The Telegraph
Monday , February 17 , 2014
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Rain-soaked search for city’s riches

clue hunt beats cloud cover

The best way to overcome rainy day blues is to hit the road.

Thanks to The Telegraph Huntage, my friends and I even got to solve puzzles and explore the city’s heritage on the way.

The Telegraph Huntage, partnered by Club Verde Vista and Club Ecovista by Conclave and co-sponsored by Maruti Suzuki Celerio, took off from Club Verde Vista early on Sunday morning. There were more than 375 participants in 102 cars.

The rules were simple: each team, travelling by car, would be given a leaflet with clues for eight heritage sites in the city. The team that reached the most spots within a specified time would win.

It was easier said than done. “Ingram, 100-(52x2)= ? sailors, Persian, white tower of 100 ft,” was our first clue.

Blank. We did not even know where to begin. Soon my team-mate Souvik Chakravarti had one phone between his ear and shoulder and another in his hands, on which he googled. He woke up friends, relatives and acquaintances from their Sunday sleep-in and made bizarre enquiries. I tried to keep my calm and drive.

Oh! Did I mention that the third member of my team had got stuck in the rain and failed to arrive. We were to pick up Abhijit Palchowdhury on the way.

Our only guess for that first poser was Shaheed Minar. We wasted precious minutes encircling it several times but found no Huntage check post. We left this clue unanswered and moved on.

Later, we learnt that the answer was the Lascar War Memorial, which is a tower of Persian architecture built by architect William Ingram Keir as a memorial to the 896 sailors who died in World War I. This was the difficulty level of most of the questions.

We needed backup. We clicked a picture of the leaflet with the clues and sent it over WhatsApp to a couple of friends who started working on them.

Then we had a breakthrough. A friend, Debuda, had studied the clue: “Lutheranism, Madhusudan to Michael, 244 years old, Swedish Padre” and called back to say that it would be Old Mission Church, the place poet Michael Madhusudan Dutt was baptised. But we just could not find the place. We roamed in circles around Tiretta Bazar but could not locate the church.

By now our brainstorming was punctuated by sounds of coughing, sneezing and blowing noses. The car would get too cold if the AC was switched on, and we would get wet if the windows were rolled down. If we kept the windows shut they got foggy and reduced visibility.

We saw other Huntage cars on the road and realised that the rain had washed off the stickers numbering them.

The weather had kept people indoors. There was no one to ask for directions and we still needed to find Old Mission Church.

So we called Justdial and got the church’s number. We called them up, confirmed that there was a check post outside their premises, took directions and breezed through.

“Ramakrishna, disciple, theatre renaissance and island home” first had us thinking on the lines of Swamiji’s ancestral house but later we headed, correctly, to the late playwright Girish Chandra Ghosh’s home.

The event ended at Ecospace in New Town where my team reached after cracking three of the eight questions.

We felt slightly better after learning that only seven teams out the 102 that participated managed to crack all clues, and that even fewer did it on the clock. Lunchtime was spent talking to other teams about missed chances.

At the prize distribution ceremony, winners received attractive trophies, shaped like wheels, from Pramod Ranjan Dwivedi, who heads group real estate marketing and customer care, Ambuja Neotia, and Bikram Banerjee, director hospitality operations, Ambuja Neotia Hospitality Group.

“Last year this event had 92 cars... this year it’s 102. We’re glad to see the event grow and happy to be associated with it,” said Banerjee.

The rain could not after all mar the excitement of participants like us. It was a Sunday well spent.