Thursday, October 06, 2005

Quizzing Saga - I

This post is dedicated to all the wonderful quizzing folks I have been fortunate to meet and interact with.

As my esteemed readers (not that there are many...OK, any!!!) would know, my childhood passion for reading whatever I could lay my hands on, including the half-a-page newspaper that my neighbourhood bakery-wallah used to wrap the 'pav' in. But you know how school teachers are. They would invariably end up sending the intelligent (read, Toppers) for the quizzes. And me being the average student with a penchant for cheap schoolboyish tricks would be sidelined and end up watching my batch-mates miss sitters. Once, I did put my foot down for a Mythology quiz leaving my teachers choking on their internal laughter mechanism. ("Mythology! You!!!") An in-house elims (this time I laughed) and there I was representing my school and competing against 400 odd teams. All those nights of reading Chandamama under the blanket finally bore fruit. We somehow managed a top-20 finish. If you think this was the start of my journey, blazing through quizzes with the audacity of Hannibal-meets-Hitler, you are mistaken. Strangely, my Alma Mater decided not to participate any more.

Life went on. But, quizzing... No chance. And then, BMS happened.

Portly Yogesh with creativity (and cough) frothing at his mouth
'Kadka' Jayakrishnan (JK) in whose presence I feel like a WWF wrestler
The perpetual-latecomer-cum-outlandish-excuse-cooker Shivkumar (SK)
Hansraj aka Hansie whom I debauched into vodka-with-sprite

With them, I lived some of the finest moments of my life.

The biggest advantage of undergraduation in Management was the initiation into business quizzing. There were quite a few good teams in the BMS circuit, with colleges like Sydenham, SIES, Jai Hind, HR and of course MCC, fighting it out in almost all the quizzes. I was there everywhere and participated in the entire spectrum of quizzes, from the shadiest ones to those organised by MMS students. (At times, even those sucked)

The shady ones were usually of the following types -
a) Where the organisers would insist (with a capital I) on a 2-member team, coz., "sitting alone gives you an unfair advantage." By far, the funniest comment I have ever heard.
b) Questions filched from Brand Equity quiz book with all the spelling errors intact.
Ex) Which brand gets its name from the Greek word for 'Day'? Ans - Xerox
c) Where the prizes ranged from 10K to 50K......worth of coupons from computer coaching classes. At one point of time I had around 2 lakhs worth of it. Yippee...I am a lakhpati. And oh yes, how can I forget the ultimate one... Bhaiyon Aur Behenon, Dil Thaam Ke Baithiye... bate your breath (if there is such an expression)... Mobile Phone..... Covers... (KLPD of the Highest Order)
d) "We cannot announce the answers to the elims nor give you an extra elims sheet. Its a policy decision." Duh! As if I asked for an as-yet-unreleased white paper on India's nuclear policy.

A few stood out - Mood I at IIT-B, Malhar at Xaviers, Melange at K J Somaiya, Sharpshooters at SIES, etc. I had great admiration for a quiz organised by a certain MMS college and regarded it as among the best that there was. (Later I realised that quite a few questions used to be dhaap-ed. But, that's a different issue.) I along with my partners-in-quizzing-crime were desperate to participate and we asked one of our profs (who also taught at the afore-unmentioned college) about it. He replied, "There should be a minimum qualification to participate in the quiz. We do not allow BMS students because you people are not good enough." It hurt. It damn well hurt. So we decided to sit in the audience and have our revenge. Watching our propensity to answer (correctly, that is) almost every passed question, the host Nikhil Chinappa turned towards us and remarked, "You guys should have been up here." We shot back, "Ask the organisers." The revenge was as sweet as chocolate-frosted-sugar-bombs. Actually, this incident also shaped my quizzing philosophy. (More about it in the third part of this trilogy)

This quizzing business also served as a valid excuse for bunking lectures. Picture this:
Me entering the lecture hall with 10 mins left.
Prof: (Angrily) Where have you been?
Me: (Cool and Calm) Sir, I'd been to so-and-so college for a quiz, Sir! (The 'Sir' at the end was to make it sound servile and had nothing to do with my South Indian lineage)
Prof: Quiz!!! Did you win anything or are you returning empty-handed? (with a "phir bhi khaali haath" Gabbar-like frown)
Me: Not much, sir. Just won 1000 Rs.
Prof: WOW!!! So, when are you treating us? (In a langotiya-yaar tone)

Soothed Nerves All Around...

