One of India's most entertaining yet toughest quizzes is also the toast of quizzers from Chennai every Independence Day. Vasudha Venugopal witnessed the Landmark Quiz 2012 and was won over by its unique exuberance.

It is now an Independence Day ritual for many and for Chennai’s quizzers, the culmination of weeks of anticipation. The Landmark Quiz 2012 started with a bang and ended with more exuberance than ever, at the Music Academy on Wednesday.

The questions were tough, but interesting and relevant. For instance, did you know Andre Geim is the only scientist to win both the Nobel and the Ig Nobel prize or that the origins of Lonavala chikki lay in the modest gurdani (a sweet) that one Magan Lal sold at railway stations?

A pervasive theme was that special fact about objects of everyday use — whether it be the ubiquitous iPhone ringtone that immortalised the marimba, a musical instrument, or vodka which was apparently standardised by Dmitri Mendeleev of the periodic table fame. And then there were stories, delightfully resonant of various cultures.

For instance, ‘ghost stations’ of the Berlin Metro were often called so because trains would not stop there, in order to prevent residents of erstwhile East Germany from fleeing to the West; Tibet’s biggest export to the U.S. till 1951 used to be Yak tails for Santa Claus’ beards; Muslims tie black and white threads on their wrists while fasting to be able to distinguish the time — the moment they fail to do so, it’s time to break the fast and vice versa.

Olympics fever was in the air too. Paul McCartney’s daughter and Bob Marley’s granddaughter designed the Olympics costumes for two different teams this year. And, in 1900, cricket was a part of the Games, although the English team beat the French team which comprised officials from the British Embassy and expats.

Also Sachin Tendulkar is not the first sportsperson nominated to the Parliament — that honour goes to the late Dara Singh.

There was some deft quizzing on display and the city’s best were in their element. Nearly 500 teams participated from Chennai, of which the best eight were chosen after a written round of 30 questions.

The national finals had eight teams from Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Delhi and Mumbai. The audio clues that accompanied many of the slides kept the audience entertained.

Keeping up with Landmark tradition, the participants had interesting team names, including Mary Kom, Mary saw, Mary conquered; Ba Ba Ramdev, have you any food; Leander Paes and two members short; The dark knight rises and so do your petrol prices. While the prelims and the national finals were hosted by Dr. Navin Jayakumar, the regional finals were hosted by Vinod Ganesh, an avid quizzer and a regular at the quiz, who now lives in London. 

The Hyderabad team that called itself ‘Na gun ki license ledu, mee life ki insurance ledu’ comprising Ravi Mundoli, Anil Kumar K. and R. Jayakanthan, all residents of Chennai, won the national finals. The team Q.E.D. comprising names popular in the quizzing fraternity here — V.V. Ramanan, Swami and Samanth Subramanian — came second followed by ‘Nawabs of Mahabs’ from Pune, with Rajiv Rai, Vibhendu Tiwari and Gopal Kidao.

More In: Chennai