The taxis of Calcutta are yellow. Jarring yellow from top to bottom. All of them ambassadors. I heard a story that Hindustan Motors has made the commie government there pass an order that no other brand can be used as a taxi. Apparently that is the only way they can continue production.
Needless to say, most taxis (at least everything I travelled in) were broken down. And if I say that the driving was rash, I would be making an understatement. The guy would sometimes overtake by going over the divider onto the other side of the road and then coming back in front of the other guy over the divider. One thing I noticed there was that the driver never switched to first gear! He would start in second gear even with five passengers!
Within a minute of entering Cal, I was witness to a brawl on the street. The taxi in front of ours hit a parked Omni. And that guy came and pulled out this guy and started beating him. We were going in front of a slum and people from there joined in the beating up. And you have the drivers of the other taxis on that road joining the other side! And no one seems to give a damn that there is a huge line of cars that have been held up and soon tehre could be a jam!
And there we are in the taxi, having arrived in cal a whole seven hours behind schedule. We know that the quizfest would’ve already started but our driver is busy beating up some slum guy! Finally he returns and more than makes up for lost time with some real rash driving.
It is 1330 by the time we arrive in Joka, and the finals of the business quiz are about to start. Sehwag, who reached by flight the previous day, has qualified all by himself. Dravid and I join him there. Yuvraj and Kaif are off for “SSS” (shave, shit, shampoo).
The quizzes go on non-stop until 4 in the morning, with a small break for dinner which we thulp at the IIMC mess. The food appeared decent but I guess that was because we were having proper food after a gap of 48 hours. On the whole, however, their mess sucks in comparison to ours. The whole campus pales in comparison to ours. Hostels are bad. Let us not even talk about the loos. Things are scattered around. It is too far from the city. Too many mosquitoes. Of course, there are the lakes and the greenery. Still that doesn’t make up for the bad hostels.
Coming back to quizzing, the biz-quiz goes pretty well for us. The quiz isn’t too great. Some good fundaes here and there but there is a lot of inconsistency. However, I won’t crib since we won that quiz.
The movie quiz is downright bad. Too many sitters. Too many peters. If you miss one question you stand to lose a lot. However, I am proud of my working out “lock, stock and two smoking barrels” from the poster. We come joint third, tied with the other IIMB team.
The sports quiz prelims are non-descript. Sehwag is useless when it comes to sports so it’s upto Dravid and me. Crack some decent ones but we could’ve done better. There is this bad feeling in our stomachs that we might not qualify.
Our skill-sets are reversed when it comes to lit-art. Dravid and I are akin to tailenders in that. Prelims go good for us. Even I manage to crack a few.
The finals remind one of the 1975 India-Windies test at Madras. Sehwag is like Vishwanath. Cracks this splendid 97* with just Bedi (Ganguly) and Chandra (Dravid) for company. Dravid hits some sixes though. Going back to his childhood to crack Mahabali Shaata. Amazing quiz on the whole. We win.
The sci-tech quiz is also largely good but a few sitters here and there spoil it. I crack my 144 in that but it is not enough for us to win. We come second to the other IIMB team. However, I am happy I’m back in some semblance of form.
Day 2 starts at 9 am. The India quiz is cancelled because the quizmaster is not prepared! The IIMC chaps come up with an “unofficial quiz”. Decent quiz but it’s hurriedly put together. We miss a couple of easy ones and come 5th. Sports quiz finals follow. Largely good but some sitters spoil it. We come fourth.
There are two styles of quizzing in India. In the south, it is more logical reasoning. Of course knowledge is important. But most things can be worked out. In calcutta, quizzes are more knowledge-oriented. Very little to work out. And they try playing to the gallery. Results in bad quizzes.
The general quiz is open. Done by Gautam Bimani of ESPNStar. Prelims is good. Odyssey level. We qualify. An interesting thing about calcutta quizzing is everyone comes dressed up. There are people in formals. Or party-wear. This, I learn, is because most quizzes there take place in five star hotels or in pubs. Unlike us southerners who believe in simple living and high thinking.
In the finals our man shows his true colors. Turns out to be the “Lawrence of Kolkata” (for details contact Dravid). If you call that quizzing, I can set a quiz in one evening. Go to one website where you find photos of celebrities when they were kids. You have 10 questions. Find another website with photos of star-couples. Another 10. And it was so unprofessionally done. Files hadn’t been named appropriately and gave out the answers. The QM didn’t know properly where the files were stored. Probably one of the worst quizzes I’ve been to. Come last in the finals.
In spite of the reverses on the second day, IIMB won the constructors championship. We had 88 points, much more than the sum total of second placed IIMA (38) and third placed IITM (30 something). We are to be given this lovely glass trophy. By who else but the great QM Gautam Bimani. We take it all round IIMC and take photos with it.
I win a total of Rs. 8000. And more importantly, have another resume bullet point! And I’ll get footage and be a hero back in IIMB. To paraphrase Muhammad Ali,
To make IIMB the greatest is our goal
So we beat the amdavadis, madrasis, kanpurias and bongs
And for IIMB we won the trophy of Gold.
The Greeks said we’re better than the Indian Cricket team of Old.