Monday, August 16, 2004

Malhar 2004 II - IITian Someones: What not to ask at Malhar

After the qualifying rounds of Malhar, the inter college uber-fest of St. Xavier's College Mumbai, on the 8th of August we went back there for the finals a week later on the 14th. The size of our contingent had gone down from 35 to 13, 8 of these being participants. All in all, I'd say we were one of the smaller contingents at Malhar.

Our first conatct with the Jhavierite-Malharites was the with brown clad Neanderthals with "SECURITY" printed on their shirts, which they had "customised" (read "mutilated") with scissors. In Malhar the various departments wear their own tshirts. Admin, for instance wears green, Security wears brown (no doubt inspired by Ernst Roehm's Nazi Brownshirts), Assistance wears red, LA wears white, etc. Anyway, as we got to the gate, we came across the security guys. After seeing that we were participants (participants are bullied less) they directed us to the participants entrance. 10 minutes, various wannabe sarcastic comments and a rigorous frisking later, we were in. We went straight to our book quiz, Pulp Fiction which was at 12:30.

The Book Quiz

To say that the book quiz was arbitrary, unnecessarily complex or unfair would be an understatement to shock an English butler. One word immediately comes to mind (with which I'm sure you are quite aquainted by now), and that is Maaz.

The quiz was set and conducted by an LA OG, Toru Nair. Ulka Athale and I represented FC. We should have known what we were in for when a Jhavierite volunteer shouted, "When the quiz goes down to the wire/ We all turn to Toru Nair". The Jhavierites all cheered and guffawed like it was the funniest thing they had ever heard. I suppose if you are a maazlela Jhavierite who doesnt fit in with the real world, you need to find humour in some pretty "unconventional" places.

The questions were, in a word, bad. Even so, we took an early lead, and were 40 points clear of the competition. Of course the D&P 20+10 format may have had much to do with that. However, as we realised, the questions weren't fixed for any team. Miss Nair had a list, and she changed the order many times midway, unintentionally (I hope) favouring one team over the other.

Then came the piece de resistance. IIT Powai, then in 2nd place had a direct question. "What" asks Toru, "is the funda behind the title of Chetan Bhagat's 'Five Point Someone'?" The smug "I am in IIT, I kick ass' look the that we had wiped off the IITian's faces came back on again. Out of all the literary questions that one might ask an IItian team, that had to be the biggest sitter. And it couldnt even have happened by accident. Toru had previously not asked us the next question in her list because "it is too easy for you", and given us a tougher (read unanswerable by sane humans) question.

The rest of the quiz was a blur. Miss Nair was the rudest quizmaster (or is it quizmistress?) I have ever seen, and that is saying a lot. Comments like, "How could you not answer that, it was so easy", "Thats a stupid answer" and even "You should be kicked out of Lit class for that" were legion. Soon IIT, and even the Xaviers team pulled ahead of us. There were 4 or 5 buzzer rounds with the stupidest format I have ever seen. 10 points for the first buzz, 5 for the second and no negatives. No negatives in a buzzer round!? Taking advantage of this, we jammed the buzzer and reduced the opposition's points tally a bit. In fact our first spurt was due to this spark of insanity on the part of the organisers.

The quiz dragged on and on. 12 rounds, 15 rounds, and I lost count. Even the flies on the walls dropped off due to extreme boredom. Finally Toru said those 7 magical words, "I'm sorry, we're running out of time". The last round started and it was on the buzzer. We repeated our earlier form and pulled ahead of Xaviers. Mood-I 2003 was avenged: We had beaten Xaviers in their own Book quiz! IIT, however remained unvanquished.



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