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Thursday, April 21, 2005


As promised, I will endeavour to put a lid on the quizzing memories before they scatter leaving only Hope behind…

Some caveats— I will try to be as less opinionated and as objective as possible, can only carp on what we attended, could quibble on a few areas that I feel strongly about ( Ed—which means your above resolution will last about twenty words), and will maintain plurality of thought, purity of expression and poise of the writ word…

Wokay, Heave Ho….

—For starters, let me confess that I had forgotten what this was called. (Quiz-o-Mania-) We arrived late, walked into the middle of a hall that had clearly been a happy and prosperous laboratory once. Chairs that understandably groaned with my girth. Missed too many sitters to have any hope of qualifying, but thanks to the outstation quota , made the cut. Of course, watching simian capers on a wide projector during the break was a novel experience and we must thank Salil and Team for that. The elims were a decent mix of trivia and detail, and can remember a few well-crafted ones too-a more than healthy guessability factor.

The finals began with my pet hate—having to look up at the screen to read the question which took an average of twelve and a half slides per question.
Also, the first time we encountered the famed kissa kursi ka drivel—have never thought that seating in a mattered, as long as one was comfortable ( I was not ). Still, we felt right at home—it’d been well over four years that I had been to a regular quiz. It didn’t show as questions were to our liking—a preponderance of India and we cruised through the first few questions. I even remember feeling ashamed at answering the Chariots of Fire thing—waves of nostalgia etc. Felt the Duke and Kookaburra difference right away in the second half as we choked for breath, and saw others catch up. A tremendous surge by the other teams culminated in a mad scamper, as Gaurav & Sarika triumphed. I still aver that on the basis of parameters that I value, Meghashyam & Kunal should have won.

In hindsight, this quiz was definitely imbalanced because on the way home, we counted quite a few questions that all teams could have nailed, and hence that skewed the balance. I felt the sheer quantum of data churned up on a few questions would have done biographers proud. Increased the probability of being answered but detracted from the competitiveness, perhaps but I am painfully aware of my minority status in this regard. (Also, felt that there are some chestnuts which each generation perhaps discovers on its own and provides its own spin to them without realizing that what they have stumbled upon is as old as the hills- so the younger teams may miss them but anybody with a decent quizzing vintage can get it. Case in point- Onida Devil. .The second half was littered with more such questions as against the first half which had a larger share of original questions More Examples- Kafka, Potboiler, Pu-La. )

Overall, all teams performed to their potential and that was winsome in itself.

COEP—A return to the mansion where the Engineering saga had begun a decade ago—those mosquito-infested fronds still hum with human blood. A nice campus, though foisted on unworthy cribbers.

Again, we traipsed in late and none the worse for wear. Found the elims extremely tough , struggled through and were pleasantly surprised to find that we had qualified..Was even more intrigued to find N S Sreekant, a classmate of my sister in KV Southern Command , and whose father had once been classmates with mine in Medical college., on stage.

We were sandwiched between Ramanand & Harish, and Amit and Sudarshan. The latter were in some cracking form, and not since Akshaya Kamath days have I been as awe-struck—the nonchalance, wonderful powers of comprehension and recollection, the masterful ability to link, deconstruct, absorb and reveal, that sweep and range—Wow ! We scrapped our way through an endless list of being granted half points, and were lucky to edge Shivaji and Vivek into third. I can state that that was a brave performance as we could have wilted much earlier, the questions not being in our league at all.

The effort that had gone into questions was palpable, most subjects were referred to ,and the trivia-lising of most topics was complete. I felt a distinct lack of India-oriented questions towards the end of the quiz, and that jarred. Quite reminiscent of days of yore.

I am not sure of some video questions which went —the pictures are in order 1, 2 ,3 , 4 …. But the question is Connect—picture 2 to picture 7, then 3 etc—very frustrating sometimes.

Overall, a good effort which somehow everyone kept comparing favourably to that of last year—cannot say !

