Mostly Thoughtless

Tam Brahm, thank you ma'am

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Fresh Start!

Hey everyone,

I needed a fresh start, so I've moved to Wordpress. Click here to visit the new blog. Hopefully, things will get more regular from now on.

Please update your blogrolls to reflect the new url.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The QFI Open Quiz 2008

The Quiz Foundation of India (Chennai Chapter), in association with Indian Terrain is proud to announce 'The QFI Open Quiz 2008', the fourth edition of the annual open quiz, which has become a fixture on the Chennai quizzing calendar.

The QFI Opens of the last three years have been resounding successes, attracting more than 120 teams each time, including some from Hyderabad, Bangalore, and even Ahmedabad. This time, the quiz promises to be both bigger and better. You can read The Hindu's review of the QFI Open 2006 here, and the reviews of the 2007 edition here (The Hindu, focuses on the Indian Cinema Quiz) and here (The New Indian Express, focuses on the Open Quiz).

Apart from being original, well researched and immensely entertaining, the QFI Open also aims at making quizzing a fun experience for everyone involved. It will try and bring to a wider audience the same mix of light-hearted fun and serious high-standard quizzing that is seen at QFI's fortnightly meetings.

It is an open quiz with no conditions whatsoever for participation. All are welcome to participate. Prizes include cash and Landmark gift vouchers. I will be conducting the quiz helped with research from my team-mates Krishnamurti and Vikram. Please do come and have fun. There will a Books quiz in the morning at 10:00 a.m conducted by my good friend and superstar quizzer Samanth Subramanian at the same venue. Plenty of audience prizes from Landmark also on offer. The details are as follows:

Date: 3rd of May 2008 (Saturday)

Venue: "Sri Venkata Auditorium"
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
37/39, East Mada Street,
Mylapore, Chennai - 04

Schedule of Events

Books Quiz

Quizmaster: Samanth Subramanian

Timings: Prelims - 10:00 a.m. and Finals - 11:30 a.m.

Team size: Maximum of 2 members

Registration Fee: Rs. 50 per team. (This fee is waived for school teams. The registration fee must be paid at the registration desk in front before the quiz.)

General Quiz

Vinod Ganesh

Timings: Prelims - 02:00 p.m. and Finals - 03:30 p.m.

Team size: Maximum of 3 members

Registration Fee: Rs. 50 per team. (This fee is waived for school teams. The registration fee must be paid at the registration desk in front before the quiz.)

Also, if it's not too much to ask for, please put this up on your blogs and bulletin boards and help spread the word. Thanks!!

Sample Questions from the last edition

Q1. The legend of St. Ursula is that she was a Romano-British princess who, at the request of her father King Donaut of Dumnonia in south-west England, set sail to join her future husband, the pagan Governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica along with her 11,000 virginal handmaidens. However, a miraculous storm brought them over the sea in a single day to a Gaulish port, where Ursula declared that before her wedding, she would undertake a pan-European pilgrimage. After setting out for Cologne, which was being besieged by Huns, all the virgins were beheaded in a dreadful massacre. Where does this legend most famously live on?

Q2. This word was originally used in agricultural parlance to describe the sowing or scattering of seeds across large areas either by hand or by using mechanical means. However, it has now taken on a related meaning in a completely different field. What's the good word?

Q3. Vadilal Shah, while working with his father in their family shop specializing in spices and dry fruits, keenly observed the diligence with which housewives bought various spices from his shop to blend in their kitchen. The young man was fascinated and was drawn deeper and deeper into the world of spices. What did he go on to start?

Q4. In England, during World War II, there were big hoardings advertising correspondence courses run by Bennett's Correspondence College. The original hoardings supposedly showed the founder Mr. Bennett - a kindly looking old man offering guidance and support to would-be students, with the slogan “Let me be your father.” When he died, the college was inherited by his son, whose rather aggressive-looking face started appearing on the posters instead, accompanied by a slightly and suitably modified slogan. What were these new hoardings the primary inspiration for?


A1. Virgin Islands. Christopher Columbus, on discovering a seemingly endless number of islands in the north-east Caribbean in 1493, named them after Saint Ursula and the 11,000 virgins.

A2. Broadcast

A3. Everest Masala. He experimented with various combinations of condiments till one day he was confident that he had with him a few blends that would find acceptance. The ‘Everest Garam Masala’ blend was launched in 1968.

A4. Big Brother. The new hoardings had the slogan “Let me be your big brother”. They inspired the character Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

News.. Blah.. Blah..

Season's Greetings, everybody!!

When I first found out I was coming to London, my mind was filled with grand ideas of watching every Arsenal match played during the period I spent here, travelling to the away games and perform acts of football hooliganism, and in whatever time I had left, follow the route Bill Bryson took around the United Kingdom and then wrote about in ‘Notes from a Small Island’. Now, after spending nearly four months here, I have been to exactly three Arsenal home games (Sevilla, Newcastle and Steaua Bucharest), no away ones, and I now realize that Bryson’s trip was possible only because his job did not require him to work on excel sheets throughout the week and so, end up feeling so liberated on Friday evenings that he would go out on a longish pub crawl, and thus end up spending the whole of Saturday morning passed out and feeling like crap for the rest of the weekend, scuppering all previously made travel plans.

