Let's face it; Dhaka is not the most cosmopolitan city in the world. For that matter it is not the most fun city in the world, sure we love it for its eccentricities, but it's not always as entertaining as we sometimes delude ourselves into thinking. The delusions stem from frustration, from joking about the traffic no matter how much it kills us, from poking fun at policemen no matter how shady their deals, from voting, no matter how inept our politicians are. In an effort to lighten our load we share a joke about the city and city life and in that moment of laughter we finally find a bit of fun from the city that incites so much daily fury. Le Saigon, a Vietnamese restaurant in Gulshan has found a way to bring some fun into the evenings with some intellectual exercise. This is where the jokes are not barbed comments towards our public servants, but instead the laughs stem from the often hilarious and quirky answers from the Le-Saigon Dinner Quiz.
In a city starved for entertainment and one might even claim intellectual pursuits, the monthly Le-Saigon Dinner Quiz is a mixture of the elements that Dhaka life was missing out on. Its fun, reasonably priced, intellectual and at the end of the day there's even a prize for winning so it playfully competitive as well. Launched in September 2007 it has taken place every month except for the wedding heavy month of December where it was decided that it would be best to give the quizzee's a break. The concept was simple and proved to be a winning formula as it offered Dhakaites a getaway from the usual dinners and desserts that define the word 'outing' for them. No longer would an outing merely be a simple meal, which they serve by the way, but it would be mixed with the concept of the pub quizzes of Europe and England.
The questions for the quiz are kept a tight secret as no more than three people source and check the questions and the answers. The culprit-in-chief is the quizmaster Farhan Quddus, one of the proprietors of the restuarant. Aside from merely being the voice that guides the quiz he is often the only man in the line of fire as on occasion the fact checked answers have been found out to be incorrect and he takes a brunt of the good natured banter from the crowd. The loneliness of the long distance quizmaster. He guides the show though its six rounds which takes one around the world and then back again. An excellent compare with a deep voice he can also occasionally be heard singing along during the music round.
The format is remarkably easy if only the questions were, the first round is the picture round which is not much of a challenge, but then again every round brings up a bogey or two and the people who get past the most banana skins usually end up winning. The second round of history serves up never before heard of people and places and tries its best to bemuse and bedazzle, and more often than not it is successful. The third round of entertainment is usually fun, full of pop culture references and some golden oldies people with an eye on the television should do reasonably well at this round, although it helps if you know the name of the Bionic Woman's character (pssst, its Jamie Sommers).
Then there is usually a break for a buffet dinner where the hungry brains must stuff them selves till there is no room left. On par with the dinner are the snacks served before the quiz even begins, along with sodas they tempt the stomach into what will be served later. The food is filling and good and a heavy bloated stomach is not the best way to head into the final few rounds of quizzing, but then again what can one do about it other than sit back and relax. Round four is sports and usually sticks to the tried and tested sports that we all generally know. The fifth round is general knowledge and this is where one of the trickiest yet, with teasers which will have one pulling out ones hair. The sixth and final music round is routinely the toughest of the lot, with some oldies no one has even heard of to Richard Wagner and Ride of the Valkyries.
At the end of the day people are competing for the coveted Viet Cong Pith Helmet, and the grand prize of Tk 12,000 along with runners up who get Tk 6000, not chump change at all. All of this the quizzing, the food and the atmosphere is available for a mere Tk 500 per person and with teams being as small as 2 members it is more than a relaxing way to spend an evening. These days with the competition taking off, teams have even made their way all the way from Chittagong and apparently even overseas. The place is small and cosy and teams get taken up fast, if you want to register a team I suggest you do it sooner rather than later. After its all said and done its good fun for friends and with loved ones, just don't get caught cheating with a cell phone or PDA, the quiz police are always watching!
(R) thedailystar.net 2008