Mumbai or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Rain

So Mumbai. Here I am. Land of opportunity (wait that doesn’t sound right). Land of filmstars maybe. Land of too many people, that’s for sure. And land of constant rains. That no one will disagree with.

I have an opportunity to intern at L&T in the summer. Surprisingly few people knew about L&T at DTU, leading me to wonder if they’d ever looked at those Metro diversion boards which are, you know, spread throughout Delhi. What was even more exciting was the location of the office – Mumbai. I immediately signed up, and the thought that the legal age for drinking beer here is 21 didn’t cross my mind at all. Dad was pretty enthusiastic that his useless kid was actually going to learn something after twenty years of burning his paycheques (heh heh heh). I was wise enough to keep my mouth shut about the fact that it was going to cost more to keep in Mumbai than in Delhi.

Settle down, lads. Regular readers (if there are any from the few decades ago when the blog used to be updated regularly) will know about my obsession with detail simply because the mundane things are the most interesting. This will be a long blog post. Or as you fancy kids prefer to use – #longreads. (Using hashtags outside twitter still bothers me more than it should. Oh well. Have to change with the times.)

I received news in January that I’d be interning at L&T. So I booked all necessary flight tickets for a fairly busy schedule. My exams ended on 31 May, and I flew to Bengaluru to meet my grandparents on the fourth of June. After a week of stay, I travelled to Mumbai on 13th where I’d meet mom and dad who were flying in from Delhi. And then both would be flying back to Delhi, and then back to Bangalore and the back to Delhi again later this month. (Don’t ask why). I also booked tickets for my return to Delhi from Pune, where I have to meet more relatives. Add some hotel reservations for parents to this and dad’s blood pressure was significantly higher after the entire process ended.

My flight to Bengaluru was just a day after Gopinath Munde’s tragic death, which meant security was tighter than usual. I got into the airport at 8.30 when the flight had to leave by 9.15. GoAir systems decided that it was the perfect time to freeze, which left me stranded for twenty minutes at the counter. They reassured me that they won’t leave me because of “our own problem”. I badly needed to make a coffee run before the flight because I hadn’t slept a wink all night – charging devices and watching Warrior (great film). All these technical issues destroyed my wonderful plans and an incredibly long security line meant I already had three missed calls from GoAir telling me to hurry up. I was running to the gate and wanted to melt under their glaring faces.

Bangalore trip was great. It’s too pleasant there, kinda like the two days Delhi gets in a year. It’s changed a lot, though. What I hadn’t noticed before were the roads – they’re awful to drive on not least because of poor planning (thanks for great roads, Lutyens).

As expected, the BLR-BOM flight duration itself was shorter than the drive to the airport. Why even call it Bengaluru Airport if it’s not in Bengaluru? It’s in Devanhalli. (BTW, grandpa introduced me to The Ventures in the car. Nice tunes.) The airport is also severely lacking in fast food joints because masala dosa is clearly the only food every passenger from Bengaluru will ever have before leaving.

Saw an episode of Hannibal on the flight. Lady beside me was clearly freaked out. Will blog about Hannibal later (I swear).

Typical problems happened when I landed in Mumbai. My flight was delayed, and so was my parents’ and somehow both pilots completed the journey much faster than expected, and both of us landed at the same time, not half-an-hour apart as originally planned. All was well. Which meant that all was not well and something would certainly go wrong. Called up dad who told me to come to “belt 5”, which was confusing because there were only four belts at arrivals. After a few moments of confusion, I found out that Mumbai airport has two terminals for arrival. -_-

Fortunately, they aren’t too far apart. Fifteen minute walk at the most. Walking fifteen minutes with a bag, a suitcase, dead earphones and what felt like 102% humidity isn’t a nice experience, though.

I was united with my parents and we headed straight to their hotel in Powai. Ramada is a decent hotel (no, not that Decent Hotel). I was fascinated with the keycard entry, the safe in the cupboard, the remote operation of the lights from the bedside when I realised that this was my first stay in a hotel in six years. Apparently, these are regular features in hotels nowadays.

After like three minutes, I went to see my flat in Powai. I share a 3BHK flat with 9 (!) other people. These aren’t students, though. All of different age groups, so none of that Pyar Ka Punchnama stuff happens here. As you can imagine, privacy is out of the window. So is cleanliness. Fortunately there’s a maid for cooking food, cleaning the place and (thank god) laundry. There’s still no internet at the flat and I’m blowing off all my 3G data. There’s also no AC, but that would be asking for too much. There’s a TV, though which means I can still watch the world cup at night, which is all I care about, really.

Unfortunately, I don’t live in the good part of Powai. Not Andheri east or so-posh-it-feels-like-Europe Hiranandani. I live in NagaSakiNaka and it resembles a civilisation trying to find its feet in the aftermath of a nuclear accident. The lake even looks like a nuclear wasteland. L&T has like fifteen buildings spread out in the entire area. The whole place looks as if it exists only because L&T exists. (This is true, apparently.) My locality is fairly safe, though, given it’s a place where families live. So obviously, I tried to stay away from the flat during the weekend, choosing to sleep in the hotel on the bouncy bed for one last time in the AC.

