INK Conference and the Power of Journey


Photo of James Cameron and Lakshmi Pratury courtesy of Gene Driskell for The INK Conference, Mumbai, India

Photo of James Cameron and Lakshmi Pratury courtesy of Gene Driskell for The INK Conference

The first INK Conference, in association with TED, attracted 400 attendees and speakers ranging from Canadian filmmaker James Cameron to author Dr. Deepak Chopra to Simpsons cartoon creator Matt Groening to Wired Magazine founder Kevin Kelly. It took place over three days in Lavasa City, near Mumbai, in December 2010 and was organized and hosted by dynamo Lakshmi Pratury — who organized the TED conference in Mysore, India in 2009.

The purpose of INK is to be an annual conference that fuels innovation and fosters knowledge and the theme of the first INK was Untold Stories. Each speaker narrated his/her own untold story in a unique way. The line-up of speakers included well-known names and also lots of lesser known innovators, thought leaders and artists. For a complete list of speakers, click here for the INK Conference site.

But what gets me really excited is the theme for the upcoming INK Conference (December 2011): The Power of journey.

Next year’s theme: The power of journey

When I read about the theme, I quickly wrote founder and host Lakshmi Pratury this letter, reproduced below. Last year, I had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing Lakshmi when she was in Toronto at the Idea City Conference, and I wrote about our meeting in Spiritual wisdom of India. I genuinely found her to be the most relaxed, honest, moving and spellbinding person I saw at Idea City (so I wasn’t at all surprised to find out that the conference she organized was a big success).

Here’s my take: “I am very excited about the upcoming INK Conference theme – Power of the Journey. It is a theme that has a lot of resonance for me and inspires my work as a travel writer.

Camel Driver Lal Singh in Jaisalmer, IndiaOver many years of studying Journalism, Gestalt Therapy and Yoga; and reading mythological stories, Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, my idea of life as a journey evolved. Campbell’s description of the hero’s quest in particular made a deep impression on me, and I began to see my life as an unfolding journey. The journey itself became the purpose – rather than a means to an end – and transformation became the motivating force.

These ideas took on special meaning after both my parents died and I decided to go on a six-month trip to India in 2005-06 to overcome grief depression. I traveled from Dharamsala to Kanyakumari, studying yoga, volunteering and writing a travel blog.

On this journey I regained my enthusiasm for life, resurrected my belief in dreams and magic, experienced the power of transformation, found my vocation – travel writing – and became a traveler.

Specifically, I am a traveler in India. I am a traveler in India simply because I have never been anywhere that ignited my imagination more. I have found that journeying in India is like a portal into every conceivable, and many inconceivable, variations of life; and a descent into uncharted regions of the self.

As a child, I painted a huge murals on my walls of scenes out the 1,001 Tales of the Arabian Nights – of genies coming out of bottles and turret-topped Maharaja Palaces. I saw my bedroom walls come to life in Rajasthan. As a young woman I became entranced by mythology; and in India I discovered that you can visit the birthplace of Krishna, the battlefield of the Mahabharat, the mystical Saraswati river. As an adult I turned to Yoga, especially in my darkest days when I needed to move and breathe and cry. In India I found a font of Yoga knowledge and wisdom.

All of these things I have found in India and so much more. India is a land of stories, a myriad of interwoven histories and mythologies, a continuous culture dating back to ancient times, an explosion of archetypal energies, a country constantly remaking itself anew, a sensory extravaganza and, frankly, a magic carpet ride for travelers.

A traveler experiences the unfolding nature of life while carried along by its currents. A travel writer notices and brings to the surface the underground stream, the Saraswati, that flows through it.

It is a great privilege to immerse oneself fully, consciously, creatively and productively in the journey – and to attempt to harness the power. I hope I can contribute some of my discoveries to the INK Conference 2011.

Photo of Lakshmi Pratury courtesy of Gene Driskell for The INK Conference

Photo of Lakshmi Pratury courtesy of Gene Driskell for The INK Conference

And here’s Lakshmi Pratury’s take on the theme, The Power of Journey: “From the time we are children, we are asked to set goals, create milestones and make plans to achieve them. We treat the journey as a means to an end, an investment with a pay off, as a necessary evil. What if we turn the tables around and enjoy the journey, and let the end take care of itself? What if we were determined to have fun along the way and not worry about the outcome?  What if, just what if, the journey is all that mattered?”

What indeed.

Mariellen Ward
Mariellen Ward is a freelance travel writer whose personal style is informed by a background in journalism, a dedication to yoga and a passion for sharing the beauty of India's culture and wisdom with the world. She has traveled for about a year altogether in India and publishes an India travel blog, Mariellen also writes for magazines and newspapers.
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