I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Part 2: Quizzing

This is a bit of a no-contest, really. Delhi quizzing is better than Bombay quizzing and will continue to remain so in the near future, though we will try hard.

The interesting thing is to find out why? However, before we get into that, some facts.

Objective measures to rate quizzing: Be it Mastermind, India Quiz or ESPN School Sports Quiz, Delhi has had more victories than Bombay. Yes, Podar did win Quiz Time, but that was way back. All facts from here. ESPN quiz 'fact' from memory (remember one of the DPS's winning it). Delhi colleges (DIT/NSIT, Jamia, Ramjas) used to do consistently better at BITS Oasis (the only place where they competed against Bombay colleges) during my college days. I would think that things have remained the same.

Delhi also has, as far as I can see, more number of quizzes (open and college). There was hardly a week in the quizzing season (August-January) when I didn't participate in at least 2 quizzes. Mumbai unfortunately, as far as I could see, is more focused on dumb charades, JAM and fashion shows!!
Obviously, the above two points are highly correlated. Also, the facts in themselves are not as interesting. What are interesting are the theories given to explain this.

Why is this so?: Many theories have been offered:
1) Bristol theory: Quizzing flourishes in cities which are old, decadent and slightly less unaffected by professionalism and neo-colonial modernity!! I had read an interesting story sometime in my childhood comparing quizzing in Bristol and Calcutta (which I couldn't find now). The premise was that it is only when people stop taking part in the rat race, do they have time for 'decadent' activities like quizzing
Of course, one can argue that Delhi and Bombay are equally old/ young, decadent and affected by professionalism, but I won't. I have come to experience a shrill pride in professionalism in Bombay, which I haven't seen in Delhi. Having said that, the intrinsic differences in the cities are probably not huge enough to merit the stark difference in quizzing levels.

2) Distance theory: The theory goes that Bombay localities are separated from each other by great distances, making travel troublesome and time-consuming. This directly reduces the will to travel for a quiz. Also, on weekdays, families hardly get to spend time with each other. Therefore, on weekends (which is when open quizzes prosper) quizzers refuse to be away from their families. This reduces the participation levels.
School/ college quizzing in Delhi is not as afflicted by this since they are quite concentrated in North Campus, Central and South Delhi. However, I think the issue is time taken to travel, rather than distance itself, when it comes to Delhi and Bombay. In any case, even Delhi Open Quizzing scene suffers from this problem.

3) Melting pot effect: This theory, which is what I subscribe to largely, has two premises: 1) college quizzing is the bulwark of quizzing in a city. College-students can hold the maximum quizzes (fests, events) and become the quizmasters for school quizzes. 2) The quality of quizzing is significantly enhanced through contacts between different quizzing cultures and backgrounds. Problem solving levels increase, 'fundas' get exchanged, formats are shared etc. Hence, a place with a higher diversity of backgrounds in colleges will have better quizzing. This is where DU's, AIIMS's and IIT's cosmopolitan character plays a part.
Obviously, the counter to the theory can be given, that a place like Bangalore created a quizzing culture from open and school quizzes and didn't depend on college quizzes alone. Though, KQA itself is/ was a melting pot, it just shows that a quizzing culture can be created, inspite of theories.

I think the actual reason might be a combination of all these. Some of these are intrinsic in nature, but as shown by various other places, quizzing culture can be created inspite of these factors. Thus, there must be other reasons why Bombay Quizzing hasn't picked up. Would be glad if you can help me refine these theories further.

Yes, incidentally, victory to Delhi.


Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

If I weren't so damn lazy, I'd post something about Cal quizzing as a response. Delhi quizzing wasn't so hot back in the late 80s.

And I totally agree about the Bong innards and convern therefor.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006 10:06:00 PM

Blogger Falstaff said...

personally, I think it's just that college kids in Bombay have a life. It's a safer city, public transport is better, there are more places to hang out - people have better things to do (I know the idea that there are better things to do than quizzing is alien to you, but trust me). I know that much of my quizzing / lit participation in college was because there was no other entertainment available (except for vegetating in the canteen) within a 15 km radius of campus.

So. If you want factors that drive the difference in Delhi quizzing vs Bombay quizzing, think about a) the distance from North Campus to PVR vs. the distance from Xavier's to Sterling / Regal and b) the average cost of a ticket at PVR vs. the average cost of a ticket at Regal.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 10:07:00 PM

Blogger shrik said...