*

Monday meant it was my first day at work, ever. Woke up feeling positively happy, excited and ready to take on the world. Put on a shirt and some pants and walked to the office (it’s that close) and reached the gate to enter… only to find that my name wasn’t in the approved list or something. :\

A few minutes and frantic calls later, it was sorted out and I walked to HR where I met a guy named two other interns named Drimson and a girl who’s name I don’t remember because I’m not even sure I saw this famed, mythical girl-studying-mechanical (there are like three in the country). Both of them looked at me like I was ET because they could not comprehend why I’d fly in from Delhi to intern in Mumbai by choice.

I didn’t have a chance to justify my actions because HR guy picked that moment to brief us about L&T, which understandably is a massive company. Chairman AM Naik recently approved a diversification plan for the company, which saw the birth of L&T Hydrocarbon (where I work at), and it’s already a $2 billion dollar company, despite being only three months old. It took some time, but he finally got to the important stuff – when we have food, where we have food, what we have for food, do we need to work on Saturdays (we do) and so on. HR also informed me that the clothes I was wearing were too informal.

After getting my ID card made, I went to my mentor and was immediately assigned some top secret project. For your eyes only, stuff like that. All I can say now is that we’re trying to find more Transformers lying in the ocean bed (we’re on the Decepticons’ side, though). Oil rigs are the perfect cover.

The vending machine has become a big source of income for the company since I’ve joined as I eat KitKats by the dozen. I also discovered the existence of a Café Coffee Day machine which prepared the elixir of the gods from coffee beans, not that crappy instant coffee powder. There weren’t any mugs, though. I expressed my displeasure at this to a friend who interns at RBS in Gurgaon, who said they don’t have mugs either. You have to bring your own mugs. Why can’t India’s largest construction company construct a few mugs now and then?

(Side note about RBS. Kilol sent me some photos of her workplace and it looks like that ship from 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are free vending machines and everything. There’s also a gym and a foosball table. The closest thing we have to a gym is giving a helping hand to the guys at the Heavy Engineering department. Getting your laptop confiscated is also nice for cardio. Oh, I haven’t got to that part yet.)

The RBS Workplace

Pictured: The RBS Workplace. Not Pictured: Foosball table.

Everything was going perfectly fine, so something had to go wrong somewhere. The universe punished me for working late. I left the office about half-an-hour later than usual on Thursday (confirmed Decepticon sighting!) and was immediately stopped by security at the exit. I wouldn’t have been stopped if I walked with the crowd, but I wasn’t because I was working late.

“Bag me kya hai?”

“Sir, laptop.”

“Gate pas hai?”

Shows ID.

“Laptop ka gate pass. Hai?”

Puzzled look.

“Andar saab se mil ke aao.”

“Saab” was the security in-charge. He cheerfully informed me that he’d confiscating my laptop. He made me write a statement where I proclaimed “hosh-o-awaz mein” that I’m an ignorant buffoon for not knowing the rules and security will now keep my laptop. I headed back to the office to take help from the mentor, but he couldn’t do anything as he didn’t have the authority to issue a gate pass. Red tape, man. It screws us all. Even in non-governmental organisations.

So I spent the night without my laptop, thinking about it all the time. Worrying constantly about its safety (so this is how mom feels). Friday couldn’t come sooner.

I ran to work the next day, rushed to the office and my mentor printed a laptop gate pass which the VP signed. I got the date wrong, so I had to get it printed again. Now here’s where I’d like to mention that all my bosses were super-cooperative. Everything was done perfectly on time, and there weren’t many hassles.

I jogged all the way back the entry gate where I laid the form down with a flourish… only to be rejected immediately. The form was for employees only. As a trainee, I’d have to draft a letter. I didn’t understand how it made a difference, but then again, the universe is a weird place.

So I went back to my office, typed the letter, and gave it for signing a third time. After I received it, I went back and laid it down with a little less flourish. The security head saw that I’m from Delhi, and started chatting about the city. He lived in Palam and Dhaula Kuan (poshmax!) for a few years, and was in praise of the city, being massively critical about the safety, especially at night, which is a valid point. Here in Mumbai you can roam the streets freely at 3AM without the fear of being gang-raped in a moving bus.

He signed off on the letter, and now I have my laptop back. I asked security if they’d finished my blog post on Hannibal. They hadn’t. I promised never to hurt someone I loved so much ever again. I can bring it to work every day now.

If you’ve stuck around till now, congratulations! You’ve read a two thousand word post and wasted a lot of your precious time when you could’ve been doing, you know, other productive thing (lol we both know you were going to Reddit anyway. Or 9GAG if you’re a tool). Nevertheless, I’m done with a week and apart from a few problems with the maids at home, I’ve settled into routine, apparently. If there is such a thing as routine. I’m not sure if I’ll blog anytime in the future, but that’s mostly because I’ve run out of ideas.

(Maybe you can leave some ideas in the comments?)

Advertisements

Competition Success Review : Code Wars 2011

What’s that?! you wonder, seeing my blog’s name pop up in bold in your feed reader. I’m sure you forgot my blog even existed, considering that the last post was months away.

But here I am. Of course, not for long. Maybe one post. Maybe two.

