Archive for the ‘My start-up’ category

IIFT, Kolkata – Open General Quiz Review

August 31, 2010

Sipping My Fair Lady at Moulin Rouge, Park Street, Kolkata with a bunch of students from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, I wished I could spend atleast one more day in the wonderful city. The open general quiz conducted by us (QuizMonks) had concluded an hour ago and it was celebration time. We huddled in one corner of the restaurant and spoke about the quiz, questions, Kolkata quizzers, films, music, Calvin & Hobbes, Facebook, MBA, jobs and much more.

Earlier during the day, casual conversations with the students brought out the perceived image of Kolkata being quite a lethargic city. Shops pull-down shutters in the afternoons for naps, auto-rickshaws ply only fixed routes and quizzes (usually) don’t begin on time. This was partly right as the participants started filing into the auditorium only by 4.30 pm, an hour after registrations began.

Much different from Mumbai and its chaotic lifestyle, Kolkata is really one of those cities where people are pretty much at-their-own-pace. They don’t seem hurried and certainly not hassled. But, the auditorium was soon buzzing with participants switching seats, shuffling around, greeting each other and planning local quizzes and quiz club meets like one big happy family.

Lethargy or not, what we witnessed was a high spirited bunch of quizzers – agile and enthusiastic. Much like Chennai and Bangalore, school kids, college students and 40 plus uncles and aunties all played an active part in the extravaganza. A sight that we rarely see in Mumbai. I can recollect only one ‘uncle’ in Mumbai who is a passionate and a regular quizzer. One hardly ever sees school students at open quizzes.

The prelims went off well with all the 30 questions getting cracked by some or the other team. With a highest score of 22.5 and a cut-off of 16, six teams joined the two college teams that had already qualified through the online prelims.

When three of the first four questions in the finals went unanswered, Dhananjay and me were a little concerned that the quiz might turn out to be ultra-tough. But when the likes of Jayashree Mohanka and Souvik Guha grace the stage, you can’t expect an ordinary quiz, can you? The lead changed hands quite regularly in the initial phases and with almost 1/3rd of the quiz done, it was Charanpreet Singh & partner who led, albeit by a slender margin. The duo seemed quite surprised and jocularly asked, “Can we stop the quiz at this stage?”, prompting peals of laughter from the teams and audience alike. Unfortunately for them, the show had to go on and the doyen of Indian quizzing, Souvik Guha, decided to join the party. With some intelligent guesses and some matter-of-fact answers, he and Dr. Soubhadra Chakraborthy steered clear of others and won in a canter followed by Jayashree Mohanka & Sounak Chakrabarti on second spot.

I personally look forward to ‘high adrenaline moments’ in a quiz – when a participant cracks a bloody tough one or when the crowd appreciates a good question. And the Kolkata quizzers gave us those ‘moments’ and more! What is most delightful is that people seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves like they were on a picnic. Bantering at a co-quizzer’s lame guess to helping us correct elims sheets; participating with the objective of having fun and not being desperate to win are some of the traits that distinguishes Kolkata quizzers. One could sense a certain purity in their love for quizzing, a richness in their knowledge base, a lightness of touch in their delivery of answers and a nimble energy raging within them.

The students of IIFT, Kolkata organized the event with utmost perfection. The venue, the screen, LCD projectors, sound systems, mics were all spot-on. No technical glitches, whatsoever.  Right from receiving us at the airport to conducting the event to dropping us back at the departure lounge, Jagadish Sahu and his team of students were meticulous to the final detail.

And then the dinner with Sukrit, Sandeep, Ankit, Chaitanya and Jagadish was the icing on the cake. Add to that the almost-celebrity treatment that Karan Rampal, our official ‘guide’ for the trip gave us. Aah, what a weekend! This was one satisfying quizzing experience (unlike this disaster). Here’s hoping the quizzing culture of Kolkata remains as energetic and vibrant as ever.