Tuesday, April 18, 2006 10:08:00 PM

Blogger Falstaff said...

Oh, and btw, I'm not sure it's just quizzing. I think it might apply to lit activities in general. I for one don't remember ever hearing or coming across any Bombay debaters when I was in college. I did finally bump into a couple of people who were supposedly the stars of the Bombay debating scene afterwards, and frankly, guys who, back in Delhi, wouldn't qualify for Mukh Mem could have eaten those Bombay debaters for breakfast. And still been hungry.

And yes, JAP-da, people from Calcutta debate too. We know, we know.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 10:26:00 PM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

JAP, I have my own thoughts on Calcutta quizzing (all hearsay, since I have still not taken part in one!), but this is about Bombay and Delhi.

Falstaff, watching 3 movies a week in Regal or Sterling is life?? Et tu? While I agree that college kids in Bombay can afford to watch movies more often than we could in PVRs, that's no excuse for lack of quizzing. In fact, it is but complimentary.

Shrik, ... are two cities in South India? ...are you two places which have a large no. of Tam-Brams? ... are separated by 550 kms of road?? What?

Falstaff (again), don't know for sure about debating myself, but from what I have seen, probably is true. I thought about writing the post on literary activities itself, but the stuck to what I know best. Plus, defining literary activities is a challenge - as i have heard some people say that fashion show was a literary event.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 11:21:00 PM

Blogger Bombay Addict said...

Agree. We're way back on quizzes.

@ Falstaff - Broadly agree. Given the choice of sitting in a classroom for a quiz and going to Band Stand to hang out with my friends, I'd have chosen the latter. In my time (!@#$%## makes me sound so damn old!), us kids would either be busy earning money (if we didn't have it) doing a job (yes, even sattabaazi in the stock markets), or spending it (if we did).

Yet - I do think this has its own collateral damage. Lack of awareness being one and missing out on lit. activities, debates, etc. being others. I wonder if Delhi college kids score high on those.

Technically you could argue that Malhar at St. Xaviers encourages this - but again, its only one event in one year.

@ DK2 - dude, I'm not sure if quizzing was a fair parameter for comparison. But hey, it's your post and I'm riding with it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 5:46:00 AM

Blogger Gaurav said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 8:10:00 AM

Blogger Gaurav said...

falstaff, your hypothesis falls apart if you consider Pune. Things to do are similar in Pune. Movies, discs, safe places to hang out with girls. In fact there's the extra element of trekking as well. Yet Pune has a thriving Quiz scene. BE, Mastermind, ESPN School QUiz, everything has been won by Pune teams in the recent past.

Delhi quizzing is better than Bombay. But that's like saying Bangladesh cricket team is better than Kenya.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 8:21:00 AM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Bombay Addict, agree that it was an unfair comparison. Sorry.

Gaurav, one of these days, you'll eat your words, going around mentioning Bangladesh team like that!! Btw, we'll have a competition one day. In some neutral venue to settle this. As far as I can see, Delhi has done better than Pune in Mastermind and as well in ESPN. Surely, you'll not mention BE (though I have no idea who wins in those contests).

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 8:49:00 AM

Blogger Gaurav said...

About Bangladesh, haha, you're right.

About Delhi vs Pune in quizzing, let me tell you my experience. In the quizzes that I have participated in, in Pune, Mumbai, IITB, IIML, IIMI, a few other events, and Bangalore, I have seen very few....hardly any Delhi quizzers. An overwhelming number are from South, followed by Calcutta and Pune. I am talking about the "real quizzing" here and not the "manorama year book" variety. In fact the one good Delhi-bred quizzer I know, Aadisht, himself laments about quizzing in Delhi and talks of how Northies are a minority in quality quizzing circles.

As for Delhi doing as well as Pune in ESPN and Mastermind, it may have. But do consider that Pune's overall population as well as middle-class-upper-class population is probably a fourth of Delhi.

And one clincher in the argument against Delhi quizzing - Pornobda still holds a huge marketshare in the QM business. I rest my case.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 7:30:00 PM

Anonymous aadisht khanna said...