When Pulkit contacted me via Facebook chat urging me to write a post about Code Wars, I demanded an archive of all the questions. While he still hasn’t responded (unless you call giving the JQ finals a response), the real reason is much more different. I didn’t know if I’ll be able to bring myself to write a post about my last quiz ever as a school student. I’ve had some wonderful times while quizzing, and this was officially the competition where I retired.

Of course, my “retirement” isn’t a news as groundbreaking as I make it appear. It’s like Ramesh Powar announces retirement from ODI cricket “to concentrate on his test career”. Nobody really cares much.

If Wikipedia is to be believed, he “has had weight issues for a considerable amount of time and his weight is unknown because the ICC have yet to find a weighing scale that doesn’t collapse when he stands on it.”

But the fact is, Ramesh Powar would feel nostalgic. After all he did have his moments. So did I.

*

St. Xaviers’ tech fest Interface was supposed to be the last quiz for me. But it was so absolutely pathetic, I didn’t feel it was justified to end like this. (Seriously, look at the quiz archive.) After hours of coaxing Mom to let me go for this, I finally told my quizzing partner Saumey that I was ready to go.

Who then celebrated.

Unfortunately, the decision had come a little too late, and the school vice principal refused to send us for the competition, citing lack of transport, probably because something roughly equivalent to the size of the Olympics were being organized (aka the zonals) for which all the vehicles were needed.

Then in a move which baffled everybody, he encouraged us to go on on our own using our own methods of transport. Which was something I was initially skeptical about, but agreed. Needless to say younger kids who were enthusiastic about going to Code Wars decided not to come because “Mummy ne mana kar diya“.

Eventually, only a few of us were going and Shikhar dropped the big bomb – he wasn’t coming with us.

See, we’ve being going for competitions since the fourth grade, and I really wanted to go my final even ever with him (since it would probably be the final event ever for him too, and I didn’t want the memory of Interface 2011 to tarnish his memories of him winning at nearly every event he went to). Basically, he had the Chemistry practical the next day and refused to budge. It was disappointing, but I had to let it go.

Then on Friday (the D-Day), I got a (huge) text at 4 in the morning from Shikhar, which stated that he was coming. To this day, I haven’t quite understood the reason why it took so long for him to reach that decision, but I really don’t care.

Then I celebrated.

So basically, we were set to go. Accompanying us was the audio-cum-video editor guy Mayank (who’s Code Wars participation story is exactly the same as Shikhar’s, me celebrating and all), Shubham (a really, really weird kid), Tirthankar (Mrittunjoy’s brilliant brother – more on him later), Ashmeet (another potentially great quizzer) and of course, my quizzing partner (whose name you should remember by now). I think I’m missing someone’s name, which should be okay as long as they don’t chase me with knives or something.

Shikhar was going meet us at Chattarpur Metro station (which is the nearest Metro station to DPS VK, a piece of information I got from a source who calls himself “the dolt“).

Anyhoo, we began the long ride to the metro station, almost certain that we would be late. Finally, we made it and squeezed ourselves in Shikhar’s Swift DZire. There was little trouble in locating the school, but thanks to Nokia Maps, we made it.

(Important note here. Shikhar will tell you in the comments section or in subsequent blog posts on his blog that we took no assistance of GPS whatsoever. He’s lying. Do NOT listen to him.)

After reaching the familiar school, I saw absolutely no familiar faces. Just lots of people hustling around. Instinctively (being close to that wooden-floored auditorium), I began removing my shoes when I found out that it was locked. We were then redirected to the library, where we had to wait for further instructions. It was really odd, but I think that they did this because they finally realised that the audi simply wasn’t big enough to accommodate everyone. (I realised, later, that this was not the reason).

So after catching up on some latest Guinness World Records in the library, Saumey spots the New Era team (aka Arch Rivals #1). We go and have a chat, when Vidit from Manavsthali shows up (aka Arch Rival #1). He has the Junior Quiz prelims sheet, which, IMHO, was tough. I realized from their discussions about the questions that I had really grown old and stayed out of touch from the world of quizzing for a long time now.

After a long and agonizing wait, we were led to some random classroom (lets just call it RC1, because, why not?) for the crossword prelims.

And boy were those hard.

They were great, but hard. The grid had been shortened to a mere 20 questions, as compared to 50 from last time. I had great difficulty in figuring out some, and of course, in the process, slashing out correct answers to favour the wrong ones instead. When we were through, I had absolutely no hope of qualification. Aur mera shak sahi nikla.

We stayed back for the quiz prelims, which was equally tough, if not more. There were some silly errors, like the question in which I wrote PalmOS, when the answer was acutally webOS (which is the OS on Palm devices), in response to why HP Touchpads suddenly became so cheap. It was a little sad, as just the previous day I had seen this topic emerge on Twitter and didn’t bother to investigate.

As soon as we were through, we were notified of the crossword results. The time was about 11.40, and we decided to leave instantly, as we both had to get to FIITJEE. We caught an auto, and headed back to the metro station and back home.

–Official end of day 1–

Then the wait for the results of the quiz prelims began. Towards the end of the second class (which was Physics) my phone started vibrating with message alerts multiple times. I knew something was up. After the class was over, I found out that we had qualified. Shikhar had texted, tweeted and called about the results. I let out a sigh of relief that was characterized with such an immense release of heat from my body, I think it single-handedly contributed to the phenomenon that is global warming.

