I love video games! It was a chilly night in December. I was at my hostel in Delhi. I had my History of Architecture exams the next day. While my friends were surfing the Internet, browsing through class notes and referring to multiple textbooks, I spent my entire evening engrossed in video games. Why am I telling you this? Well, because this is where it all began. I passed my exams with decent grades later.
That night, I was playing Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, designed around the Roman era. Thus, the day before the exam, exploring the Roman monuments and the map via the protagonist gave me enough social, cultural and spatial understanding of the Roman period. I knew this was not a coincidence, and thus, I spent an entire semester researching video games as a visualization tool for futuristic architecture as my dissertation.
Years later, I joined the TEDxIITGuwahati team as a designer. I remember filling up the form that asked if I wanted to head the design team. I opted for negative simply because I wasn’t confident enough about the time I could dedicate to this, along with my Thesis Project. Being a part of the TEDx team was huge. Time passed, and I had no clue about UnrestricTED until one day when I read the brief while designing the website for the event. The first thing that struck me was that the theme of the TEDx event perfectly sums up my dissertation, but speaking in public was never my thing.
I had a sleepless night; I kept rereading the brief several times. I had a major submission in the upcoming days; thus, I slowly forgot about this until I received a deadline extension notification. I wanted to give it a shot, and I sent a synopsis and the dissertation to the team. Weeks later, after an interview, my submission got selected, and I was informed I would be a TEDx Speaker!!! Chills ran down my spine.
The country was hit by COVID-19, and a lockdown was imposed everywhere. I was informed that the event would happen on an online platform. The next few weeks went juggling between the preparation of the talk and the thesis, also accumulating confidence to present on the stage. I remember sharing the news only with a closed group because I had a hunch I’d blow this up. My friends had been very supportive about it. Amey and Ayush helped me record the talk. And trust me, that required an immense amount of patience with me.
The Boss Level
Finally, the day arrived that I had been waiting for years since the time I watched my first TED Talk by Tony Fadell in the year 2015. Clean clothes, checked. Battery checked. Recording of the talk, checked. Confidence, well, to be honest, I was weak on my knees. I had a nightmare the night before that I doomed the show. I logged in early to attend the talks from the other speakers. The confidence slowly sank in. At 2 pm, I was informed by the team that it was time that my recording was to be played. I could imagine all the curious eyes fixating on me with all the questions relating to games, Mars, and architecture. Nevertheless, I also knew that in the other part of the country, my parents had logged in through their phones to watch me talk.
The recording was played. The chat windows started populating with comments and questions. The adrenaline rush in me was unmatched. As soon as the talk got over, Titiksha started reading out the questions for me. At that millisecond, I remembered that even I had these questions within when I first started researching this. My confidence was boosted up. Suddenly, I wanted to share the story of my passion with everyone present there and with those who’d watch it later. For an 11 minute talk, I spent the next 20 minutes answering the questions.
Weeks later, I was informed that the TED community approved the talk to be uploaded on their YouTube channel plus I received an adorable TEDx memento. It sits on my workstation as a reminder that I can conquer my inner demons. TEDx was the first platform where I had given my public talk. I have been giving talks on several platforms now. The thrill I had during the TEDx event is unmatched.
— Shiva Sah|Winner, UnrestricTED, 2021