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Continuing from where I left last time...
The next day, all of us assembled at the school ground, and we all started. We reached the venue, well before time, only to see hordes and hordes of students and the buses of every school in the entire region, honking for a parking place. Even as I entered, I got this feeling, (Which I don't usually get), that this was going to be something special. In what way ? That was something that was about to be unfurled.
The school's venue for the quiz was their auditorium. That was the one of the longest I had seen till then. I've participated in quizzes that had had entire schools packaged in a single auditorium. But this one.. This one was somehow, kind of intimidating. There were people on the first floor, and the second floor. It was like you had entered an elongated Opera theatre. Suddenly, you feel as if everybody is looking at you. That sometimes, kind of un-nerves me.
Before the quiz started, there was some other competition that was going on in the auditorium. So we were waiting. Word-Flair was yet to start. P and the other girl were sitting together and we were sitting in the row ahead of them. I am always high-strung before an important occasion. This was no such exception. P called me, and started small-talk. I was like WTF !!! But nevertheless, I did not show my reaction to her, and talked normally. It took me sometime to realise and S realised it at the same time, that the two girls were playing us. Apparently they had a bet that P would get me to talk to her for atleast 5 minutes. Surprisingly, I did not get angry. (I still wonder why), and won the bet for P. :) After this, there was an announcement for the participants of the quiz to take their chairs on the dias.
The organization of the quiz was actually pathetic. Nobody knew what was happening. Mikes were not working, but the quiz master decided to go ahead and start the quiz. There were 8 teams. Now the Quiz Master threw down the bolt. He said that this was a prelims quiz that would eliminate 4 of the teams and there would be only 4 teams for the finals. And that, there would be carry-over of points from Prelims to the Finals. This actually meant more work. Except for two teams, the other teams looked 'beatable'. Now that's a very relative word, and this judgment can come only from years and years of quizzing, which both S and myself had.
The quiz started. The first question that turned the quiz in our favor was this.
'Which is the oldest underground train system in the world ?'
I had no idea what the answer to this question. That is when S came into the picture. As the question was being passed around, he picked up the mike and indicated that he knew the answer, and as was my style, I let him. He spoke over the microphone,
'London Underground Railway System'.
'That's right Z. You get 5 points.'
The teams that I had expected would prove to give a tough fight, did give us a tough fight. Finally it came down to one question, which I remember quite clearly...
'Which is the most common disease in the world ?'
There were very vague answers for this one. I knew that I had it nailed even before the question was passed around. All I was praying was for that, the team I had expected to be tough competition passes the question.
That team had reportedly won every one of the quiz competition that they had participated in, representing their school. Their school was the most famous one in the region and their entrance exams were the toughest to crack in the whole of South Chennai.
Coming back to the quiz, there were n number of factors that were running around in my mind. This was officially the first quiz that I was going to, after entering +1. Also the whole contingent which had accompanied us, looked at both of us (S and myself) as two 'heavy weight' intellectuals. So it was more than a win at stake. Honor was also at stake. :). Nobody took our school seriously. No, I am not joking. It is a statement. For most people, Z was a place where one could go, when all hopes fail. They felt that, no matter what happens, Z would always take in their kids. And all other schools always looked at Z, as if we were from some Third World country. So it was more than just a quiz, it was a point to be proved.
We got all sorts of answers, that ranged from
Finally, it came to us. I knew that this was going to be the most defining moment of the prelims.
'That's right Z. 5 points to Z for answering this question.'
Ours was actually a small contingent, hardly 10 people sitting in the auditorium representing us, and everytime we answered a question correctly, our folks did everything possible to encourage us. Soon all the other teams were looking at our contingent, surprised. I guess they were thinking, 'If they have such a good team, why such a small contingent'. Soon, other schools contingents also started cheering for us. At the end of the quiz, when we were declared the winners, the noise was defeanening. Even the Rival Team folks, showed us the thumbs up and indicated that we had done a good job.
We won the prelims comprehensively. So we went ahead into the finals with 30 points. The Rival team went ahead with 15 points and the third team got 10 points. And the fourth team with 5 points.
As we walked back to our place in the auditorium, suddenly there was a new-found respect in everybody's eyes, as if a soldier is returning home after winning the war for his country. Some Guys were offering us chairs to sit. Some girls came up to us, and congratulated us. :):P .. As I said, earlier, I enjoyed the attention that I was getting.
I could now see some warmth in the girl's face whom I had recommended for word-flair. Perhaps it struck her that I was not so high strung as she had thought me to be. She was smiling at me. I was like, 'WoW.. Someone's sure had a change of heart.'
We then waited for the next quiz. That was scheduled about 15 minutes later. In 15 minutes we were busy exchanging updates on what was happening on other competitions, and who were the winners. Then we were called up for the finals. The finals is still a blur in my memory, for reasons unknown to me. I guess, the disappointing memories don't stay long, I don't know. But I do remember me missing out on two sitter questions, and S cursing me, as to how I could let that go.
We were supposedly in the third spot, in the penultimate round of the quiz, and It suddenly looked like we were only 'One Quiz Wonder'. Again, it was a trance like state for me. The Rival team was a clear leader. So we had to salvage some pride by securing atleast second. The team in second spot was already being very comfortable. It looked as if they had already sealed themselves at that spot. I decided to make it otherwise.
'Who is the author of the book, 'Wings of Fire' ?'.
This question, if asked now, might be answered even by a fourth standard kid. But in 2001, this was a good current affairs question. All other teams were exclaiming that this was a sitter. But I had forgotten the answer !!! As S began shaking me to bring me out of my trance, the answer came to me in a flash.
'APJ Abdul Kalam'
'That's right Z. With that, folks, this quiz is over. S gets the first place and Z has scored the second place.'
I was actually slightly disappointed. As I had not expected to be routed in the finals. But again, everything has a first time. The quiz got over here. But there was more to come.
After the quiz was over, we went back to our places. P was sitting with a sad face. I asked her, what had happened. She said, her inability to answer one simple question had cost our school the First place in word flair. Apparently the other girl had answered her question correctly. If P had answered hers then it would have been hands down. But unfortunately that wasn't the case. The other girl was trying to convince her that it was not just because of her we had lost. The other team was equally good. It took us quite some time to get P back in her groove.
After that, when the actual results were announced, we realised that S and Z had tied for the first place and that we were joint winners. You have no idea, how happy I felt that day. After that, we were made to sit in a classroom, till the school bus came. It was in this classroom, that the other girl and myself, came to understand each other. We weren't as bad as we had thought the other to be. :) :P
I guess many myths were broken in that hour in that classroom. After this incident, my respect for the girl grew manifold, (though I still insist that I did not and I still don't want to show it :P). What we couldn't do in 3 months of school, being in the same classroom, we achieved it in an hour, in a classroom that was not ours and one that was fully filled with strangers (literally) - That of Understanding each other.
Cut to Present, The girl is now happily married to her Prince Charming.
No points for guessing who that girl is.
Of Quizzes, Answers and Destiny ... Part 7
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