Event coverage of Sadda Adda, a two day quiz festival

|PN Bureau|

Quizzing in Guwahati, though vibrant, has always been clichéd. On those lines, a Hub[1] quiz fest organized by some college kids in the merry Christmas weekend provides a perfect gateway for my types from the din and noise of festivals celebrated by the Indian society. While the name, which I believe has been coined with all earnestness, can be considered a meme on the event itself, Sadda Adda was no joke at all.

To those uninitiated, Guwahati, the largest city in Northeast India has carried the mantle of quizzing capital of the Northeast from the 60s. In a time when cities like Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai organises live quiz events on a scale comparable to corporate backed indie film festivals, the less popular destination on the eastern front manages without much fuss or media attention. Be it CSR activities by public sector giants or promotion activities by budding media firms, Quiz in Guwahati remains better sponsored than in the distant mega cities, although much less encouraged.

Having experienced firsthand the scene in atleast two metro cities, many budding metros and uncountable cities and towns across India, I can safely assume that the average aantel[2] loves quizzing. Make no mistake though; some from among this breed made a career out of it and are nearly millionaires. For a niche ‘sport’, with no accepted rules or regulations, quiz is the gateway drug for many towards a life of intellectual pursuit. Puns aside, the ‘sport’ is dominated by engineers, wannabe engineers, MBAs and science grads. You can even throw in a doctor or two. The scene is same in Guwahati.

Sadda Adda was a two day open to all Hub quiz festival at the premises of the historic Cotton College in the academic heart of Guwahati. Put together by the Cotton College Quiz Club along with a few enthusiasts, the list of sponsors (five in total) was stupendous for an informal event. With trophies, T-shirts, books and magazines for prizes and Red Bull gratis, the event saw a hefty turnout considering exam time and a raucous holiday. Not stating any numbers, it should suffice that the turnout was large enough to draw a girl or two to the venue. The first day began with a Food, Music and Travel (FMT) quiz followed by a Sports and a Business quiz. The second day comprised of a General quiz which lasted nearly five hours.

The quizzes held would fall in the category of those popularized by Tech colleges. Narrowing down opinion to my tastes, I felt that the General quiz was prepared and presented diligently. The FMT was fun while the other two just went over my head. A team named No One Does It Better very nearly proved that they lived up to what they called themselves, though I have no idea whether the statement is confined or even related to quizzing at all. The overall arrangement was orderly and friendly. There was an accident with the MELA quiz which had to be cancelled, an accident with a DSLR and another with a can of Red Bull, but that can be pinned on kids and adrenalin.

While Guwahati is far from the sophisticated fetes enjoyed by the quizzing bourgeois of Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi, the quizzes held in Saada Adda would have held their own in any of those places. Perhaps not in terms of the questions bandied about, but surely in quality, effort and enthusiasm. In a society not much developed in cultural exchange, the debate of rampant opening up to quizzical knowledge beyond the realms of the homeland rages between the veteran proponents and modernists. Amidst that, Sadda Adda struck a balance, merging a copious aping of the western neighbours with the stauncity, so very unique to the region.

[1] HUB – A type of informal quiz popular in Assam. The origin of usage can be traced to sessions held at the house of veteran quizmaster Abhra Das. These Sunday afternoon sessions, with a mandatory break of tea and ‘pattis’ were seen by Das as quiz hubs and was used as an alternative to pub quizzes, alcohol being one of the very few things not encouraged by the legend. From humble origins, HUB quizzes have become a regular feature in Assam, especially in and around the capital Guwahati.

[2] Aantel – Bengali word used to describe someone putting on intellectual airs. Often derogatory. Details unknown. Picked up during my travels.

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