Quizzing Misadventures

November 13, 2009

This happened last week at a premium B-school:

We (QuizMonks; the research team) reach the venue of the quiz two hours before the scheduled time for a dry run.

1) The event head has flown off to Delhi to participate in some other quiz. (Bravo!)

2) The assistant in-charge takes us to the venue when there’s hardly 30 minutes left for the quiz to start.

3) The LCD switches off every 2 minutes; there is no mic; no sound cord for the laptop to test the audio questions.

4) A volunteer gets a cord from somewhere after much delay and the audio works fine. (Phew!)

5) The volunteer says, “Since the sound cord is put in the system, the mic wouldn’t work. Dhananjay, can you shout?” (It almost prompted Dhananjay to reply, “Yes. Can I start with you?”)

6) We realize the LCD is a pain. The assistant in-charge asks a corporate participant to stand on a chair and rectify the LCD that’s mounted on the ceiling. (You see, the organizers don’t believe in being formal. What the hell! In fact, they don’t believe in being courteous either.)

7) After much delay, they change the venue of the elims to a different classroom. All participants are asked to move there.

8) At the new venue, the LCD and mics are fine, but the audio doesn’t work fine. A random volunteer says, “Guys, please don’t delay anymore. We are late already. Let’s start the quiz.”

9) We start the elims and Dhananjay has to change two audio/video questions on the spot, as the organizers couldn’t get the audio glitches smoothened.

10) The screen at the main lawns (where the finals are to happen) is a tiny one mounted on a tripod. We ask the volunteers to change it. One of them tells us, “It will be visible. Don’t worry. Anyway, the quizmaster would read out, na?”

11) We threaten we wont do the quiz if they don’t get a bigger screen. They use a flex/banner on the backdrop and the finals that were to start at 6.30 pm gets postponed until 7 pm. And then, they realize that the director is on his way. So the quiz finally starts at around 7.45 pm. The Quizmaster had arrived at 5.15 pm. (Who cares about sticking to the schedule!)

12) The ultra smart sound guy keeps on fidgeting with the speakers and every time an audio is played, no one is able to hear it. Every single time, the host has to keep on announcing, “Someone please get the audio straight.” Every single time.

All these goof-ups, despite giving them clear instructions (in writing) a couple of weeks before the quiz about the exact requirements; including, the size of the screen.

Just a couple of weeks prior to the above-mentioned disaster, at another premium B-school, the organizers look unprepared for the event. A tiny screen for a massive auditorium; winners being given post-dated cheques without even informing them about it, etc. The cribber-event-head tells us in a high-handed tone, “Dhananjay, I thought you’d bring with you at least 50 corporate teams. Still, we get only 27 corporate teams. What ya?” We make it clear to him that it’s not the responsibility of the research team to get teams.

Personally, I feel that most of these people conduct events to add bullet points on their CV. Everything boils down to that. What a farce! Quite a few organizers speak with us as if we are their slaves. I think they take this liberty with us, because we aren’t like the other quizmasters who strut around with attitude up their sleeves, stay on campus and yet arrive late for quizzes, order food at odd hours, ask people to postpone their flights since the quiz would run late and conduct the quiz according to their whims and fancies. Surprisingly (or, maybe not), they are the ones who are respected; students address them as ‘sir’ and talk to them like they were the bosses. These are men of honour!

When Dhananjay and I conceived the idea of a quizzing research company, we were very clear about what we wanted. Dhananjay loved quizzing and I always wanted to do something on my own. We approached two of our friends who also shared similar interests and just like that, we got started. Our motto was clear – to offer quality research that’s unmatched in the country and conduct quizzes where the focus is on the questions and not, the accompanying shenanigans. We would slog our asses; stay overnight at each others’ places, work and re-work on questions, re-frame them to make them look sleeker and yet informative; think about 100 odd things to make the quiz a good mix of easy/tough questions, keep on racking our brains to cover questions on varied topics, etc.