But, more than bunking classes and winning quizzes, the best part of it all was the fellowship we developed over a period of 3 years.
Attempting our own brand of humour in a competely packed IInd class compartment...posing teasers written on the frayed last pages of moth-infested notebooks...cursing each other (the mother and sister variety) on missing sitters...the happy-yet-sad feeling for having made it through to the finals but seeing the other team miss out marginally or vice-versa...interact with like-minded quiz-crazy people from other colleges...a chance to rub shoulders against Quizzing Goliaths...etc... etc...
No memory hole can erase these.
No words can describe the been-there-done-that high.

I guess, a poignant way to end the first part of this trilogy.


Anonymous JK said...

AWESOME first post dude....A trip down the memory lane...waiting impatiently for the next part...

1:25 PM  
Anonymous K.K. said...

was waiting anxiously on when you will write abt quizzing.

btw let me tell you that many of us religiously curse our schools for the partial treatment they engaged to the so called " top rankers. "

happy blogging :-)

4:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely post. Reading this blog makes me very nostalgic. I went to school in Muscat and our school had quite an active quiz scene so thats where I developed a love for those quizzes. I guess the highlight was when we were sent for the BQC and we won. And then it was more or less it. Couple of in-school quizzes till I reached class 12 and then I come to the states for college. Haven't participated in a quiz contest for the last 3 years now and reading this post makes me wonder what might have been, had I come to India for college.
I sympathize with your predicament at not being selected for a quiz simply because you werent a top ranker. In our school, it was more often not the case, because we would have a general knowledge test every month and that would be a measure of how you would perform in a quiz. When I was in middle school it used to be quite an accurate measure because there used to be no preparation for these tests, you just go right it. But when I went to high school, I see children in middle school being given "guides" and "notes" for these tests, which, if they memorized, would lead to them coming on top of these tests. Needless to say that again the "toppers" came on top. This phenomenon led to, imho, a decline in quizzing standards in our school, manifesting in just two more batches from our school (after mine) even making it to the bqc (which at that time was the holy grail of a school-going quizzer).
This correlation between topping your school exam and doing well in a general quiz has always peeved me, because the ability to do the former is simply an indication of your ability to memorize, at least in middle school. In high school I noticed a lot more logical thinking required, especially in math and physics (which was why they were my favourite subjects then). Interestingly in my case, there was kind of a reverse expectation too. In middle school I was never a topper. I never really cared much about academics. So when I won the bqc, suddenly the expectation was, wow, this guy is smart, I bet this guy is on top of his class. While it did motivate me to pay a bit more attention to academics, I don't believe it was the right expectation to have. I think, for quizzing to maintain its high standards in India, people must stop linking academics and quizzing together.
Right, rambling post, I stop here.
Good luck.

4:35 AM  
Blogger Salil said...

The "shady" quizzes you mention seem to follow a fixed pattern wherever you go. I'd written about my experiences here.

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Ninad said...

Hey Dhanno,

yaad dila di dost.. woh beete dino ki..

though me not a avid quizzer but still rememberd our quizzin time (wwekly)in B.M.S. wherein we had to make it compulsory for ppl to attend..

Also rememberd the time myself teamd up with Teli a.k.a. Nilesh
for quizzes and 1 quiz i really remember at Ruia wherein the organisers 4got to evaluate ur ntire sheet and declared the results that myself and teli had qualified.

our joy knew no bounds beating Dhanno and motya was in itself an achievemnt, though shortlivd it was quite a moment. the organisers correctd and u were in and we were out..

neways.. keep writing.. and nice posts..

10:22 PM  

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