Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Asian Union Debating Championships

Friday, 19th May.

This is an entry I've written over my few days here, so allow it time. Its going to be a long one.

Landing in Manila was almost like being at home. The same lines at immigration, the same white on blue signs at the airport, the same familiar grime around town, I was back in the third world again. And it actually felt great. Ten minutes into the cab journey to the campus hotel at University of Philippines Diliman, where we were being put up, I saw Gulmohar Trees and pretty much went into raptures of joy.

Manila, of the little I’ve seen of it so far is very similar to home. The houses are all low lying bungalows; the streets are nice and wide, with cracked concrete sidewalks and cars aplenty. The sidewalks really differentiate first and third world countries, when I come to think of it. Go to Singapore, and each is impeccably maintained, with not a crack uncovered, and defined edges. Waver away, to a regular street in the third world, and you see the effects of a lack of maintenance sink in.

What was also reassuring was the Filipino currency, the Peso, which is a little weaker than the rupee. If that isn’t amazing enough, things are actually a little cheaper in pesos than they would be in rupees, especially when one is eating out. You can pig out at a decent restaurant for less than 300 pesos, a fond dream now in Delhi.

Coming to the food. My first meal in Manila was at a restaurant called Max’s, A place that styled itself as the one stop shop for fried chicken. That pretty much sums up most Filipino food. It is fried. It is meat. It is usually pork or beef. Vegetables are in very short supply, and the few vegetarians at the tournament have been given wry smiles and been told to get a life. Well, its not that bad, but I’m sure that’s what they’re thinking, deep down inside. The flight had the option of a beef, or fish meal thus confirming what I had been told about what Filipinos consider to be vegetarian. Clearly, fish is not considered to be meat.

I, being one of adventurous persuasion, had some of the local foodstuff at Max’s, rather than wimp out and have something as boring as a Fried Chicken Set.

The first thing I tried was Kare Kare, a meat stew. The meat was oxtail and what I think was lamb, the oxtail was very chewy, but the lamb was nice and succulent. The stew was a thick peanut based curry, which tasted somewhat like satay sauce, but with a much smoother texture and consistency. The peanut base was offset by an accompanying shrimp sauce, and the combination of the two made for quite an enjoyable curry. However, the fact the entire thing was made out of a whole lot of peanut sauce, cooked in meat dripping with animal fat and topped over by a rich shrimp sauce, I don’t think the entire thing was the healthiest food experience of my life. But god knows I need some meat on me, I just hope it goes outside, and doesn’t clog up my arteries.

The other dish I tried was Chicken Sisig, which I was later told was a wimped out version of the real Sisig(Seasick), which is a bunch of pigs entrails deeply fried. Did I mentioned how everything seems to be deeply fried? So anyhow, it was deeply fried chicken, nice and crispy, in little bits. The thing was quite well flavoured and not exceptionally oily (I think they burnt off all the oil) and was well drenched in Calamansi.

Calamansi is a native Filipino fruit belonging to the lemon family. Its juice is like having the most ultimate Nimbu Pani (Lemonade) you will ever try, there’s pretty much everything right about it. I’ve got to pick me up some before I leave. But more on food in later posts.

The Tournament

Day one of the tournament was adjudication test day, so we laggardly debaters had officially nothing to do till the opening ceremony in the evening. This, of course, didn’t stop us from debating.

We, as I have mentioned, have been put up in the UP D Campus hotel, which is strange considering that the tournament is being held in Ateneo De Manila University. Oddities aside, it gave us the opportunity to spar with a few of the local teams, including UDP, and DLSU. One notices that the campus is similar in maintenance and design to Delhi University, and one realizes just how little publicly funded universities in these two respective countries have to get along on.

Sadly, the teams we were sparring with could not arrange for rooms, so we debated two rounds on benches in the corridors of the College of Economics. The temperatures range from hot to searing hot and the College for some reason didn’t have a single water cooler. Not the best of combinations, to cut a long story short. Two debates later, we were sweaty and dehydrated, and one realizes how spoilt one has got sitting in the air conditioned environs of Singapore. At any rate, it’s good conditioning for the hours of power cuts I’m going to have to face shortly.

With sparring done with, one attended the Opening Ceremony, which was quite a drag. Far from the wonton drunkenness one generally expects at a gathering of college students, it was quite a somber sober affair, because everyone is strangely sensible enough not to get sloshed the day before the first two rounds of debating.