I had also learned via their website that Prempal and Arnav (AKA Arch Rivals #1) had failed to qualify again! The jinx carried out. Vidit (AKA Arch Rival #1) still made it, though.

I went home. Told parents that I had qualified (Mom: “Another day?!” Dad:”Do I have to drive you there?”) and went back to studying the wonders of alternating current. (Did you know that an inductor with high impedance can actually make power consumption negligible, thus virtually giving us free electricity?)

Also, unlike last time, Shikhar and I decided to do at least something about Techathlon. So at about 12:20 AM the next day, when I was just setting up the laptop, I got a phonecall from some unknown number.

Me: Hello?

*silence*

Me: Hello?

Person at the other end: Bhaiya, second waale ka answer ‘Seagate’ hona chahiye.

Consider this: I had just studied physics for three straight hours and Tirthankar (who’s in the seventh grade) calls up and gives the answer to techathalon! Holy crap is this child dedicated!

Me: Whoa, well done. Go to sleep now, it’s midnight for heaven’s sake!

I’m still reeling in shock for a while. He also cracked one or two more. This is a sizeable chunk considering we got about six correct.

So after some clue solving with Shikhar, we decided to end the session and go back to sleep.

–Finally, the end of day 1–

Oh and if you thought I was making up that story about Shikhar texting me at four in the morning…

Next morning (wait, actually this morning, considering I had already stayed up until the next day) I was ready for the challenge. Dad was faced with the task of driving me to Saket, which is not really cool because I had to listen to an hour-long lecture about how studies are ridiculously important and how I’m not putting in the required amount of hours for cracking the JEE. Of course, I did have my trusted earphones with me to bail me out at precisely timed moments.

We finally reached DPS VK. It was almost 9, when I got a call from the other people who had to arrive at school via Metro. Turns out, the Metro had stopped at Qutub Minar. Which is why they requested me to ask my dad to pick them up. Dad had already left, so I had to ring him up again, much to his anger. He returned, I sat in the car, we were driving, and I got a call from Saumey explaining that metro trains alternate – one stops at Qutub Minar and the other runs the whole duration. Who knew?

Anyway, after an awkward explanation to dad following which I was dropped off at the school again with multiple swear words uttered under his breath, I was reunited with the kids. The time was now well past nine and all the quizzers were apparently waiting impatiently for me. This is weird, because this is India. 9 AM means 10 AM. I was early!

Before the quiz began, something strange transpired. The VGA cable for the monitor wasn’t working apparently, so the projector couldn’t be connected. Naturally, the obvious solution was to get another cable from somewhere.

Me: Jaldi la yaar cable.

Pulkit: Kaha se? Ek hi hai.

Me: (eyebrows raised) Abey tumhare school mein monitors nahi hai kya? Kisi se bhi cable nikal le.

Pulkit: Aren’t the cables fixed to monitor permanently?

At this moment all the quizzing teams are looking at each other awkwardly wondering if this man standing in front of us was really the quizmaster.

Me: Er, dekh le. Try kar le.

The quiz started. Now, nearly two years have passed, so details are a little hazy, so forgive me if I get something wrong (factually). What I do remember is that Namunay was in prime form nailing questions. Saumey was also getting the occassional guess right. One question which distinctly stands out was one about some “music service”. It was some screenshot, if my memory holds well, but Saumey was quick to spot “London” before the question “bounced” to us.

Saumey: Bhaiya shayad Spotify hai.

Me: Kyo? Crossword ke baad kuch aur galat karana hai, abhi?

Saumey: Bhaiya yaha London listed hai. Ankur bhaiya ke bohot posts aate hai Facebook pe Spotify ke.

Me: Hmm. (to an unusually smug Pulkit). Spotify?

Pulkit’s smirk vanishes and is replaced with an expression of awe and incredulity. “How did you know that?”

I claimed that it was an intelligent guess, which it was. Only difference was, I took the credit for his. (*snort snort*)

The quiz went on. Eventually, it was poised nicely with the final three questions remaining which had to be played on the buzzer.

Now we were sitting in a conference room, which is no place was a self-respecting quizzing buzzer to be. Now being the masters of jugaad, Pulkit ordered us to shout “HALT” for the buzzer. I could not think a single way this could go wrong.

Here’s where the dirty quizzing started. DPS RK Puram and we were tied in second place. DPS Dwarka (Naumnay’s team) was ahead by 15. The rules stated that a correct answer got us +10 and a wrong one got -5.

The first question is put up on the slide: some huge paragraph which automatically had me mumbling the longest word in the English language, “Mutufalfundinvestmentsaresubjecttomarketriskspleasereadtheofferdocumentcarefullybeforeinvesting“.

But suddenly! A light bulb! One word clearly stood out. One word.

Greatbong

And in the split second when I realized it, Namunay had already pressed the buzzer… offering no answer. They didn’t know the answer. They wanted to to see off the questions, accepting penalty and ensuring their first position.

A similar chain of events transpired in the next question as well. I was once again slow to get the connect. (A bulldozer was shown – a reference to AMD).

