On a dark lonely Thursday night, I was set up in my base camp (also known as The Unused for Ages Room in the House) trying to figure out what purpose mining camps and mills served in a game of Age of Empires. Cutting in to the silence (a silence whose perfect nature was periodically cut in to by the trumpet calls of AI wanting to attack me), something went “Ringgg, Ringgg”, an object I quickly identified as my mobile phone.
Pressing the green button, my aural nerves were greeted to a sound that said “Basil James”, in a sort of leery and creepy voice one would associate with one of those apparitions in a Shakespearen play. The voice belonged to my friend Gooth (I am glad to say that leery, creepy voice was something he put on and not a natural condition). He wanted to inform me about some quiz at the Mar Ivanios College in Trivandrum.
I knew the iota of a quizzer remaining within me would force me to put on some pants and go for the binge with my long time partner Achu.
As you may have divined from a long association with me (or short association, depending on your luck), I am a native of Trivandrum. One of the afflictions the place has gathered over the years (or charms, depending on the way you look at it) is its tendency to decide once in while that its residents should keep off transport every now and then. The city (if one may call it so) seems to be of the opinion that its people should take frequent holidays from traveling to certain locations and instead lean back and put their feet up.
While you may not find a man anywhere near this place who is a bigger proponent of leaning back and putting one's feet up, the attitude the city takes can be tiresome when one really needs to get something done.
The quizzer in me kept its date and prodded me until I lifted myself up from a cosy bed and got myself in to a presentable form. I set out for the quiz at Mar Ivanios. I have been on the road to Mar Ivanios so many times in my life, the place being a frequent destination while I was in school, I am pretty sure I could drive a three tyred car without a windshield to the place in my sleep. Therefore, I was pretty surprised when the conductor of the bus I was in motioned me to get off at a stop more than a kilometer away from my destination. “But this is not the place!”, I tried arguing. The conductor acceded to my argument.
Upon the submission of a relevant query, I was informed by the man in charge that buses need roads to move on and the point on which we were at the moment was all the road that could be obtained there in the near future.
Left to walk more than a kilometer, I surveyed the landscape. I felt like one of those half-hearted explorers looking at the Amazon from their jeeps deep in the jungle. It was a vast expanse of light brown, a colour that one would particularly desire not to find on tarmac. I set foot, hoping for the best and less than adequately prepared for the best. Hoping for the best was soon proved to be a bad decision as I was forced to hop from less muddy spot to less muddy spot, avoiding the more slushy parts in the interest of a semblance of cleanliness, which as you may know is next to a semblance of godliness.
Now I knew how one of Noah's sons would have felt after the great rain and floods. Only that, in my case it appeared that there had been a steady and heavy downpour of hot melted chocolate. What used to be roads were now unrecognisable masses of slush. Hiroshima would have looked better after August 6, 1945.
I did the best I could, but still managed to get considerable amount of mud and other brown coloured, Flying Spaghetti Monster knows what, stuff on me. By then my feet could have merged with the ground and no questions asked. With a crushed spirit, extinct dignity and really muddy feet I walked in to Mar Ivanios College.
The quiz I was supposed to be taking part in was a part of a much larger orgy, known as Elixir 2010. It was “a pan Indian Economic fest” according to the Department of Economics of the college, the organisers. If nothing, they surely revolutionised the meaning of 'pan Indian'.
While the people who had turned up for the quiz were whiling away their time waiting for the binge to start, I was somehow shepherded in to a hall were, I was promised, I would be treated to some high quality debate by the best talents across the country. Though I took the last part of the last sentence with a liberal dose of sodium chloride, my expectations were at a reasonable level. The topic of the debate was whether a better model for developing nations was India or China.
Some excerpts from the event.
Some dude trying to attack China on the one child policy:- “The birth of the childrens of the country have been suppressed.....”
Some other dude trying to point out India's internal security problems:- Are you saying that Maoists have some blatant ideals?”.
Meanwhile two dudes got in to feverishly hot argument about which nation was better. They argued for so long that seasons changed outside; the old rector died and was replaced. They banged tables and spanked the air. They took threatening stances, like the poses people in M&M movies strike just before the major stunt sequence in the market. They traded arguments. Things seemed such a level that the guy in favour of India addressed India as 'my country' and China as 'your country'. The dude representing China too resorted to a similar nomenclature.
The moderator kept trying to get a word in sideways. Warning bells and final bells rang galore. No one seemed to pay heed. The audience tried to clap the contestants off their trivial fight. They shrugged it off. At that moment, I decided I had witnessed enough debate to last a couple of lifetimes. I slowly slinked off.
It is almost 24 hours since Gooth called me. I can hear my mom shouting incessantly in the background about something I cannot decipher. I seem to be the guilty party. Like those debating dudes, I pay no heed. Rather, I turn my attention to what the Mountain Goats have to say about the best ever death metal band out of Denton. Oh, how I wish my phone would ring now.