Portrait Of The Quizzer As A Young Man.

Yeldho Shem.
5 min readDec 30, 2021

Q) The first time you organised a quiz was for the Quizathon, the intra-school event held in our school. Which according to you is more difficult? Organising a quiz or taking part in it?

A) Actually, Quizathon (Juniors and Seniors) is the 8th quiz that I’ve made.

Back to the question, I feel both of them are equally difficult. When you are the Quizmaster, you must keep up the expectations of both audiences as well as that of the host, without compromising on your standard and style (or the lack of it). Our — Philip and I — objective was to make pun-ny questions whose answer lies in the question itself — it’ll be staring at you. We also wanted to give the audience an idea of how quizzes these days work. I had sleepless nights thinking (and thinking and thinking) about how it would turn out (I had sported a few grey hairs during the quiz). But Jayaprabha Ma’am (the Principal of my school), teachers, Philip and parents helped me a lot. A huge shout-out to the Quizathon team and the QMs, who made the event enjoyable (but how much they had fun is debatable.)

However, taking part in it is another ball game. I don’t care whether I lose or win. But, there is a certain degree of responsibility on your part to win, as school is sending you with the hope of winning and if QM is your friend (chances are that they are,) they expect you to cross the benchmarks. I try my best not to miss fundas (quizzers’ lingo for answers/knowledge) and to give some intelligent guesses. Quizzes are basically remembrance of things past and fast (hence the title, which is inspired by a Marcel Proust novel), so you have to give pushups to your little grey cells frequently. I thank God Almighty for helping me to remember and guess answers. This is why I feel both are hard, but others might have different opinions.

Portrait Of A Quizzer, instead of Portrait Of A Young Man (here, a screenshot from S1E02 of BoJack Horseman, which is inspired by an acclaimed David Hockney painting.) The alternative title of this piece is a reference to a certain James Joyce work.

Q) Which one do you depend on the most for the preparation of quizzes? Internet or Books?

A) Nowadays, I attend quizzes that have lengthy-punny-funny type of quizzes (Quizathon was modelled on these lines). These are the quizzes that satisfy the bibliophile-cinephile in me. For these kinds of quizzes, I depend more on independent websites, blogs, YouTube and WhatsApp groups. Also, binge-reading movies (a deep understanding of individual scenes and reading literature about movies) and watching books (i.e., watching what the author wants us to see) have helped me a lot in quizzes. QMs reuse many of their old questions and regularly reframe their peer’s fundas; so, going for a lot of quizzes will help you answer questions and understand the pattern.

Books (as in, yearbooks, General Knowledge books, etc) were fundamental in building the quizzer in me. These were my foundation — they helped me to participate in quizzes (especially, the one-liner/dry quizzes). If I have to pick one book (technically, it is a magazine) that I hold dear, it is Balarama. What many regard as a children’s book, surprisingly, was the source of many quizzes.

Q) A prolific researcher or a voracious reader. Which one best describes you?

A) A lazy researcher-cum-reader. To be honest, I’m too lazy to prepare for a quiz. I have taken down some fundas in a notepad, and while setting a quiz, I google to add some flesh into it to make a question — that’s my “research”. I read newspapers, books, watch movies and use social media whenever I feel like and I’m not regular with these kinds of stuff. So, I can not be described as voracious.

Q) How do you plan to utilise your exposure to quizzes in the future?

A) To be honest, I’ve no idea. Many have advised me to try IAS or something, where general knowledge helps, but my interest lies elsewhere. To make fun of me, some have suggested that I take up a career as Quizmaster, but as I’ve mentioned above, it’s stressful (for me. Actually, I should have presented Quizathon, but I rejected the idea). But, I feel that quizzing will help me in Entrance Tests and interviews, where they (hopefully) look into the GK dimension too.

Q) What influence has quizzing had on your academics?

A) None whatsoever. Relying on the study material was more than enough to get through the examinations and you don’t need to go to any quizzes for that. Just ctrl+C ctrl+V whatever you learned from the textbooks (if at all you learn, that is) into the answer sheets and voila! Quizzing gave me a bit more insight into whatever was taught in the class and nothing more.

One place where it is really been beneficial is while writing the examinations. When I was in 12th, we had to learn the poem Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda for English. During the model exams, due to the lack of preparation and laziness on my part, I didn’t learn this chapter. To my horror, if had to complete Part B (where we have to attempt 6 out of 9 questions), I had to write something on the aforementioned poem as I had literally no clue about the other questions. So, to hide my apparent ignorance about the subject and to fill the paper with air, I filled in information I learned about Neruda from a quiz I attended last week interspersed with whatever little thing I remember from being in the class while it was being taught. A sentence went like this: “The poem ‘Keeping Quiet,’ which would make us reflect on humanity and their futile actions, was written by the Chilean poet and esteemed Nobel Laurate Pablo Neruda, whose original name was Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto. His pacifist values could be seen in the splendid - but simple - stanzas, transforming the otherwise straightforward poem into an exhortation to humanity…” The one-page long answer was filled with information on Neruda than on the poem itself, barely touching what the question was asking for. I think I got pretty good marks in English. Whether it is the advantage of quizzing or lack of proper evaluation by my teacher is something that I’ll leave you to decide.

To give you a context, this interview was conducted by the Magazine Committee of my school for the year 2019–20. And why was I, of all brilliant students, interviewed? I had represented the school in quite a few quizzes that academic year and had helped to conduct Quizathon, an intra-school quiz with two categories for students from Class 6–8 and Classes 9–11. The bragging and borderline narcissistic tone was adopted to intentionally prevent the committee to print this piece in the magazine, as I had little to no interest in being interviewed — at least, at that time.

What became of it, I have no clue. Lockdown happened soon after the submission of my answers and I subsequently lost touch with the members of the Editorial Team. I really hope that this wasn’t published… for the welfare of the readers — my juniors.



Yeldho Shem.

Telling terrible stories is my superpower. Safety Not Guaranteed.