1/2/2011 – Updated
18th December 2010. Taj Coromandel. Chennai. 12 Teams. 6 Finalists. 1 Winner.
17th December . Pune – We were anxious about our preparations. Plus, we had a flight to catch at an ungodly hour – 5:45 in the morning. That meant getting up at 3:30 AM. Yes, 3:30 AM. Now, having participated for 4 years in the quiz and being on stage for all 4 of those, I knew very well that being alert counted more than our preparations. That in mind, I had slept for 3 hours in the afternoon, to compensate for the deficiency of sleep I would suffer due to the morning flight.
18th December. Pune Airport – We reached on time. Good sign. Got our boarding passes. There was a long line for security check. Midway a few folks, who apparently had come to Pune for the ‘Bacardi NH7 Weekender’ started cutting the queue. A poor soul, who looked as if he hadn’t slept the previous night started a fight.
Sleepless Man : “Oye, where the hell do you think you are going?”
Hard Rock Fan : “Boss, we have a flight to catch, we will be late!” (The matter of fact tone)
Sleepless Man : “Even I have the same boarding pass as yours, so get back in line like all of us!”
By that time, a few air hostesses had gathered, a policeman came to check what was happening – and I was observing a ‘Band member, came to Pune for the festival, going back home’ s iPhone 4 (yes, iPhone 4).
Moral of the story : My attention span almost disappears when I see an iPhone 4 or an Android (eg. Nexus S).
So to continue, the flight was comfortable, our breakfast was paid for by TCS (On IndiGo), we verified that even !dea doesn’t have network coverage in air, and overall it was an uneventful flight.
18th December. 10:00 AM. Chennai. – We arrived at MAA (That’s the Chennai airport shortcode) and the Taxi driver was waiting for us, holding a placard which read ” TCS IT WIZ 2010……our names etc”, and we got in to the seemingly ancient(and smelly) IndiCab. He took us to our Hotel. Vivanta. By Taj.
The place was beautiful.
The rooms were comfortable, and surprisingly, the person who introduced us to our room, was Marathi! We chitchated a bit, and then he was off.
All this looks nice when TCS paid for it, but when we inquired what the rates for WiFi (which we thought should be free ), we decided against using it. Only Rs 125/- per half an hour. I used my Vodafone live on roaming for checking a few details, and even that worked out cheaper!
We had the next few hours free and I decided to have a nap. I hardly was able to sleep, since I was excited. Anyone in this situation would be. The next few hours were going to be crucial and we needed to be prepared. But that was not to be :P. We spent some time watching Star Movies (Thankfully that was free), and before I knew it, it was 11 45. We had to dress up for the event. We didn’t have a uniform, so we went in full corporate clothing(jacket, tie, pants, and shoes) , which earned us varying looks and remarks (The Hyderabad team remarked “Cool Uniforms!”).
At 12 sharp we went to the lobby and the IndiCab which was assigned to us took us to the battlefield. Taj Coromandel.
18th December. About 12:30 PM. Taj Coromandel – We were served lunch. The lunch was really good. The fish (forgive me vegetarian readers), was mouth-watering. It had a subtle flavour, was perceivably fresh and was boneless (boneless counts a lot towards being a good dish, since you don’t have to keep plucking out bones and cartilages every now and then, and so you get to enjoy the actual dish).
1:30 PM. Taj Coromandel Ball Room. – All 12 teams (minus Bangalore, which was delayed due to fog), had their brief – debriefing session. Something which Pickbrain emphasized was “Control your words. We do not want something like ‘shit’ coming out in front of the CEO, CFO, US consulate general, UK consulate general and the Russian consulate general. you can replace ‘shit’ with a few more 4 or 3 letter combinations” (That was still in inverted commas).
2:30 PM. Ball Room. Semi Final 1 – We were in the first semi finals. The quiz format was unique to this round of the quiz. Complete buzzer round. 15 questions. Top 3 teams qualify.
I knew many answers, but I hesitated. That, in particular was a fatal mistake. If I wouldn’t have cared and fired away on stuff I was even a little sure, we would have qualified to the Finals. But it was not to be. Next year still holds promise though.
3:00 PM. Ball Room. Semi Final 2 – 3 teams qualified. Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kerala. I perceived this semi to be much easier than ours, but it was still a complete buzzer, so it was fair. No complaints there.
4:00 PM. Ball Room. The. National. Finals.
Enter – CFO of TCS, US Consulate general, UK consulate general, Russia consulate general and N Chandra (shekharan), CEO & MD, TCS.
Their seating arrangement was peculiarly businesslike. To the right of the CEO was US. To the left UK. To the left of UK was CFO. To the left CFO was Russia. To the left of Russia, I think was the regional head. Sorted according to revenue streams 😛
The music started playing (mind you, the speakers and music selection was good), and the Head of Corporate Communications gave a short and sweet speech, before handing over the mic to Pickbrain. Music again welcomed the six finalists to the stage and the fast paced quiz started. I won’t go into the details of the quiz here, since you can read all about it here.
Update – 1/2/2011
I think you would have read all about the quiz, and mind you, it was good.
After the quiz we had dinner with the CEO, yes, the CEO of TCS, N Chandra himself (I’m sure you would have earned a point in the prelims of the regional rounds of the quiz thanks to him)
The dinner was well planned, we were divided into 4 groups, of 6 teams each, and we were each given 15 minutes with the CEO, with the rest of the dinner being spent with other senior executives, and pickbrain himself. The dinner was a full 7 course meal so as to enable the CEO to spend 1 – 2 courses with each of the groups.
The conversations that ensued were interesting, and I couldn’t help but overhear some of the charismatic conversations on the other tables (Manikandan and Varun, I’m talking about you! ).
After the dinner we were given the prizes. The prizes for the winners were mind blowing. They were given suitcases to fill the prizes with, which included a Galaxy Tab, iPod Touch-es, Camcorders, iPod docks, and so on. You can imagine the envy, with a room filled with 24 tech nuts, and just 4 of them getting the shiniest gadgets on the market! 😛
Of course, we were also given something , which was a webcam with inbuilt mic, a book (Small Wonder – about the Tata Nano), and some other stuff which I don’t recall, probably the most important of which was the Hand signed certificate by the CEO.
We went back to the hotel after that in our respective cars, and before getting back to the hotel, all the the teams (at least those who were still present) decided to meet somewhere in the hotel and play CS on our laptops! (That didn’t materialize, but nevertheless whats stopping us from wishful thinking right? )
I had an old friend of mine visit me at the hotel (If you are reading this, it was fun to meet you after all those years!), and so I didn’t catch up on anything else that went on there, but I heard some of the guys had quite some fun! (Someone fill me in on what happened). At about 10, 10-30 I was way too sleepy to investigate where everyone else was, and so I made it straight to bed.
The next morning we had our flight back to Pune, via Bangalore (ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು – I know how to write Kannada BTW! ), and the b’lore team was on the same flight as us.
The flight was uneventful, and we reached home, safely.
I skipped class that day. (Those of you who think who is jobless enough to have class on sunday, just 1 word for you – IIT-JEE).
All in all, it was a revelation, and it was fun. Although I would have loved to play CS with all of you. (Boby, we would have made it work on Wine – which apparently was a question in the national finals!)
Until Next Year,