A world without borders, no more a dream - TEDx Talk

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Early this year, I was invited to be a part of a TEDx event, TEDxEMWS in Mumbai, to talk about my project and my passion - World Without Borders. Needless to mention, I loved sharing my vision of the world, how traveling and sharing can play a huge part in making it possible.

As part of this project over a period 365 days, I spoke to one person everyday, no matter where in the world I was, collected their dream and life story and shared it with the world through Instagram;I called this project 'Tell me your dream'. Spread over six countries and countless cities, the project was also a transformational journey for me as a traveller, and a human being.

Sharing my vision that evolved with this project with everyone today :)

siddhartha joshi the wanderer world without borders dream
At the TEDxEMWS event in Mumbai

A world without borders, no more a dream...


One fine evening in the heart of Kabul, three friends meet – Inna from Dubai, Louis from Switzerland and Amrita from India. Their plan? To embark on a self-driving road trip of a lifetime – from Kabul to New Delhi, with pit-stops at  Peshawar and Lahore in Pakistan. And their biggest concern? - Who will be the first one on the wheel as no one wanted to give up on their chance to drive :)
world without borders
The three travellers...

It might sound like an impossible dream right now but less than 100 years back it was not all uncommon. But guess what, there is a reason why it’s actually not as far-fetched as it might sound.

Before we talk more on that, let me take you back in time when I was still young. Having spent my childhood in multiple villages, towns and cities in North and West India, I never quite belonged to one place, but became a part of wherever I went. It was around this time that a very inspiring group of doctors called Médecins Sans Frontiers or Doctors Without Borders won the Nobel Peace Prize. Their work was inspiring. They not only did what they did but excelled at it, and despite the borders, continued their work to provide medical aid to all, especially those in the conflict zones. Inspired by them, an idea germinated in my head and I started calling it, even more ambitiously, World Without Borders. I was still young and had absolutely no clue what this meant, or what I could do with it. In fact I didn’t even have a name for it back then - it was just an entry in my diary.

It was much later when I travelled across the world that the context of my dream became clearer to me. The world opened up to me and I felt that I belonged everywhere. I collected stories wherever I went and shared them through my travel writings and pictures. I realised the immense power both collecting and sharing stories had, as readers could connect with people and places without even being there. Travel wasn’t just breaking barriers in my head; it was also doing the same for many others. It felt like I was weaving an invisible web of interconnected people with stories of real people, and real places.



Last year I decided to take a leap further by doing something special to give my dream of World Without Borders a big impetuous. This was the birth of a very humble project – Tell Me Your Dream. It was a means for me to discover the world around me, no matter where in the world I was. So every day I spoke to a new and often unknown person, collected their life story and their dream, and shared it with the world through Instagram. I collected 365 dreams from more than 45 cities across 6 countries. People in India and later abroad who followed these dreams also started exploring their neighbourhood to share the dreams they had collected. It was amazing how these stories could inspire people to get out and connect with their surrounding ecosystem as well. What began as a personal project for me, soon acquired a life of its own and became much larger.

world without borders
Some people I interviewed...
world without borders
More travels, more interviews...

As I collected these dreams, the world around me changed as well. It might sound simple, but trust me it can get challenging when you approach a stranger in a strange new country and pick up a conversation out of thin air. But again each of these conversations were treasures and told me more than a guide book, a travel show or even a blog ever could. In a few quick conversations I could come very close to being a local and get the true vibe of the city. I have been invited for beer, tea, food, stay and more by the people whom I interviewed.

world without borders
Making personal connections with people I met...

But wait a second – how do these dreams help in making my own dream possible?
Because it turns out, collecting and sharing people’s dreams is the key to a world without borders.

Let's look at this with some examples...

So what do you think Manual who is an adventure sports guide at Interlaken, Switzerland, Rami Saidat a mosaic artist from Madaba in Jordan, Kailashnath Garibdas Chaturvedi who is a Sadhu at Mathura, Lee Chong Hua, a bus driver in Singapore and Eliza, a beggar on the streets of Pune have in common?

They all dream. Not only do they dream, but they do so about something very similar – deep down they are not dreaming for themselves, but dreaming for their children. They are dreaming for their education, their safety, their happiness…

Let’s look at another example:

We have Sudharma, a famous Bharatnatyam dancer from Chennai, Katarina from Greece who runs one of the most famous restaurants in Goa and Gokul Kamble, a car mechanic from Pune. What do you think they dream of?

To Travel the world!

So what's the point?
You see, unless we look closely it’s easy to miss the point here - the point being that people who might seem completely unconnected, are in fact connected through their hopes and aspirations. No matter how different we might appear to be physically, we have enough that unifies us. This is not to say that we are all alike, in fact, if you look at their life stories – you will see that each one has led a unique life, and each one has a very interesting individual movie-like story. But despite all the complexity embedded in life around us, we have enough commonality that unifies us at a very human level.

The Philosophy of World Without Borders
World Without Borders is a dream, a thought, a philosophy and it’s not something that can happen overnight. This would not be one uniform world, but a world with a uniform belief – that of humanity. If magically all the world leaders get inspired by my talk and immediately decided to amend constitutions and do away with the borders, will the world survive? Most likely, no. I recognize that there has to be a process, and I feel the first step of this process is to connect people – connect them at an emotional level, a very personal level where most differences disappear. And that’s what I tried to do by connecting them with their dreams.

So where is the project now? I have now expanded the scope of the project geographically but made it more focused in its content and purpose. I am taking the project forward this year with two of our neighbours across the border - Pakistan and Afghanistan. Even if we can’t break physical barriers right away, we can start by breaking them virtually. I am reaching out to many talented budding photographers and artists in these countries and connecting them with their counterparts in India. It’s just a baby step for now and I hope that someday I will be able to visit these countries and share dreams from across the border.

world without borders
A portrait by Hassaan from Pakistan 

A Travel secret
Let me end this talk by sharing a small secret of what I have discovered by collecting and connecting the dreams of people – a way to travel, a way to explore and a way to make World Without Borders a reality. When you travel, and I hope each one of you hears me – do keep in mind that you are privileged to travel and your travel experiences can have a far greater impact than you can possibly imagine. Travel as much as you can, travel as far wide as you can, break down any internal barriers, let go of all inhibitions, and pick conversations with strangers and collect stories. But most importantly share them with the rest of the world. By the simple actions of collecting people’s stories and sharing them, we could all be a part this invisible web which connects the world.

To some, World Without Borders might be a utopian dream, to me it’s a work-in-progress. I invite you to join me in this journey to break down the borders that hold us in place, because only when we learn to explore and accept, can we truly be one.

On TEDx channel




Tell me your dream in Media

The project has also received tremendous recognition in India across both print and digital media, and I am thankful to everyone who supported me through it. In these testing times, we have a long way to go before we can make it possible.



You can read other stories on the project here:

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5 comments:

  1. A magnificent thought, Sid. Such a lovely read and talk of your dreams, dream catcher. Hope we see a border-less world soon.

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  2. Kudos Sid! Very passionate talk:-)

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  3. The stuff dreams are made of... so much hope and love in the world and I wonder why we still fight... ?

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  4. A TED Talk was the reason why I quit my job and went travelling for six months. Needless to say that I'm a big fan :). Congrats for the talk and good luck!
    Cristina

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  5. Such a lovely post Sid!! Though I am quite aware of your project, I still read & reread it. :) Felt nice. It inspires us to do something about it and not sit quietly.

    Very passionate and close to my heart as well.

    All the best to all of us, we must make a better world.

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