Quizzing for Aunties

Dear Random Relatives,

There was a reason that I earlier never told you about the quizzes that I was going for. It was because you would pepper me with utterly stupid and irrelevant and nonsensical questions which I’d usually never had the patience to answer. However, now that I have a wife who is significantly more social than me, and who tells you everything, I’m once again forced to handle those questions. So I’m putting the answers all here in the form of a post, which could serve as a sort of FAQ for the questions you ask, but the FAQ format will significantly constrain my writing so writing this in free form.

Ok, every quiz need not have a topic. That is some stupid thing that is drilled into you be these nonsensical TV quizzes. And when I tell you that, let me tell you that you’re insulting me by saying “oh, general knowledge, ah?”. Quizzing is not about “general knowledge”. It’s much more than that. It’s about thinking, about reasoning, about working out stuff and getting a kick out of it. The “general knowledge” that contributes to this process is not much. And by considering that it’s only because of “general knowledge” that one gets to participate in quizzes, you’re wrong.

Then, I know that your view of quizzes is formed by those shows you see on TV, like Kaun Banega Crorepati, or (in an earlier era) the random quizzes that would come on Doordarshan. It’s unlikely that too many of you would’ve watched the BBC quizzes (such as Mastermind or University Challenge) which came closer to “real quizzing” (in terms of quality of questions, though not in format) so I should perhaps excuse you for this thought. And while on that, let me tell you that not every quiz gets telecast on TV. And the likelihood of a quiz getting telecast on TV is NOT proportional to its quality. An inverse relation here may not be too far off the mark, though.

Next, I don’t mug “quiz books” or “general knowledge books”. Yes, I did at one point of time in life, when I was a little kid and my parents would force me to “prepare” for quizzes by reading such books. However, over the years I realized I wasn’t gaining much by reading those books, most of which had been written by people who could hardly be termed as quizzers (I, however, still “read” questions from actual quizzes. I faithfully buy the KQA yearbook each year, and have similarly purchased books containing questions that have actually been asked in quizzes that I think are of good quality).

Next, I guess you want your son to become a quizzer, right? I want to inform you that the Karnataka Quiz Association (or similar organizations in other cities such as BQC, QFI, BCQC, etc.) organize quizzes for school kids on a regular basis. Send your kids for those. For the quizzes in your school, try get quizmasters who also organize good quality senior-level quizzes rather than getting some teachers to put together some questions. And I don’t think your child gains anything by mugging up those “manorama year books” that you unfailingly purchase each year.

Now, having supplied these answers to you, may I request to check this link before you ask me nonsensical questions about quizzing?

Yours sincerely,


Business Model for DD

Flipping channels an hour back, I happened to stop at this never-heard-before channel called “DD Bharati”. Usha Uthup was giving a concert that was ¬†clearly recorded for television. Looking at her, and considering that the program had been recorded in black-and-white film, I would suppose that it was ancient indeed. Maybe from some time in the 70s.

The program itself was nice. The sets, for the time, were excellent. Usha was backed up by a bunch of men clad in suits – one on keyboard, a couple on guitars, one on trumpet, one drumming, one on the cymbals and another just swaying from side to side. The songs were all quite good, most of them Usha’s own compositions, and I didn’t think twice about giving up on ESPN Sportscenter Asia, Roland Garros and three not-so-bad Hindi movies in order to watch this program. And while I was watching I thought of this business model for Doordarshan.

The basic idea is that there is a whole lot of footage – all that was shown all through the 70s and 80s – that is quite popular among people and nostalgia-inducing, which is held by Doordarshan. I would be surprised if DD would have licensed out any of its old content to any other channel, if not for any other reason but because so much bureaucracy would have to move for that to happen. Stuff like 80s soaps and sitcoms, shows like the Usha Uthup performance I watched today, etc.

So I think DD can truly profitably run a “nostalgia” kind of channel. The market of people who grew up on these programs in the 70s and 80s is large, and most would prefer to watch re-runs of those ancient shows rather than watch the tripe that is dished out by most channels today. And then there is an opportunity for people to catch up on stuff they missed out on back then for various reasons – for example I missed out on so many cool programs back in the late 80s because our antenna didn’t catch DD2, and I wouldn’t really mind watching those today.

And then those ads – yeah they are available on youtube (and on dd’s own site) but then I’m sure it would be profitable to run those ads now as programs in themselves! The opportunities, I think, are endless. Unfortunately it is a sarkari company that is not interested in profits that is sitting on all these options. The loss, I think, is for us potential viewers.