Friday, November 11, 2005

Niranjan's thoughts on Nupur's post

Context: Read this

This [the post] is an excellent summarization of what went on at the BCQC from the perspective of the 'oppressed' ;)) Bravo! I do think that these things matter to some extent. But yet, I do not fully agree with the main theme of Nupur's post, and would like to convey my personal point of view in this matter. I know that Nupur has been seriously interested in quizzing and a fairly regular quizzer. Therefore, whatever I want to say may not apply to her in specific, but to the issues she has mentioned in general.

I remember the first few encounters of Shrirang, George, Ramanand, et al (and even me ;)) at the BCQC. These could not easily be termed as friendly. I clearly remember Ramanand being scoffed at in his first quiz, I don't know whether 'even' he remembers it ;)) George has mostly been an adamant rogue, but an object of ridicule at times ;)) But yet, these guys continued. I think that was because quizzing happened to be one of their first loves. The quality quizzing at BCQC that we can boast about these days, is primarily becasue of a bunch of people for whom quizzing has been very dear. The minor deterrents such as the ones mentioned in Nupur's article have not bothered them to that extent, mainly because their priorities were clear.

Nupur says that "Looks like the effects of the first 2 points have reflected in the fact that there are hardly any students from COEP itself in the QC. Most are from other colleges." It perhaps makes my point more clear. People who are really interested come to BCQC from as far as VIT, AFMC, AIT. Whereas traditionally, many casual quizzers from COEP want to pass some time, since they have nothing to do at the hostel, or have some more time to spare after their Saturday lectures. I think, the idea behind the BCQC is participation of those who are interested, and not proliferation by extending courtsey to part-time enagagers in the hope that they may turn into die-hard quizzers one day.

The in-jokes, ridicule, rushing people are (however abominable ;)), a part of the game. It happens because it comes naturally to people. I don't think, people do it on purpose. I don't think the BCQC world conspires against freshers, as raggers do (which I do object to). What fun is a joke if it has to be explained to a bunch of people? For example, most of the stuff I say, I feel compelled to say because I find it funny. Ususally, only a couple of people understand it, mainly because the others are not used to that kind of humour, and/or are not familiar with certain references. But I don't think that this should keep me away from making such jokes and losing my own incentive in attending the BCQC sessions, where I know that I find some people who are on the same wavelength as me when it comes to humour. I would lose all the incentive behind the spontaneity, if I keep on explaining the jokes.

Extra efforts in terms of making a particular species comfortable are not needed, IMO, if one wants to keep an informal atmosphere. Ideally, in a scenario like the BCQC where creativity/intellect/sharpness are most important, people are best off as individuals. Group dynamics and formalities take a back-seat in such a scenario. Their taking a back-seat is what prevents notorius incidents such as the misfired Chakravyuha from happening. Ideally, no one is helped out and no one is specially cared for. People do what they want to do, they express what they want to express, they discuss quizzing paradigms openly, and even agree to disagree. If they do not like what is going around them, they either be more assertive or get the best out of it or leave the scenario. This is very natural, and to me, it means the survival of the 'dedicatest'. And this dedication is to the pursuit of personal quizzing interests and not to any collective cause.

I am not saying that casual participation is not welcome. In fact, it is more than welcome. I am merely saying that no special attempts need to be made for induction of people to increase the mass and prevent people from getting turned off. In my personal opinion, the BCQC need not be viewed as an institution that is meant to last the tests of time. We assume and hope that the BCQC needs to continue standing with the same vigour at all times. But, I think there always are ups and downs, when you look at such collectives. At times, the enthusiasm is more than what is required, even accompanied by shades of mediocrity ;) There are times when the only member that turns up on the boat-club for the Saturday session is the one-eyed cat. This would vary from batch-to-batch, people-to-people, year-to-year. IMO, this is very natural.

In fact in retrospection, IMO, it has helped to have some people 'survive the factual harrassment' at the BCQC. That's why today we have quizzers, who make trips from Mumbai on weekends to attend quizzes at the boat club. And we have some like me, who spend office time in writing long pointless articles, even if they are watching the death of a deadline in the system clock ;)))
:: Niranjan


Docs Dope said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
niranjan said...

