Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Victory is just an excuse for celebration : The story of how we won decathlon

Discalimer : Since the author also was a part of the team, we can't promise the reader an impartial view. Any reader who feels that views are biased may immediately leave the blog now. (@ Team : Since I am writing the article, I am the hero in the story... You have a problem?)

They say a war is won or lost before the army sets their foot on warfield. Similar was the case with us. Even before the prelims started we were planning our stage performance for the victory celebrations. Victory was just an excuse for celebrations and having victory as an excuse is defenitely a great feeling.

It all began with Santhosh telling me that he had chosen a team for Decathlon and that he was looking forward to winning it(and he was counting on me :) ). He was looking forward to win; that was good. But we decided to stick to our principle that we have been following in mindtree - "Have fun when you are participating, so that winning or loosing doesn't matter much to you". After the disappointment in collage competition(We were expecting the First prize but we had to settle for the second), we thought of drafting a fool proof plan for the Decathlon and we genuinely thought we did so. But as always we had our first major road-block appearing, even before we got on to the roads.

Before discussing about the road block and how we overcame it, let me tell you what our strategy was. (To know the rules and details of the game click here ) Since Decathlon is a game that tests the team for intelligence, creativity, team spirit, strength, energy and efficient use of resources, we had to come out with a well balanced team and had to use our resources judiciously.

The team consisted of 10 bright, charming, athletic, vivacious minds from Java Jan 09 batch.(@ Team : Guys help me with some more adjectives, I am falling short of words. ) The role that each mind played can be summarized as

Gokul N K : Chief Strategy Officer
Santhos Surimutt : Chief Executive Officer
Akshay AbhayKumar : The Pharoah of Egypt
Divya Chandrashekar : Chief Entertainment Officer
Sagar Prakash : Commander in Chief
Rashmi Hegde : Chief Motivational Officer
Sudhiendra : Child Welfare Officer
Bharath Ramanna : Chief of Strategy Supervision
Lino P Jacobaa : Chief PJ Cracker
Savita : Chief Balancing Officer

Aliva and Dimple : Heads of CheerLeader group
Sunil Swain : Cameraman and luggage holder

Once the team was selected we concentrated on how to get the extra brownie points in the game. There were points for most energetic team. We got some whistles, blow horns and petty toys to make enough noise, plus we had lots of enthu (need I say who got the award? No prizes for guessing. Yes, it was definitely our team : EXCELSIOR). Next there were points for the best dressed team and the overall theme. So we had to come out with a theme which represents decathlon but does not contain the word ten or 'deca' in it. Finally we settled for the "Solar System" theme. Each of us represented a planet and had a tagline. The front of the T-shirt had an image of Solar System (ie our theme) and on the backs we had the name of the planet we represented and the tagline that we sported. And since we are a socially responsible group, we also thought of creating awareness about AIDS by wearing an AIDS logo on the right shoulder.

Since Santosh was the one who made the team he became Sun. (@Sathosh : I hate to give u more lime light, but since you were the one who started this off, u deserve). I chose Earth(base of life, and the next best available planet after Sun) and so on.

Sunthosh - Thats in my name

Mercurial - Sudhiendra - 3x10^3 mm/sec
Venus - Savvi - The morning star
Earth - Gokul - The lonely heart alive (@ Bharath and santu : I wanted it to be Gocoool Gogreeen, but u guys tricked me into this tagline)
Mars - Bharath - Martian : men r back
Jupiter - Sagar - I am the biggest
Saturn - Divya - The saturnian "empress of peace"
Uranus - Lino P Jacob - "The Frozen Uranus .... With a warm heart"
Neptune - Aks - Finding fortune, heading Neptune
Pluto - Rashmi - I am the smallest

The count down had begun for the game, and there were only two days left. We were the most prepared team and we were all set to win. But I wish Life was so simple. The game got postponed and all other teams got a chance to prepare well. The reason for the postponement was that the organizers and the teams were not able to reach to a consensus on what should be the criteria for elimination in the first level. The organizers wanted to have just Tug - Off - War as the game in the elimination round. We were at a major disadvantage, as our team consisted of many weaklings(@ Team : Ok guys even i am included in the weaklings, exception : Sagar). So we had to raise our voices and create some havoc. But we chose a smarter way. We wrote a letter to the organizers and they heeded. So after our successful negotiation, the game was postponed by two days and the first round consisted of Passing the ball, Three Legged Race and Tug - Of - War and best dressed team. Winning in Tug - of - War was out of our reach as the total weight of our team was less than half of the weight of other teams. So we had to win in Passing the ball and three legged race to keep our hopes alive.

