There was a time and place when there was nothing such as an intellectual snob, since many people had a good knowledge of literature, arts and politics but alas, those days when reading was the norm rather than exception are long past.
When I got the sobriquet from no one less than the Ustaad, I considered it a badge of honour than any thing else, a recognition of being unique….. Don’t worry, this will not be another diatribe against the self-absorbed and shallow people who thrive in today’s society – I will resist that, but a well-reasoned justification of what it takes to earn such a status – in a manner and format that will not be unduly cumbersome, and at the same time, allow you to see how well you, dear readers, measure up to these standards.
This is a set of …ummm, well, 29 questions that I challenege you to answer correctly and instantly – without referring to the internet – mind you, I acquired all this knowledge at a time when there were no shortcuts like these, and recourse to a good and comprehensive encyolopaedia was the only way to find out – and these were not all that accessible at every time and place.
There are also some trickies I faced in various quiz competitions I used to participate in my college and university days and I have taken the liberty of including them…. and do freely admit, I did not know the answers at that point in time.
So lets start with these set of questions that will span a broad gamut of human affairs and arts – I have tried to restrict myself to a single question on a particular topic and epoch, and some may even appear trivia – as part of the point of displaying the range of knowledge necessary. See how much you can answer
#1 Who was the Roman emperor who led his legions into what’s now Iraq?
#2 Who were the only two Nazis to be mentioned in Hitler’s Mein Kampf?
#3 Whom did the Battle of Ayn Jalut take place between, and who lost?
#4 In Holst’s Planets Suite, who is the bringer of peace?
#5 Who is the only real-life character to appear in the Tintin series under his name?
#6 Where in the world can you find the Colorado Party?
#7 Which Nobel Prize winning physicist played the bongo drums?
#8 Which notable Urdu poet was a member of India’s Constituent Assembly?
#9 Which 20th-century European statesman had a strong resemblance to Nietzsche, the philosopher?
#10 Which book of Martin Dibdin’s Aurelio Zen series takes Inspector Zen to Sicily?
#11 What key discovery did German scientist Martin Klaproth make?
#12 Which book begins with the line – “Call me Is…. (wait, I’ll make this more difficult). “Call me (son of Hagar)“ (that should do it)
#13 Which military operation did Minoru Genda plan?
#14 What did the Judgement of Paris ultimately lead to?
#15 “Jealous husbands. Outraged chefs. Humiliated tailors” might consider putting a contract for elimination of?
#16 The Three Pashas of the Ottoman Empire (and earlier prominent Young Turks) were Enver, Djemal and?
#17 Which languages can these “English” words be traced to – paradise, homage, mammoth, howitzer, marmalade, glitch, bonanza, yoghurt, talisman, vampire and umm… studio (less than seven not acceptable)
#18 Who was the only head of state of modern India to be assassinated?
#19 Which two real-life Urdu poets are shown in the film“Pyaasa”, going by their appearance and the poetry they recite?
#20 Which English cricketer was invited to become king of Albania?
#21 Who was the last American president to sport a beard?
#22 Who created the character of Prof Challenger, and which famous work did he debut in?
#23 In which sport is an all-metal shoe worn?
#24 Which two countries’ flags bear a map and a gun?
#25 In the 1967 film Bedazzled, where does the Devil despatch Lust, and what 1960s political scandal does it refer to?
#26 Which western film was utimately based by two stories by writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa?
#27 Which famous work of intrigue was, according to Flashman, based on his own adventures in Germany as documented in “Royal Flash”?
#28 Which pivotal character in the famous 1942 Hollywood film was inspired by Czech communist agent Otto Katz? (Hint: It was essayed by Paul Henreid)
#29 And finally the last. Which are the Sherlock Holmes stories which see the detective use a telephone, and travel in a car?