landmark and other stories

The midweek break (independence day) was spent in Madras attending the 15th Annual Landmark Quiz. We (

, kodhi and I) qualified for the finals and came last, which I think we would term as a par or justbelowpar performance. That coupled with meeting people, strong dinner, etc. contributed to an excellent break. Only problem was that it made going to work on Thursday and Friday that much harder, and ultimately led to yesterday’s NED.

I started off at 5 am from my granny’s place in Jayanagar desperately hoping to find an auto that would take me to the station in time to catch the 6 o clock train. A few minutes of looking around here and there didn’t yield results and without any other options, i walked towards the nearby bus stop. Sure enough, there was a bus which had deposited me in Majestic before 0530. I’m quite impressed with the BMTC I must say (this bus was part of the ‘night service’ and charged double the normal fare;? I didn’t know that the BMTC ran a night service.

The train journey was comfortable and didn’t leave one tired and sleepy at the end of it, like most day journeys do. For the first time in my life, I was traveling by Shatabdi (thus fulfilling a lifelong ambition) and I must say it was pretty good. Of course, they have tried to make a lot of things “flight-like” (the arrangement of seats, tray tables, food, etc.), though the leg space is far better and the loos much dirtier! The food, surprisingly, was pretty decent. A decent quantity of upma with chutney and sambar and two slices of bread. Coffee sucked though.

Traveling with us across the aisle was a couple of extremely accomplished quizzers from Bangalore. And the first thing they do upon settling in their seats is to pull out a quiz book (one of the “general knowledge quiz” types. i later peeked and found out that it was”the ultimate india quiz book” or some such) and start mugging, like a bunch of schoolkids mugging for the KQA inter-middle school! I thought of giving them dirty looks, but then refrained myself for they were too busy to take their eyes off the book, and even if they had caught my eye, they would’ve just given a nodi swamy, naaviruvudu heege look!

One funny thing about the train was that we were all traveling backwards! Every one of us! The thing with the Shatabdi is that all seats face the same direction. And all of us were moving backwards. For now, my conjecture is that in the “up” journey (madras-bangalore) everyone travels forward, and that there is simply no mechanism for turning the train around! There isn’t a big enough loop where they can turn the train 180 degrees. So they just change the position of the engine and make everyone travel backwards!

The quiz prelims were good, and all of us seemed to be in decent form. More importantly, it was damn good to have Navin back as the quizmaster (don’t think any of us would’ve traveled to Madras if Derek had done it). And thankfully, there wasn’t much of “aeroplane paandi”. One of the two madrasi questions in the prelims was about IITM, so that was duly cracked, though for the other we put a well left.

However, as I have mentioned earlier, the most painful part of this kind of a quiz is the ritual in which they announce the answers. Especially if you think you have done well and have got a few good guesses in. You just want the list of answers read out at a speed faster than the average pujari reciting his mantras and be done with. 27.5 (or 28.5 if they gave one doubtful decision in our favor) was a good score, we thought, as we walked out of the audi.

Unlike in Odyssey, where they announce qualifiers one by one and ask them to choose their places on stage, here the finalists are called backstage beforehand and a great show made of raising the curtain on the finals. And seats in the finals are picked by lots rather than allowing the prelims toppers to choose. We were allotted seat 1.

The finals was ok, not up to the high standards set by the prelims. There was way too much inconsistency in the standard of questions, which is ok for prelims but not for finals where everyone is not tested on the same questions. Overall, however, it was pretty good – at least it kept me awake till the end, which doesn’t usually happen when my team is not doing so well in the finals. However, I think there should have been more weightage for the buzzer round!

And as is usually the case with Landmark quizzes, I spotted a really goodlooking girl in the audience. She had been sitting in front of us for the prelims also, though it didn’t seem like she was taking part. During the length of the finals, she sat in the first row (reserved for sponsors, press, dignitaries, etc.) directly in my line of sight. Exchanged a few glances and drew inspiration but unfortunately she didn’t stay on till I had gotten off stage (Navin doesn’t have the habit of throwing out quizzers midway through the finals). I quietly cursed my luck.

We had a mini IIMB meetup for dinner, which was at Cedars (by the way we had met

for lunch earlier in the day). Strong food (at Cedars in Kotturpuram) accompanied by extremely strong conversation (about the Ladder Theory, the Afghan War and batchmates’ engagements among ohter things) and at the end of it GB dropped us to the station.

I guess I had been feeling rich while booking the tickets, so I had booked myself on 3 tier AC for the return journey. For some reason, I didn’t particularly think it added much value and next time round, I’ll travel by AC only if normal sleeper is not available. The Shatabdi earlier that morning, however, was extremely good value I thought. Anyways, I slept soundly and woke up only when we had passed cantonment. And I must mention that the queue for the prepaid auto at the city station is usually as long as hanuman’s tail!

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