Excellent observation ;))

Dr. Watson, I presume?

shivaji said...

not much into the bcqc culture myself . the two times i did go it was fun .
but the idiosyncracies as claimed are quite similar to any group that is `` puneri `` . the in jokes , snide remarks and whatever are quite classically in that mold .
while docs dope might merely be a moniker , i am in a position to tell you that the b j and afmc hostels are quite the den for dopers .
so ``docs dope`` might also be taken as a sentence and as such a statement of the truth .
confessions :-
1 quizzes are becoming less fun
2 people attending quizzes are becoming less friendly
3 there is now a generational gap almost between the youngest and oldest quizzers [ strictly speaking this is no confession ]
4 there are one or two unacceptably rude quizzers [ i deserve every brickbat i will get for not naming, but there you are ]
5 there are some unacceptably good quizzers
6 i dont know what to do about any of the above

Abhishek said...

one or two unacceptably rude quizzers - I agree

there are some unacceptably good quizzers - I totally agree.(this is a much more serious problem)

Ramanand said...

From Sancho
hi Nupur

Just happened to read your blog on "The BCQC: Its downfall and rise" Set me thinking about how much things have changed. I used to go to the bc after passing out also, whenever i was in pune on a saturday. But over time it has obviously reduced like mad and I don't know what things are like now. I thought that I could just react to some of the things you said with what could only be called "a historical perspective". It may be totally irrelevant as far as your experience goes... still always worth some perspective, na :)

On being female repellent- well, to be honest, I have very rarely met many female quizzers. Maya Kamath was there- two years my senior- and probably amongst the best quizzers I have seen. But apart from her i have hardly ever come across female quizzers- in all the quizzes i have been.
But i never felt that the boat club was female repellent. Probably because the quizzers in my time all knew Maya. But with time probably the regular quizzers never saw any females at the quizzes - so when one Nupur turned up it was quite a surprise. May i just say that when i had come for some quizzes (in 98 and 99, I think) there were some girls present who were there on more than one occasion (i remember giving one of them a lot of gyan about CAT).
I just feel that we never felt a male female issue- maybe that was just insensitivity. In fact, one could argue whether as a true believer in equality should one really go out of the way to make females more comfortable. Why any preferential treatment to them. I don't know. In fact, I would like to know what it is you would have liked people to do- was it just plain courtesies which were missing (which is quite unpardonable) or is it something else. What was the extra effort required?

on your comment "Newcomers or "kaccha players" were made to team up with the really really good Quizzers, with the view that they will learn something.". Well, this is clearly an innovation which we never followed. Teams were generally very arbitrarily formed. Sometime there would be newcomers with an oldtimer. sometimes, the old timers would gang up and the newcomers were forced to be together. No rule was enforced on this. i am a bit surprised at this "innovation", because i quite agree with you. The learning will come,in any case, because of all the q&A . But the fun goes if someone else always overrules you and answers because he is better than you. This sort of force fitting to me is slightly retrograde.

The boat club quizzes were always a small lot so probably the bit about not including everyone was not unnatural. I am not sure there will ever be a solution to that. After all new people join every year and they do fit in. To you, Ramanand is one of the seniors who automatically fitted in- i never saw him during my years at COEP - he was probably still in school then. Every year people joined - George Thomas, Kunal Vaed, Amit Phule, Ramanand, etc They all fitted in.
Doesn't the same thing happen for example when you join a new job. Or when old friends meet. If today i go back to the BC and meet up with Niranjan or George Thomas we are going to talk of people like Anand Ramesh, Kalyan (AFMC), JV, etc. Others won't follow all that. If that alienates people, I don't think it can be helped. But over time that is not an issue and I don't think some such comments should turn people off. When I started quizzing in COEP people like Maya, Srirang, Niranjan had their own conversations which I didn't fully follow. With time that got sorted out.

Also, There is a comment on the blog that no effort was made to get hostelites interested. What special efforts were required is beyond me. Akshaya was a hostelite. So was Maya. As was Anand Ramesh. In fact i don't think any special effort was ever made to get any people interested. if dayscholars could get to know of the quizzes and come, so could hostelites. Quizzing always was about personal interest. If that interest was not there there would be no time which would have been worth it to come for quizzing. I have very little sympathy for someone making such a comment on hostelites versus day scholars.

