TORSADES- the first college fest held over 3 days with a variety of programs of which the Treasure Hunt was the event I was looking forward to with utmost excitement. I love this game as it stirs up the hidden curiosity which continues to propel us, like hunters, till the treasure is found. There was lot of anticipation on the way it was going to be organized and how successful it would be! At the beginning of program, all were asked to assemble in lecture hall2(lt2)where further instructions would be given. All the participants were asked to register themselves in groups of 3. My group comprised of Ancy, Bhuvana, and myself. The goal was to find a ticket to the treasure, there would be clues which would lead us from one check point to other and finally to the ticket. At each checkpoint there would be volunteers to make sure that the clues are not tampered with. The one who is quick enough to decipher the clues and find the ticket and bring it back to the organizer, sitting in lt2, will be the winner. The total number of checkpoints remained a mystery. After comprehending all the rules, we took a deep breath and prepared ourselves for the hunt. The first clue was displayed in the starting spot i.e lt2 and it was like this:
From the clue ‘closed house of wisdom’ which I thought meant library, we sprinted towards the library. On reaching the library, 3 or 4 groups had already reached, arjun’s group was coming out and we thought he has already unlocked the secret code and is proceeding to the next check point. Anyway we entered the library and found Prakash Kumar(praky)sitting there, whom I felt was a misfit because usually I only find him there to interpret the intricately made presentations of his other group members during group assignments. So I went and confirmed that he was the volunteer at the check point. Here comes the imminent question where is the clue? Recollecting with great difficulty the 1st clue, we remembered reading something relating to cadavers… EUREKA!! It should be among the anatomy books and there started the quick flipping through the most difficultly encrypted pages which we decoded during 1st year at AIIMS Bhopal. Nothing. Ohhh Noooo… and then Bhuvana’s eye went to a BD Chaurasia lying on the table in front of Praky whose cover was half torn and I very well understood that since none of library books are covered it did not belong to the library. All 3 of us poured over the BDC, where we found a colour printout showing this:
We three looked at each other puzzled… Oh GOD it seemed the Harappan script was kept for deciphering!!! I just turned the paper, on the back was an arrow directing towards Praky. Suddenly I felt it might indicate either a book on the shelf behind praky coming in line with the arrow or may indicate the next room. I just went near book shelf and found there was nothing out of place. So the only option left was the next room, which was our reading room. All three of us did a full-fledged site investigation of an apparently empty room. Feeling disheartened Ancy and Bhuvana went back to the library to see if they could get a new perception about the clue. My instinct forced me to stay in the reading room for some more time. Being a visitor to the reading room at least once in 2 weeks or so, I knew all the printed quotes pasted on the wall. Among those I found a new paper, and I decided to read it since I had nothing else to do. Contrary to my expectation, on a closer view, I realized it was a picture showing-culture plates, swabs; for a second I felt it was the next clue. To confirm, I thought of the aforementioned arrow. Yah!! The picture was aligning with the arrow’s direction. I showed Bhuvana, who was still confused, whether it was really microbiology department, but since we did not have another option, we called Ancy and proceeded to PG lab where all culture plates of microbiology lab were kept. Seeing Sarath sitting outside, Bhuvana’s confusion transformed into a marvel of joy. We entered the lab, thus becoming the first to reach the 3rd checkpoint. The place was innately a mess with cold storages, UV cleaned working table, water distillation unit, autoclave, PCR machine. We were supposed to find the next clue from there. On searching, we found a paper placed over the PCR machine showing ‘two angels, sun, moon’ a nice picture other than that it did not make any sense to us.
So we proceeded to inspect more. In the thrust to find the next clue, Ancy got a piece of square paper showing carrot’s picture. One edge of the square was cut so it raised my suspicion that this was the next clue, as I felt it was purposely cut and What the hell was a carrot’s picture doing in a high tech PG lab? Brain storming and squeezing resulted in the realization that it could indicate canteen. On reaching canteen, we found 2 of our sub juniors and we felt OK that we were in the right place! The whole canteen seemed very normal, nothing unusual or out of place…we even checked the national flag stuck on the wall to see if some clue was kept beneath it. Nothing….The impetus to find the ticket would not let me stop… I observed the whole canteen grossly. The only thing I found abnormal was the displaced stands used for keeping used-cool drink bottles. OK. So we thought-what could cool drinks indicate??? YES… water cooler!!!!