Now, DPS RKP and us were still tied for second. DPS D had a five point lead. No one got the final question. Namunay had won, and his menacing victorious smile sparked my brain into thinking up various methods of maming or seriously injuring him (but no killings). Jokes aside, it was a fine performance deserving of a victory.

It was down to the tie-break. The first question: “name the co creators of the USB.”

Now we knew this! We framed a question on this.

Me: I think it’s Intel and Microsoft.

Saumey: Sahi lag raha hai.

Me: Par doubt hai mujhe.

Saumey: Koi nahi, likh do.

This is where the magic happens. I write down Intel and Microsoft, stand up to hand over the paper, cut Microsoft and replace it with HP, and submit it.

Pulkit: Both have got only one company right. The answer was Intel and Microsoft.

Saumey: But we got both…

Me: Yeah, about that…

The next question involved some mission about some internet giants, which we had to list. We had no clue. DPS RKP listed Anonymous. The correct answer was Anonymous and PirateBay. They had won! We finished third another time.

Disappointment. Total disappointment. Not to mention a twinge of humiliation to complicate feelings. Oh well. At least I didn’t bow out with a trophy-less final quiz…

We got our refreshments and headed to the some classroom to witness gaming. Code Wars was sponsored by FoG (Federation of Gamers), who were organizing it on consoles.

There was no Counter-Strike, or Modern Warfare. No Need for Speed, or Burnout, or Street Fighter, or Mortal Kombat or FIFA.

No kidding.

Here we had, experience and young gamers, dancing to tunes in front of the Kinect. This was followed by a round of Kinect Sports. You know, 110m hurdles, dashes, discus throws, long jumps, etc.

Now I didn’t really agree with the whole concept of asking gamers to dance and throw imaginary javelins (they had gone overboard with the shock factor they were looking for), but boy was it fun! I even recorded some videos on my phone, as did others.

The trophy presentation couldn’t be held in the Gulmohar Hall (Remember? The one outside which I had taken off my shoes?) because, as I learnt later, it was shut down due to maintenance  work. The roof had fallenYikes. Instead, the ceremony was shifted to another room.

Since there was no intro video, we were shown an exit video, which started with Justin Bieber’s “Baby” (Not linking to it because I do not want a Justin Bieber video found in my browser history. Porn is easier to explain.), but immediately ended. Masters of trolling. The video continued with “Just A Song About Ping Pong” by Operator Please (a music video so trippy, you’ll wonder why there’s a Cthulhu on your bed).

With that, Day 2 ended without anything eventful happening. Or maybe something did happen and I can’t remember.

Competition Success Review #1 : Force Fest Day 2

After day 1 we all were excited to return to Sheikh Sarai. Uhm, maybe not everyone, considering the return journey is so horrible.

As usual, I turned up at school punctually – fifteen minutes late, which is natural. Saw this kid named Shubham, who went with us for VB programming, going again just for the heck of it. His classmates scared him that they’d tear his certificates and break his award. So he’s like 1955’s original George McFly. I wonder how long it’ll take Darth Vader from Planet Vulcan to meet him.

Darth Vader from Planet Vulcan. Also, Van Halen ftw

Now that we knew that majority of the quiz questions were taken from already-existing archives, we wanted to study. Unfortunately, I was too busy proving f(x)=|sin x| + |cos x| is periodic with π last night, and Saumey was reading from Vidit’s archive (which Arnav later informed me, had been pulled from gyaan.in). But I was more interested in reading from my TCS archives over the past three years. Surprisingly, they were no longer available on MediaFire! Strange.

So anyway, we were just talking about a lot of other stuff (other than the quiz, that is) on the way to Apeejay. As usual, the kids were making a ruckus in the car making the journey even more tedious. Somehow I can’t recall some of the finer details about the journey probably because it was uneventful this time with Jyot Singh having no problem in finding the school today.

We reached at exactly 9.04 AM and the quiz was scheduled to start at 9. Auditorium was really quiet and the first person I saw as soon as I entered was Arnav, listening to his iPod. There really was no Prempal today, so we had a reasonable shot. But we did know, however, that Arnav was a pretty damn good quizzer on any given day, considering that he qualified for TCS once and won the Japan Quiz this time.

The quiz began about ten minutes after we finished with registration. We could choose our places randomly and judging by the huge screen, I chose to sit at the seat farthest from it – team 6.

The quiz began with a dry round with infinite bounce system. Apparently, the quizmaster was dreaming about going back to bed, by forgetting the most basic rule of infinite bounce – the team next to the tem which correctly answered the question gets it.

Round one was pathetic was me and Saumey. We were stuck at zero while others had some points. Arnav was at his usual flamboyant self, of course.

Next round featured negative marking, and we got -10 for getting Camel Case wrong (I confused it with tOGGLE cASE).

It was like that for a while, when the connect round came around. There were five points for identifying each picture and ten for the connect with the scoring being same for all. We managed to scrape together some measly five points in some questions, and boy did it go a long way.