However, the other point of answers not being explained is more serious. Actually i don't understand this - however friendly the boat club quizzes were, the fact is you still want to win. So, if a question is repeated which i know but others don't why not just keep quiet, answer it and walk away with the points. So, i find this silly. We used to have people who were not good quizzers but had enthu. We used to pull their legs a lot but i don't think we used to ignore them. I am not sure where and how this attitude came - to me it's a sign of overimportance to oneself, the first steps towards hubris- not something to be very proud of. I hope the present BCQC members relook this.

Incidentally, while i have said that the quizzes were friendly, apparently that's not the case anymore. From your post it seems that there is money involved at the BC quizzes. Which is unfathomable to me. Maybe i am old fashioned but the saturday quizzes were never about money. Quizzes were never about money. For me, the thrill of winning Shyambhat (the biggest quiz in Pune those days- don't know if it still happens) was holding the trophy, not the money. I actually went to a studio and took a photo of me holding the trophy. I have no recollections of what i did with the prize money - or indeed how much the prize money was - but I still have that photo, almost nine years on.
I believe there is more money in quizzing nowadays but taking money in Boatclub quizzes is really the depths. BC quizzes are simply not about money. I am very surprised that people didn't revolt against it. I am surprised that this ever got initiated. Very very disturbing to me.

From Ramanand's comments it seems that this was not a regular feature. But i question why there needs to be money in the first place. Niranjan has commented " I think, the idea behind the BCQC is participation of those who are interested, and not proliferation by extending courtsey to part-time enagagers in the hope that they may turn into die-hard quizzers one day". If we buy that then there is no forgivable reason to take money.
At the same time, to take off further on Niranjan's point one needs to distinguish between people interested and people good. As i have mentioned above we had people who were enthu but never very good. For them explaining the answers is critical to sustain the interest. Think about it, if i am not good but am still interested in quizzing what is my motivation in coming to the quizzes. If the general fact that i am not good is effectively rubbed in by not being told the answers then why should i bother coming. I already know i am not good. I don't need others to tell me that. Why would i ever continue attending?
The effect would be that only good quizzers would remain, no enthu quizzers. I am not sure that is the best thing.
And at a more fundamental level- why would you not explain answers. It beats me. I think i was a fairly good quizzer in my times but still a number of connexions which George or Niranjan used to think of were way beyond me. I knew nothing of rock so anything related to that had to be explained to me. Why not explain all questions to everyone.

To put it concisely, what really is Nupur saying? I understand it as - "if i am not great at quizzing don't treat me as a pariah". That means explaining answers, listening to what the person has to say, letting them fit into the lingo and tone. Incidentally, i fully agree with Niranjan that explaining a joke which one has cracked really spoils the whole thing for the person telling the joke. But surely others could explain why they felt it was funny. This is critical in a BC sort of situation because much of the humour may relate to things which happened the previous year or the year before that. How is a newcomer ever supposed to feel a part of the whole thing if he or she doesn't understand what is going on, especially if he is not able to answer too many questions either.

From the stuff on the blog it seems that most of the QC is from outside COEP now. This too is very surprising to me. We were almost entirely a COEP lot. Anand Sivashankar was the first of the non COEPians who used to come regularly. I believe he still does. I am not sure if this is a good thing or not. As long as there is a a core of 5 to 6 people from COEP present year after year, i think it's okay.

I am not sure what suddenly prompted you to post about the BC quizzes this month. I actually got to know of the BC blog only yesterday from Vibhendu (who used to work with me)- just shows how out of touch with quizzing i am. Going through the various links here and there i came across your post, as also some posts by Ramanand. Has been quite nostalgic for me- so i need to thank you for that.

And finally, if you are an enthusiastic quizzer, don't ever stop. Don't let the strategic flaws in the boat club quizzes kill that enthusiasm. Join quiznet or some other such mailing list. But keep in touch with quizzing. I may be very rusty but i still consider myself a quizzer. Quizzing is still a fairly small spread phenomenon. And one would not want to lose an enthusiast in the field. So, keep the flame burning.


maverick said...

That is THE problem

Ramanand said...

I have to make some clarifications on some of these points raised by Sancho because I believe someone like him who has not been in touch with the scene for a while needs to be made aware of these lest these perceptions linger unnecessarily. If the points below cannot put to rest these worries, then I don't know what will.