I also know I’ve not been blogging very often, very kindly pointed out to me by a couple of friends, and that is only because most fun sites, including this one, are blocked at work and my only other way to access the internet is through a browsing centre near my apartment, which costs me £1 for half an hour. It doesn’t sound like much at all, until I step out of the place, do the inevitable mental math and realize I’ve just paid Rs.80 to hurriedly check my mail, pick my fantasy football teams, and scrap/wall/poke friends on Facebook and Orkut. It’s not a nice feeling.

But all that is going to change next week, when I finally get my hands on this. After that, I soon hope to be blogging regularly and maybe even move to my own domain.

Meanwhile, I wanted to really really go for an Arsenal v Tottenham game while I was still here (the club's equivalent of India v Pakistan, for the uninitiated) and both the premier league fixtures were sold out well in advance. And then, God intervened in the form of the Carling Cup. The draw for the semi-final took place a couple of weeks back and Arsenal face Tottenham in one of the semi-finals. So, come January 9th, I will be in my seat near the halfway line to watch the Arsenal kids knock the stuffing out of the spuds.

Hope to be back with a proper post soon. Till then, bubbye!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ooh to, Ooh to be, Ooh to be a Gunner!!

I've been in London for about three weeks now on work and right from the moment I landed, there was only one thing on my mind, going to watch an Arsenal game at the Emirates stadium.

Finally, thanks to an old school friend and fellow gooner, I found myself with one ticket for the Champions League game between Arsenal and the two-time defending UEFA Cup Champions Sevilla on the 19th of September, 2007.

Yup, that was last evening, and I was right there at the ground, to watch Arsenal win, 3-0!!!

It was a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant experience and the fulfilment of an approximately 10-year old dream!!! I joined 60,000 other fans in singing all the songs and chants of which I particularly enjoyed the one that came after we'd gone up 2-0 - "Are you Tottenham? Are you Tottenham? Are you Tottenham in disguise??"

Will try and upload photos soon...

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Nine years ago, on August 15th, I attended the Landmark Quiz ‘99 with two class mates Nandan and Abhishek. We had been winning almost all the school quizzes we went to that season and so we landed up at the Music Academy rather high on confidence. As there was a prize for the best team name, we had racked our brains and come up with the extremely creative ‘Qwizards’, little knowing that around 1/3rd of the 1000 odd teams that took part at the country’s biggest open quiz usually went by that name.

The shock and awe we felt when we had our first glimpse of the 3000-strong crowd of quizzers milling outside the venue filled me with dread and inside the auditorium, the feeling of excitement tinged with anticipation gave me goosebumps. When the quizmaster Dr. Navin Jayakumar took the stage and introduced the quiz, we wondered who this guy was. The written prelims soon began and we gave it our best shot, managing to score only 12/40. Eight teams would make it on stage for the finals and we later learnt that the cut-off was somewhere close to 32!! Disappointed, we sat through the entire finals, watching with wonder as the finalists answered questions that went miles over our heads. The winner on that particular day was a team named ‘Parijatha’ comprising V.V.Ramanan, Bharat Epur and Yashwant Saran. Just five hours after seeing him for the first time, I left thinking Dr. Navin was the best quizmaster ever!

We spent the next year trying to read and watch better stuff in the hope of equipping ourselves to do better at the next edition, but when it finally came, it brought with it a big disappointment. Dr. Navin was temporarily out of the country and his place was taken by Derek O’Brien, who turned the quiz into a show. As a school team, we scored 29/40, with the finals cut-off at 30. That would NEVER ever happen in a proper Landmark quiz. We were extremely disappointed at missing out on the finals, but also knew that we didn’t deserve to be on stage. Derek’s questions are usually gimmicky and childish and make his quizzes a bit of a lottery, with the best team on stage not necessarily winning each time. Dr. Navin, on the other hand, always has a good mix of questions and even his crowd-pleasing questions usually hold great value for serious quizzers as well.

In the 10 Landmark quizzes that have been held after that, (7 in Chennai and 3 in Bangalore) my team ‘Intel Inside, Mental Outside’ has managed to make it to the finals on eight occasions but always, a great performance in the prelims would lead to a truly pathetic one in the finals. We did manage a 3rd place once in Bangalore but that was a Derek quiz and doesn’t count as a major quizzing achievement in my books at least. Whenever Dr. Navin did the quiz, we weren’t upto the mark. 5th, 8th, 4th, 7th - we managed to finish in almost every position except the top three and year after year, went home frustrated at another opportunity spurned.

Yesterday marked the 15th edition of the Landmark Quiz and it was being conducted by Dr. Navin after a gap of two years. Over the years, my steady team mate has been Krishnamurti a.k.a Goach while the third team mate kept changing. Goach was missing in action this year, after deciding that his academics at IIM-A was more important than flying to Chennai and back for a quiz contest. Bleddy idiot! (Just kidding, Goach!) So, my team mates were quizzing buddies Vikram and DP. We did pretty well in the prelims and made it on stage quite comfortably.

The finals went pretty well too and when the last question was asked, the team leading was on 94, we were on 85 and the team lying third was on 78. We had just started dreaming about us answering the last question and winning the quiz dramatically when the team lying third answered it, moved to 88 and pushed us to 3rd! It was shattering, but the joy at finally having placed in a proper Landmark Quiz was the more dominant emotion!! Also, the teams that beat us were made up of very good friends and far superior quizzers ‘QED’ (Samanth Subramanian, Swami and V.V.Ramanan) and ‘Know Brainers’ (Gopal Kidao, Sumo and Rajiv Rai). So, we didn’t feel too bad. Hopefully, things will get better from now on!

The Hindu’s report on the quiz can be read here.