DK2, Either you know something about Delhi Open quizzes that I don't, or your analysis is wonky. The only Open Quiz in Delhi I know about is the Rendezvous Open. Then again, my college education wasn't in Delhi so I wouldn't be all that well informed.

When I was ranking my locations three months ago, I gave Bombay higher marks on quizzing then Delhi, because it's two hours away from Pune. For 500 rupees, you can still get a quiz once a month.

Another crib about Delhi is that all the college and school quizzes are sponsor-driven, so end up hiring Dreck or Porno. No chance to even be a QM.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 10:31:00 PM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Gaurav, I agree with you that Delhi based quizzers are fewer in number in other cities. However, I know of a lot of them who have done extremely well in Mastermind and other places (Priyamwada, Archana Garodia, Anand Vivek Taneja, Subhrojit Bhattacharya). It isn't close to Bangalore/ Chennai/ Kolkata, but they are around. Also, keep in mind that the college quizzing scene is amongst the most active that I have seen (far more than Bangalore/ Pune/ Chennai... the three places I know of). This is largely due to quizzers from various places coming to Delhi for DU/ IIT/ AIIMS, a parallel of IITs.

Aadisht, the only colleges which hire Pornob are IP (where he has made deep theatre roots). Derek is equally hated and only hired by Tabloids and so. Quizotic in Stephen's, Pulse in AIIMS, Crossroads Quiz in SRCC, the Hindu quizzes, LSR Open, DCE, DIT.. I can go on. Very good quizzes, all of them. Don't see that variety in any other city, actually.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 10:42:00 PM

Blogger Ramanand said...

Hmm... with a floating population of quizzers, these days, I don't think it's possible anymore to characterise a city's quizzing by the exploits of its quizzers. For instance, Shubhrojit B that you speak of was an MMI participant from Pune (while he was at AFMC). The 5th MMI had at least 6 participants with affiliations to Pune quizzing (a minimum of 1 year to a max of 8 - though whether they consider themselves enriched by the circuit, you'll have to ask them). I would also offer that the number of berths provided during the selection by Basu and co. is likely to be biased in favour of larger and more traditional centres.

Pune-defending aside :-), the circuit in Pune is what it is because of the people there. If they all happened to move out, I'm willing to wager the identity would be lost pretty soon. Bigger cities are more likely to have long-term residents who can keep it going. The numbers in Pune (in all age-groups) are extremely minimal compared to the larger centres. But that's not necessarily a deterrent in terms of quality.

It also has to do a bit with schools - I was in a bunch of really obscure schools who'd hardly get invited to school quizzes. I'm pretty sure this is true in most places - the kids in the renowned schools get invited to quizzes, both local and national. There is hardly any school quizzing in Pune (something we hope to change soon) compared to Delhi.

In the grown-up scene, what you can possibly compare is what options a newly-relocated quizzer would have in that place. 4 years ago, in Pune, you would have perhaps 2 open quizzes a year (unless you knew some of the college quiz organisers who could sneak you under the tent). It's very different now - we've had about 10 in the last one year. AFAI can see, distance is a problem in Mumbai, but there's no reason why a moderately busy scene can't happen here.

[apologies for the long rambling, but it's the subject... :-) - in short, my point: eventually it's the people]

Thursday, April 20, 2006 1:59:00 AM

Blogger k_chinmay said...

Found this a bit late.

But to correct u a bit, Delhi has never ever won the ESPN school quiz.

Three of the five editions have been won by Kolkata, and the other two by Pune and Mumbai--- wherein yours truly participated and won :)

Cant comment about the Delhi or Pune quizzing scene though as I am not at all well-versed with them.
But at least the college quizzing circuit in Mumbai (I am being very respectful, College quizzing in Mumbai is in an abismal state.) is not upto scratch.

Friday, April 21, 2006 12:12:00 AM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Chinmay, I stand corrected. I had a feeling that one of the DPS's had won, but I am wrong. Are you still in Bombay? In which case, you can join us here.

Friday, April 21, 2006 12:17:00 AM

Blogger k_chinmay said...

Very Much in Mumbai.
Have replied At bombayquiz too.
Will definitely try to come.

Friday, April 21, 2006 12:25:00 AM

Blogger Gaurav said...

If memory serves me right, DPS Farakka won an edition of the ESPN quiz, which still gives it to Calcutta. I remember that when my alma mater - Abhinav won the title in 2004, it was said to be the first school outside Bengal to do so. That was a fun time to brag. My school was the ESPN champ and my friend from my engineering college was the Mastermind.

