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Chai Kadai

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How to create a welcoming and free space for dialogue?

David Bohm, J. Krishnamurti, and several other pioneers on creating forums for dialogue and exploring dialogue as an attitude and process, did not do it easily. Dialogue, is in fact, one of the hardest things for human beings of the 21st century to be a part of, because we are already the sons and daughters of cults, opinions, political parties, ideologies and so on. We are mostly 'dollys' (clones) walking around propagating the same old wine without an internal process of dialogue and without a willingness to be part of a larger dialogue.

Since, dialogue expects the participants to leave all their wants for a specific goal it doesn't seem so inviting or glamorous. When I started this small collective in South India called 'Chai Kadai' (which literally means tea shop) my idea was to develop a space where people can explore and experiment with creating these spaces through art, design, literature, etc.

As any questioning journey, the depressing days are uncountable. But, the wonderful days when we watch something get created stands apart in memory. TED for me is such a space. Where ideas flow freely, get picked up on their way and flow freely again. However, TED being primarily in English, makes it extremely difficult for me to take it to many in my city.

Having thought about creating a TED event, there is a certain intimidation of class that sets in when we gather ten people in front of a mike and thousands to listen. It is a good sharing platform, but where is the space for dialogue, for all those "not-so enterprising ideas".

Anyway, I have personally been exploring how to create a physically, intellectually, socially, and emotionally free and safe space for dialogue. I would like to speak to architects, designers, academicians, artists, or just anyone to understand the process of dialogue better for myself and our collective. I hope creating such a space is not merely a utopian dream, but a possibility in small scale in many numbers. This is our dream.

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    Sep 4 2011: I've been going to random people and have been having conversations on this for the past two weeks. Some things seem clear to me, but I am in great personal confusion. Why is there a lack of dialogue? - Is it reluctance to dialogue? Is it lack of awareness? Is it a lack of understanding of what dialogue is? or Is it the lack of spaces? I've been getting a yes and no to all! :)

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