won’t be sorry!

I have given you the time you would need to watch each one, in case you need more of an incentive to decide. You will receive so much for investing so little, trust me.

TED: Andrew Blum: What is the Internet, really? – Andrew Blum (2012)

Your time investment: 11:59 minutes

SYNOPSIS: When a squirrel chewed through a cable and knocked him offline, journalist Andrew Blum started wondering what the Internet was really made of. So he set out to go see it — the underwater cables, secret switches and other physical bits that make up the net.

My takeaway: You thought the internet was a virtual world? Think again. It is amazingly, incredibly physical. Get a peek into what it’s all about! Quote worth remembering – “Wired people should know their wires.

TED: Ryan Merkley: Online video — annotated, remixed and popped – Ryan Merkley (2012)

Your time investment:  4:25 minutes

SYNOPSIS: Videos on the web should work like the web itself: Dynamic, full of links, maps and information that can be edited and updated live, says Mozilla Foundation COO Ryan Merkley. On the TED stage he demos Popcorn Maker, a new web-based tool for easy video remixing. (Watch a remixed TEDTalk using Popcorn Maker — and remix it yourself.)

My takeaway: If you are in business, marketing, sales or a creator of content, you won’t want to miss this. Video is an often overlooked frontier although it appears to be making more of an appearance now, what with youtube and all the resources available to do-it-yourself. This fascinating talk gives us even more resources – and they are free!  Awesome!

TED: Pankaj Ghemawat: Actually, the world isn’t flat – Pankaj Ghemawat (2012)

Your time investment:  17:03 minutes

SYNOPSIS: It may seem that we’re living in a borderless world where ideas, goods and people flow freely from nation to nation. We’re not even close, says Pankaj Ghemawat. With great data (and an eye-opening survey), he argues that there’s a delta between perception and reality in a world that’s maybe not so hyperconnected after all.

My takeaway: Here’s an economist who is the “anti-Tom Friedman”. He’s packed with numbers and facts and not shy about using them to tell you why the world isn’t as flat as Tom says it is. So many people believe what Friedman believes – without any data to back up the claim (count me in as guilty too). This talk opened my eyes; I think it’s simply a must-watch.

TED: Melissa Marshall: Talk nerdy to me – Melissa Marshall (2012)

Your time investment – 4:34 minutes

SYNOPSIS: Melissa Marshall brings a message to all scientists (from non-scientists): We’re fascinated by what you’re doing. So tell us about it — in a way we can understand. In just 4 minutes, she shares powerful tips on presenting complex scientific ideas to a general audience.

My takeaway: Wonderful tips on the art of communication – especially for those who tend towards scientific, engineering or technical jargon. Sometimes we forget the most important job – how to communicate well – anything from amazing discoveries to life-changing feats, and because we don’t do that well, the world loses out.

TED: Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are – Amy Cuddy (2012)

Your time investment – 21:02 minutes

SYNOPSIS: Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

My takeaway:  “Our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behavior, our behavior changes our outcomes”.  Don’t believe it? Just watch this talk.



TED, as most of you know, stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design.  

It may as well stand for Learn, Grow, Wonder (even if the letters don’t match). That more aptly describes what I gain (profusely) each time I watch a TED talk.





Yoga: Invert Yourself – It’s Good For You

I’ve talked a lot about Surya Namaskars but another yoga pose that rocks is one called Vipreet Karni.  “Vipreet” means inverted or reversed and “Karni” means action.

Vipreet Karni is classified as a “Mudra”, which also means posture (like Asana).  A Mudra’s goal is to bring stability to the body and mind by focusing the mind on prana – life force, control – with a specific posture. It brings stability to the body through stability of the mind. In that, it differs from Asana whose primary purpose is to make the body stronger and healthier.


Here’s a picture of the beginner’s version of Vipreet Karni. Lie flat on your back, arms spread wide for support, lift your legs straight up (and I mean, 90 degrees up) and hold. When you can see your toes, that means your head and chin are in the right position too.

It sounds easier than it is so I recommend that when it is first tried, you do it with your legs supported against a wall.

Before I had learned how to do the more advanced version of this posture, I remember practicing this wall-supported beginner’s version in some very interesting circumstances.

We were six women on our Roman holiday last year. After miles of walking and playing tourist all day in that beautiful city, our bodies were exhausted, our legs and feet aching like crazy. One friend suggested getting into this posture to calm those aching limbs.

So, at the end of a hard day’s work and before our daily wine and dinner “meetings”, we would get ready with Vipreet Karni, the beginner’s kind. That meant assuming this pose on our respective beds, limbs against the closest walls and staying that way for 5-10-15 minutes. And, boy did it help!  

So what if there were six females in weird positions looking a bit loopy?  It was just for a few minutes. And it was so worth it. Thanks B!

That was my first taste of it, and it really was quite straightforward and simple.

Going Beyond The Beginning

Well, a few weeks ago, my yoga instructor introduced the much more advanced version of this posture to me during our regular class.  

No more simply lying on your back and relaxing, oh no. Now, it was time to get your torso up, up and away. 

An attempt at that is pictured above, except you will notice that it’s not quite there yet (it’s from a couple of weeks ago). Legs are not aligned straight with the torso and achieving a 90 degrees angle with the floor is but a gleam in someone’s eye. 

How to get there

Step 1 to get to this version of Vipreet Karni is to start out with the Halasana (Plow Pose) – pictured below:

From here, slowly lift just your legs, straight up, with unbent knees and without moving your hips from the Halasana position.

Ensure that the torso is also up straight (lengthen it!) so that it is at 90 degrees with the floor. It’s not quite there in the 2 week old picture above – simply not straight enough.

All the weight of the body must be on your supporting elbows, forearms and nape. Thankfully, you are allowed to support your body with your arms!  

Once you are there, try to hold that posture for some time. This is one place where your ‘mind over body‘ definitely comes into play.

We hold this position for a count of 80 now – and that will soon increase, I’m sure.  

Would you believe me if I said it was extremely tough and then some, at first? Honestly, 90 degrees seemed an impossible feat for me to achieve (no kidding!). 

But like with anything to do with yoga – you must try, try and then try again.  Here’s a picture that is more recent. 

See, it didn’t take that long for it to improve, and there’s room to continue to hone it with practice. My instructor says – you can do it for one minute, two, five or ten minutes – it can’t help but benefit you.

Vipreet Karni has become one of my favorites. One reason could very well be that I was so sure I would fail at it. Instead! I have been able to achieve it (or nearly there, anyway) and can actually own up to some bragging rights. The other (real) reason  is that it make me feel great. Body and mind.

What are its benefits?

This posture works everything in your body from the legs to the nape, especially the back and the abdomen. Strengthening, lengthening and increasing flexibility. And, let’s not forget, the real intent is to strengthen the mind! To develop control and focus.

Modern teachers believe that Vipreet Karni is good for virtually anything that ails you – Anxiety, Digestive issues, Headaches, Eye Sight, Insomnia, Depression, Arthritis, and on and on and on. What an awesome range that is!

In fact, yogis from ancient times claimed that after six months of Vipreet Karni, “grey hairs and wrinkles become inconspicuous“, and that it “destroys” old age and death.  🙂

Do you need any more inspiration to try it out?  I mean, really?



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