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The Questions from The Arun Veembur Memorial Quiz on all things Asian. A written quiz for two-member teams held in Bangalore, Chennai, Kerala, Goa, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune,New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati and Ahmedabad.
The Arun Veembur Memorial Quiz
Rules: 100 points + occasional bonuses
1. Section I: 30 X 1-pointers=30 points
2. Section II: 30 X 2-pointers=60 points
3. Section III: Two themes
4 X 1-pointers+1 for theme=5 points
4X1-pointers+1 for theme=5 points
No halves anywhere
30 questions carrying 1 point each
Started by Yo-Yo Ma, this ensemble uses various instruments
from the area, including a pipa, a duduk, and a morin khuur,
among others. Name the ensemble –the choice of
instruments should tell you to take a historical guess.
Iran’s professional racing car driver, Laleh Seddigh, is
the only female driver who has been given permission
by the authorities to race with the men. Her
nickname, ‘Little ___________________, refers to which
sporting great ?
It is the oldest of its kind in China, and was put up in
996 AD, during the rule of the Liao dynasty. It is usually
called the Niujie, after the Beijing area where it is
located. Look at the two views, and tell us what it is.
Which real-life person have all of them played
on screen ?
It is said to be the ‘oldest living city on Earth’. This
might be a difficult claim to verify, but it is widely
believed the site has been continually inhabited for
about 7000 years. The principal architectural marvel of
the city is this square where Taiiyeh, a cycle of
passion plays commemorating the martyrdom of the
third Imam, Hossein were enacted. Name the city.
This crime thriller features a villain, Ausi, who is a gifted spin
bowler. The character is loosely based on the real-life Omar
Saeed Sheikh, a jihadi convicted of killing whom ?
Created by the French luxury furniture company, Roche Bobois,
and designed by Hans Hopfer, what is the name given to this
iconic sofa ? Use the book on the right as clue.
Considered to be the first armoured ships, these were used
by the Royal Korean Navy during the Joseon dynasty from
the early 15th century up until the 19th century. Their most
distinguishable feature was a dragon-shaped head at the bow
that could launch cannon fire or flames from the mouth.
Which animal is referenced in the name given to these
In 2012, Shinichi Mochizuki released a series of four papers,
running to 500 pages, containing a claim to a proof of
the ___ conjecture in number theory proposed by Joseph
Oesterlé and David Masser. The official declaration of the proof
is not expected before the late 2010s as the experts are still
validating it. Mochizuki has estimated that it would take an
expert some 500 hours to understand his work, and a maths
graduate student about ten years. So far, only four
mathematicians say that they have been able to read the entire
proof. Fill up the blank that consists of three consecutive letters
of the English alphabet.
The plot of this series is built around a historic event –
the Siege of Baghdad by Mongols in 1258. During the
battle, so many books were thrown into the Tigris River
that the waters were said to have turned black with
ink. What the Mongols did not know was that the
librarians, the huras al-hikma, had hidden the library’s
ancient knowledge in several mystical gemstones,
called the Noor Stones. The huras then took the Noor
Stones to safety in Granada. Cut to the present and
these stones are possessed by young folks who hold
special powers. Which series ?
The Government of a certain country plans to
launch a website to crowd-source tips on the
whereabouts of about 200 missing artworks that
were owned by a person who left abruptly nearly
30 years ago.
This includes paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso,
Rembrandt, Monet, Alfred Sisley,
Raphael, Botticelli, Canaletto, and Michelangelo.
Who owns/owned these artworks ?
Every year the Tenggerese Hindu worshippers gather at the
crater of Mount Bromo during the Yadnya Kasada Festival on
Aug. 1, 2015, in Probolinggo, East Java, Indonesia. Offerings
of food and livestock or money are made to Hindu gods at the
active volcano to ask for blessings and assure a bountiful
The name Bromo is derived from the Javan pronunciation of
A Common Man is a 2013 thriller film starring Ben Kingsley
and Ben Cross and directed by Lankan filmmaker Chandran
Rutnam. The film is an official remake of __ ____________,
with the locations of interest being a public bus, a shopping
mall, Polgoda police station, an intercity train, and
the Katukurunda Airfield. Fill in the blanks,
Inspired by the author’s childhood, The Sandwich
Swap tells of two girls, Lily and Salma, who are best
friends. They share everything except lunch. One has a
peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the other a hummus
and pita sandwich, and they both think the other’s
food looks “gross”! They argue over this and it gets a
little bit messy, but eventually they overcome their
differences and embrace diversity. The book was a
New York Times bestseller, reaching the number one
spot for children’s books in 2010. Name the author
who is a first lady.
