Close Encounters of the TED Kind

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Hugo, Els, Jonathan and Elena at the TED Salon on 10 November 2011

"I'll be wearing a white coat and a red rucksack," I said to Elena when I got her on the phone. I was waiting for her and Hugo at King's Cross Station. Over the past months, we had been working together a lot on TED's Open Translation Project. Apart from the translation and reviewing work, we also worked on the brand new wiki and on the forum. Now, our band of 3 TED-sketeers was to meet for the for the first time in 3D.

And just like in September, when I met two of my Dutch TED translation colleagues at TEDxFlanders, there was in fact no need for any vestimentary clues. We recognised each other instantly. After a quick sandwich on the stairs of St-Pancras Station, we took the tube to the venue of the TED Salon, the Unicorn theatre. We managed to get there early enough to take pictures of each of us, in front of the TED Salon sign.

The Unicorn theatre is a rather cosy arena, where you can really feel the TED vibes. We were joined by our fourth man, Elena's husband John, also a TED Translator - indeed, the musketeers of Dumas were in fact also a band of four. He did a great interview with frog, TED's partner in organising the TED Salon.

Right from the first speaker, photographer Taryn Simon, I was drawn in. I had reviewed the Dutch translation of her TEDTalk, so she sounded familiar. Moreover, I instantly realised that I had actually seen the exhibition of her work at Tate Modern this summer. However, there's a big difference between walking through an exhibition in the huge Tate Modern, and hearing the artist tell the story of that exhibition. Suddenly, the dots get connected in a very different way.

And then the three of us realised that we had all translated at least one talk of the man who was sitting right in front of us, Jonathan Drori. During the break, we tapped on his shoulder and we made ourselves known to him. He instantly embraced us in a joyful hug. Had Paul Zak been present to take our blood samples, I'm sure he would have registered a huge spike in our oxytocin levels. Jonathan was happy to have our picture taken in front of the big TED sign on stage. A fantastic TED moment.

On the way down, he explained that his wife was a novelist, and that meetings with her translators were always interesting. "It's very special to meet with people who have been watching you so closely, trying to convey the meaning of your words in another language," he said. We asked his wife's name. "Tracy Chevalier," he said. "I read her books!" I exclaimed. "Girl with a Pearl Earring?" asked Elena. "Yes," I said, and The Lady and the Unicorn.

Dear Bruno Giussani, we have a suggestion for you. Don't miss the opportunity to ask the author of The Lady and the Unicorn onto the TED Salon stage next time. We are sure she's just as brilliant a speaker and as nice a person as her husband. We'll be delighted to translate her too. Thank you very much for giving us TED Translators the opportunity to really feel part of the TED community!

Els De Keyser, TED Translator, --User:ElsDK 10:40, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

Followed by: Close Encounters of the TED Kind - Part II

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