The debut

When I was in school, I was a regular viewer of BSNL Sports Quiz that is telecast live on Doordarshan channel. I recently read that it is about to cross its 500th episode, and has become the longest running live show in India. Now you  may wonder why I am writing about this, all of a sudden. Memories! (ting ting ting ting…)

I used to devor Sportstar magazine, although I absolutely never lifted a racquet, cricket bat, shotput (it was heavy), discus (it was too disc-shaped), relay baton (well, in my defence, nobody passed it to me), or for that matter anything that remotely was connected to sports. But I loved reading Sportstar. So when I was about 15 or 16 years old, and at the peak of my memory retention capabilities, I could spell the name of the Ethiopian marathon runner who came forty-first in the Timbuktu Marathon, or atleast try…

Anyway, the whole show is based on the format of the host rapidly firing out questions on myriad sports and the callers calling in to hear their voice on national television and then rarely giving out correct answers. I was not one of them. Yes, I wanted my voice to resonate in India atleast for a few seconds, but to win, I not only had the drive but also I had Sportstar (wicked glint). I think I tried for like 4 months to get a line. Twice I had the opportunity to speak with the host .

The first time went pretty okay for a novice, if you ask me. I distinctly remember it was about pixelated grid where you had to guess in which pixel the cricket ball is, based on the bat’s angle, batsman’s wrist alignment, his footwork, and the direction in which he is eyeing the nonexistent ball (aka guesswork) .

Host: “Hi What’s your name and where are you calling from and what’s the answer”

Me: “Eh Uh”

Host:  “What’s the answer to the question?”

Me: “Uh Hi my name is…”

dialtone.

At this juncture, you might have thought “So much for Sportstar, hmpgff”, but I request you to rein in your cynicism a bit longer.

Next time I got a line was the following week. This time it was about statistics: How many one-day international cricket matches had India played with Pakistan and how many were won, lost and drawn. I remembered that just the previous week, the same statistics had come on the last page of the magazine, so I quickly grabbed the copy and began abusing the numbers on our landline telephone. After like 800 years of punching in numbers, I finally got in.

Host: “Hi What’s your name and where are you calling from and what’s the answer”

Me: (now more attuned to the trials and tribulations of show business, and more importantly, live television): “Hi, I am blah blah blah..  from blah blah blah…”

Host: “What’s the answer to the question, quick quick quick”

Me: “Well the answer is ……” and I rattled off a series of statistics that would have made Karl Pearson burst into tears with uncontained happiness.

Host: “Uh, I did not expect such perfect statistics. Who’s helping you out?”

Me (obviously not yet attuned to the trials and tribulations of show business, and more importantly, live television): “Uh Umm my dad”

Host (in an icy tone): “Give the phone to him”

Quick flashback: My dad was out for a movie with his friends, mom not yet back from work.

Me: “Um he is not here”

Host: “I am sorry I cannot accept…”

Me (cutting him abruptly): “I want the prize, I told the correct answer. You have to give me the prize”

and I think  I proceeded to bawl my lungs out on live national television.

Host (extremely annoyed): “Yeah yeah okay I will give you the prize. Just tell me from where you got the statistics”.

 dial tone.

And no, the host did not cut the line.

Apparently  my full-fledged debut on live television was noticed by a couple of my friends and relatives. I heard “I want the prize, I told the correct answer. You have to give me the prize”  refrains wherever I went for a couple of weeks.

But hey, they gave me the prize (Rs 400 worth of free telephone calls for 2 months), and I did not reveal my source.

Mossad, you  interested in hiring me?

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6 thoughts on “The debut

  1. Now that’s one hell of a confession.

    Do you still have the magazine that gave you the answers? It sounds like a less glamorous version of The Sports Almanac that Biff used in Back to the Future 2 to make his alternate future self rich.

    • My dad is too much of a gentleman to keep buying magazines which contains answers to live sports quizzes that his daughter can pinch and win. (Frankly, I think he was jealous of me.) So no more sportstars unfortunately;-(

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