The money thing: In 4 years, ND would have participated in roughly 60 BC sessions. how many of them involved the so-called money? 3, iirc - mine, harish's, swapnil's. 3 out of 60. I leave interpretations to you.
Now, why did we have participation fees: Unlike these days when you wake up and read there is a quiz today, we had no quizzes then in July-Dec except for FC (which then was only for college students). We could not afford to hire a place to do a formal quiz, the place was stagnating bcos hardly any of the students in college then were willing to take any responsibilities unlike before - it repeatedly came down to the non-collegians to keep things moving by setting qns - a hard thing for us who were working (and teaching!) to do week in and week out . To this end, we decided to have what we can now call a mini-open quiz with elims, finals and the lot. These weren't a regular BC session. People who set them worked hard on the qns and I daresay the 200 odd qns that came out of that exercise were terrific in that season. I am rather irritated by the insinuation that we were running some sort of fee-fuelled club (frankly, we don't have the critical mass for it like in other cities) - we have always tried to make it as open to all as possible. You might as well say chakravyuh discouraged people by having entry fees.

That we didn't have more non-COEPians earlier is no reflection of anything, in fact, it's points to being exclusive, which I don't think the BCQ ever set out to be. In the last 6 years, we have invited every quizzer in Pune to be part of proceedings. The likes of Samrat, Swap, shankar and now Sud, Brijesh and the VIT-FC gang are testimony to this. It's not as if we were the MCC or something and had an entry barrier. I don't remember anybody telling us to shift timings to a more convenient (for them) time. In fact, these days we meet at 1:00 so as to accomodate the other college guys. Plus, please remember that college timings at COEP seem to have changed and some people do not have college on Saturdays. Only the interested are going to show up - even in those days, only those who really cared would stay back until 3 even tho' they had college from 9 to 12. We all caught buses and spent our sats in these pursuits. Others may have other interests in life on weekends - it is upto them to choose.

I always have held that any college activity should always be a function of the people involved in the colleges in those time. The batch that ND was part of had more regular quizzers than any other I can remember (about 6-8 vs the usual 1-2). ND & a couple of other girls: even if i grant the female insensitivity bcos I may have been ignorant of this, how about the guys in your batch? How did they get alienated? I know a few who were no sissies - what put them off? Why did they not come forward to set quizzes and take up charge of the BC like what Abhishek and his mates. and to a lesser extent Sid Natarajan did? There were opportunities then as they are now. I remember Niranjan, BVHK, GS, me showing up for intra-quizzes just to help out/give some encouragement - unless all of this was counter-productive. For me, 4 years is a long time - and let's face it, you guys disappointed overall in that interval.

The BC quizzing scene is NOT the Pune quizzing scene. It's not meant to be a COEP-only place as well, not any more.

The pairing up of seniors-juniors: came at a time when none of the juniors seemed to be taking any steps forward (was the alienation that bad?). We were reduced to throwing every thing and its kitchen sink to see if things could change. This was another experiment in that direction. This didn't happen in your 1st years - it happened in your SEs, so it wasn't as if you guys didn't have the experience by then. Still, we tried it.

Answer expln: Like Sancho, I suck at rock etc - but I do try and ask things to be made clear. If people didn't have the confidence to ask for such things over a period of 4 years - what can I say? There were times when we were novices and when we felt overwhelmed too. But we asked people for their questions, took them home and looked at them (George did this even after whatever heights/depths :-) he scaled/plumbed). I don't remember if you guys did it - if you did, how can u complain about the lack of answers?

I'm going to be cruel and say that ultimately it is a question of attitude. I'm not the most aggressive guy in the world - but "even I" survived the factual harassment. Like BVHK said, you guys never stepped up to right things that you felt was wrong. You guys never seem to band together - how could have had problems for 4 years even after we were gone? Was there trouble within? Again, the scene ultimately was an accurate reflection of the people involved then.

The very fact that ultimately when Gaurav & Harish were no longer in town, I was, apart from the one-eyed cat, the only guy sitting there, raving and ranting (as usual ;-) ). I remember when Hirak came home on vacation, there was only Amit Garde, Natarajan of all people apart from me there :-). And I was working nights then and had had no sleep. Call these recollections pride or hubris or arrogance - but we did things like that over a period of time. I venture to say you guys didn't, for whatever reasons.