20th May

It Begins

Day one of AUDC, 86 odd teams from a good few Asian countries; with representatives (debaters) from a myriad more. The CA, Jess Lopez announces the tabs and our first motion, predictably The Middle East. My team was thrilled; we had spent the night discussing the political situation in Israel, Palestine and Iran and were well set for the first round. We were also set for what was to be the second round of the debate, Pornography, because Alvin and Joey insisted on watching very disturbing Japanese Animation. It was at that point last night that I had to vacate my room and look for…less deviant pastures. But I digress.

The first team we faced was from De la Salle University, a very good Filipino institution.

To cut a long and arduous story short, we won. We also won the next one, and as I write on the 21st, we’ve won the third one as well. I’m now 3-0 up, and need to win at least 2 more rounds to break into the elimination rounds.


At the end of our third round, we discover that we’ve been given a loss instead of a win in our first round, due to a fuck up with the tallying of team scores. The initial diagnosis is that, to maintain the tabs instead of having to redo the last two rounds, they’re going to keep us on the loss, and the other team with the win. We’re suddenly faced with the realization that we’re now going to have to win pretty much all our debates to have any chance of getting into the top half of the break.

Bouncing back

Faced with the task of effectively being a loss down, and being in a weaker room than we should have, thus lowering our speaker scores, we go into each round needing to win. I hate to get clich├ęd and horrible sports movie like at this point, but our resolve never falters. We win our third and fourth rounds convincingly. In our fourth round, we’re back in a high scoring room, and meet Ateneo D. In one of the best debates I’ve ever had, we defeat them convincingly, by winning our principle issues. The adjudication, by Ateneo’s Sir Martin Cortez (the Sir is actually a part of his name, in Philippines it is not uncommon to have males called Sir and females called Princess) was the best I’ve ever had; it outlined each issue lucidly and succinctly.

An Old Bogey

We drew NTU A in round six of the tabs, the last round of a grueling 4 round day. NTU A between them has over 12 years of debating experience, their whip, one of the best in the tournament, has been for 6 international tourneys, and reached the finals of last year’s AUDC. To cut a long and simple story short, we were outclassed, and lost that round. We now were in a must win situation for the last round of the preliminaries, as 5-2 was the cut-off for breaking.

22nd May

Reprieve at last

Just before the final preliminary round, an ad-hoc council meeting was conducted to vote on whether or not we should be given our deserved win on the tabs. The tab-in-charge for the tournament, Kaushik, made the case that the unfairness of the tab would have corrected itself after one round, as a difficult team would have bumped our opponents lower, and meeting an easy team would have taken us quickly a level higher, thus removing the ultimate difference on tabs. 19 of the 30 council members bought the logic of the affair, and the vote fell in our favor, to much cheer. We were no longer cheated of our win, but we still had to prove ourselves. A win in the last round would seal our break, regardless of the extra point or not. With our final round against Assumption A (The Thai university where the 2008 Worlds will be held), we stamped a victory home by a clear margin, and broke on 6-1.

Break Night!

With the preliminaries over, we headed back to our “hotel”, to get ready to go to DISH, a nightclub where the Break Night Party was to be held. It incredibly started only an hour later than actually scheduled, due to the delay caused by the council meeting. The band performing was incredible, and did some excellent covers of Iris, One and…umm…Crawling(a band quite clearly with a wide repertoire). At half past eleven, the Chief Adjudicator took the stage to announce the break. Breaking sixth in the tournament, on 6-1, SMU-A.


On actual physical duress I was made to down a shot of tequila. I am never doing that again. Why people would subject themselves to a drink that actually scalds your throat and leaves it crying out for a lemon, or anything to take the pain away, I do not understand. The single shot also failed to get me high, forget drunk. For that, I thank my Punjabi constitution, for I’ve heard of people passing out on a shot, or at least being high enough to do incredibly stupid things. But then, there are those also who get tipsy on a glass of wine. Thus the entire point of the experience eludes me. Some of the NTU guys were getting high to loosen their inhibitions on the dance floor, and since I am naturally inclined towards making a complete and utter ass of myself, I have no such inhibitions in the first place. What I don’t have, sadly, is a fallback of liquor to blame it on.

On the point of NTU’s loosened inhibitions, one of the funnier sights one will see in life is a bunch of Tam-Bram engineers mildly drunk and attempting to dance. Sadly, I can understand why they need the hooch to blame it on. One realizes that Bhaiyya would have seen his fare share of the same at IIM-Bangalore. Gawd bless em’ all.

On Filipino Girls

A touchy topic best saved for another day.

That's all for now, folks. I have my Octofinals and maybe quarterfinals tomorrow, depending on how I do, and my free time is over. Must get back to prepping. Wish me luck, once more.

1 comment:

ballsy said...

way to go, bhavya! you guys have done us proud :) i'm really glad your debut international tourney went so well :)

u had tequila! HAH! i knew u had it in you! :P