Sunday, October 12, 2008

I've started so I'll finish

(All that has been written is in jest. I am an ardent quizzer myself and this piece is an attempt to laugh at myself. All characters and events portrayed are real and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely deliberate. Four precious hours of airline transit time has gone into it. No quizzers were harmed during the writing of this piece. Inspiration: An hour long airport stop-over conversation with Sandhya, my long lost sister.)

I am not the Deputy Auditor General of India. I am not chauffer-driven, correction, Babu-driven in a pristine ivory-white Hindustan Motors’ 1993 model Ambassador dowered with a coruscant red siren. I don’t and, with reasonable certainty, shan’t weave or wear khadi undergarments in this lifetime. Gandhi does not grace the wall behind my work-desk. The chore of siphoning lakhs of Gandhi’s noteworthy lookalikes into clandestine banks in tiny, beautiful European nations has eluded my career interests for a while now. Consequently, I do not figure in the prominently displayed list of 29 dignitaries (all categories/sub-categories included) of national importance permitted to enter the executive lounge at the Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal. I envisage - ‘Dogs are not allowed’; today I am the dog. Amisha Patel (w/ two bodyguards), I learnt, is not.

Oddly enough, this piece is not consecrated to any of the 29 dignitaries (all categories/sub-categories included), Amisha Patel (a dignitary of national importance), Bhopal or Raja Bhoj. I shall embark upon vivid Madhya Pradeshi digressions in some other piece.

All the same, a chance encounter in the airport lobby with a quizzing rival from yesteryears, her conception by a dignified (of the aforesaid 29 dignitaries fame) father, flashing of a laminated, Indian Government authorized and embossed thingamajig, entry and coffee at the lounge that restricted access by the hoi polloi – all culminated in an hour long autopsy of the archetypal student-quizzer-menagerie.

For the uninitiated, the biological classification (scientific taxonomy) of a quizzer is as follows:

Biological Classification










Infinite Bounce*


Disownia (pronounced dis-own-ya)


Mortifya (pronounced like Vengaya**; might resemble/smell like one also)


No! Genius.



*Comprehensible by only above species' specimens

** Comprehensible by sub-species' Tam-Brahm specimens

Physical characteristics:

Today, quizzers are perhaps the most recognizable of all freeloaders (with the possible exception of the Marwari Mahila Mandal flying first class on a Kingfisher flight). They typically have a ginormous head counterbalanced by designer spectacles that were/will be a rage during the period when khadi/spandex undergarments were/will be in vogue (Not the magazine! A quizzer on the cover of Vogue is as probable as Pratibha Patil not winning the denture round of the Ms. Chinchpokli pageant. Funfact: Quizzers do have a magazine for their species – Vague, and a show on TV – Ripley’s Believe it or at least give me 5 points.) Commonly a white fringe or a halo surrounds their face that can only be spotted by fellow specimens. A few sub-species, however, have bulbs (only Surya brand) mysteriously levitating above their heads, which increase in number, size or intensity with the number of excruciatingly difficult (multi-level connect*) questions answered in a quiz.

The form, number and density of the average quizzer’s ego differs between sub-species (as well as the coloration of the halo), but most quizzers have over 100 egos. The pattern of egos is unique to each animal, and thus could potentially be used to identify quizzers, much in the same way as fingerprints are used to identify humans. This is not, however, a preferred method of identification, due to the logistical difficulty in measuring the size of their egos (Natraj Pencils, Erasers, Rulers & Bros. are currently spending billions of dollars in R&D to manufacture a ruler long enough to be employed for the same.) It seems likely that the function of the ego is camouflage, serving to help quizzers conceal themselves amongst humans as they make uninterestingly trivial conversation about the contents of Oscar Wilde’s/Karan Johar’s closet (But wait, haven’t they come out of it already?).


There are five recent subspecies of quizzers, one of which is extinct. The surviving subspecies, in descending order of wild population, are:

Karthik Triviamanium: These animals predominantly populate the recently liberated but constantly warring nations of Iyengaristan (erstwhile Matunga) and Iyeria (formerly Mylapore). Their preferred habitat is curd-rice fields or subtropical and tropical okra forests. A majority are known to fly south to Lake Horlicks during winter and Sambar Lake (not to be confused with Rajasthani namesake) during Rahukaalam. Triviamanium’s coloration, more often than not, varies from a free T-shirt won at last week’s quiz to previous birth’s quiz. Juniormaniums are born with birthmarks on their foreheads which straddle between various permutations of saffron and/or white vertical and horizontal strokes depending on their nationality.