All of the above was a major rant, but not something new for the guys I always called generation vex. Abhishek started a FE-ites club to help people catch up. He, kapeesh and others did a open quiz last week to learn more about setting qns (ND: you yourselves did two fine MESA quizzes in your first two years - so the arg abt not being able to set quizzes is invalid).

This is positively the last word i have on this topic for a long while :-) (Relief!) I'm just happy that we kept the flickering flame just about alive to see the recent renaissance. And we'll build on it. In the future - if we don't have ppl to run it, it will die. The nature of the arrangement is thus. Let's not read too much into it in the light of all this dhobi-washing-in-the-open.

Ramanand said...

What is this unacceptably good quizzers nonsense? There is a great history (intertwined with the very innuendo nature of comments at the BC) of making these vague comments. What does this mean? Can we be more direct about stuff like this (half the misunderstandings right from the days of DCH-ayesha are due to such things :-) ) Does it mean that there are people who you think will win everything and hence you shouldn't take part? I'm disappointed that Shivaji makes such a comment - he has a very competitive record.

You want people to do a Lata-Asha and retire from competition? Tell us - we'll ban everyone over the age of 21 and start some "Senior" (not as in Senior World Cup ;-) ) tourneys for us old doddering fogeys. The only catch: you set your own quizzes and get your own people.
More real advice: Learn from the likes of Sammy, Sud, Gaurav and Harish (i hope none of you guys mind your inclusion in this set :-) ) - they weren't that great when they started off - but they improved like hell in the time they spent at the BC. You ask them how they did it and if it was a coincidence.

HTF does this point make a difference at the BC? Enlightenment please.

Ramanand said...

# Pardon all bad the grammar/sppellnig above.

# For sheer attitude, I give you Meghashyam Shirodkar. Argument ends there.

shivaji said...

hey man . that bit was a joke . hopefully you see `friends` and are aware of chandlers propensity to crack jokes when the going becomes overly serious . that was me doing so .
though i am truthful enough when i say one or two quizzers [ not - i repeat - not you or any other senior ] are way beyond rude .
abhisheks response to the `` way too good quizzer `` shows he got the joke .
i thank you for calling my record quite competitive . i think a lot of it had to do initially with ashish tripathi illegally pushing us through in our first few quizzes . that experience for me and vivek was invaluable. vivek himself is way too good . other partners , well i won bcj with abhishek , where he answered all the qs - i was quiet and ganesh , old teammate from school and still a good partner .
no i do not believe that ``seniors`` should be banned . among other reasons being the fact that nobody treated me as a junior except maybe when me n ganesh came third at a memorable verve in 11th . and secondly i can now be called something of a senior on the college quizzes atleast as med college lets you be in college for 5and a half years . i am already chided as uncle when i represent b j on the bsketball team at the afmc tournament .
perhaps the confusion came about because there were both ironic and serious elements to that comment . i apologise for the miscommunication .
and though this is not strictly about this blog at all - times has a huge iipm ad today .
if you see the trend nowadays the fact is that though the same old faces may qualify it is not necessarily they who win . so to set the record straight i have no objections to anyone quizzing ever so long as they are decorous and non disruptive .

Ramanand said...

ok sir - no offence was taken anyway :-) - but when people say i agree and me too - i started to wonder if it was really a joke ;-) - these are oily waters recently :-)

btw, who *are* these rude quizzers? ;-)

shivaji said...

that iipm thing i thought i deleted . it got in there somehow so major out of nowhere sentence in the middle there .

shivaji said...

now now ramanand as a decorous and non disrutive quizzer i merely maintain decorum and stay non disruptive by not mentioning names .

shivaji said...

two great links

Ramanand said...

shivaji: i don't have your email id, so have to spam here - why not do a military trivia quiz at the bc? We've never had that done. I've always been intrigued by that area but never had a chance to go anywhere deep - and i think we've missed out on it. What say you: December at the annual BC infest?

Ramanand said...

