Archive for April, 2005

Article about QuizFamilies, our monthly quiz group

April 28, 2005

Several people had asked for this article, so here it is:

What is thanetology? What is the name of the figure on the bonnet of the
Rolls Royce? What is the name of the first month in the Islamic calendar? If such questions interest you, and yet, you are not a dead serious,must-make-it-to-the-finals quizzer, with perhaps a young family or other commitments that prevent you from making it to other quiz meets regularly…then welcome to Quizfamilies!

As the name suggests, we are a very informal family group; we meet on either
the first or second Saturday of every month (even that is flexible, to allow
for members’ travel schedules). We meet post-dinner, to enable us to spend
more time on the quiz; midway through the quiz, we have a break where the
host family serves snacks and coffee. We generally wind up at Cinderella time.

There are only two rules for a member: one, that s/he try and attend as regularly as possible, and two, that s/he take turns to host the quiz,and at another time, conduct a quiz for the group. Typically, one’s turn would
come once in about 18 to 24 months…so there is no social pressure.

Those who cannot host at home for various reasons can host anywhere else that
is convenient to them. One of our members lends his terrace regularly!

The fun of this arrangement is that it allows all of us to interact on a fairly regular basis with people of widely varying backgrounds,with no social pressure at all, and instead of idle chitchat, we go in for questions, to most of which we don’t know the answers….

Amazingly, this kind of loose framework has been continuously in existence for at least a decade now…which is how long I have been a member. Of course there are the ups and the downs…we have had instances where more than 70 people turned up, and other months when 13 people formed the total gathering…but yet the friendly, open feeling of the quiz evening is something that all of us look forward to in the middle of our otherwise hectic schedules. There are puzzled silences punctuated by witty remarks,wrong answers confidently given, loud criticism of how other teams are being given marks (other teams never deserve the marks they get, ours never get the marks we deserve, is our motto!), and we argue shamelessly with the quizmaster, who generally develops a sore throat by the end of the evening.

Another feature that characterises the group is that the level of interaction between the members at other times is left entirely up to them. There are members whom one sees just that one occasion each month; the mutual camaraderie is enough social sustenance till the next meeting. With others, one slowly becomes close. I must say that we have found many staunch friends amongst the group– the kind who have stood by us through major crises, and given their help unstintingly.

I find the group a very warm and informal one too. New people are generally made to feel welcome, and anybody can attend a quiz or two to see whether they would like to join in. During the course of our travels, we have been posted to other places…and the welcome we have got on our return is always heartwarming.

The most unusual feature of the group, however, is that people really don’t seem to care what one’s job or career is, — or what the size of one’s bank balance is, either! We have young couples struggling with their first businesses and millionaires with Mercs; we have people who are “Page 3” and people who have been featured in Time, and have been nominated for the Pulitzer for photography; we have people from extremely cultured, musically gifted families….We have psychiatrirsts, software pros, advocates, teachers, diplomats, journalists,NGO people….a wide spectrum!…. We just get together… to have fun.

And have fun we do! We have some members who are known for their speedy ripostes, and their repartee results in gales of laughter. When one of us continued asking questions when everyone wanted to break for snacks, he started a question, “On whose tombstone is it written…?” Quick as a flash came the reply: “If you don’t stop and let us get to the coffee, it will be written on YOUR tombstone!” Another time, the question, “Who wrote ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ ?” elicited the swift response, “How I wonder who you are!” Ignorance of the correct answer never stops us from making a lot of noise, and having a whale of a time!

Each quiz is very different from the preceding one, as it is left entirely to the host family to choose whatever questions they wish to ask. Some could be factual, some would deal entirely with trivia, some would have “work-out-able” answers, some would be “theme” quizzes….we have even had rounds which had cryptic clues about the members!

Our quizzes always end in the same hilarious way– Dumb Charades. This, too, is widely interpreted…one member recently presented a round of different types of food to be enacted! How does one enact Dum Aloo, or Rogan Josh?…. Come along and find out….@Quizfamilies!

If you would like to attend a quiz with Quizfamilies, (we are based in Bangalore)please email Deepa Mohan at

Spiritual quiz…and sad news…

April 28, 2005

From the LJ of Mriga, I found the link to this spiritual quiz…I scored 50..”one foot in organized religion and one in free-form spirituality”….try it and see…

Two years ago, a friend was a high achiever,one of the bright stars of his IIM Ahmedabad class…Kirit Raval was the Additional Solicitor General of India.

Then he developed lukaemia…after the best of treatment at Delhi, Mumbai, Houston and then Israel, he lost the fight yesterday..

His wife had been very unhappy about leaving her own career as an advocate, and her lovely home in Ahmedabad, and following him to the political, uncomfortable world of Delhi. I wonder how she feels now….

I pray that God gives me good health till the day I die…all my exercising and body maintainance is towards this goal.

other people’s LJs…

April 26, 2005

just went through other people’s LJ entries today….struck by the variety in people’s lives…one is lonely, another one sees a tiger kill a deer, one talks about Martin Friedman…I really do enjoy reading people’s blogs. It keeps me in touch with them without any effort.

exercise isn’t always possible….

