Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ayers rock .. and sundry others ..

Anand recently went on vacation to Queenstown, Australia. When he was back I overheard him telling someone about how he got to the Ayer's rock and how it was a stunning spectacle. The Ayer's rock actually has some really fond memories for me - few fond memories of the time i spent at Citibank Chennai, most of which was spent cowering from sheer fright of the person who was my guide through the project.

So there's this one day when a team of Australian Citibankers arrive to understand how Citi India does business - esp the e banking aspect. So after the routine of taking them around the place, showing them systems and processes to wow them etc, dinner was set at this fancy restaurant and in Sriram's classic style, dinner wasn't just dinner. Rajeev Rai, an avid quizzer (Chennaites, esp quizzers will recognize his name) who was then the manager for the Acquisitions team was asked to organize a special quiz based on Australia for the whole internet banking team. And so he did.

So we all saunter into this nice place, see a lavish spread of food and dessert laid out, but are herded into this big circular chair formation where we're supposed to split into teams for the quiz. Now had I known this a little earlier, i might have done some background research on who in the team had a remote chance of winning and would've placed myself as such. Turns out, my luck wasn't too bad anyway. I was seated next to 1 certified quizzing enthusiast, lets call him Mr B, and another chap who in course of the quiz demonstrated his penchant for trivia. Lets call him Mr M. Now i didnt think too lowly of my own knowledge of trivia (then again, i hadnt ever been in a competitive quizzing environment before! Ignorance is bliss indeed! :-)) So I look at B and M and wonder how itll all pan out. (If u havent figured this out about me yet, let me just state it plainly - I LOVE winning. Im a monica in that sense. I put achievement over enjoyment in competitive scenarios. We'll delve into the how's and why's of my childhood influences some other day) Anyway, our quiz begins.

As time progresses, i realize im seated with a bunch of astoundingly trivia friendly guys! B and M are totally cracking the scene so to speak! Answer after answer, they didn't even spare the passes that came our way. Suffice to say, i was fairly elated, but at some level i was rather ashamed of how little i was contributing (ok let me not sugar coat this - i had answered NOTHING 45 minutes into the quiz) and we were probably on the last round or so. So im kinda trying to hide my shameful face behind nearby chairs etc, while B and M happily go on cracking the quiz.

And then came my moment. This was i think the last question or so for the quiz, and it came right to our team. Something about a stone that changes color. And i knew this one!!! Heart pounding i practically jumped over B and M trying to ensure that my answer got through even before theirs, just so they could know i wasnt a COMPLETE loser after all! And the answer was the title of this blog of course - the color changing Ayer's rock. They grinned and patted me on the back (i was after all the summer intern kid who had just made them proud!) and we noted that we'd officially won the quiz.

Thing i remember is them giving out gifts a day or so later. And the gift was a whopping 1000 Rs worth of Landmark vouchers per head. I'd never won anything this big EVER before in my life! And i knew i owed it to these 2 Citibankers who carried our team on their shoulders. I did of course meekly walk up to both and tell them how grateful i was, and how i knew id done very little to be partaking of the voucher. The response was standardly sweet - "Oh dont mention it! Enjoy ur voucher! ". And enjoy it i did! I spent every penny of that thing buying gifts for friends and family and had a blast doing so! (I dont use vouchers for myself - its strange but true! I spend cash on me, but can never find the heart to spend vouchers on me! Im so weird!!!)

Later found out that the vouchers were an afterthought really. Apparently B was mildly drunk by the time the quiz was over (trust naive me to NOT notice!) and in an open gathering asked Sriram "So when are we getting our prizes". Not surprisingly, Sriram shot him a cold glare at that point, but true to his really cool self, gave out this awesome prize later that week. :-)

And thats my story on the Ayer's rock! :D

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