Ordinary people can have extraordinary stories. That’s the premise of Josh Talks, a Delhi-based start-up that gives a platform to people to share their tales of courage. Following editions in Delhi and Bengaluru last year, Josh Talks will be held in Mumbai for the first time this Saturday.
It was conceptualised by Shobhit Banga (21) and Supriya Paul (21), students of GD Goenka University and Delhi University, respectively. “We needed inspiration and decided to ask people who have done amazing things to share their journeys with us,” says Paul, adding, “The goal is to show people that one can earn well with unconventional careers without following a rigid path in life.”
Here’s a glimpse of two stories — Salman Sayyed (22) is a second year sociology student from KC College, Churchgate and a guide with Mumbai Magic Tours. He grew up on the streets of Haji Ali and dropped out of school to sell books at traffic signals.
With The Akanksha Foundation’s support, he rejoined school at 14, only to drop out again. But a customer’s question to him — “Will you sell books all your life?” — spurred him to attend school again. Sayyed topped his class in HSC by scoring 81 per cent. “You can change your life if you believe in yourself. Even if all of us help one person each, it can make a difference,” he says.
LGBT and equal rights activist Harish Iyer has been waging a battle against child sexual abuse for the last 18 years. After suffering abuse for 11 years as a child and a teen, he decided to speak up. “There is no shame in talking about what happened. I will talk about rape and abuse, but it won’t be narrated like a sad story,” he says, adding, “I want people to understand that even during hardship, it is possible to live a happy life. I am just as happy and sad as anyone else.” Salman and Harish will take to the stage with other speakers including celebrity blogger Malini Agarwal (Miss Malini), singer Sonam Kalra, and transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi.
Other speakers to watch out for
* Sheetal Jain, a sex worker’s daughter who is pursuing drumming in the US.
* Bhakti Sharma, the first Asian woman and youngest record holder in open water swimming in Antartic waters.
* Mittal Patel, founder of Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch (VSSM), which helps people from nomadic tribes to find an identity.
* Sonam Kalra, founder of The Sufi Gospel Project, which combines Sufi music with gospel sounds.
Attend Josh Talks at École Mondiale, JVPD Scheme, Juhu, on July 25, 3pm to 7pm. Visit joshtalks.com for details. Price: Rs 500
(The writer tweets as @SomaRKDas )