Moving to Goa was always going to be a life-transforming step. That was clear to Anjali and me when we made our plan to shift here from Delhi in 2006. But despite that, there have been so many surprises, almost all of them pleasant.
The biggest one, without a doubt, has been SEQC. In the 20 years that I had been in Delhi -- I went there to work straight out of college -- quizzing had more or less passed out of my life. There was the occasional opportunity, but I would perhaps have been to five or six serious quizzes in all my years there, and conducted not even half as many.
So then, to see this pleasurable aspect of my life resurrected in Goa wasn't something I'd dreamt would happen. Not only have the last two-plus years -- SEQC was born in Rajiv's house in June 2008 -- given me ample exciting quizzing moments, they've also placed me bang in the middle of something of a mini quizzing revolution here. Suddenly, everyone seems to want to do some quizzing -- for their school, for their company, for themselves. And it's the offshoots of this transformation that are so particularly satisfying.
Take the last couple of months. Several things have happened with SEQC or on its fringes that exemplify what I'm trying to say.
Twenty Paces: The format Rajiv worked out for Twenty Paces has been a really exciting one. It's a one-on-one knockout quiz entirely on the buzzer, with a Wimbledon-style draw that pares 32 quizzers down to 16, then 8 and so on till there's only one champion left standing. I doubt this format has been tried anywhere before. And it's lived up to its expectations, with all manners of upsets, sudden-death deciders, and the works. Most of the match-ups have been full of the excitement of a T20 cricket match, with twists and turns in fortunes till the very end. We still have the quarter-finals, semis and finals to go -- all of them to be held at the International Centre Goa on February 20. Something to really look forward to, for anyone interested in watching a humdinger of a contest.
For those who remain in the hunt, of course, the anticipation is filled with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. I'm now a seasoned veteran, and I'm usually quite relaxed when faced with a QM. But let me tell you, there was a long-forgotten disquiet in my stomach when I sat down opposite Shashwat and waited for Rajiv to start with our set of questions, during the previous round of matches.
The Goa Open: Despite some initial sluggishness, we managed to put together enough in prize money for the Goa Open to be seriously attractive to outstation quizzers, and I have a feeling it's going to become a coveted event for quizzers from all over India in the coming years. It certainly has the potential to put Goa firmly on the quizzing map.
The January 2011 monthly: The first quiz of the New Year gave me the biggest kick, as it was conducted by Raj Kunkolienkar, a student of Class XI, and Atharva Joshi, of Class VIII. And they pulled off an excellent quiz, with great questions and some complicated experiments with the format. The fact that they were willing to try new things, on their first attempt at setting an open quiz, talks of the confidence and panache they bring to the table.
The MusiQuiz: Sachin's musical extravaganza, beset though it was by technical glitches, was one hell of a quiz. It was enjoyable for everyone, revelatory in many parts, and closely-fought throughout by all the teams on stage. Looks like we have another SEQC annual feature on our hands.
SEQCm: The SEQC Margao Jan 2011 monthly was the cherry on the icing that the last couple of months have ladled onto the SEQC cake. The D'Costa family -- Terrence, Ira and Julian -- Abhijeet Virginkar and Dr Muralidharan (and perhaps others whose roles I am not aware of) took the most significant step in SEQC's history since our inception, by starting a Margao chapter. The inaugural quiz, conducted by Abhijeet, was excellent. The turnout of 30-plus is substantial for an inaugural event of this kind. SEQC itself started with 14-15 people and now sees about 50-60 participants for every monthly. Margao, it would seem, could overhaul that number within its first few months.
ICG: Our partnership with the International Centre Goa has worked out really well. Quizzes that are held here have an extra touch of class to them. We keep hearing that people are reluctant to come all the way there, but attendance at quizzes at the Centre have never been disappointing. The place is great, the arrangements are top-notch and we get it all for free, which is in consonance with the club's non-commercial nature. All in all, quite the win-win scenario.
As with the Indian cricket team, SEQC has managed to develop significant bench strength. That is perhaps the greatest source of satisfaction for those of us who've been part of its growth over the past couple of years. Here's to SEQC -- the most happening quiz club in the country.