Whose collaborations with Louis Vuitton, Kanye West
and Pharell Williams ?
The point of dispute was whether the 30-year-old celebrity
and her husband-to-be, a billionaire businessman, should
have the airspace above their 2015 nuptials at a resort
(shown below) closed to all but a fleet of five drones, two
helicopters and a hot air balloon. The request by the couple
sparked a series of public recriminations between the
transport minister, and the aviation authority head.
Name the celebrity.
The stamp pays tribute to a species that takes part of its name
from the only peninsula in Asia where it is found, and part from
a Greek word meaning ‘pick-axe’, a reference to its pointed
horns. What is the two-word name?
Kenji Ekuan, the designer behind the Kikkoman soy
sauce bottle, has written a book-length essay about a
Visually it offers a mandala for contemplation, while
its four-part structure may also remind the user of the
seasons, or even variations of landscape in the
archipelago. It highlights system as a means of
problem-solving, and symbolises a culture where
limited space calls for the elimination of excess.
What is this artifact?
The Mongols relied on a borrowed innovation which
allowed them the stability to shoot in any direction.
As Paul Theroux puts it, “The Mongols reached the
eastern limits of China. They rode to Afghanistan.
They rode to Poland. They sacked Moscow, Warsaw
and Vienna. They had X--they introduced X to
Europe (and in that they made jousting possible, and
perhaps started the Age of Chivalry).“
What was this innovation X?
The objects shown here have the dual function of celebrating
agriculture and harvest, and serving as reminder of days of
wandering. One of them requires close scrutiny for beauty.
In which festival?
Those who appear in this ad campaign should have been
actual users. They get no payment—but donations to their
favourite charities, and discounts on future visits.
It is a campaign of many firsts. When it was launched in 2000,
it was the first to be shot digitally. The baseline refers to the
logo, and to the great loyalty the celebrity feels to the
Those who’ve appeared in the campaign include Sophie
Marceau and Michelle Yeoh, fashion designers Vivienne Tam
and Christian Louboutin, author Frederick Forsyth, architect
I.M. Pei, musicians Bryan Ferry and Hélène Grimaud and
actress Caterina Murino. Campaign for whom?
What buzzword, often heard in connection with doing
business in China, do these characters represent?
The term generally denotes a “shaking off”, as in dust
from one’s feet, or water off one’s back.
Apart from the three specific events of 1987, 2000
and 2014-15 to which it is applied, it may also be
used to describe events in Lebanon following Rafiq
Harari’s assassination that led to Syria pulling out.
It has also been used for the 1991 uprisings against
Saddam in Iraq, and for the successful bits of the
Arab Spring. What term?
Leonid Kulik, who led the first team to reach the
location in 1927, found that locals did not want to
talk, in spite of the many years that had passed. They
believed that the 1908 event was a visitation by the
angry god Ogdy.
The team eventually described their arrival at ground
zero in the evocative phrase ‘a forest of telephone
poles’. Limbs and bark had been ripped off the trees
in this area.
Her stage-name illustrates the interplay of ethnicities
in the region. Born Faegeh Atashin, her parents were
of Azeri origin, from the former Soviet Union. The
stage-name comes from a childhood playmate of
Armenian origin. She couldn’t legally take the name
because it was a boy’s name, but could perform
using it. What is this name?
They began in 1986, and were first held at a city that
had also hosted the Olympics. The next edition, in
2017, will be held in the same city. Either name the
city or identify what we are talking about.
30 questions carrying 2 points each
For Chinese college going students, succeeding in
the Gaokao entrance examination is compared to
this Asian fish jumping over the Dragon Gate.
According to myth when this fish in the Yellow River
jump over the Dragon Gate (which is a grand
waterfall), they transform into dragons. Identify this
fish. Also name the fictional character based on the
same fish (part of a hugely popular card game and
In a room in the hotel shown below, which Booz Allen
analyst talked to Laura Poitras over a period of 8 days
and what resulted ?
Overlooking the Alborz Mountains, this region is
known as the ‘Valley of the _____’. The lady on the right
brought attention to the region through her travels
and a book she wrote in 1934. Fill up the blank and
name the lady.
