So after that wonderful session with Sanjay Khare, which in turn was after that absolutely lovely session on branding with our CEO, they decided we've had enough lovely sessions for the day (I'm pretending that whole fiasco of overshooting our budget 3999 times didn't happen). And so, we were lugged in for the briefing on our Roman Holiday.
Now when we were being given the instructions, one guy in our team (our vice-captain) got all excited, and kept telling us to chill, and he'd tell us why he was getting so hyper and all that. When instruction time was over, we were shown our materials and he practically started hopping on one spot, singing, "Haan, we did this last year, no problem!" and "Ours was the winning design, the OE last year had told us that this is the optimum design!"
So with that kind of optimism brimming in the team, we charged into the game, all ready to win and crush our opponents like little bugs, slit their stomachs, ride over them in our charriots resplendent with the colours of war... er... sorry. Too much Percy Jackson for me (even though that's Greek mytho, same Gods, so big shit.) Anyhoo. So with all that confidence, we moved into the game, and the Vice-captain and I entered the arena to work on our machine. I was given a razor and told to get started on some cuts to be made on two bamboo sticks. Working industriously, I did so. Eventually, those cuts were not used. Heck, a lot of shit started to fall apart for us, with my eventual role as a stick holder, keeping one end of a stick in place with my foot while he did all the work. Not that I minded, I think I was just ruining things.
Anyhoo, ten minutes outside of time, we had a contraption that my vice-captain declared ready for use, but not one he'd be proud of. And so, without so much as a test run (I mention this because the team was damn kicked about it), we carried the contraption off to the playing field to see how it would fare. There was a nice list of criteria that had to be met by the design, including such points as:
- It must be free standing.
- It must be self propelled.
- It must not fall flat when you fire it causing your eternal embarrassment.
With a silent prayer, our brave VC pulled the trigger. With bated breath, we watched the tension in the elastic rubber bands set the ball in motion, as it was flung out of our contraption. Soaring through the air for what seemed in the little universes in our minds like minutes, it traversed the space-time continuum to land at a spot a fair distance away from us. In unison, the entire team began to rise, looking at each other with congratulatory and somewhat conspiratorial expressions, cheering ourselves. We were just about to start some natural, unrehearsed, primal dance of joy to make other teams jealous of us when we heard the magical word uttered by our OE.
Suddenly, the world of slow motion ceased to be. The dramatic lights and the Chariots of Fire theme in the background faded. The wheel rolled off our mighty chariot, the leading jockey fell off the horse, the model tripped on the runway halfway through her pout, the broadway star forgot his line, the VC and I almost collapsed onto our contraption. Together, we turned incedulously to our OE and said (still in unison, yeah, we were a pretty together team), "WHAT????" "Foul," he calmly repeated. "Your VC's foot was on that end of the catapult. The rules clearly state that the catapult must be free-standing." Of course, most of us had stopped listening long ago, angry and frustrated at (my best guess is) having given no input on this event whatsoever. Nonetheless, grudgingly, we resolved to make our remaining attempts.
Grumbling, and with sound and utterly unnecessary, unhelpful advice (yes, you know the type, everyone's got it at some point in their life) from our teammates (such pearls as,"Now be careful, haan? Don't put your foot there, okay?"), we set up our machine for the next throw. Two throws went without incident, and the best of two measurement came to a crushing 15.8 feet. To me, it looked more like 6 or 7, but heck, who am I to argue? We got the necessary bonus points, and somewhat pleased with our performance, headed out to dinner.
Dinner was (and I remember this for a reason, which you will all see soon) chinese food. Schezwan rice, some type of noodles, and a gravy dish I didn't venture near. As I ate the noodles, I realised I was eating some form of aperetif for starving bulimics. Moving on to the healthy serving of rice, I arrived at the positive conclusion that it was badly disguised pulao from the previous day (this is why I remember). Luckily I was saved from having to eat it by our then Director, now VP, let's call him Rat-a-tat-tat (because when he talks, it's like tommy gun fire) who, wrapped in a shawl, without footwear, and sporting a staff, asked me to make arrangements for a device usually accompanied by several drunk people.
What it was, why it was needed and what was done with it, will be made amply clear another day.