Since 1972, there has been a massive wildlife conservation project spearheaded by the renowned wildlife activist Jane Iyer (sister of Jane Goodall of the chimpanzee fame), known as Project Iyer. The project is considered as one of the most successful wildlife conservation programs, though at least one Iyer Reserve (Guindy) has lost its entire Iyer population to IIT Madras.

Triviamanium’s vocalizations are complex and poorly understood. Some of the many vocalizations that they make are "Sappae matter, Peter!", usually echoed back and forth between themselves, a series of "aiyyo" in discrete units, a long “jujupee” followed by a series of short “I-know-it-ra” (usually made to intimidate other sub-species’ members), and more.

Celebrated specimens include Speed Round twin-specialists Quick Gun Murugan and Quick Fire Iyer.

Prashnoy Roy: Exclusively found in the Western part of West Bangladesh, they were not considered a sub-species in their own right until circa 1969 when Neil I-am-Bong placed his left foot on the surface of Singur (erstwhile Moon ruled by Queen Moon Moon Sen) and said “One small step for Mamta, go to hell Tata!” Favoured habitat includes protest marches, football stadia and fish markets. In the wild, Roys primarily feed on sponsored goods. Fish, maach, mase, meen and macchi are the Roy’s favoured prey in captivity; sponsor logos engraved into the scales of the prey are believed to enhance the flavour and heighten their freebie homing instincts.

Roys usually hunt at quizzes. They generally hunt alone and ambush their prey as most other quizzers do, overpowering them from any angle, using their body size and strength to knock the unsuspecting diminutive freebie distributing volunteer off balance. Even with their great masses, Roys can reach speeds of hounding 49-65 freebie volunteers per hour.


Basic Ali (sub-species: Funda Mint Ali and S. N. Chi Ali): Hybridization among quizzers was first conceptualized in the early 21st century, when Quizmasters were particularly interested in the pursuit of finding oddities to display on stage for higher TRPs. Humans were abducted and surreptitiously deported to the Louzi Concentration Camp – Ohhshitz (the sister concern of Auschwitz) and impelled to breed with quizzers to create hybrids called Basic Alis. Such hybrids perennially suffer from verbal diarrhoea and cerebral constipation. Symptoms include broaching every sentence uttered with an elaborate, asinine amalgamation of the words basic, fundamental, funda, mental and essence – “Basically the funda is…”, “Fundamentally the funda is…” or even “Essentially, the basic fundamentals behind the funda are…”


Streekanya Penn also known as the Female Quizzer, is the most critically endangered subspecies and is listed as one of the 10 most endangered species in the world. Considered to be the most aesthetically pleasing of all the subspecies, the Penn can be spotted consciously distancing themselves from the Maniums and the Roys alike. Possessing an uncanny resemblance to attractive female specimens of Homo Sapiens, camouflage and subterfuge are recurrently engaged to feign superior evolution.

There are currently 39 known captive Penns, but these are known to either abhor quizzers or fancy Pablo Neruda, both of which are kafkaesque breeding conditions. Thus, the genetic diversity required to maintain the subspecies may no longer exist.

(Penn is the Tamil word for female)


G.K. Manorama: Exclusively spotted thumb sucking in and around their mothers, these quizzers were mysteriously conceived during a minute of fervent copulation between the 1991 edition of the Malayalam Manorama yearbook, a garbage bin, a Milton water bottle and an obsolete microchip. Tightly clenching mother Manorama (or chachi Competition Success Review), they were subjected to the most exquisite and enchanting form of cannibalistic genocide known to quizzers – taunting, derision, censure and apartheid.

Following an extensive drive encompassing a multitude of Manoramas weeping in a multitude of dark corners, on Feb 30th 1995 (Birth Anniversary of Derek No’Brain), to the surprise of absolutely no one, the entire sub-species committed mass suicide. However, there are still occasional reported sightings of the Manoramas in the wild, the latest one being here. The only verdict is vengeance and weapon Monty Reshammiya has been deployed to vanquish the renegade.

(P.S. I have just dug up loads of campus quizzing stuff (ppts, docs etc.) from my old laptop. In the remote chance that any quizzer reads this, do buzz me on gtalk.)