The creator took down his popular game from
Apple's App Store and Google Play in 2014 with this
Twitter message : "I am sorry ‘___ ____' users, 22 hours
from now, I will take ‘____ ___' down. I cannot take this
anymore.“ However, he came back with a new game
later in the year called Swing Copters. Name the
creator and fill up the blanks.
Considered the most formidable spy of all time by Tom Clancy
and Ian Fleming, he was the leader of a Tokyo Spy Ring in the
mid-1930s, passing on information to Soviet Union. But his
brilliant spying career came to an end in 1941, when Japanese
counterintelligence exposed his operation and arrested him,
along with 34 members of his ring. He was finally hanged in
1944. Soviet Union issued a stamp in his honor – a rarity for a
spy. A) Name him B) Name the manga creator who used the
spy as part of his book Adolf.
Who connects all these Asian clubs and which Asian
club is missing from the list ?
These strange-looking trees are endemic to which island
on the Arabian Sea ? Which country is this island a part of ?
The IATA code for this airport is still SGN—
it hasn’t changed to reflect shifts of
political power or ideology.
Which city? Explain what this is about.
When Granta asked him to write a piece about how to write
about his country, he produced a list which began
a) must have mangoes,
b) must have maids who serve mangoes, and
c) Maids must have affairs with men who steal mangoes.
Who is this author?
The title of this book of essays riffs on a famous 1929 book’s
title. Name the author of that book as well.
Originally applied as a racial term in Roman times for
those from the Mauretania region, it exists in English
as well now.
A form of the word is today applied in an Asian
country to people from Sulu and Palawan, who
happen to be connected by ethnicity but separated
What is the English term?
Name either the Asian country, or the term used
Two excerpts from the volume Memory for Forgetfulness, his
response to the traumatic events of 1982.
“The sky of X is a huge dome made of dark sheet metal. The
horizon is like a slate of clear gray, nothing coloring it save the
playful jets. … I can, if I want, take chalk in hand and write whatever
I wish on the slate. A whim takes hold of me. What would I write if I
were to go up to the roof of a tall building? “They shall not pass”?
It’s already been said. “May we face death, but long live the
homeland”? That’s been said before. “Hiroshima”? That too has
been said. The letters have all slipped out of my memory and
fingers. I’ve forgotten the alphabet. All I remember are these six
letters _ _ _ _ _ _.
“Yet how she resists the joining together of words, even those with
similar meter and rhyme: _ _ _ _ _ _, yaqoot, taboot—“: _ _ _ _ _ _,
sapphire, coffin!”: Name the writer. Also identify the city.
The name comes from a local word for ‘grinding’ and refers to
a process of slow cooking, accompanied by non-stop
The combination of coconut milk and spices like garlic,
galangal, turmeric leaves, lemongrass and ginger serves to
preserve the meat from microbial action.
What is this name? Also identify the Indonesian
community who perfected this method.
When the New York Times asked her about
this trademark preference, she said it is a
gesture she makes in honor of her
assassinated father, who was killed in 1947,
when she was 2 years old. She apparently
remembers him threading them in the head for
Who? What preference is this?
They take their name from the Greek for “rose
tree”. Which country’s flag, by
specification, must match the red of these
Small groups are found in the river Mahakam of Indonesian
Borneo, the Mekong Delta of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
They are also reported in isolated brackish-water bodies, such
as Chilka Lake in India and Songkhla Lake in Thailand. The
species name brevirostris refers to the rather short beak that it
The French term for this species is also the name for the
zero-emission ship designed by the firm Wallenius
Wilhelmsen. This craft use sails, solar panels and wave
energy converters to further extract hydrogen from water with
the aid of fuel cell technology. Visual follows.
Which species? What is the alternative term?
A famous prisoner once quoted these lines while talking about
how he found the Himalayas inspiring:
“Flocks of birds have flown high and away
A solitary cloud too has gone wandering on
And I sit alone with the Ching Ting peak towering beyond
We never grow tired of each other the mountain and I.”
The poet who wrote these lines used a name meaning ‘White
Plum’. A later poet who admired his gifts, wrote under the pen-
name Tosei, meaning “Green Peach”, in tribute.
Identify both poets, and for a bonus point, name the
Smoked Omul fish and Baltica beer are one of the
cheaper ways of dealing with the rigours of
confinement, according to regulars. The Omul is
found only in one water-body. Regulars where? And
where is the Omul normally found?
