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Sreeram Madhavan V and Paul Binu forged ahead despite the devastation wrought by the floods on their neighborhoods, friends and family.

Two Kerala boys from flood-hit Thrissur win India Todays Newswiz
news School Wednesday, November 07, 2018 - 13:27

Renowned journalist Rajdeep Sardesai introduced two boys from Kerala as the ‘good news’ of the day. Sreeram Madhavan V and Paul Binu from Thrissur had then made it to the finals of the quiz show called Newswiz, hosted by India Today.

Last Thursday, they came back to their school, Bhavan’s Vidyamandir, Poochatty, to a warm reception from mates and teachers as winners of the show. What has made their victory such an inspiring story is the timing of the quiz – these two tenth-graders went at a time when Kerala was just surfacing from the havoc wrought by the devastating floods.

Rajdeep had said, “When Kerala was swept by the worst floods in the century this year, it was the heroic resilience of the people of the state that stood out. Newswiz 2018 witnessed an example of this never-say-no attitude. Two young boys from a school that was under water and used as a relief centre have now reached the finals.”

Though it's not the first quiz they have won together, it is the largest. “It is the first time we won a national-level quiz,” Sreeram tells TNM.

The partnership began three year ago when they were in seventh standard. Sreeram was looking for a partner who had some knowledge in music to attend a heritage quiz. Paul, he knew, was classically trained.

“I have learnt Carnatic music for 10 years, till my voice cracked and I took a break. I have also learnt the mridangam for four years,” Paul says.

That was Paul’s first quiz but Sreeram had been quizzing for two years before that. “My dad was one of the best quizzers in his college days. I must have got it from him,” he says.

They won that heritage quiz, and came first in the district level and second in the state. “We were in seventh while our competitors were tenth graders,” Sreeram says. After that they won quite a few quizzes including The Hindu Young World Quiz, All Kerala Inter School Quiz, among others.

Sreeram and Paul with Rajdeep Sardesai

When the floods hit Thrissur, the boys saw the catastrophic effect on their neighbourhoods, friends and relatives. Their school was not functioning anymore. It had turned into a relief centre. Paul and his parents would do relief work, take food to hospitals and other centres.

Both Sreeram and Paul were sure that come what may, they would somehow attend the quiz. But they were in for a shock when they sat down together to take the online test, the first step to qualify for the quiz. “I went to Sreeram’s house and we were all set to do the quiz which would start at 5 pm on the dot. But then something went wrong and the web page just froze, it wouldn’t respond. By the time we got it working, we lost a good 20 minutes. Even then we managed to answer all 35 questions and got only one wrong,” Paul says.

The next difficult moment came during the end of the prelims when three teams ended up in a tie. “A tiebreaker question came and another team pressed the buzzer. But they got it wrong. Next, Paul pressed the buzzer and he got it right,” Sreeram says.

The question was an image of a person skydiving from a plane, holding a placard in his hands. The message on the placard was not clear. They had to identify who the message was for.

“The correct answer was Narendra Modi, it was his birthday that week,” Sreeram explains.

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