February 11, 2013

There And Back Again

A week passed by... (not) just like that.

I, dressed as Batman, marched amongst 100 universities hailing from length and breadth of India, along with my friend dressed as Superman. All this weirdness and it still felt normal.

I saw people from a university called GNDU. I joined the mocking laughters aimed at them only to find out that they were smart enough to make a GNDU out of everyone else there. (In their zonals <north>, they claimed 22 out of 25 first places. They were the hosts.)

I witnessed unparalleled performances in art and music laid out before me by my country's finest. A sight of what they create makes you so happy within that you might hug them out of joy. I would.

I slept on make-shift beds/benches with my friends in the hall haunted by the phantom of folklore department, Kalyani University. We survived.

I met fellow quizzers; smart (they knew of our blog QBIT and even our names!); friendly (known faces from Jadavpur); hardworking (a team from Jodhpur which literally read whole of the Manorama yearbook in front of my eyes) and also some unethical ******* who thought it was okay to be asked if 1800 was a leap year or not in a national level quiz.

And, I learnt 'ki kahin khaajja milega, kahin pijja (pizza)...but khush rehna apne hath me hai.'


On 4th of Feb. 2011, I went on my first 'quiz trip' with (what we later branded ourselves as) the RedBay Brothers. With an average of 3.667 trips per semester and two years hence, on the very same date, we set out on another one. University of Kalyani, Nadiya (Kolkata). 28th Inter University National Youth Festival 2012-2013.

Merry Go Round. And Around.
Buoyed by the 1st place win in the zonal youth festival, we were determined to get our bite at the apple in the national round. The invitation never came. Nevertheless, four days prior to the commencement of the event, we took matters in our own hands and started running from one office to another. All thanks to Lord Brahma for saving us the trouble of finding a Team Manager who wasn't only the most suitable person for this purpose but also a big help in getting through the massive paperwork, permissions, signatures and sanctioning of money involved. Yet he couldn't save me from being tackled and pinned to the wall by the Dean Students' Welfare's PA who acted like he was the Secret Service to President of USA and I - a suicide bomber.
Anyway, 17 hours and 28 minutes before the scheduled time of reporting at the venue, our registrations, reservations, etc. were finalised. The word was 'GO'.


The contingent comprised of seven members:
Team Manager sir.
The 3 Redbay brothers.
Mr. N (because 'the guy who wudn't go to kolkata and stay back to study for mid-sems' is too long a nick name).
Mr. Canvas (because he is a great artist and not because of that phone always in his hand).
Chhoti Bahu (because he always found that elusive corner where he could fulfil his 'Call Of Duty' uninterrupted). 

The journey was pleasant. The destination - not so much.
Poor arrangements for accommodation at a national meet does give one a reason to grumble. We adjusted. And used it as an excuse to run away to Kolkata city whenever that 94 minute local train ride seemed feasible.

Getting There.

Department of Folklore.

The Bat-March
The opening ceremony required all participating universities to march around the university and a part of Kalyani locality in a procession. Our Team Manager sir insisted that we do something to make our march a litte more meaningful. We hadn't brought along the college banner. A plain printed placard was all we had to bring BIT to everyone's notice.
Amongst the seven of us, I had the smallest baggage. Yet, I was carrying my Batsuit. I always do. Somehow the joke began that I wear it during the procession. I took it a notch higher by actually putting it on. I never intended to go through with it. But then one of my rebday brothers put on a superman t-shirt. I felt encouraged and decided to go with it.
I even prepared an answer in case I was asked why was I out on streets of Kalyani instead of Gotham. 'I am BIT-man from BIT-Mesra.'
Warming Up.


The BIT (BAT) - March.

Over the next three days we participated in three various events.
Mr. Canvas drew a truly delightful and eye-catching poster for his event poster-making.
Mr. N and Chhoti Bahu put in nights of research and days of preparation for the Debate and saw through their event in as good a way as they had hoped for.

The quiz was an unmitigated disaster. Disregarding their own rules, the organisers went for a direct finale involving all ten qualifying teams from the five zones. The quizmaster, a professor from the host university presented a junior school level quiz. Sample the following questions:
>name the first indian woman to climb the mount everest.
>who wrote 'saare jahan se achha'.
>is 1800 a leap year? (unfortunately, the team that was asked this question didnt respond with the correct answer. Ofcourse they never expected such a question.)
Other Similar questions followed along with a couple of questions about the 'planet' pluto.
Two rounds later most of the teams protested (revolted). The quiz was suspended.
They never thought of hiring a proper quiz-master. Not even after all of it. Why would they when they could easily save the government fund allocated for it and wrap up the quiz with a 60 question - 30 minutes long AIEEE style paper.
We finished third.

Mr. Canvas' Poster & Redbay Brothers Quizzing.

So, if you ask me whether its worth going to such an event, I would say : You would be mistreated, ignored and made to face unfair judgement. You may even get that feeling of not having been granted enough opportunities to prove your capabilities. But then, you could be mistreated, ignored or falsely judged even where you are breathing right now. At least there you will meet some rare and genuine people. You will rub shoulders with the best of your time. Whatever the destination, I promise that the journey will always be fun.
Keeping all these odds (and evens) in mind, imagine yourself snatching a victory.
Now, wouldn't that be something ?!
So, from my point of view, the word will always be 'GO'.

Rangoli Making.

Clay Modeling.

Some people (GNDU) spend upto rupees 4 lakhs on their contingent.
Some (Mumbai University) send their dancers to assam for 75 days to learn Bihu.
Some (Kerala University) travel all the way up to West Bengal by bus undertaking a 4 day road trip.
And some (us) extort money from the college and miss classes for the whole week before the mid-semester exams.
Not all of us win big. Not all of us prevail over the connections, sources and corruption required to make the judges blow your trumpet.

Still, it takes nothing away from the odyssey underwent. For all that it took us across, was valuable in its own simple way.
My week was spent with the titans of my time in their respective fields.
My week was spent with a gem of an artist - Mr. Canvas.
And the guys like Mr. N and Chhoti Bahu who stayed up nights, worked hard and smart to put on a good show. (and perhaps their remaining awake fended off the phantom of folklore department.)
And my redbay brothers with whom it doesn't matter where or in what conditions we quiz.
And my Team manager who made more friends and interacted with more number of people than all of the Kalyani university organising committee taken together. Gratitude to him for his ever accommodating pleasant attitude and perspective. And his jokes....and the final killer line after the valedictory ceremony on the last day..
"Ye kalyani wale east zone ka quiz dekhe hote to **** *** **** ****."  :D


The trip was over.
My final idea was to run away on the last day for a ride around the city on the Tram.
Never came around to doing it. Had I done so... maybe the redbay brothers would have started calling me 'Tram' instead of 'Sangam'.

Rights to exaggeration and bragging reserved.
No characterisation intended.
Everything is relative to your perspective.