Friday, May 2, 2008

I Grow Old, OR, Why I Hate Quizzing.

It creates normal, unassuming human beings into egomaniacs on stage who have to get the better of the question marks. It promotes superciliousness, smugness and all other forms of general asshole-ness. It does not come with a warning sign that says “Addictive”. It got me Student Council posts in school that I didn’t want. It also gets me worked up.

Today the MP Birla Smarak Kosh Quiz took place. I have attended it for the past five years and it keeps getting better. The quizmaster, CP, always asks kindred questions (kindred questions being, of course, the ones we can answer) and Annesha and I were in the fourth row, two boisterous girls squirming in our seats at the terrible guesses being made onstage. We notched up our own points and won it in the audience, laughed more than we used to laugh onstage, and cursed the fact that we never got to participate in SK. And somewhere between it all I felt strange, because I’d never be at a quiz in my school uniform again.

Long ago before we became the cool kids who went festing, and long before people found out that all we did at the fests was quiz (and then we weren’t cool anymore), I was your average vegetable. Then someone sent me for a quiz with two people I absolutely detested. We bickered through the first quiz, guessed through the next, and then started winning. And then my teammates became my best friends. Then we realized we weren’t really quizzers. We knew nothing. We were there for the food packets.

We guessed, wildly. We laughed at our own guesses even more wildly. We thumped each others’ backs and created minor stage accidents with mineral water bottles and microphones when we found out the guesses were correct. And then our school, which had just woken up to the fact that a quiz club existed, decided that most of the good quizzes simply weren’t worth going to. So the metamorphosis happened – we became quiz spectators. We went to quizzes to watch them, and we yelled out answers from the audience, and grinned inanely when chocolates were thrown at us. As if they were roses. Encore. We applauded ourselves. Above all, we enjoyed ourselves more than when we were onstage.

But today I felt like Prufrock. There they were, kids in class ten and eleven, taller than me by almost two feet, and they got to be onstage. And here I was, five three or thereabouts, getting all excited because I knew that Oprah could recite Bible verses as a kid. Quizzing is the one thing I had to prove that my irrelevance mattered. I might not have been a good student, but my vagueness paid off. I could connect answers. I could identify paintings. It was the only place I got to be a know-it-all, and now I’ve passed out and can’t be superior when I’m afraid of getting ragged in college. School quizzes are fun and sporting. Open quizzing is ruthless, cold, and the only thing I have left, apart from college quizzing, which scares me now because, well, will the teammates laugh on stage if we make a stupid mistake? Will I get on a team at all?

And then we shuffled out amidst some patriotic programme outside Madhusudan Mancha where grotesquely costumed people were waving flags manically to "I love my India". Didn't improve my mood. To make it worse, I had to pass by my old para to collect some wayward mail, and the buildings were all newly painted in colours I couldn’t recognize. And then the old phuchkawala (he’s told me everything but his name) informed me that his son’s off to Amreeka. To be a phuchkawala there. And that made me feel terrible in the everyone’s-growing-up kind of way, and I walked into my house muttering darkly “Do you know what Dustin Hoffman’s mother called him when he was a kid?”

“No”, my mother said.

“Tootsie” I growled, and then started laughing hysterically. For a whole five minutes. Quizzing has been my bane and my crusade, and I never could figure out why I ran around school trying to get the team invited to quizzes when the organisers had no idea our school even existed. No one in school cared. We didn’t even win all that many. And I hate it. I hate it because it’s the closest I can get to being passionate about a sport. As a spectator and an ex-player.

Oh, and to top it all it seems I can no longer sit on the swings in the play area because there’s a sign there that says “Kebol Shishuder Jonno

Excuse me while I go hit my head against the wall.

21 kindred spirits have swallowed my rambling:

speedpost said...

You should have called this post How I Hate Everygoddamned Brad Pitt of the Quizzing world Or The Moment I Realised I Was Growing Old

Doubletake, Doublethink. said...

Them winning is not the issue. Us not being onstage to steal their answers is.

Simpu said...

does others growing up, climbing the ladder, make one small?

new age scheherazade said...

I have to say it...awww.

