Edited by: Sharayu Shejale
Hear Ye, Hear Ye the Call of the Queen of Sheba!
Paint your face as the clown from ‘It’ and turn up at SAC.
Take a picture of a monkey drinking water from a tap.
Procure a 1000 rupee note post demonetization.
Have you heard the name Queen of Sheba being thrown around a little too frequently lately? Or caught wind of it on smail during a last-minute search for your quiz classroom? Or maybe the name keeps turning up on your cul-enthu friends’ WhatsApp stories?
When you bring up QoS to people there are two possible reactions you get. Either one gets a blank look followed by a vague recognition, or a sly, knowing smile hinting at the wild memories the name has evoked. So here’s a rundown of one of the biggest events in the LitSoc calendar for the uninitiated, the curious, or just the plain bored.
Who Exactly is the Queen of Sheba and What Does She Want?
Queen of Sheba (QoS) is the first Litsoc event in the calendar year, organised by the Informals Club. The event happens in two parts. The first part is a Pre-QoS event called Minizzo (not to be confused with Miniso, the cute Japanese store at Phoenix) that happens for 3-4 days before the final event. This is a small item hunt with a list of about 4-5 objects that the hostels have to find and present on the final day.
The second and main part of QoS is the day where all the action happens. Usually falling on a Sunday, it runs the whole day from about 8 AM in the morning to 9 PM at night. This year it is happening on the 15th of September. This part takes place over three rounds. The first round is a treasure hunt. Though not as elaborate as the all-day Litsoc treasure hunt, but with the same feels nonetheless, it runs for about 3 to 4 hours in the morning. The organisers put up markers, usually crosses, in different places all around insti. Each team needs to solve the clues, pose at the location, and send the picture in. The first team to crack all the clues gets bonus points.
The second round, called Mezzo runs all afternoon until about 6 pm in the evening. In this event, each hostel will be given a list of tasks – each more bizarre and random than the next. Hostels have engaged in missions to procure toothbrushes with one bristle, catch mosquitoes alive, try and scam away metro tokens, price tags, and even shopping trolleys. Sometimes they have had to travel back in time to get old first-day first show movie tickets, pogo sticks, and even typewriters! Ever fancied doing Ring-a-Ring-a-roses in the metro? Or Gangnam style at good old Bessie’s? Completing a Mezzo list might be the best time to do just that, or something equally, if not more, embarrassing.
This round is also where a lot of strategising occurs. “The optimisation aspect of second round is very high! We will have a person sitting in sort of a control room with a google sheet marking all the questions, checking whether they are done or not and keeping track of how many are left to do. They even allot priority to tasks on the basis of point division. A lot of planning goes behind the scenes in this round”, a QoS veteran notes.
The final round, called Apogee, is a battle of numbers. Hostel secretaries have to bring the maximum number of people from their hostel for this final event to SAC. Points are allotted based on the percentage turnout from each hostel. It doesn’t take much to contribute to this round. All one has to do is turn up at SAC and back one’s hostel in the shout-out and booing battle. So all you have to do is set your devices aside, rush to SAC and cheer for your hostel. Oh, wait! And on the way drag along every other person you know.
There is no specific talent one needs for QoS. All you need is energy (the tasks are tiring), enthu and some crazy. How else do you think hostels manage to complete all the tasks the ‘Majesty’s Advisors’ come up with’? Sane thinking?
Why Queen of Sheba?
According to the Bible, The Queen of Sheba was an Ethiopian Queen (Editor’s note: apologies for our ethnically incorrect depiction on the poster) who visited the Israeli king Solomon in Jerusalem carrying caravans filled with treasures and valuable gifts. Legend has it that she also brought along a set of riddles to test his wit. King Solomon managed to answer all the questions and impress the Queen of Sheba that day.
Named after her, the present-day event has hostels battling it out to please Her Majesty by fulfilling all her demands. The event has been happening for at least the past 7-8 years. Although no one knows exactly when it started, people are confident that it is a legacy of the insti-sphere.
The Queen’s Subjects – The Advisors, the Secretaries, and the Hostels
The people behind this mammoth of an event, are the convenors and coordinators of the Informals Club. Grandly calling themselves ‘Her Majesty’s Advisors’, they begin planning weeks in advance. Considering the huge chunk of LitSoc points at stake, the Advisors operate under the utmost secrecy, often losing sleep worrying about being spied on by particularly enterprising LitSecs.
Speaking of LitSecs, hostel secretaries are known to do anything to get an edge. Sabotage, threats, and coercion become the norm as the events get more competitive. Given the tradition that the hostel that wins QoS ultimately goes on to win LitSoc, the stakes are even higher. Each hostel as an action plan. There is a control room of sorts set up in some hostels where the physically disinclined people wring their brains to come up with answers for the clues. These are then transmitted to the on-ground team who then attack (sometimes, quite literally!). A very integral part of QoS are the deals between hostels. Hostels sometimes buy more of the items which are hard to find and trade them for stuff they couldn’t find. Towards the end, as it becomes obvious which hostels belong in the race, it is more about pulling your rivals down. Teams in the lead make use of this, to trade items that put them in the first place by giving in return something with just enough points to give a hostel the lead over another.
But all said and done, apart from the LitSoc points head start that it provides (a whopping 35 points), QoS is ultimately about bringing everyone in the hostel together. “Hostels fight for pride, to show that they have the most support! …the euphoria one gets on winning lasts the whole year and drives you through all the other LitSoc events” says the LitSec of the defending champions, Jamuna. Also, there’s nothing quite like trying to catch three mosquitoes alive that binds people together for life. So on the day of the event, the hostel secretaries ready their arsenal, dispatch sentries on missions, decide how much they are willing to spend and jugaad their way through events.
“You have to do jugaad to win. The list is designed like that. That is what differentiates your hostel from other hostels” remarks another hostel LitSec. He also goes on to say that it was the enthusiasm he saw in his seniors that motivated him to take part in the event. “They were rushing about in cycles and I thought to myself, I also have a cycle, water and nothing better to do! I might as well join them”. He adds that after one round was over and as word spread more people turned up for the next rounds.
The Queen might be demanding but she sure makes memories for life. For instance, who can forget walking into the ITC Grand Chola in shorts and T-shirts, drenched in sweat and faithfully wearing helmets? After somehow getting past the guards, you now have to go to the reception and convince them to give you ITC soaps that they give in the hotel rooms. Well, the Queen needs the best toiletries, after all.
These and many more stories are the royal guarantee. And if these anecdotes aren’t impressive enough, go out there this Sunday and make some of your own – the Queen of Sheba summons!