Are you tired of reading articles which actually lead somewhere? Are you looking for an article equivalent of a Youtube fail video titled “Trying Life Hacks”? If your answer to the above questions is yes, then not only are you at the right place but you also need to take a Buzzfeed quiz to find what the purpose of your life really is. For now, let’s just stick to this story, which is of our first experience at debating virtually.
This story begins on the afternoon of 3rd July when I was looking for an upcoming moot or debate competition on this law-updates’ website called Kanooniyat with heavy guilt, for having spent all my days of the lockdown like a snail under a rock who would come out only to scroll through the thousand opinion posts and IGTV videos cancelling each other. This landed me on one notice for SLS Hyderabad Oxford-format debate called “Power to the People” which was going to happen on 10th July. After their own ‘twists’ to the format, what it basically meant was that it was going to be a two-people-a-team sort of Parliamentary Debate with no PoIs.
I wanted to register for it, however, there were two main problems to it. The first one was that the few people I had asked previously did not want to go for a virtual debate with me for a variety of reasons, the main one being that they had better things to do. Second, the debate required a 1000-2000 words write-up conceptualising how things would be if the legal world was an industry in itself. This write-up had to be submitted at 5 PM, of the 3rd of July and it was on the basis of this that they were going to select the final 8 teams which would debate. It was 2 PM when I saw the notice. If you’re bad at Maths, what it essentially means is that I had just 3 hours.
With a few hours to go, normally, I would have scrolled down for other updates but it wasn’t just any other day, it was the day Khushi had decided that she, by all means, was going to register herself for something she’ll panic about later. Yes, the day was so unusual that I just referred to myself in third-person. So, a very panicky Khushi texted Anabhra Mishra knowing that if there is a person as free as herself, it’s this pixie internet girl posting her ukulele covers on her stories every damn day. And well, was she correct!
About 20-25 voice-notes later, we had about a 1000 words long write-up finished just before the deadline making just enough sense. And we registered. Our team was very appropriately named by ourselves as the “11th Hour” after turning down the obvious “Abhra ka Dabhra” and “Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Ghum”.
Cut to 7th July when I sent an extremely squeaky voice-note to Anabhra, in disbelief that we had actually made it in the final 8 teams. Our write-up was decent enough to be ranked 4th, which meant that we were to go against the team ranked 2nd, “Go with 19”. Will have to give it to them for the name creativity. What succeeded that were very boring and casual practice seshs on zoom and the phone call where we would constantly break our speeches with “I can’t, I don’t know words” or “Nahin hoga, bhai. Ho hi nahin raha, Angrezi hi nahin aati mereko”. This was also the first time I came across the famous Oxford-Debate speech by Dr Shashi Tharoor on Youtube and was I totally bewitched by it! (10/10 recommended).
Like most virtual debates, our debate was going to happen on this platform made solely for debates, called “MixIdea”. Neither of us had any prior experience with the platform. To add to this, when they made a WhatsApp group for the teams, oh boy, was it unnerving! The competition finally seemed near. If you think that only on seeing debaters wearing their kurtas and jhumkas can you be intimidated, wait till you get intimidated solely by seeing their DPs of these regular debaters and their carefree texts written in all lowercase. It was all mostly in our heads, but we were excelling in aggravating our panic. Thankfully, when I was getting anxious about the debate at the beginning, Anabhra was there to calm me down and I was there for her when she, ten minutes before the motion, started getting the jitters.
I would not want to bore you with the details of the actual debate but we both found the platform quite interesting. This is not sponsored but MixIdea is really a great site—you have different rooms, the presentation and waiting rooms, separate prep-rooms where you can talk and write down your constructives with your teammate(s), proceed to give your speeches automatically once the prep-time is over. It’s all very smooth, but only if you or anyone from your team isn’t shouting “Am I audible now? NOW? I’m standing on top of my community tower now, PLEASE TELL ME I AM AUDIBLE NOW” or arguing within yourselves for the entirely for the prep-time.
In our competition, there was only one preliminary round and the win was to be determined by the ‘sway’ of the audience. We lost pretty badly even after doing great in our opinion. But then again, winning against a team whose name is inspired by the infamous virus cannot be expected to be that easy. Though my very rare optimism channelled at making it to the semi-finals was crushed after the results, we both did realise that we make a great team at debating as well. Right after the results, a ‘☹’ emoji was sent to Anabhra and after consensually putting the blame on the ‘audience’ for not being intelligent enough to be swayed by our arguments, I was suggested we document this experience for it had been fun at least. And well, here we are.
If you read till the end, here’s a virtual slimy handshake from the snail! Competitions in the virtual sphere, fortunately or unfortunately, have become the new norm and though it might seem terrifying for some of you, they can turn out to be fun, especially if you want to pair up with your friends and participate for the experience of it. Know that if you ever want to sign yourself up for something scary but exciting and need a partner, we’ll most probably be up for it.
This post was written by Khushi, IInd year