The latter still holds, thanks to Sid Basu having forgotten MMI.

Friday, April 21, 2006 12:24:00 PM

Blogger Mr. D said...

@Gaurav: You mentioned the 'South'.. I'd just like to say that Bangalore and Chennai are two very different quizzing scenes, each vibrant and active in it's own way.

@DK2: I'd say Bangalore has a huge number of college quizzes too... we just didn't do much due to whatever reasons (time/news/you were on exchange during season).

Saturday, April 22, 2006 10:57:00 AM

Blogger Bhavya said...

My brother (aadisht) is a strange kind of snob inasmuch as he's snobbish against his own city. He missed the party. Quizzing took off in a big way once he left school. I can safely say that school quizzes in Delhi are some of the best in the country, in terms of questions and quality, and as a result the better school teams regularly give colleges a run for their money at quizzes in IIT, and indeed other colleges in Delhi.

Some of the best quizzers are now, and will continue to come from Delhi, the scene has really taken off. On the other hand, from conversations I've had with the Bombay guys I know at college, their idea of a quiz is limited to BCQ and ESPN.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 10:26:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all,
Found this a bit late in life, but thought it was 'entertaining',to say the least.
Well, I have been almost all over this country & since I am an avid (tho passive) quizzer, this comes out as a distillate:- Quizzing in North India sucks!
Lemme explain....
Before I begin, let me assure u I know what in the hell I'm talking abt. I have been to the Stephen's Quiz & PULSE (call that a Quiz??)as well as DU, all under circumstanes which are best left to the imagination.
Have attended Saarang (4 times, incidentally), Mood I, Antaragni, as well as Under The Peepul Tree & a few Autumn Muse quizzes (which is St John's med. coll.'s fest, for ppl north of the Vidhyas!). I also went to a public quiz (altho this was donkey's years back)in Cal.(yes, back then it was Cal, not Kol, so lighten up!). Have also attended the
Odyssey Quiz & The Landmark Quiz a few times (sorry, but they are the best examples of corporate degeneration in quizzing circles).
I think I can come to the foll. conclusions,without being accused of nepotism of any sort,:-
1.quizzing is best in "The South", with B'lore & Chennai being neck to neck (haven't been to Hyd, ppl, gimme a break!)
2.Pune takes the cake in the Western arena
3.Delhi is barely alive
4.Corporate quizzing sucks! It is not only highly vapid & trademarks only the quizmaster's diploma in public speaking, but also is meant for ppl with IQ less than 80.
5.The basic reason for quizzing being better in Chennai/B'Lore/Cal (haven't been to Hyd, so won't speak abt it; altho have heard really favouable reports!) is probably cuz they have a strong cultural/literary background, which not only enriches them, but also provides a nice opportunity, both spatially & temporally (and ethnically, if this makes any sense), to hold such jousts. I don't really think the commute has got much to do with it (altho not entirely untrue!). I mean, there are other places than Delhi in N India, but how come they don't come up with anything of this sort? And mind you, the distances in those places aren't really disconcerting! It's just that the damn atmosphere doesn't exist in most N Indian places. Plus the fact that ppl there don't really bother with trivia (or at least not this type). Pun intended. I know this debate started off as one betwn Delhi & B'bay, but what the heck....
6.Altho city safety & lack of affordable theatres might have had something to do with the beginning of such active quizzing circles, yet it doesn't really explain the continuation of the same. This, IMHO, is inherently in-built. I like to think of it as part of the ethos of a city (sniffle-sniffle, senti crap!). Something that defines a city. A surrogate marker, so to speak, of the cultural development of a city. Heh heh.
Anyway, not to make too fine a point of it, quizzing in Delhi will remain the domain of Porno-b & Derek-brains as long as sensationalism & cheap thrills (not to mention the new high-5-at-the-drop-of-a-hat generation! Yeah dude, u scord a mean 10 pts there by answrng wht a 7 yr old cud hv. High 5!!)
will rule the roost.
Till then, I guess I'll have to quench my thirst of quizzing by going South, young man!
P.S.-- I am currently living in Lucknow! Let the hooting begin :-)!

Monday, May 08, 2006 5:49:00 AM


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