Vantage point

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Anik and Sonal recently posted their first impressions about each other on their respective blogs. I feel inspired now to post the first impressions I had about my friends who have since started blogging.


I met George and Ramanand in my first year at our college quiz club.

George was already a celebrity of sorts since he had topped the HSC and had been very successful on the quizzing scene, being regarded as some kind of a God in that field. At the quiz club, while everyone sat on the wide stairs of the BC (Boat Club), he was sitting behind everyone on a chair, like a King surveying his subjects. One of the freshers had brought questions that Saturday and he announced before starting "All these questions are from the Ultimate Trivia book, so I guess you must all be familiar with them". No sooner had he said this, than I heard a resounding TCHHHHAH sound which was uttered by none other than George. He clearly disapproved of the Ultimate Trivia book. During the ensuing quiz session, he kept making loud comments about the questions and cracking acerbic jokes. I found the whole deal hilarious since I could not bring myself to appreciate the questions either. I had come expecting a very different George Thomas. Someone who was very serious, quiet and scholar-like, conforming to whatever stereotype I carried in my mind of HSC toppers. The stereotype lay shattered as I saw him doing what he did best - being himself. He came back for a vacation last year, and though he was several kilos lighter, the essential Georgeness remained. Rapier caustic wit, love for Hindi cinema, an endearing arrogance and a childlike earnestness. The first impression he made on me persists till today.

Ramanand was this quiet boy wearing a sweater in the not-so-cold August weather. He had a chandan/angara tikka on his forehead and sat on the stairs silent most of the times, except when he calmly gave the answer. I don't recall much in detail about the first impression he made that day, but in general as I got to know him over the next year, he came across as someone who clearly knew A LOT and was definitely one of the best quizzers in the college even if not fancied that much (not fancied at that time, of course. Now he is Mr. Mastermind India). The team of Ramu and Sujay was a quality team which in their final year won all the major quizzes in Pune, yes ALL, in fact we called it their Quizzing Grandslam. Neeraj and I often spoke in first year about how we should first aim at doing better than Sujay and Ramanand and then think of bigger triumphs. Of course, this talk was confined to the first year only, because it became apparent to us soon that we weren't even in the same league. Us beating them would be like Zimbabwe thinking of an away series win against Australia. Perhaps that is why the quizzing victory I treasure the most is the 2000 Fergusson College Inquizzitions win where we were 1st and S&R were 3rd.
Anyway, coming back to Ramanand, he was always this brilliant "good boy" with a subdued but effective sense of humour. He has often brought the house down with a quiet comment or two. It was clear to me in the first few months of his acquaintance that he was this gifted guy who would remain in the background and suddenly burst into the centre of attention on sheer merit. That was proved true and am sure will continue to be proven true in the future, in fields other than quizzing.