A silhouette of an analytical framework of Elims will be proffered soon.

NMIMS—Possibly, the defining night of this season.
Had grafted in all my buddies when we heard that there was a Sports quiz. The inculpable Vibhendu was unceremoniously dumped in favour of Sameer and Saif. This was before we were told by a glib lass at Reception that the eliminations would happen before the finals ( Ed—These clever blondes !) , which in itself was a contrast to what she’d said earlier—That the quiz would happen, on stage without even knowing about the existence of the Elims concept.

The most important thing that she said was we would have two-member teams for Sports, which meant that I had to choose. And sadly, I had to leave Saif with Vibhendu.

Now, if you’d asked me at the beginning of the season about quizzes that I’d be happy winning, I’d have unequivocally picked the Parnab Sports quiz and the Literature Quiz at JBIMS . Did not win either, with mixed feelings.

So after a dizzying Hindi Song competition watched by youngsters who made me feel my age, wistfully, the Elims began. 81 teams battled in pathetic writing conditions as Parnab first stormed in, silenced the Smart Alecs, exhorted them to the rules of his quizzes and began. The more I think about it, the more I realize the stupendous width he purveyed, the depths that he probed and of course, his startling mise-en-scene, a man without a cue card.

We missed a few as we managed an 8 on 29 to qualify, the highest was a 9, so we were fine. We realized, as we were to come to grips with the ineluctable fact, that both Sameer and I were severely handicapped unidimensional parochial quizzers. I mean, both of us do not follow F-1, Basketball, Baseball, NHL, NFL, Golf, Billiards, any form of Rugby, Motocross, X-Games among others. So I can only marvel at the grandeur of our ambition that we actually thought we could win with this very thin tapestry.

What Sameer has is an unsullied love for what he does, and of course that he knows me better than almost all.

I loved the range—a love for the unfamiliar as we were swept aside and for one brief compelling hour, perhaps all of us on stage did an ET-like romp in the sky, far away from the cliché-ridden records, person-based trivia that enjoins most sports questions. Parnab also drifted well past the TV-based nonsense that pass off as sports questions these days.

I remember feeling ecstatic that for once, lesser known footballers, athletes, golfers and the ilk finally got their seasons in the sun. I even remember remarking that we managed smooth sailing keeping just ahead of stiff competition till the last round, inspite of hardly anything really our ken coming our way.

Of course, my petulance, irascible temper and acerbic tongue were all on display as a prosaic Sameer archly told me that I had not really changed over the last two decades—I fly off the handle, and he brings me back to terra firma. A human interest story in the middle of a hotly contested affair !

The contest was fought on a Direct and Pass method, and perhaps that, and a factually incorrect question on the back of a quirkily worded question ensured our not winning. Like the mythical Karna, I faltered on women’s tennis, of all things, but in mind I stand exonerated already.

Many therapeutic and pranic ways of looking at what was an unmistakably cathartic experience—we could have won, should have won—in three different ways on the last question, we could have polished it off much earlier. Had it been IR, we would have won as we answered more anyway and so on…

Heartening-- our final tally showed a larger percentage of answers from sports that we don’t like, or follow. Most importantly, being able to actually team up with Sameer, on a sports quiz, in Mumbai—all added to frissons of excitement that I had reckoned was past or beyond me. And yes, our performance wasn’t all bad either.

A painful realization was that we had never shown any proclivity to answer quickly a la Ganguly. We found ourselves harried and hustled , unsettled by the frenetic pace of the questions Parnab asked, but to our credit , did not make one false move. Eventually, we ended with a handful pointless “Good Guess” proclamations from the QM ( pun intended)

Interesting that I should have felt enthralled and elated after the Sports Finals, when we should have been livid with ourselves for not winning Gold ( we won Bronze !). Perhaps the searing flames of ambition have fizzled out….(Ed—Did they ever exist, After all. Indolence is your middle name)

( To be continued…with Vibhendu’s inputs)


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