Sunday, July 13, 2008

Searching for answers, in an Aldona home

Article by Sujay Gupta on SEQC's second quiz
Herald, 13 July 2008

The still of the afternoon was broken by the sporadic wind bursts as it flirted with the trees. The leaves winked, jumped and dozed off. There wasn’t time for energy. Or thought.

Goa was a baby. It lunched and slept as some restless wanderers pottered around. I was on one of my usual Sunday gallivanting expeditions, hunting for unusual answers, in an unusual setting amongst a group of motley folks who love life and do things differently.

In the evening quiet, I headed off through the pathway that takes you from Calangute to Mapusa and then cuts across and heads to the junction that finally takes you to Moira and Aldona. Goa’s genteel spots, relatively devoid of ugly warts of building blocks, resorts and the orgy of tourism. Yet.

Moira, Aldona, with its chapels, taverns, roads that bend and embrace, few patches of paddy fields and the rain teasing the palm trees . The meadows and streams were, as Wordsworth would have said, ‘appareled in celestial light”

I drove through this ballad of beauty, looking for a home near the Aldona church. The home of Mariette Corriea and her deeply intense husband with a brilliant mind Vidyadhar Gadgil.

It is a little away from the main Aldona centre, in the adjoining sub village of Corona, further into the beautiful crevices of the land. The Gadgil-Correia home is tucked in the woods, an old, spacious Goan bungalow, gorgeously frayed a bit on the edges, with gracious warmth leaking through its tiles.

This wasn’t really a setting for what I encountered. A group of six teams solemnly seated, like in a class. In front was a short man with a half flowing beard, straight out of a chemistry lab, with a set of questions. Behind him a laptop, with files of visuals and audio.

Goa’s, first and only, Sunday Evening Quiz Club (SEQC), had begun proceedings, under the watchful eye of Quizmaster Aniruddha Sengupta, (Annie for all practical and linguistic purposes).

Annie, who is writing many books has moved here from Chennai and lives in Porvorim with his four dogs Chipko, Jaya, Baloo and Hero, and wife Anjali, another member of the SEQC, who answered many many more questions than I did.

The quizzers included adman Harshvardhan Batkuly, whose agency Saviofaire, has come close to winning the national Brand Equity quiz twice, then the hosts Vidyadhar and wife Mariette, architect Rajiv D Silva and others. I, a newcomer was teamed with three girl kids in the “Sujay and the girls” team. We promptly came last. But that’s not the story.

It was revelation that Goa has a quiz scene, a club, a group which takes time off every first Sunday of the month, to take part in one of the healthiest mind and friendship sports. Annies questions (and the time he took to put it all together) could match any national quiz show, and having attended quite a few, I dare say the questions, here at Gadgil house, were several notches higher than the big branded televised quizzes.

Some of my favorite question picks:

Q: While studying at Oxford in the 1960s, this person made a name for himself raising money for the then little-known charity Oxfam, famously managing to obtain the support of The Beatles in a charity fundraising drive.Who is he?
Answer: Jeffrey Archer

Q: Its roots were in an ad in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal which said, “Young men with unlimited capital looking for interesting, legitimate investment opportunities and business propositions.” What was this now very famous event?
Answer: The Woodstock music festival

And then this one. I wish we knew this when the cheerleaders controversy was on during the IPL:

Q:What feature of their student lives do George W. Bush and former US Presidents Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower share with actors Reese Witherspoon, Haile Berry and Cameron Diaz?
Answer: They were all cheerleaders in school or college

Bush, a cheer leader?!!..wait till the democrats get wind of this!

The SEQC, was not telecast live, the winners did not drive away with luxury cars, and there were no models as arm candy, on the arm (where else?) of the quiz master.

Just rounds of soft beef sandwiches and other snacks and some super Aldona feni during a break.

Yet another Sunday, and this big answer to a big question.

Why do we come to Goa? Because, my Goa, still is, the place to be.

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