Last night, A and I went to the Brand Equity Quiz, amongst the largest quizzes held in India. It felt bitter-sweet to be there, since I wasn't participating this year due to lack of a partner. A and I were quizzing partners for years when we worked for the same company, and we never failed to qualify to be one of the 6 teams that competes to represent the city at the national finals.

I still remember when my love for quizzing first started, way back in school. I was at the International school in Bangkok and our history teacher, Dr. Griffiths, had a way of livening up his classes by having an open quiz every couple of weeks. We had to answer questions turn by turn as we sat, and questions passed on if the previous person hadn't answered correctly. The prize used to be a collection of secondhand paperbacks that you could choose one book from, and I used to win quite often ( this was before I learned that knowing the answers makes you a nerd). I still have the copy of Jaws by Peter Benchley that I won from one such quiz.

Many years later, when I was at the Alliance Francaise, they announced a quiz and my friend Tara egged me on to sign up with her as a team. Much to everyone's surprise, including our own, we won the general knowledge quiz by several points, and won the grand prize of book vouchers worth Rs. 250 each from Teksons. That was considered an astronomical sum of money in those days ( the average monthly pocket money hovered between 50 and 100 rupees), so we were as thrilled as if we had come into a few millions.

A friend at the Alliance knew the Teksons owner, so he volunteered to go with us and negotiate further discounts on the books we wanted. I remember picking out A Book of English Essays, which had essays by Bacon, GK Chesterton, Edward Lear and Charles Lamb, among others, a hardcover book of Modern English poetry, which had poems by Rupert Brooke etc and my first William book ever ( that I bought, I mean). I still have the book of essays and poetry, though I'm now not sure which William book it was.

Yesterday's quiz was interesting - the written score I got was close enough to the score that the qualifying teams got and I was kicking myself for not having corralled a partner sooner. I won lots of audience prizes including movie tickets which I'm looking forward to using up this very weekend. But I missed that adrenaline rush that comes with quizzing, the Eureka moments when you work out an answer, the nail-biting when you know the answer and hope the team before you doesn't get it before your turn. One important lifeskill that quizzing teaches you is to listen to your instinct. There are times when you will come up with an instinctive answer to a question, but if you wait to think about it, it'll seem like the wrong answer.

The best thing about quizzing is that the prizes and winning are just the icing on the cake ( though we have furnished half the house from quiz winnings). The real joy of it lies in the mental puzzles it makes you work through, the arcane pieces of information you dig out of recesses you didn't know you had, and the pure pitting of your brain cells against someone else's. Of course, bizarrely enough, it is destressing, though one would think it'd be stressful to get into a competitive activity like this. Next year, I'm going to make sure I pick out a partner in plenty of time for the BrandEq. Meanwhile - anyone know of any general quizzes around Delhi that one could participate in?


I love Lucy said…
I used to be an avid quizzer back in school and initial days of college.And somehow I used to always end up in an all-girls team and we would be the only female participants !!So whether we won the quiz or not,we would get certificates saying Best Girls Team or Best Female Quizzer!
Gumpu alli Govinda tharha! What fun it used to be!
bird's eye view said…
Yeah, I'm usually the only women up on stage for Brand Eq, which is quite embarrassing because the host loves to turn the spotlight on people who stand out - like one year, one of my friends who was competing was bald, and by sheer unlucky coincidence, he got 3 questions connected to baldness - the audience was in splits and the host just wouldn't let go of the theme after that. But I still miss the buzz of quizzing.

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