Samyuktha PC

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 like to play cards with some of my hand shown, but the big cards hidden. The thing is... they will still know you are hiding the big cards, BUT they will still not know what you have hiding." - I forgot lol

    I would like to say most people want to be socially literate, they want to fit in easily with anyone. What stops this are subcultures and sub-subcultures involving fashions, musics, ideas, and/or overall degree of "band wagon" personality, in my opinion.

    If you want to get along with people, look around first, be quiet. See how the people who are being looked at the most are behaving, and prepare to act! "Fake it til you make it" Is my favorite quote. It can mean two things.. One, you fake it and pretend to be it, until you are caught or stop faking... or two, you fake it, until you are it!

    Universal rule of thumb, talk as much as they are talking unless they welcome it.
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      Sep 4 2011: I am for silence. Have you seen this movie called Rhapsody in August? Please do watch if you get some time. It is by Akira Kurosawa.
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        Sep 4 2011: No But I will take your recommendation.

        Thank you.
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          Sep 4 2011: :) Watch. I think you might like it. However, about being socially literate, what do you mean? Can you expand on that for me, please?
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        Sep 4 2011: What do most people talk about around you? What are the major interest? Hobbies? etc.

        What is the pop-culture of the group or person in which you want to associate with? What are the trends? The styles? Etc.

        Usually people have friends that are in the same interest areas as they are, this tends to be tainted by those whom wish to use others for benefits.

        Simply, if you do not know anything about the other group or person from signals or information. You are just going have to ask a lot of questions. If you want you can demonstrate sincere intention/interest and that would more than likely make them accept you as you are bringing positive emotions. .
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      Aug 28 2011: Hi Ed,

      If you like Rumi, I think you'll also like Hafiz (Khwāja Šamsu d-Dīn Muḥammad Hāfez-e Šhīrāzī)

      The Truth has shared so much of Itself
      With me

      That I can no longer call myself
      A man, a woman, an angel,
      Or even a pure

      Love has
      Befriended Hafiz so completely
      It has turned to ash
      And freed

      Of every concept and image
      my mind has ever known.
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      Sep 4 2011: I am personally a huge fan of Rumi, Kabir and many other similar poets. Thank you for sharing this.
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    Aug 28 2011: Hi Samyuktha,

    Good question. I only have a moment so this will be brief.

    Effective dialogue, like many things, requires skills. Skills can be learned and taught.

    One excellent source of a particular set of skills is the book: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg.

    Another skill, as you mention, is creating the right kind of environment. In our company, we literally celebrate mistakes. When one of us makes an honest mistake, everyone else applauds.

    Focussing on "creating" also helps.
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      Aug 28 2011: Dear Mr. Thomas,

      I will definitely check Rosenberg's book. What we try do with Chai Kadai is to create a space for dialogue for contemporaries from various backgrounds, class and political differences. As far as working in a organisation or office, what you suggest should definitely be there. I don't see it anywhere.
      Focusing on creating like you say, I agree a lot. Probably, that is why I trust theatre a lot as a process, something that creates, and something that offers that space.

      Thank you
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      Aug 28 2011: Dear Nafissa,

      Are you talking about translation and subtitles? If that is so it is still hard for me to take it to many schools and colleges. They'll find it very hard to follow. Anyway, if you are supporting other languages I am extremely happy.

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          Aug 28 2011: That is wonderful. I'll let a lot of people know that. It's sad actually that many people hear haven't heard about TED. Doing my bit :). This is a great effort.
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    Sep 4 2011: maybe encourage clear expression
    sometimes silence is taken for consent.
    keep speaking til they hear you; you go girl.

    also if your willing to assert exactly how you feel about a thing, thats what will get you there the fastest in my opinion. emotional honesty
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      Sep 4 2011: That is true. I was talking about silence for the self. :)
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        Sep 4 2011: i misunderstood you.
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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! :)