The long and arduous rainfall brought much-needed relief in terms of heat to the denizens of Bangalore, with the sweet smelling soil occupying the role of an additional benefit. Students at school bore thick jackets to weather the cold, with the braver sporting thin cardigans. The rain was welcomed by all the teachers too, for whom the sun’s bright rays proved to be a greater menace that us students. However, the cold did bring a rather grave problem along with it as naturally, nobody wished to wake up for school, and those who dragged themselves to our institution looked like cast members of the Walking Dead and longing for a plush, warm comforter or blanket did cause some sluggish behaviour. This bug did not spare Adoksh or me, as our zoned out countenances aptly displayed. It was as though our brains had been forgotten at home and only our physical bodies had made it onto the school bus. Per contra, Karan was buzzing about like a swarm of bees, in full control of all his senses and rather chirpy too with his astir greetings out of place in the quiet setting of our classroom. The loud and jarring bell indicated the need for us to assume our allotted positions in the classroom and the imminent arrival of our Physics teacher, an enthusiastic person with an archaic sense of humour. She had always been punctual and today was no different as she made her appearance shortly post the makeshift school carillon. Gauging that the mood of us pupils needed some uplifting, she said,”A photon checks into a hotel and is asked if he needs any help with his luggage to which he replies, no thanks I am travelling light.” We broke into bouts of awkward laughter whilst exchanging nervous glances, not wanting to hurt her sentiments. “Hmm. That seems to have helped! Well anyway, before I begin teaching I have some important news to give to you all”, she declared. Our ears perked up, hoping for some positive news such as a holiday or the postponement of an exam. “There is a science and GK quiz which I hope you will take part in, it should be really beneficial for you all!” Adoksh and my excitement died almost instantaneously as firstly we were in no state of mind to decide on an event such as the aforementioned one and secondly we were well aware of our capabilities with regards to said contest and were well aware of our mastery of ‘General Knowledge’ or rather lack thereof. Now, to be honest, it wasn’t like we had not made an attempt but instead were of the thinking that general knowledge should be thought of in the literal sense – general. So whilst others knew that Everest was 8,848 m high, Adoksh and I were quite content knowing that Everest existed and was the highest mountain. Although our thinking could be criticised, it was correct to some extent as knowing the exact height of Mt. Everest would constitute knowledge that was very specific whilst simply knowing of its existence was a very general piece of information. Be that as it may, the cogs in Karan’s head thought otherwise and no sooner had our professor revealed this data to us than his hand shot up. Suffice to say, she was as perplexed by his quick response as us and said, “Wonderful! It seems like we have a volunteer. Karan, you need to choose 2 more people to go with you as it is a team competition.” “Ma’am, Adoksh and Akash will be on my team. They are more than willing to accompany me and I think their ability warrants them a spot on this team.” I was utterly gobsmacked and that caused me to commit the deadly sin of remaining quiet during this whole affair and Adoksh suffered a similar predicament. Furthermore, the look of pride on our teacher’s face made it near impossible to spurn Karan’s offer. “I am sure you will do exceedingly well! So it is final then?” She inquired. Gingerly, Adoksh and I nodded and simultaneously, the colour from our faces was drawn out like blood being sucked by a vampire, whereas Karan remained jovial and was eager for the commencement of the quiz.

Our minds found solace in the tea break that followed and we began cursing the extemporaneous decision taken by Karan. “Why did you have to do such a thing? You know Akash and my opinion on GK”, Adoksh stated. “Do not worry, I have this situation under control! I am more proficient in the field of quizzing than in technological matters! So do not stress so much”, was the reply. Karan’s recent declaration did nothing to solve our issue as his competence in technological matters was close to nil and thus the bar was not set too high for his quizzing ability. His outlook on the whole situation was the perfect embodiment of the famous thinking that overconfidence can never be helpful. “Now I will go and find out about the venue and timings!” Karan said as he bid us adieu, casually humming without a single worry in the world.

The only visible plus point that this event showcased was that we would get to miss school on a Thursday, a day without any opportunities to enjoy a game of football. As Karan, Adoksh and I entered the Bishop Cottons campus, the location for our imminent embarrassment, my eyes were drawn to the grand stone buildings and arches, reminiscent of an old cathedral. The cobbled pathway added to the antiquated architecture techniques and the vivid trees and shrubs aided the overall aesthetics of the school. The strong gusts of wind teased our hair and I took in a deep breath, wishing to reassure myself and inculcate some of Karan’s assurance. Upon seeing other children decked in their respective uniforms, clutching various encyclopaedias in their palms in a desperate attempt to absorb any information that they could, reality struck. I was well used to embarrassment by this point yet all the previous embarrasing moments were limited to my friends and family and at that point of time, I did not wish to extend that list to strangers. Strangers who each seemed to be quiz bowl champions with smug expressions and confident answers. I turned to leave and run away in order to avoid what was coming but was halted by Karan who was still as bubbly as ever. Post a nonchalant opening ceremony which consisted of monotonous speeches and an offbeat classical dance performance on a pop song, we geared up for the written test; the first in a series of rounds leading up to the final round. As the meticulously typed out paper reached our group, to my surprise, Karan let out a hushed chuckle and in his face, Adoksh and I could make out hints of ‘I told you so’. I had not yet read through the questions and had not estimated our fate as I was quite unwilling to go by Karan’s word. Once I laid eyes on the questions, I managed to allow a slight smile to form on my face as I felt that the answers to the questions were well within our grasp. Gradually the time ticked on and my dread morphed into confidence based on the apparent credibility of our answers. When the time came to submit our sheet, we were fairly buoyant and pleased with our responses, already preparing for the next round. Let’s just say, what happened next still shocks me…

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