Sunday, September 16, 2012

How a Quiz Taught Me About Redemption

By Gaurav Parab

Redemption. Now that is a word that I always found to be fascinating and powerful. It is simple, and it rolls off the tongue nice and easy - but there is more to it. Behind every sentence where it is used, usually lies a story of failure and possible success. A word that captures heart break at the start somewhere, the birth of hope and hardwork in the middle, and then success.

Redemption. God I love the word. It has so many more layers than the bland and markety sounding comeback. A boomerang comesback. A heart of gold attempts redemption.

In sports journalism, it is one of the broad themes usually used to capture viewership. Baggio. John Daly. Murray and a countless others. In the entertainment industry, there are probably as many stories of redemption as there are of astounding success or miserable failure. Heck, even in our daily  mundane lives - it is a word that we should turn to everytime we guck things up. There is always the next time. Trust me, there is always a next time. We all can redeem ourselves.

Gucking stupid buzzer round in the Tata crucibles.

I have always been a reluctant quizzer. So, a few years ago when I decided to team up with Amneet, a dear friend and fantastic quizzer for the Tata Crucibles Campus Edition - I was looking at it only as an evening break from the drudgery of academic existance. Around an hour later, I found myself on the stage after an elimination round from a hundred odd teams of better prepared and more talented quizzers.

Strobe Light. Televsion crew. All that. This could be fun.

Half an hour later, with Amneet looking like a Sardar possessed in his search for the right answer ( actually is) we won the damn thing. I looked at Amneet. Friend, can we go back to the hostel. Got to sleep.

Natually, the Tatas like to do things in style. So they took us to their nice little hotel in Bombay and asked us to have a good time at the National Finals. As i looked down at Apollo Bunder, a thought stuck me. Maybe...well maybe. I am good at this. Maybe, we should just win the damn thing and return home.

It did not happen because this country has a lot of people who are really really good at business quizzing. So in true dramatic Parab style, as we made our way  to Leopold -late in the evening - after getting our asses whipped - I turned to the Taj and whispered. I will be back next year.

"Are we not coming back after dinner ?" Amneet asked.

"Damn. Yes. We are. I will have to do the whole line again tomrrow morning."

A year went by. The Crucible circus was back in town. On an afternoon where it rained like you will not believe it - Amneet and I were back on the stage after the elimination rond. Strobe Lights. Television Crews. All that. Yawn.

And we won, and I looked at Amneet and said - "Redemption Time". Or maybe I just whispered it in my mind. So we were back in Bombay, dressed in our suits and into the Semi Final stage of the National Finals. We had been knocked out at this point last year, so naturally in true filmy style we were having none of that anymore. We stomped into the Finals. From around 2000 odd teams, down to the last eight. Redemption.

We got our asses whipped. Again. Back to Leopold and back to the routine. We really should prepare for these things I told Amneet. I have to redeem myself. Somehow. Next year.

Random Sentence: Have you seen Sonia Shenoy on Television ?

A couple of years went by. Things more mundane that quizzing surrounded our lives ( yes there are things more mundane than quizzes). I forgot about the promise I made to myself.

Till yesterday. Crucibles was back in town. There was no way me and my new partner Jay could make it to the stage round. Competition was way too strong. It had been way too long since either of us had done any serious quizzing. I was way to non-drunk to get anything out of my head.

Our name was called out. Back to the stage. Strobe Lights, television crew all that. Back to the Pune finals.

Redemption. Rubine Hurrican Carter was wrongly convicted for murder. Dylan sang that he could have been the champion of the world. After serving decades in prison, the World Boxing Council awarded him an honorary world championship belt.

I was way too eager, and the buzzer was way too tempting. In a mad frenzy of one wrong answer after the other, in spite of some great quizzing by my partner - I messed up the chance to make it to the national finals - where I could have ticked off the one little entry that is now imprinted across my mind. Win the Damn Thing. Go To Leopold. Have Beer. Smile silly at the sea.

But again. There is next year. Who knows. Life always gives you second chances. I have already had three. I am sure God will round it up to a nice four sometime in the future.

Keep the peace. Listen to good songs. Take your dog for long walks. If you know a publisher, tell him that an awesome manuscript by a very very short guy lies unpublilshed - not because it is not good - but because it is not sellable. Whatever that means.

More importanly, keep trying.
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