Sunday, August 20, 2006


This is a biiig post. Warning over.

Puneri quizzers have a tendency to not travel too much for quizzes. This is not because we prefer being lions at home (I could be wrong) but it's probably more to do with a more inbuilt inertia that rubs off when you live in Pune. "Why bother to travel so much when you can get a decent quiz within a 5 km radius at regular intervals?" is probably what he (and occasionally a she) would tell you, but we're too lazy to say these things (we prefer leisurely blogging about them).

Which is why, despite justified (self-)criticism of not competing much outside, it has never really bothered me that I haven't been to many of the big college fests of the country of the kind that has youth magazines salivating in their dreams. For it has been my (painful) experience that these are an unending reservoir of bad quizzing moments that no amount of "let's look at other events/people/things at a fest" can undo (our motto being: "v q i.e. v r"). And especially when is rapidly aging, these things are harder to digest.

Elims Day

But I went to Malhar '06. It was not to clutch at reminders of renewed academic flings, but merely to see for myself the much-venerable St. Xavier's college, a place which is in the same age-genarian bracket as ol' COEP. As the bus rolled through Bombay, the jokes of "stick to the wall" became louder. And believe me, it's no joke - they do tell you to stick to the wall, even when there is no wall. Soon, we were being told to not do many things. So before I tell you what I did manage to do, here's what I couldn't:

  • Stand outside a line (even while registering for an event)
  • Stand near the admin office
  • Stand in about 90% of the premises
  • Stand still (it seemed - see incident 1)
  • Take photographs (see incident 2)
  • Register for a three man event with less than 3 (see incident 3)
  • Keep my satchel with me during the elims
  • Walk bidirectionally in most passageways

As promised, the incidents:
1: In the afternoon, having found no place to rest my de-calcinated bones, the legs claimed union regulations and went on strike. On being asked to "keep moving" by a well-meaning volunteer, I could only move my arms about and ask him: "Is this fine?". Something I was soon to observe: extended volunteering seems to sap your sense of irony.

2: Ok, this was probably my mistake but my strong sense of irony in contrast to volunteers was to blame. I now like to think this is the closest I have come to being "bounced" out of anywhere. Having roamed around the place and the incessant rain driving me blue, all I could see were these signs everywhere saying "don't stand around", "no food and beverages on the stairs" and so on. Feeling increasingly like a small-time Chicago bootlegger during the Depression, I felt almost ashamed to exist as it seemed every action of mine was violating some injunction (when you're on their turf, do their implied punishments apply, I wonder?). It got to a point when I (along with two KReSIT friends) saw a bunch of Xavierites (I'll use Kunal's patent-pending "Jhavierites" appropriately w.r.t the quizzes) standing, a little aimlessly (or so it seemed to my blue-and-jaundiced eyes), near a sign saying "Do not loiter here". I controlled my by now mania-induced Joker laugh to remark to the friends that it would be a great idea to snap a photo of one of these signs. Then, with manic enthusiasm running away with the plot, it seemed an even better idea for me to pose right under that sign and be in the frame.

Which was a little bit of a mistake. I forgot all about "no cameras" at the gates also implying "no photographs". Friend says "here is a camera phone!" and there I had jumped into position. Sadly, the Xs also did some jumping and I was immediately surrounding (the sign-makers would have been happy - clearly, no one was doing any loitering now). "I'm sorry, no photographs". The mania, though ebbing, was going down with a fight. "You see the irony here, don't you", I blurted. "Irony?", said the most heavily-built of them, a touch defiantly. I wasn't too sure if he knew what I meant by "irony", but soon his features relaxed and he decided to not dispose of me in any of the potentially thirteen different ways discussed in the last Malhar Security meeting. And here I am, writing this post.

3: This, at least, finds me on the right side of common sense and quizzing ideals. At Malhar, I grew increasingly restive w.r.t the excessive checking of IDs (at least two for those part of "official contingent") and the line-standing. After having nothing to do for about 2 hours between elims, KReSIT friend and I join the queue for the Business quiz+more elims. Only to find out at the end of the FIFO that we couldn't register with two members. "For you need a maximum of three", I was told. "Aha!", said I, spotting the flaw in the argument. "We are less than three". "No, you need a minimum of three too", said she, rolling the sleeves back to reveal the ace. I remonstrated and ooh-ed and aah-ed in the name of common sense, but I was told there was not much that could be done and would I like to meet the O-somethings? (refer Kunal's guide to the Os). At first, I thought I ought to, but then I withdrew as the outcome was not in doubt. And we had been cautioned by our contingent leaders to not cause a fuss, and I didn't want to do so in an event that I wasn't even good at.

The fact that I got through the day after incidents and elims was partly to the cooling environs of the only solace that day - the St. Xavier's Library. It's a good place to roost - tidbit to remember if you are there and need a place to rest that aching head. It had an interesting poster about the Human Genome Project too.

Finally to business: the two quizzing elims I had been drafted for. The morning fixture was that of the Military/Political quiz, dubbed the "Major Quiz". (As events would unfold, one could think of a lot of phrases to insert between "Major" and "Quiz".) The elims were bad, as bad as expected. A litany of woes:

  • We were given 90 minutes for 40 questions and then warned there would be -ve points if we took more time.
  • The qs that were decent were too factual to be interesting.
  • Some were hilariously awful ("In what pose was George Washington often depicted in paintings") (paraphrased). A quick web search later that day revealed that some of these bad questions were lifted, word for word, from a site called "" whose sections on Australian PMs must have received a lot of hits from the Malhar proxy server.

The evening was the Entertainment quiz. Interestingly, they had also clubbed Sports among Entertainment - not that I was complaining. But again, the questions were poorly framed. There was an attempt to bring in Indian f&m, and even references to Indian classical, but the choice of facts and framing: questions such as "what is the significance of the Michael Jackson song "Billie Jean" (what is significant to me could be insignificant to you) and "ornamentation i.e. the art of learning to sing impossible (paraphrased - I forget the rest)... what is it called" (the intent of the question wasn't too clear) were typical. It was a pleasure when we put pens down. Answers took a while coming, so I scooted before they appeared.

Finals Day
I didn't have to go for the 2nd Elims day thankfully. But the scheduling of the finals was rather irksome. For the finals were scheduled such that what could have been an easy set of 4 holidays was hacked down to half (for me). Malhar has a separate set of finals day a week apart, and plus they chose to go for Sunday and Monday (Monday was a working day for students, and some from IIT were severely inconvenienced) instead of a more favourable Sat-Sun, given Tuesday was 15th Aug.

The overall atmosphere was pleasantly better - security were (we get frisked) nicer than last week (when they had surveyed my Crocin tablets with the eyes of a Redneck customs official assigned to flights from Afghanistan), volunteers were almost apologetic about the one-ways and so on. The book exhibition (by small vendors - the street sale type) was a good idea. Admittedly, there didn't seem to be too many "great finds", but I did pick up a couple of books (A collection of "insults" and the book form of "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines"). There was also a film festival, but could not attend it because of the time taken by the quizzes. Was also good to see a small booth put up by students from their "Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged". The only event I saw a glimpse of was "Geetantar", where people sang words from one Hindi film song to the tune of another, and what's more, they were doing it fairly well. "Raga", the newsletter, was read - some articles were quite creative.

But the quizzes were what I was there for, and well, the tales of them shouldn't disappoint. Coming soon.


Blogger Kunal said...

Hehe, sounds like you had a lot of fun. Can't wait for the post on the quizzes

12:30 AM  

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