The quizmaster was definitely not paying attention this time as when we answered “This is the first player YouTube used to stream videos” it was not accepted, but when the next team said “This is the first player YouTube used to stream videos online using Flash”, they got it. Another instance was Arnav saying essentially the same thing about some “tables” (something to do with guessing hash keys while guessing) and it was not accepted, while the next team’s answer was, even though it was essentially the same.  Arnav almost looked like he’d found out that Vader was his father.

I think I exaggerated that one a bit. NOT.

Then came the big mega connect for us. We had to connect Nupedia, Jimmy Wales (photo), “quick” and Julian Assange. Of course the connect was Wikipedia and we garnered a lump sum of thirty points. This was crucial to the quiz at it changed everything.

Or so I though. Until the buzzer round spread its wings to cover us all in its mighty wingspan.

Or more appropriately, cover us in its poop.

The main idea of the round was flawed. In buzzer rounds, you’re supposed to see the question and immediately strike the buzzer to answer it. It’s not the vastness of the knowledge that’s being tested here, it’s how quick you can recall it. They didn’t have “quizzing-grade” buzzers installed here; they wouldn’t break circuits. Nor did they use Exun’s strategy of recording it and playing in slow motion. They did have spotters, but that path is never devoid of controversy, you know.

Arnav went totally bonkers here, hitting the buzzer before the question was completed, getting -20, hitting it again for another -20. Even we got a -20, but we covered up with some great answering.

Suddenly at the end of the round, we were with our noses ahead at 80 and others in mid seventies.

My knees started shaking at the prospect of actually winning the first quiz of the season, when the next round showed up. I’d like to call this little tyke “Deux Ex Machina”. Here are the rules

  • Plus fifty for the correct answer.
  • Minus twenty for the wrong answer.
  • Plus thirty for a passed question

See what just happened there? That’s like giving Stoke City a fifty point boost if they score a goal in their last game. This is madness.

So the round started with a tough one (in my opinion) and it got easier later on. Almost all the questions here took up entire slides. Suddenly, we were fourth. The last question of the quiz went to us and it was like requiring four runs of one ball with one wicket remaining.

It was a huge quote about a person “responsible for getting the computer to the masses” speaking about his life-changing experiences with the Homebrew Computer Club.

And guess what. I forgot. I panicked there and knew we had lost it. But Saumey stood there like a white knight in shining armor braces.

“Bhaiya Steve Wozniak bol do. “

“I don’t think that’s right.”

“Arre maine iWoz mein yeh padh rakha hai.”

It was difficult to trust him as he was responsible for that -20 in the buzzer round and another question to which I knew the right answer.

But then, quizzing is all about trusting your partner and we went ahead.

It was right and we WON. Boy was the adrenaline rush massive. Went down the stage feeling like a boss. From -10 to 130 is no mean feat, guys. The win was slightly unconvincing, because of that stupid buzzer round (although it was responsible for saving our skins).

Lots of questions were from Vidit’s book, Saumey and Arnav told me. This was funny as Vidit himself didn’t qualify. BTW, there was one question he could definitely have answered as it was in German and Vidit knows German.

More results started pouring in, and we were quite sure of winning the overall trophy with the first position in the PowerPoint presentation on corruption the kids made, second in LOGO Programming and some other event, and third in some robotics event and VB programming.

When we went on the stage to collect the overall trophy, what we didn’t know was that we had also won a printer! And when we opened it in the Qualis it turned out to be an HP All-in-One which we decided to put in the secondary lab. Now two labs have photocopy machines.

Meena Ma’am didn’t accompany us today and was absolutely astounded at the news about the overall trophy and the printer. We all were.

So a good day for ze Converge Clan. Not a waste of time at all (hope you’re reading this, Dad).

P.S: Anyone has those TCS archives? Please mail: a.crystalunicorn@yahoo.com

Competition Success Review#1: Force Fest Day 1

“Season’s already begun?” asked the crazy beggar, probably as surprised as me. It’s generally Montfort who starts things off by calling all major schools and hosting an awesome event.

Let’s back track a bit. Force Fest was held at Apeejay Sheikh Sarai (I’ve never heard of it before). When the invite first came to school, Meena Ma’am handed it over to His Majesty, the righteous, trustworthy, amazing, perfect and brilliant Shikhar Gautam (who’s also incidentally Head Boy, and many sixth grade kids’ idol “Mein aapki marching se bahut inspired hoon”).

So Shikhar talks with me about this recent development and decides not to go. Which means, we actually had to work hard in the event he isn’t going for (for some context, refer to previous CSR posts and search references to “god”). See, he’s missed lot of school due to VMC’s morning classes. So he figures he can’t afford to miss more.

So anyway, I volunteer to go for the quiz, and Saumey tags along too. I really didn’t expect all the major schools to turn up as well. I did get a hint when Prempal asked Vidit whether they had transport to offer for their school. That was two major quizzers here already.

Eight other kids were accompanying us on Day 1. We were going in our regular good ol’ Qualis.

Getting there was a nightmare. The school seemed light years away from ours and extreme heat only caused that time to expand. Moreover, Jyot Singh had forgotten to service the car air conditioner, which he claims, can chill the entire car within minutes.