The one ascending bears a name meaning ‘black’, and the
other is known by a name meaning ‘parent’ because of its
high nutrient content. Their encounter produces conditions
that make life livable , in more ways than one, in the entire
region. What are we talking about?
Two views of a tomb devoted to a writer who may have
defined his nation’s sense of self. The tomb is located in a
town where the Imam Reza was martyred, and where a king
with a connection to India based his capital. Name the writer
and the town or the king with the India connection.
The area in dark green was traditionally known by a name
meaning ‘barrier’, while the other, marked in light green, was
known by a name meaning ‘raised’, perhaps because it was
dominated by a plateau. These names continued to be
bandied about among students of world affairs til the 1930s.
What are these two names?
What you see is the poster for a Russian version of a 1959 socialist epic,
titled Jaago Hua Savera. Directed by AJ Kardar, with cinematography by
Walter Lassally, and music by Timir Baran, it was a West-meets-East
venture in more ways than one. This resulted in its being a bit of a
linguistic flop, according to some, though it was the first film from this
country to win international recognition—at the Moscow Film Festival.
Who wrote the script and the dialogues for this film? And what well-
known novel was it based on?
While the two terms refer to unrelated items from
neighbouring cuisines, they may be etymologically
One school holds that a Pali term for bringing
disparate elements together is the source, while
another believes that a Tamizh word meaning ‘to
grind and make a paste out of’ is the link.
In English, the two terms usually have at least
their first four letters in common. Name both.
Who does this stamp pay tribute to? What
event does it also refer to?
This community forms one of the stray remnants of a
once-proud religious and intellectual tradition. They
are found in small numbers today in Iran and Iraq,
and take their name from the Aramaic word for
They are usually a persecuted religious minority
since they choose to revere Adam, Seth, Noah, but
don't accept Abraham, Moses or Jesus as authority-
figures. Name the community. What Greek
equivalent of the Aramaic term would once have
been applied to them?
In tribute to Abu Jafar Mohammad ibn Musa, a statue with his
visage stands outside the Mohammad Aminkhan Madrasa,
named after the ruler who had the ambition of building the
biggest Madrasa in Central Asia.
How do we know Abu Jar ibn Musa better? Which city in
Central Asia paid tribute to him thus?
He won the James Tait Black prize in 2015 for his first novel In
the Light of What We Know. Characters in the book share a
fascination for this idea: "Within any given system, there are
claims which are true but which cannot be proven to be true.”
Reviewing the novel in The New Yorker, James Wood wrote
that this elegant proof hangs over the novel like an intellectual
Name the writer. How do we better know this idea?
This dainty creature is both the logo and the shape and name
of the award given out at a film festival held religiously every
year from 1 Feb to 11 Feb in honour of events precipitated by
the arrival of an Air France flight in 1979.
Which film festival? What is the award/logo based on?
And for bonuses, what did Air France do?
The partnership between this actor-director duo began with a
2009 film that takes its title from a rite of passage that involves
making a journey .
Name either actor or director. Also name the 2009 film.
For bonuses, name the martial art style that their films
brought international recognition to.
The 19-century strategist who coined the term meant it to
apply only to modern Iran.
Valentine Chirol, who made it popular, applied the term to Iran,
Iraq, the east coast of Arabia, Afghanistan, and Tibet.
Around World War I, as a survey of Churchill’s letters might
reveal, the term indicated the Suez Canal, Sinai, Arabia, and
the newly created states of Iraq, Palestine, and Trans-Jordan.
What term? Who was the strategist who coined it?
He writes under the name Shobashakti. His autobiographical
first novel, Gorilla, features an alter-ego named Rocky Raj
who lives in a European city, washes dishes in fast-food joints,
and works in supermarkets.
Who? Why has he been in the news otherwise?
A Greek term meaning ‘things chosen’ has
come to be the default name for a volume
whose title Lunyu, would translate as ‘edited
What is this Greek term?
Who wrote the Lunyu?
A province in the Philippines shares, quite
accidentally, its name with an ancient kingdom
in India’s east. What is this name?
This 15th century king
has the title ‘the great’
attached to his name.
deserved, for he took
an unusual step in
1446 to unify his
country. Who? What
did he do?
Portugal issued this stamp to
honour the 1000th anniversary
of his Canon of Medicine.
ANSWER theme under Q. no 5