• Pallavi Rao

The Miracleme Story 06-Ten Twenty Ten

A winter morning. Thursday. The year -1990.

Can you imagine the delight and happiness of 19 year old, going to the place she virtually revered to finally have her voice LIVE On-Air?

The week went past without me bothering about the impending Physical Geography Tutorial or the Bharatanatyam classes I was missing. All efforts were put in for that one quiz contest, the master of which was yours truly.

Those were not the days of smartphones, computers or the internet. Only books. Going to a cyber café? I don’t even recollect if they existed then.

All research was thus done, therefore, from our home library which I then realized was a robust one. Collecting information from books on sports, thanks to my dad’s amazing collection to looking up the Guinness Book of world records to class 12 science books, to Competition Success Review, questions from art, culture and dance. I had them all. Neat and tidy and supremely organized.

All questions were neatly written. Rewritten. Re-rewritten. There was no Control-Alt-Delete then. No auto spell checks. Everything had to be written by hand.

But I did not complain.

Mighty pleased with it I ran the quiz questions through the Rao family. Changes were incorporated. Yes, re-written.

Daddy was mighty pleased with my handwriting too. He commented, “Yes, this is how you should always write. Neat and clean. Handwriting should be like pearls. Beautiful. That which anyone can read without an effort.”

I reached the AIR reception, smiled at the same face that had recognized my Dad by my name. Took the pass and walked once again through the same corridor. Rooms on the right and a manicured garden with yes, lots of monkeys on the left.

I reached the Yuv Vani section on the other end of the corridor with a transparent plastic file that had the undisclosed questions for the contest that afternoon.

I did not have to enter the room as a group of youngsters were standing outside basking in the sun. They were the quiz contestants. The only face I recognized was that of the person who gave me my first show. I went up and wished him a wonderful afternoon.

He seemed glad to see me. He explained in detail what was to be done. How to conduct the quiz with the 6 contestants that made up team A, B and C.

I understood everything confidently. After all, I had been a regular listener of the Bournvita quiz contest. Added to that the fact that I had conducted the mock interview at home in front of the mirror a zillion times over the week.

I was all set.

That is when I saw Shaheen mam. A bright, sprightly personality with hair so black and curly it would give Maggi a run for its money.

She was encouraging like how. A lovely smile and a full throttle laughter. I liked her instantly.

She went through the questions and loved them. Patted my back and congratulated me on the good work. My chest flared almost to 56 inches. Ok Ok I am exaggerating!!!

We now waited for it to be closer to 1 pm when we would finally get inside the temple. I mean the AIR building. The studios.

Time: 12.30.

We waited.

Time: 12.45.

We waited.

Finally, the assemblage started to move. Just then we were joined by another young sprightly chap.

He came almost hopping, skipping and jumping. Waving at the same time. Unmistakably, excited.

Both Shaheen ma’am and the register guy knew him very well.

Mam and this new young lad made mock faces and gestures  of being angry and saying sorry respectively.

Even as I write these lines, my heart feels the pain I felt that day.

They both exchanged some words and the next moment I saw ma’am coming towards me smiling and taking away the transparent file with the closely guarded, much researched questions  and handing them over, ever so effortlessly to that guy!!!!

Oh and then she turned around to quickly explain, that he was their regular quiz master who had disappeared over the last month. Now that he was back, he would conduct the quiz as was the norm.

My hands were bare. My head seemed empty.

“Oh don’t feel bad. You are still a part of the quiz”, she reassured me with her hand on my shoulder as she walked me into the studios.


Went something like this....

Quiz master (that guy reading out from my handwritten script): "Welcome to this edition of the weekly quiz contest. I am so and so and with me are 3 teams A B and C (introduces them-explains the rules-introduces me). And to help me in this quiz is our time and score keeper C. Pallavi Rao. Would you like to say hello to the listeners?"

Me: "Hello."

Quiz Master (that guy still reading from my hard worked script): "The 1st question goes to team A.....asks questions to all teams and ends by saying.... At the end of round 1 the scores are as follow. A-nods his head towards me to give the answer but continued...Team A has scored"

Me: 10

Quiz Master: "Team B has scored"....again nods towards me to give the number...

Me: "20"

Quiz Master: "and Team C has scored"

Me: (without looking at him) : "10"

I wish I had not heeded to daddy’s advice on a handwriting so neat that anyone could read. I wished that day I had written in the worst unintelligible, incomprehensible, indecipherable manner that no one could read.

By the end of round 2 and 3 I was on the verge of crying. If I had my way I would have scrambled over that green oval table that covered the pin drop silenced studio and snatched my sheets from that smart @#$%.

I had said a less than dozen words. 10 20, 10, 10, 30, 20, 10, 40, 20.

Before I knew, the quiz was over.

And so was my Radio debut.

A disaster.

A complete disaster.

But what I struck next, was gold.


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