Predictably, we got lost and out came everyone’s cell phones with Google Maps. Unfortunately, n00b kids didn’t know having a “maps” icon on your phone doesn’t necessarily mean GPS. An eighth grader got really excited when Google pointed out his location accurate up to five hundred meters. When Vinamra (the only other twelfth grader) were seriously considering to “screw this” and go watch Source Code at PVR nearby in Select Citywalk, we finally found Apeejay… in Saket.

So here’s a question this ignorant author would like an answer to. Which darn school opens two branches within walking distance of each other? (Conditions apply: “walking distance” depends upon one’s physical fitness and may range from a few centimetres to many miles).

Funnily enough, some students were standing near the entrance gate (and we assumed they were welcoming us). What I felt was, presumably, they were actually there to tell others that this was not Apeejay Sheikh Sarai. So after making a phone call to Aditya Kumar of DPS Vasant Kunj (who didn’t have a clue about the directions) we reached the correct school after winding through some really kacha roads.

We were led to the auditorium (which looked really nice). It was a lot like cinema halls in the sense that you sit in the front if you’re the last to come. Since we were behind the chief guest, we were supposed to keep our trap shut. Apparently, the inauguration had already started and the intro video was shown as soon as we entered. No comments on the video (wasn’t really paying attention; was tweeting), but others claim it was “inspired” from ours. (Just a note, Shikhar made the Gateway intro video in one night). The chief guest was someone called Aditya Berlia. Not a spelling error. Or maybe it is, but it’s definitely not Birla. He spoke with an Americanized accent and claimed to be from Stanford. He also spoke a lot about his parties with Facebook’s founder, Orkut’s founder, why the Orkut doesn’t work well anymore (“They’re (founders) are both equally smart. Well Zuckerberg’s a bit smarter actually”). But irrespective of all this, it was the most engaging chief guest speech I’ve ever heard. Aditya asked us about topics ranging from 4chan (/b/ specifically) to cloud computing to Pirates of the Silicon Valley.

Quiz prelims then began, and all major quizzing schools seemed to be there. We were led to some lab with PCs running Windows 2000. I instantly fired up Minesweeper and began, er, sweeping. Papers arrived and we were blown away. Remember my TCS archive (which Shikhar helped in making. Man, he’s everywhere)? There was a question about LinkedIn, and I had included Giri’s quote about it in the question. The question appeared as it is with the quote. I am not kidding. Vidit’s latest book on tech also became the source for some questions (which, thankfully, Saumey had read). Quiz wasn’t that tough; it was made up of questions I was sure I’d read before but couldn’t remember. Like a word involving Monty Python’s Flying Circus (it was “spam”). Once again, Saumey’s tukka of the day did it for us. Apparently, “Elograph” is now known as touch screen. And the boy guessed it. So we totalled up to about thirteen. Then we talked for sometime, and then added more answers (which we later forgot to include in our scores). So thirteen was the official score, according to us. New Era got 18 and Vidit from Manavsthali had 15 with them.

We went back to the audi contemplating the results and watching really boring presentations on corruption in India. (An enthusiastic girl claimed Suresh Kalmadi was recently arrested by the CBSE. Oops CBI.) Results came in, and we qualified along with (apparently) no DPS and no Manavsthali. Montfort, Air Force, Mother’s International, New Era, and some other school got through. Vidit was furious and demanded to know the marks. The quizmaster re checked his paper, and got fifteen. He asked if we were sure with our scores and were okay with disqualification. Of course, I wouldn’t agree to that! Last year of school quizzing here. So he did go and recheck our paper again and informed us we had sixteen. We won fair and square. (High five)! Prempal and Arnav were equally shocked at Vidit’s non-selection (though all of us were secretly happy at getting a good shot at the top prize).

Vidit was sad, but hey, stuff happens. Sorry, Vidit. I might have got a little too selfish there.

Vinamra couldn’t go through to the next round of gaming (Unreal Tournament). He said he forgot to click to respawn, and eliminated in a tight round. We finally made another tedious journey back to school in the sweltering heat. Now for day 2.

P.S: Prempal told me New Era often refuses to provide transport to them for quizzes. Why? Aren’t they like quizzing superpowers? Don’t they win nearly anywhere they choose to put their feet? Arnav said they take sweet revenge by refusing to hand over the overall trophy to their school.

P.P.S: Before we knew his name, we used to called Arnav Mario. Fact. Don’t mind that, Arnav.

Competition Success Review #2: TCS IT Wiz 2009

At long last, TCS IT Wiz finally arrived at Delhi. It felt like the most awaited event of the century. Everyone was waiting for it. And it brought back horrific memories of previous year. I really didn’t want this to happen again. But fate had other ideas.

With the noticeable absence of Mridul, our quizzing team had become relatively weaker. Saumey (my current quizzing partner) is only in ninth-class (which was the same class I was in last year), and he is still raw. But he does have a remarkably wide knowledge field.

Gyaan.in had threads on TCS IT Wiz, and questions on how to prepare about it even before you could say “Giri”. I felt really amused at all this. Because you really cannot “prepare” for this competition. Its that knowledge of all previous years and current affairs snowballed into a large one.