Game 1 : Passing the ball
Participants : whole team
Strategy : Synchronization and mutual understanding was the key and we(java batch) had lots of it(@ DotNet : what say guys!). Practice did help us indeed. The guys at the two ends play an important role.
On field : We played according to our plan on the day and I think we clocked the best time.
Result : First or second (Results were not very transparent. We didnt know whether we were first or second)

Game 2 : Three legged race

Participants : Lino P Jacob and myself
Strategy : First few steps should be slow and we should get our feet synchronized in max of 4 to 5 steps. And then pick up the speed.
On field : We just followed the strategy. First few steps we were behind almost all team. But we had got our synchronization by then. We took off from there and buzzed to the finish line. It was a close race. We reached the deadline just a few microseconds before the other team.(@ Lino : I told you the strategy would work)
Result : We stood first

Game 3 : Tug of war
Participants : Whole team
Strategy : The whole team was dependent on Rashmi and our major strategy was to make sure that Rashmi doesn't fall down. Did I hear some laughs... ha ha ha Lets get serious. Our only strategy pull, pull pull and we stay till Sagar does stands.
On field : With all our strength and strategy we lasted for 2.97 seconds
Result : Obviously we lost. And not only that, our chances of going to the next level were very bleak.

The whole Team was dejected and we had taken back our seats peacefully, hoping for a miracle to take us to the next level. Rashmi was most vocal in express her sorrows and anger. The team had a tough time trying to console her. In spite of the team being dejected, our leader Santosh was busy pursuing his personal interests. I said "personal", did you get it. (@ Team : We were seriously angry. Weren't we guys)

But still at the corner of our hearts there was faint ray of hope that we will get to the next level. When the results were announced we were pleasantly surprised to hear that we had gone to the next level. The moment we got to know that we were selected for the next level, we were sure of taking the stage. (@Team : Kya hua.... Wait for it guys. Have patience)

Final Events

Game 1 : German Drill
Participant : Bharath
Strategy : It is not a race of speed, it is a game of knowing the rules. What comes after what, know it thoroughly and wait for others to make a mistake.
On Field : Bharath was composed knew the rules by heart. In addition to that we had our team mates for guiding him. Till the last touch down he was definitely not leading. We thought our strategy had failed. But from 5 to 1 everybody got confused and Bharath took a huge lead.
Result : 2nd

Game 2 : Carry the burden
Participants : Santhosh Surimutt and Akshay
Strategy :
On Field : They were quick and flexible. They had good understanding. And they did well.
Result : 2nd

Game 3 : Show your power
Participants : Sagar Praskash
Strategy : Keep listening to the teams shouts and keep doing as many biceps lifts as possible.
On Field : He had let us down in Tug-Of-War. But he came back strongly in this and showed us what a beast he was.(@Anand : Saand right?) 220 odd lifts of 8Kg dumbels in 3 minutes.!!
Result : We had to be happy with a second place.

Game 4 : Book balancing
Participants : Savvi
Strategy : She just knew how to strike the right balance
On Field : During practice she used to walk with such calm, ease and elegance that we had assumed a top slot for sure in this game. But on the big day it was a total flop. I think Rashmi would have done better(@ Rashmi : Remember this I am supporting you)

Game 5 : Sudoku and Live mascot making
Participants : Me, Akshay and Bharath
Strategy : First Sudoku, I would take horizontal rows, Akshay would take vertial rows and Bharath would do the checking up job. Live Mascot making, Bharath had the clear idea and the details of how to do. He would guide us and we would just follow his instructions.
On Field : Sudoku was a cakewalk for us. From intellectual game now we had to shift the gears to creative thinking for Live mascot making. We just followed Bharath's instructions and finished well in advance of time.
For the live mascot making, we had to give an explanation of why we chose the Pharaoh theme. There was no time and I had to come out with a catchy phrase. I took a moment and then said "There are few people who are famous when they are alive, and very few who are famous after their death. But pharaohs are the ones who are famous when they are alive and more famous after their death". The judge was impressed and so was I.(@Lino : Thanks for the compliment)
Result : 1st

Game 6 : Drink the drink
This game would have highlighted the mutual understanding of Java jan 09 batch, but the game was abondoned due to rain. We had to console ourselves feeling that Best things in life are sometimes not revealed to the outer world.

As the last game was abandoned we moved to the Food Court, eager to know our results. The third prize winners were called out. The respective team went to collect the prize. So we were sure that we had either got the first prize or the second. The MC started to call out the name of the runners up team. We were praying to God(Ok I am an athiest(agnostic to be precise) so what? It is just an expression) that our name is not called, because we knew that we deserved the first prize. Even the crowd felt so, they were shouting the name of another team for the second prize. But the name that was called out was "Excelsior" and we were let down. But still we grouped and went to collect the prize.

And thus the moment had arrived, imagining which we had started our first plans. We took the stage by storm. We collected the prize and we took the centre stage. All ten of us stood in our positions. I took the honour of reading out the dedication for the song, and I said "This song is dedicated to all those who broke our promises" and started singing the song "Kya hua tera vaaada" which would later go on to become the Java Jan 09 batch's anthem and the most sung song in the time everafter.

I don't how many will remember who won the first prize in Decathlon, but I am sure that most of them will remember the team which sang "Kya Hua Tera Vaaada.........."

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