{despite the so-called "last word" being said - sigh} - Sancho: the senior-junior pairing was done only for a bunch of intra-quizzes (we suddenly had a surfeit of them with every COEP dept seemingly organising one that year) - so this was during intra competition - not done at the BC. We did it only once in a BC open quiz in what is now turning out to be a very notorious quiz :-) i.e. the one done by Swapnil. It's always been crazy lots or pseudo-hashing mostly otherwise.

Abhishek said...

hey JR, hope Shivaji has cleared up the murky waters - and all this fuss about the 'basic functioning' of the BC is too blown up too much. There's nothing to it. We shouldn't lose out on the fun part.

shivaji said...
for anyone interested in mailing me

kunal thakar said...

Nice to see lot of activity on the blog :)

My 0.02$ on the issue:
Pune doesn't have much of a quizzing culture. Unlike the IITs or colleges of south, not many people are quizzing here. COEP churning out many good quizzers year after year was an aberration IMO. This normally doesn't happen. After my batch graduates (i.e. this year), the quizzing scene in VIT and FC will most likely die out since there are not many quizzers around. The same thing happens in many colleges. MESCOE and SIT faced a similar situation when most of their quizzers graduated last year. Its very difficult or rather impossible to coax people to share our enthusiam for quizzing. Many attempts have been made by Salil and Siddharth Dani to 'popularise' quizzing in VIT but not much has come out of it.

The point I am trying to make is that the 'downfall' of BCQC was very natural. Independent college quiz clubs are doomed. The current avataar of BCQC as a general forum for quizzers will last. The BCQC is becoming more fun with good quizzers joining in these days.

Abhishek said...

Yup I will probably will have to face one more wave of 'downfall' for the next 2 years coz all the VITians, Kunal are passing out - and they are the backbone of college quizzing as for now. Only Aniket as far as my juniors are concerned. Maybe the FC ESPN blokes - but who next in college quizzing ??

Ganesh Hegde said...

A Simple solution to this problem would be,Make all college quizzes,Open Quizzes.Problem solved;-)

Ganesh Hegde said...

Ok,more seriously,after reading through all the comments on this post,and reading nupurs article,i feel like putting in a few words of my own.
The BC Sessions are good for the simple reason that in a few weeks,at least once i get a chance to crack some interesting questions,and get to interact with like minded people.
Secondly,the question of pulling up yourself to the level of good quizzers,is a personal matter.If you are genuinely interested in quizzing,then you will make an effort to do better.Im speaking from personal experience here,because for me,if im in a quiz i want to be out there ,on the stage,its a different kind of thrill.and to do that,with quality quizzers around,will take some effort,and a whole lot of quizzes.
If there are unacceptably good quizzers,its good,it helps us in improving our own standard.
Senior or junior,htf does it matter,since,frankly speaking,its a question of how much you know and how you can apply it,rather than how old you are.
Quizzing is fun-for me,not the only souce,but definitely one of the most imprtant.and even if i can answer a couple of questions,that i feet are really good,then the quiz is fun for me.The last couple of quizzes,including brijesh's were fun for me.

niranjan said...

Well said, Ganesh. Perhaps, it is the 'getting to interact with like-minded people' part that I like the most. I that that for those interested in quizzing, even being a spectator is entertaining.

Pleiades said...

I am not from COEP nor am I a Puneri. I was introduced to the BCQC sometime during 2004 when I came to Pune from Lucknow (about its quizzing culture, the less said the better). I don't really think I'd fit the definition of a regular BCQC member since I never could attend the Sat sessions regularly because of my job but I would always try coming for them, even if it meant lying to my boss and taking a 2-hour leave. I have always felt the most comfortable at BCQC, be it participating or even listening to the questions, than any place else.
Otherwise, there are many other places/cities that I quizzed and almost felt like an outcast. This recent quiz I participated in at Indore (me and my partner being the only two girls in the 8 teams in the finals), had a team who called themselves _____ (i've forgotten what was the first word) misogynists.
It was pretty crude if you ask me. So yes, there is a bias against women in Indian quizzing but I've always considered BCQC as an exception in the way it is so inclusive. Otherwise, how would you explain people from so many colleges and organizations being a part of it.
And the jokes? I quite like them.. :P Hehe... It takes you a while to get the background to them but they're nice. If you stick around long enough, there'll be a few inside ones even you're bound to come up with.