As a little girl, seated at my study table, pretending to solve the much yawn-inducing Math worksheets assigned from school, I used to squeeze Tinkle comics under the damn thing and read them when nobody noticed. Yes. Stealthily. Like a mouse crouching in a corner nibbling on cheese. And I used to try my best to not show any of the myriad of emotions the comic took me through. Not to glow in the face when I solved one of those Tinkle Treats and Tricks; not to ‘eww’ when Chamataka gets bathed in a bucket full of coal-tar as a result of a failed plan to kill Kalia; not to facepalm when Suppandi makes a fool of himself (yet again). I had to be very careful; always keep a grim, this-Trigonometry-problem-is-so-tough-I-need-to-concentrate look on my face with my forehead pointed. Lest my mom notices and comes to investigate.
Among all the characters that Uncle Pai left behind, my favourite was Suppandi. His elongated half-head, long jaw and huge nose amused me. Coupled with his loose shorts (called ‘Senthil shorts’ in the South film industry), his red t-shirt and the way he changed his masters by the dozen, Suppandi was a sight to see. His clumsiness, stubbornness and uncanny ability to do EVERYTHING wrong were things that made Suppandi an epic comic character. I adored him.
Now imagine a room full of Suppandis, who are not even funny. On Sunday, 6th March’11, I attended a full-day event at IIT-Bombay – The BQC Open Quiz. And I couldn’t help but chuckle as the students of IIT-Bombay reminded me of the village simpleton. The clumsiness of the student organizers and their unparalleled ability in getting almost everything wrong. Except that Suppandi was innocent, genuinely ignorant and naive. He just couldn’t get a single task right. And genuinely so. But the IIT-B junta aren’t even innocent. For years now, I have noticed their casual approach towards organizing an event.
From what I gather, the BQC team had sent them detailed mails of instructions for the event. Availability of the auditorium, the mic systems, sound, buzzers, and other logistical requirements. And still, the last minute ‘jugaad’ for the buzzers, a lecture hall instead of the promised auditorium as the venue and absence of mics.
This is not the first time. Each time a quiz event happens at IIT-B, I have been witness to this kind of technological mismanagement. Why they failed to deliver was beyond me. Maybe, now I know why. Suppandi as a character was entertaining because of his ignorance at comprehending his own foolishness. Imagine another layer to him now. What if he knew what he is doing and still continued to do it? Its not ‘ignorance’ anymore, but ‘arrogance’. And you feel nothing but disgust and anger at such a character. That’s exactly what IIT-B student organizers come across as. Unbelievably clumsy with almost a ‘ok, chill da…why care?’ written on their faces. Year after year. (Link)
What irks me most is that in spite of the BQC team putting up such a fantastic show with high quality research, entertaining questions, and interesting formats, this review is overshadowed by the dismal arrangements made by the IIT-B students.
Coming to the quizzes, the BQC team put up an awesome event with a students-only general, an open sports and an open general quiz. The students general quiz conducted by Vikram Joshi and Pradeep Ramarathnam was thoroughly entertaining with questions ranging from Bunga Bunga to Kanga League. I felt the level of questions for students was just right with most of them being cracked by either the teams or audience members. It’s a good thing to keep the quiz on the easier side for students. They like to go home happy and entertained. Pradeep and Vikram did a good job of the hosting bit taking turns round wise.
The Sports quiz conducted by Atul Mathew, Anannya Deb and Anand Sivasankar was a decent show. (Note: I’m not too much into sports). What I liked most about it was their intention to make it an all-inclusive sports quiz. From styles of table-tennis grips to Kenenisa Bekele’s personal tragedy to Parvez Musharraf’s quote on Jahangir Khan, this was one informative quiz. However, I felt it could have been more entertaining with Cricket fundas. ‘Coz lets face it. In India, sport means Cricket. And it is essential to cater to the audience that’s there to just have some fun on a Sunday afternoon. In addition, the questions could have been shorter with more audio-visuals peppered in and a bit of coordination between the quizmasters would have helped. Hard core stuff deserves accolades.
This was followed by the Open General quiz by the big daddies – Rajiv Rai, Sumant Srivatsan and Vibhendu Tiwari. For anyone who’s wondering, why big daddies? Well, the slides were flawless, the questions ranged from moderately easy to real hard core toughies. I loved the history and entertainment questions specifically. My favourites: Kanchipuram sari shade MS Blue (named after MS Subbulakshmi) and the connection between AR Rahman, Tuntun and Hemlata. For me though, the highlight of this quiz was Sumant’s hosting. It was heartening to see him actually make an effort to walk to each team with the mic and MAKE them speak into it. And coupled with his witty comments and leg-pulls here and there, Sumant brought in some life after a long day of quizzing. With the absence of mics for teams, most of the times the audience couldn’t hear them during the other two quizzes. So Sumant, I felt, made it rather delightful.
All in all, a good day of quizzing for those who followed Rajiv’s advice and turned up, rather than watching the sissy cricket match at home. I have given up on IIT-Bombay students with regards to their ability to conduct an event flawlessly. Its not that they cannot. They just don’t have the intention. So here’s hoping BQC Open grows from strength to strength, and adds rich value to the already existing quizzing culture for years to come. As for IIT-Bombay event organizers, their anthem will always be the famous bath-tub song from Veer Zaara, ‘Hum Toh Bhai Jaise Hain, Vaise Rahenge.’
(Results of the quiz and snaps here: Link)