Just the day before TCS (30th October) was Dad’s birthday, so I was up quite late. Next morning, I reached school all excited and jumpy. Meena Ma’am informed me that TCS guys had requested us to send thirty teams. That is not a typo. Thirty teams! Too much. We were sending six. Under no circumstances am I going to list them here. Before leaving, I took Sir Alex Ferguson’s aashirwad. It really helped, though the potency was a little low (he has other important matters at hand as well).

Shikhar and his brother turned up late. He claims he was late and his driver did Burnout-style driving to get him there.

Puts Paul Walker to shame

Puts Paul Walker to shame

School arranged only a Qualis for us. They obviously thought twelve people would sit comfortably in a eight-seater. With a driver.

Pictured: Comfort

Pictured: Comfort

This was the second-last image. I promise. Second-last.

So we stole Jaikishan’s Civic and Vedant’s Verna, and accommodated people into the Verna (the Civic was for return). It took a lotta time, and we finally reached the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

There was hardly any crowd. My guess was only four-hundred teams. After registration (and a quick chat with New Era guys), we made it to Dogra Hall, and grabbed seats. There was that usual survey and stuff, which could be exchanged for refreshments.

I looked around, and saw that the hall was full. But no people sitting on the floor like last time. Less people, better chances.

Giri made his trademark entry, and announced:

Due to overwhelming response, for the first time in the history of TCS IT Wiz, we are holding two prelims.

My heart sank. So there were a large number of people outside as well! Phew. My estimate was so wrong…

The prelims began, and it was easier than last time. We screwed up on that “decision engine” question, and wrote WolframAlpha, which was a common mistake many made. It was Bing. Saumey was excellent – contributing more than expected. He gave four out of twenty, which is quite good for a ninth class guy. He answered crucial questions like MNP and LinkedIn, which few knew. Kudos, kid.

Then we left for refreshments, and recession was visible. Pathetic food. Miserable sandwich, passable pattice, and, most importantly, Oyes wafers. Yes. OYES! The USP of Oyes was free points on cards, and ten would fetch us another Oyes! We immediately began collecting them, and accumulated eleven! Woot!

The second prelims were underway, and we waited forever. We were looking at the institute (where practically all of us wanted to be). Some kids had reached to the top of a building.

After a really, really long time, it was time to enter Dogra Hall once again. There was lot of pushing, and the entire stairway was jam-packed. TCS volunteers failed to control the crowd, which soon turned into a mob. Now, according to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, a crowd becomes a mob if it breaks something. Naturally, the crowd broke a glass pane, much to the anger of TCS guys.

Meanwhile, Shubham and Arvind did something great. They entered through another gate (which was closed for us, dunno why), pretending to have lost a water bottle.

When we finally reached Dogra Hall, they had reserved an entire row for us. Giri returned, and announced the results.

For the first time,  we have had nine-hundred-and-nine papers to check! I don’t think any quizmaster has had so many papers to check before. First, the answers.

Saumey and I had pretended to have got only eight or nine correct. At the end of the answers, we had got fourteen. Not enough, I thought. Fifteen weren’t enough last time.

Before I announce the qualifiers, I would like to recognize the top ten teams. The team which finished tenth is…

The entire hall is quiet. Nobody even breathes.

… Aditya and Saumey Jain of Montfort School.

NO!

We went on to the stage to collect a t-shirt, a book and a Rubik’s cube.

Which class are you in?

I’m in tenth and he’s in ninth.

To the audience : I just found out that the level of quizzing improves so rapidly in Delhi. These quizzers are from ninth and tenth. Give them a round of applause!

I don’t remember the other teams, but Sopandev from DPS Dwarka finished seventh. What was really agonizing was that he had exactly the same marks as that of the sixth qualifier, but lost out on starred questions.

New Era qualified, but not Prateek’s team! Young Arnav and Apratim had. DPS Noida, who finished second last year, were also on stage. DPS R K Puram qualified yet again, with quizzers from ninth and eighth. That was something. Even Vivek Nair and Karthik qualified; they finished eighth last year.

The finals were really easy. We got seventy percent of the questions right. Especially in the connect round.

DPS Noida won the finals. It was a great experience for all of us.

On the return journey, Shubham disfigured my Rubik’s cube. 😦

Download The TCS IT Wiz 2009 Quiz Finals

I’ve given you the prelims, Now eat the finals. The prelims were compiled by Shikhar, and hosted by me. The finals are compiled and written by Shreyans, and hosted by me. You can now see how I love to take credit for others’ work and boost my blog views.

Download The TCS IT Wiz 2009 Quiz Finals

A small note here. This quiz archive is EPIC. It’s simply awesome! Download it for sure. At. Any. Cost. Shreyans has compiled a truly magnificent archive. Never before have a seen something like this. If possible, print it on photo paper and frame it.

Download The TCS IT Wiz 2009 Quiz Prelims

TCS IT Wiz 2009 was held on 31st October 2009, and 909 teams turned up. I managed to finish tenth out of them (along with Saumey). DPS Noida won this year’s edition of TCS IT Wiz. You can download the quiz prelims here. Quiz finals are being prepared. More later.

Please give Shikhar complete credit for this work. It may have been hosted at my blog and typed by me, he made it a point to write them all down during the quiz (you can improve your handwriting, Shikhar).

Download the TCS IT Wiz 2009 Prelims