Idea once spurted could not be stopped! We went to the room in Director sir’s office wing where a water cooler was installed. On the way we found our junior Anjalee and one of her classmates sitting on the staircase next to this room, a sigh of relief emanated as we felt it was the next clue. This was the room where tables and chairs were placed so that the staff could have food at noon. We scanned the area, and over the basement in a corner hidden from the sight of a passer-by and seen only by those who enter the room was a bouquet of flowers. Our eyes sparkled and in one voice- it could mean ‘garden, plants’…. Running towards the plants just outside the college, I realized that there are few plants in front of Lt1. So Bhuvana and myself proceeded to college’s front while Ancy went to see the plants in front of Lt. Even before we could reach the garden Ancy came running… even with her panting voice we could feel the excitement!! She dragged us towards a Flower pot where a soiled paper was found which read ‘Freedom of press’. Within seconds Bhuvana decoded it to be the Conference hall. On entering we found few other groups too, and Prakash Tendulkar was sitting in a chair, giving impression that it was the next checkpoint….. Okay now we had to search for something related to the press… All eyes frantically searching…and soon Bhuvana found a magazine lying on the sofa whose front page upper part was cut so she couldn’t recognize it. She was browsing through it to see if it was significant at all, when Ancy and I joined flipping through the pages where we found various news headlines-related to press. So What WAS the next clue? Seeking God’s blessings to show us a way ahead, we closed the magazine. On the front page down was some news on information technology…. Yeahhhh nobody could stop us!!!!. We ran to the IT Department, which was closed as it was past six ‘o’ clock, except for 1 room which was slightly open, which made us feel that it could be the way to the next clue or the ticket itself! The grand search began.. even while searching, the only thing that remained unclear to me was why were no volunteers posted there??? After a futile search we thought our last interpretation might be wrong, so we came back to the conference hall and on the way itsel,f we got the heartbreaking news… that the game had ended!
For a while we felt mystified…. Feeling dejected we walked towards Lt2. On the way we met Abhishek Sasankan to whom we asked about what had exactly happened. From him we understood that in the lab the first paper that aroused our suspicion had a QR code in it. Oh my God first time listening to something like that…. But he was kind enough to explain in simpler terms that there was an app which could read QR code and the code read ‘typeitout.com/puzzle’. (We did great mistake by forgetting that the organizer is ‘Rana Prathap’ the owner of typeitout. How could he organize something without using Wi-Fi and incorporating typeitout!!!) Abhishek explained that clue to puzzle was ‘you already know’ and many numbers were given, one of them would unlock the next clue. In the 1st clue something relating to prime number was given so it was number 13 that led to the final clue. The hideout of the ticket was Lt2 itself and one group had already got it.
Then the revelation struck to me that the hunt was meant only for the technically advanced people and how much ever you try thinking out of the box, nothing could help you reach the ticket… On a positive side I learned something new (QR code) and I am still trying to understand more about it. The hunt was over and we reached the hostel. The next day during Mehendi making competition, a shocking news came from Mahendra when he asked me how I had deciphered the code at the library. I explained my way and he could only laugh. He explained that the symbol was a code from some thriller and the code read PCR machine. Only Allen could decipher it and soon I came to know that it was from one of Dan Brown books, my favourite author. I was sure that it was not from the ones I read and obviously from the ones yet to read- ‘The lost symbol’ and ‘Inferno’ both of which I already possess. Sadly I came to my room and flipped through the pages of ‘The lost symbol’, I saw it…. Yes it was in there….
The best part of “The treasure hunt” was that I ended up having an article at hand. Other than that, what happened was merely a coincidence? Well I am still confused . . . .
Nice and funny writing there,
Nice and funny writing there, Pretty. So Happy to know that my treasure hunt led you to so many parts of the college building. Sadly, you people did not win after what was described as ‘out of the box’ thinking. After all, that was not much required, in this particular treasure hunt. People who hunt for the treasure are expected to know at least two of the world’s most common codes – the QR Code (A variant of Bar Code) and the freemason’s cipher (another one of the world’s most famous ciphers. Because of its simplicity, it is featured in almost every children’s books on code breaking). The hunters who are apparently medical students were expected to know such common things. And I did not know about the freemason’s cipher from any Dan Brown’s books. I don’t remember reading about it from any of his books. I read it from a small children’s book on spying and code breaking when I was a child. I used to read such stuff because of interest. I agree that I could have numbered the clues so that the hunters know what is a clue and what is a piece of waste paper;). Better luck next time!