And I feel worse because I know EXACTLY how you feel. wish I'd gone to Smarakosh today, would've been a fitting adieu to the many stages that have seen us fall and fail. and sometimes, win.
oh god, I think I'll find a corner and cry.

raghu said...

sigh.. i hate grownups.. i hate people who are simply existing to screw around with oother ppls creativity.

i have never felt this sense cos i have never been good at something n have had to give it up.. except for gully cricket..but i never missed it.. i genrally dont liek most things..w hich makes it harder to miss stuff.. i guess

Sroyon said...

You're right. College quizzing is nowhere near as much fun as school quizzing. And just to make you feel better, Anshuman and Sujaan have always lived in mortal fear that someday they'll see your team's there at Smarak Kosh to threaten their monopoly.

Jishu said...

this is exactly hw i felt while returning 4m d quiz yesterday.i mean, it was great watching a really good quiz after a really long time (albeit as a part of the audience).But,i also got this strange feeling - oh my god!im probably never gonna be a part of these quizzes nemore...nd it was weird but immensely gratifying to get that liquidy and gooey Perk for one of the most ridiculous answers ever (i mean the Ram-Sita one)

Rahul Saha said...

I asked myself these same questions while leaving school only to find that in college my passion for soccer reached new heights. In addition I found new ways to identify myself: cycling, travel, writing to name a few.

As I leave college the same doubts come back lingering but experience tells me to keep my shorts on. The trousers can be rolled later.

Valhallan said...

Ah.The days when it finally sinks in that school's over.Frustrating.

College is highly awesomer though.
Change is good.

SPIRITed! said...

This reminds me,we went to a Pickbrain quiz today.Didn't qualify,but we knew the answer to every single goddamned question asked on stage.

Ah,life is unfair.

vanilla sky said...

Aww....reminded me of the days of smarak kosh, voices quizzes and intra school Bqc's !

little boxes said...

man,i miss quizzing even more now.
damn man,you could've told me about SK.not that i could've gone but still...
and no matter what they tell you,college quizzing is never the experience school quizzing was...
waaaaaaah i hate you for making me all "mama,take me back to school" type...
i was never a "good" quizzer,but dude it felt good to be up there answering obscure stuff and dancing with barry sir!

Doubletake, Doublethink. said...

@ simpu: i have no idea.

@ newage: you should have come. toldjaso.

@ raghu: wow, you're a stoic =]

@ sroyon : that did make me feel a little better. how d'you know them, though?

@ jishu: oh the ram-sita answer was just brilliant.

@ rahul: thanks, will do.

@ valhallan (!): that change-is-good thing won't sink in till a lot later, i think.

@ spirited: it was a pikbrain quiz. don't worry.

@ vanilla sky: =) bournvita, yes.

@ little boxes: ohmygosh I forgot you were in town! aargh.

Jishu said...

ya i blog too.......if u cl posting junk once evry 2 months y is it such a surprise??

P.S. sory abt running off wid dose 2 Perks that day.:D

the soliloquist said...

I bump into so many "kebol shishuder jonyo"signs all day(well, metaphorically, I mean)that it's not even remotely funny.

Even the Roald Dahl website allows only 13 year olds and below to sign up.

Life eej hard, I tell you.

29A said...

"Sport is grown men and women swatting little balls around while the world pays to watch"

-Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park.

Sroyon said...

Anshuman is a good friend of mine. We watch movies together which neither of us understand. And Sujaan is my brother, such as he is. There, I've compromised myself. On a public forum too...

heh? ok said...

oh man, i used to BE the quiz team at school, and there were so many people from other schools who i used to hate passionately. now there's no one i hate passionately anymore. what a waste of a life.

Kazarelth said...

Something like this happened during the last quiz I went to [half] participate. My teammate and I got knocked off at the preliminary round of the TCS IT quiz thingus. By a single point. Blah.
But, well. It went well, until I decided it was funny enough to shout "LOL FAG!" when a person misjudged Steve Ballmer with Richard Stallman.

Doubletake, Doublethink. said...

@ jishu: no problem, i'm not much of a perk fan.

@ sol: =(

@ 29a: another quote. oh well. *grin*

@ sroyon: so you're the law student brother. hello.

@ heh? ok: ah well. love-hate relationship, what can i say. start quizzing again!

@ kazarelth: hah. we never even tried at TCS, we just went for the rubik's cube.

VelocityGirl (tm) said...