Some unsaid rules we follow (or, try our best to) religiously are –

1) No compromise on research no matter how ‘commercial’ the event/quiz might have to be.

2) We will never be late for our quizzes because, we value our and everybody else’s time. We reach the venue at least an hour and a half prior to the scheduled time and do a dry run.

3) Complete the quiz a week before the event, so that we can review it over the next few days and make it better.

4) A post-event review and take necessary steps to make it better next time.

5) We ask participants for their suggestions after every quiz and if they make sense (and they generally do), earnestly work towards them.

Maybe, we should throw some attitude. Maybe, we should arrive late. We should perhaps ask the organizers to serve us spicy Chinese food and Kiwi-fruit juice next time. We must insist on a chauffer driven car. We must repeat questions from previous quizzes. I think all this will make QuizMonks more coveted in the eyes of the organizers.


Armageddon 2006

August 28, 2006

Sinister shadows shroud the World,
Death-knell signal doom,
No magic shall shield thee,
Sheer knowledge be thy saviour.
The war begins….

Introduced in the year 2001, ARMAGEDDON is a Business Quiz organised by the BMS students of Mulund College of Commerce, Mumbai.
Armageddon-2005 witnessed a congregation of the best business quizzing brains from across the country. The onstage finale saw Amit Pandeya (QuestaSoft) and Kiran K (Qualteam) vanquishing the likes of Mitesh Agarwal and Ajay Kasargod (Sun Microsystems / WYSE Technologies), Rohan Khanna and Gajendra Kothari (Accenture / UTI AMC), Gururaj and Vijay (JWT / JP Morgan), G Sreekanth and Sabyasachi (TCS) and Arvind Khusape and Aniruddh (SBI / SIES) to clinch the coveted title.

The torchbearers of hardcore biz quizzing are back with Armageddon 2006, and promise to unleash a whole new world of knowledge excellence.

The quiz will comprise of a Written Elims from which the Top 6 teams will go through to the Finals.

Following are the details:
Date & Time:
10th September at 12 noon

Team Members:
Two per team
(A Team can comprise of participants from two different institutions / organisations)

Entry Fee:
Free for students and Rs. 150 per team for corporates

Mulund College of Commerce
Sarojini Naidu Road,
Mulund (W), Bombay – 400080

First – Rs. 25000
Second – Rs. 15000
Third – Rs. 10000

For further details:

Samruddhi – 09833524561 or

Here are a few questions from Armageddon-2005

1. It was unveiled on Oct 12, 1988 in a packed Davis Symphony Hall in San Francisco, by demonstrating its ability to run four stopwatches at once and give a synthetic rendition of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. What?

2. Edward Bellamy, a lawyer and author, in his utopian book “Looking Backward: 2000-1887” described a society where transactions would essentially be conducted between the consumer and the Government and every citizen would have a share of the annual product of the nation. What term did he coin as a result?

3. Its roots can be traced back to 1979 when William Bernbach got the inspiration from banks who were offering toasters and electric blankets to their best customers and to new customers for opening accounts. It was launched on May 1, 1981 under the name ‘AAdvantage’. What?

4. Introduced in the 1870s, there are currently four in number and are operated simultaneously. Measuring 18 inches in diameter, they were manufactured by the G S Edwards Company of Connecticut. In the late 1980s, it was decided to refurbish them and add another one as a back-up. However, it was discovered that such of its kind were no longer being made by any company. Hence, G S Edwards Co. agreed to make a special replica and brought employees out of retirement to handle the job. While this was being done, an older one was discovered, which was polished and is now used as a spare one. What am I referring to?

5. A short film titled ‘True’, directed by Charles Stone III featured his childhood friends Fred Thomas, Paul Williams and Scott Brooks who would sit around using the catch-phrase ‘_______’. It caught the attention of copywriter Vinny Warren who signed Stone to direct television commercials for a brand based on the film. Identify the brand / catch-phrase.

Quiz till thou dropeth dead