April 23, 2005

I have an hour to spare, before I must dress up and go to visit two people in succession. But I can’t go for a walk as that would leave me dripping with sweat, and a bath wouldn’t really freshen me up. Neither can I go for a swim, as my eyes go red with the chlorine, and I couldn’t wear my contact lenses, without which I don’t feel dressed…so…here I am, sitting and wasting time on the internet….

Or am I making facile excuses??

amazing coincidences…

April 22, 2005

Got a call from someone today, regarding the article I had written in the Deccan Herald about Quizfamilies, the monthly family quiz group I moderate….there have been several responses, many of whom actually turned up at this month’s quiz…..well, anyway, today the lady who called was brought up in Calcutta, has an only daughter who is married and in the US, the daughter is called Deepa but with a li attached at the end….we had a long conversation and I am thoroughly enjoying having many new people to meet!

difficult situations…

April 17, 2005

two of your friends fall out….one continues in contact with you, the other moves far away, in more senses than one. The one close to you delights in giving details of how evil the other one is….and you can’t bring yourself to believe that someone whom you liked and respected so much can be really like that…the fallout causes ructions in a solid group that has been friends for years, and disrupts everything… love of money in business is indeed the root of a lot of evil. You don’t know whom to believe and it is upsetting to speculate every time you see the other friend.

New year’s Day…

April 14, 2005

It is the beginning of another Tamizh Year..Paarthiba Varusham…against all experience and cynicism, hope springs anew that THIS year, things will improve, politicians everywhere will come to their senses, good governance will begin….

India can call herself the greatest democracy in the world when the average Mr Ram in his little one-room tenement need not stand in queues for many things (admittedly, less than before), doesn’t have to pay babus to get his work done, and can have access to good water, if not clean air and some amount of greenery.

Until then…we live in hope. Putthaandu Vaazhtthukkal to everyone…especially to Murthys_r_s and Madhumk who also celebrate their new Year…and to SIG, who is struggling with a mammoth task at work.

I have been meeting a few very interesting people lately….in the quiz and theatre fields. More about this later.Life is full, and happy, and interesting.My beloved spouse is bent over his PDA which crashed, trying to get some life into it; CNBC is yowling in the background…I am at home, at peace and perfectly content.

why are we like this?

April 13, 2005

First the agency in charge of the flyover broke up the service road in front of our apartments, and cut down at least a dozen trees two years ago….the project lies abandoned.

Then the construction company which is building something two doors away has excavated ALL the mud and dumped it in front of our building, totally illegally.

Then the narrow strip of land next door, where I thought some little cubbyholes for the construciton workers was coming up, has prettified those self-same horrible ill ventilated cubbyholes and put up a sign, saying P G Accomodation is available. Also completely illegal.

Then to (quite literally) top it all, people have started dumping domestic trash on the piles of mud and broken cement. What a delightful prospect I face in the morning.

Rules are rules…until they apply to you. Then you flout them as long as you can. And sweeten the local authorities, sometimes in advance, so that you don’t get pulled up.

What can I do? I have written to the BDA office in Koramangala and tried to meet the Revenue Officer. He is NEVER around. I have written to the paper. It may or may not publish the letter, and that may or may not cause a reaction.

I feel so frustrated and helpless.

I have been battling for nearly a month in my own building not to allow unattended children in the pool after dark. NO action from the committee; the children continue to come by themselves, and play excitedly, often forgetting themselves and ducking each others’ heads in the water. This is an accident jut waiting to happen. How can parents be like this? One mother came back from work and knew where to come and call her son….a swimming pool-cum-creche….everyone assumes nothing bad will happen to THEM.

We are obedient and subservient when we have another authority over us, anywhere in the world. But when we rule ourselves, we are the most corrupt, unlawful people, from top to bottom.

Mothers and daughters

April 10, 2005

Went to a concert by Pandit Jasraj at someone’s house….sat next to two mothers who were with their daughters…they hugged them, talked to them, put their heads on their laps….I mused about the special relationship between mothers and daughters. In our culture, mothers and sons are not encouragedto show physical affection for each other. How sad, that a teenage son cannot sit unselfconsciously with his mother in a gathering like this…our boys are never taught to express physical affection at all….they grow up repressed. But it was still lovely to see the two mothers and daughters…here’s a thought for all of them out there! Missing mine and so I called her up….


April 3, 2005

A friend of mine has been taking care of a schizophrenic husband, whose condition has progressively worsened. During this time, she has undergone so much trauma…working in a school, she saw him unfit to take up any work; she could not pay the building maintainance dues and was reviled for it; she has brought up two daughters, the elder of whom took up tuitions to make ends meet. She put the elder one through engineering college, and the daughter fulfilled her promise by doing well, working for Mphasis for a while, and then getting admission to SP Jain Management College in Mumbai. Now the husband, after bouts of violence, has been institutionalized during the week. My friend has now got the opportunity to spend a six-month, all-expenses paid stint in the UK, as part of her job. Meanwhile the institution has raised the fees, and she is facing a financial dilemma. Should she go, or not? She has taken the decision to go. I salute the huge courage this friend of mine has, the grit with which she has handled life all along. She finds herself without a shred of wifely feeling for a personality which is no longer that of the husband whom she married all those years ago; but feels that if she leaves him, she might just push him over the edge, and continues to take responsibility for him, much as she would for a sick child. I admire her for her courage, the kind that I feel I might never find in myself.