The story of the BC quiz club as told by Shrirang Raddi
Installment #1 :
While Amalesh and I were being dumped from the BEQ national
'semi-finals' last Saturday (in 2003), there was a familiar figure in the audience.
None other than the rotund figure of Vishal Dalal. (How rotund? Vishal =
George Thomas * 2)He was one of the quiz regulars in our time at COEP, and
his immortality in quizzing circles is assured by the fact that he was one
of the two fathers of the first Saturday Quiz in 1993, the small thing that
has grown into the BCQC. Set me thinking about the days gone by. Dont know
how many quizzers would be interested in knowing about the Quiz scene as it
was back then, but I'd certainly love to write about it.
Starting with my pre-COEP days - my first brush with quizzing was also my first brush with COEP quizzers. This was back in 1986/87 when I was in the 8th std. There existed then something called the Quiz Foundation. The Quiz Foundation was basically a COEP outfit run by, amongst others, Salil Joshi and Niloy Mukherjee. For the time they were in COEP (abt 1985 to 89), they used to conduct a very popular Open quiz - The "Exquizit" and an even more popular inter-school quiz - the "Inquizit". The Open Quizzes were organized in the COEP auditorium -- evidently a very supportive and open-minded Principal back then..
This was the time that the Siddhartha Basu 'Quiz Time' show was getting popular. There were two guys from AFMC - Rangaraj Setlur and Kaushik Chatterjee- who finished 3rd nationally the first time, and won it the second time. I remember seeing an Exquizit in the COEP audi where the AFMC guys were given a massive scare by a guy called Rahul Joshi from BJMC - Salil Joshi's younger brother, a really brilliant quizzer. Rahul Joshi liked to play the odd prank, Nirya being the victim on one memorable occasion. More on that incident later.
Salil and Niloy never had problems getting sponsors, all expenses used to be picked up by the Poona Bottling Company - all participants would get free Thums Up etc.. a major attraction. In the 8th standard I teamed up with 2 classmates at Loyola and to our everlasting glory (all other teams were 10th std kids), we reached the stage round of the Gold Spot Inquizit inter-school quiz. (This is another quiz we could never manage to win, losing in the tie-break the next year.)Salil is an industrialist based in Pune now, Niloy went to IIM Ahmedabad and was at Compaq the last I heard.
The first time I ever competed against COEP was in 11th standard. Fergusson had a very active junior college quiz circle; and there was an enthu guy called Amit Verma who's (dad's) car and driver were commandeered to take a gang of about 8 of us to AFMC to participate in our first ever Shyam Bhat Quiz. This was sometime in 1990. We knew nothing about the quiz - Amit Verma was under the impression it was to be conducted by a guy called Shyam Bhatia - but did a great thing by putting 1 team in the final, the only junior college team to do so. There we finished 4th - predictably, AFMC won - but finishing 3rd was the COEP team sitting next to us, Sanjeev Patel and Partho Sanyal. This was a legendary pair in their time, unfortunately I do not have the details of their wins. Maybe Niranjan can shed more light on this. Both Sanjeev and Partho went on to the IIMs later, I don't know where they are now.
This particular quiz is memorable for me because of the certificates. For some reason they distributed the certificates first, then collected them again so that their native calligraphist could inscribe our names. In the confusion my name was written on the winners certificate. So, though I never won the Shyam Bhat for COEP - finishing runner-up every year from 1992 to 1995, I still am the 'certified' winner of the 1990 Shyam Bhat Memorial! Amit Verma stayed on at Fergusson and was involved in many quiz battles with us later, more on those incidents later.
And in the same year there was a solo quiz contest called 'Bahushrut Shree' in Tilak Smarak Mandir.. hugely publicised and well attended. Not much that any Fergussonian could accomplish in that contest; but that contest was my first glimpse of a quizzing giant - none other than Niranjan Pednekar, then doing F.E. at COEP, who won the thing with contemptuous ease.
The next installment will be about my first 2 years in COEP, the pre-Saturday Club days.