The Artidote India Tour: Bangalore Kick Off

FASCINATING adj. extremely interesting

It’s the term I’ve found myself repeating since I landed in Bangalore a couple of days ago. And it wasn’t to refer to the amazing coffee from Hatti Kaapi, nor the toasty/tasty Masala Dosa from MTR, nor its spicy/creamy/yummy Bisibele Bhath. Even though those things are great in their own right, what I’ve been constantly referring to as fascinating are the people that I’ve had the privilege of coming across.

People and their stories

My city guides, my culinary experts, my cultural translators have been a group of youngsters from various parts of India that have come together for the past few months to organize the Under 25 Summit, India’s largest youth festival. The passion and focus with which these youngsters execute their objectives and the way in which they’ve carefully structured their roles within a 200+ team to bring an event of this magnitude to a successful grand finale on February 18th was, well, fascinating to witness.

What I’ve equally found fascinating are the Artidotees that I’ve come across. I had the privilege of briefly getting to know their stories, struggles, dreams, courage and resilience. My eyes become watery just thinking about them. Not because I feel sad for them, but because I find them as the most inspiring young people I could surround myself with. Yes, some of them may currently feel like they’re barely surviving their struggle. But where they see weakness, I see underdogs with superstar potential.

The Artidote Meetup

On February 19th I called for an Artidote Meetup. I had made the location and time announcement just the night prior, so I expected a maximum of 50 attendees. Over 130 Artidotees showed up to make the venue literally packed. Despite the difficulty in managing to interact with every single one that showed up (which, naively, I hoped to do), I got to experience the beauty of human vulnerability with some one-on-one interactions.

I met a madly in love couple who met through The Artidote and came to say Thank You for bringing them together. There was also a girl who is tough and badass on the outside but hidden inside was the most gentle and nurturing soul in whose presence I felt incredibly safe. I also encountered a couple of souls that may currently feel lost and with a void within them but with the potential to shine brighter than their shiniest of dreams. And dozens of people that reminded me of why we need more spaces like this to talk about the things we normally don’t feel safe enough to talk about.

At the end of the Meetup, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to reveal to them that the Bangalore Chapter of The Artidote will be the first pilot program of what an Artidote Community could look like in real life. I’ll be working over the next months on developing a working structure that would serve as a model for other cities to follow.

Cultivating today the change we want to see tomorrow

I feel blessed to have created an online platform that attracts humans who are: empathetic and curious about other humans, critical thinkers, sensitive beings able to be amazed at the sight of the moon or a sunset, courageous hearts that feel their emotions and—most importantly—prioritize mental health (theirs as well as others’). These are youngsters that understand the present ever-changing world we are living in—people that understand the importance of mental health and the need for a societal restructuring of the misguided beliefs around it.

As I spoke to each of them about their most intimate vulnerabilities, I kept thinking that these are the youngsters that will be the future leaders of their communities, cities and countries — the ones that will eventually be able to affect the outdated policies and beliefs of the old guard and make their world a safer space where mental illnesses are not a taboo and more education surrounding the importance of Mental Health is established. And, in-between our conversations and me feeling inspired in the presence of so much courage and resilience, I had a recurring thought: If I can create a space where they come together to empathize, bond and heal today… they will change the world tomorrow.
It is them and that idea what I keep finding fascinating.

All the love,
February 20, 2018
Bangalore, India