2018 in Review The Pragati Quiz

Did You Live Through 2018?

This is our year-end installment of The Pragati Quiz, and Part 5 of our series, 2018 in Review.

As we step into a new year, here’s a look back at the old one for a few memories that induced a chuckle, a sigh or perhaps just a shake of the head.

We also take this opportunity to acknowledge gratefully the many contributions of Caleb Liu of the Asian Quiz Championship, Dr Chandrashekhar Rao and the Dubai Brain Buster team, and my fellow Quizicians Movin Miranda, Gopal Kidao and Rajiv Rai.


(Answers at the bottom.)

  1. In January 2018, twelve contestants were disqualified from an annual beauty contest in Saudi Arabia after receiving botulinum toxin injections. Why did this make the news?
  2. In February, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket successfully launched Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster into space, and it was speeding past Mars at 44,500 mph in November. What is the name of the dummy astronaut in the car, and to whom is it a tribute? 
  3. In March, China announced that it was amending its constitution to allow president Xi Jinping to serve more than two terms. Immediately, the country’s online censors went into overdrive, blocking out any posts with reference to a certain cartoon character. The country also banned a 2018 Disney film featuring the same character. Which character, and why?
  4. In May 2016, the little Hanoi noodle store Bún Chả Hương Liên made headlines around the world. Table 56, which served a $6 meal that got all the attention, was covered in glass and retired in 2018. Who were the two diners who ate there in 2016? And why was the table remembered again this year? 
  5. This clip (with the sound removed) is the Indian equivalent of which internet “phenomenon” of 2018?
  6.  He was born in 1973 and named after the country of his birth. He lived at Dvůr Královéin the Czech Republic from 1975 to 2009, and moved to Ol Pejeta in Laikipia, Kenya thereafter. He was euthanized in March 2018 due to age-related complications, which made headlines worldwide. Who, and why was he in the news?
  7. In June 2018, Shikhar Dhawan joined an elite group of 5 – Sir Don Bradman, Victor Trumper, Majid Khan, David Warner and Charlie Macartney – by doing what?
  8. Also in June, which of the founding 30 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost its place on the index after an unbeaten run of 110 years?
  9. For what purpose has the Planck’s Constant (a fundamental constant in quantum mechanics, h = 6.62607004 × 10-34Js) recently replaced a platinum-iridium bar called Le Grand K that has been used since 1889? This superfine Kibble Balance is also essential to the new process.
  10. On 10 February 1968, he boarded the Sealdah Express at Lucknow, but his body was found near the Mughalsarai railway station 10 minutes after the train reached the junction — it was lying near a traction pole near the end of the platform, clutching a five-rupee note in his hand. Following a CBI investigation, two train thieves were caught and confessed to pushing him out of the train after he caught them stealing his bag, and threatened to report them to the police. Why is this 50-year old case back in the public consciousness this year?
  11. The Man Booker Prize celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this year, and awarded the Golden Man Booker for the best of all the winning novels of the last 50 years. Which book (also made into a film) by a Sri Lanka-born Canadian author won by popular vote?
  12. According to the Official Charts Company the soundtrack to this film is the best-selling album in the UK in 2018. This track — “This Is Me” — also won the Golden Globe for the Best Original Song this year.Which film?
  13. In July 2018, where did a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 11th century and dedicated to the Chalukyaking Bhima I by his queen Udayamati, appear in pink on a lavender background?
  14. On 5 October 2018, a 2006 framed copy of the artwork was auctioned at Sotheby’s selling for £1,042,000 – a record high for the artist. What happened moments after the bidding closed? 
  15. The Cambridge Dictionary declared ‘nomophobia,’ a newly-coined portmanteau term, its 2018 People’s Word Of The Year. What condition that many of us can identify with does it refer to?
  16. Antoni Gaudi’s famous basilica La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, work on which began in 1882 and has not yet ended, agreed to pay the city authorities $41 million, following which embarrassing discovery? 
  17. What kind of creature is Olly, the mascot of the recently-concluded Hockey World Cup in Odisha? 
  18. NASA’s InSight Lander successfully touched down at Elysium Planitia on Mars on 26 November 2018. On board were two briefcase-sized MarCocubesats (nanospacecrafts) that provided real-time communications during the entry, descent and landing.These are the first cubesats ever to have visited another planet. What have they been nicknamed affectionately after a 2008 film? 
  19. To combat hyperinflation, the Maduro government of Venezuela launched a new currency, the Bolivar Soberano worth 100,000 “old” Bolivares Fuertes, in August 2018. Unlike the past, the currency was no longer pegged to the US dollar, but banked on Venezuela’s large petroleum reserves (as oil sands). To what standard was the new currency pegged, a worldwide first?
  20. Finally, to which icon who passed away this year is Ariana Grande paying a tribute here?




  1. They were camels. The Botox injections were to make their “pouts” more alluring.
  2. Starman, as a tribute to David Bowie. Space Oddity played throughout the launch. 
  3. Winnie the Pooh. Xi Jinping is often compared derisively to the bear based on physical appearance. The banned film was Christopher Robin.
  4. Anthony Bourdain and President Barack Obama. The table was back in focus following Bourdain’s suicide. 
  5. The Kiki or“In My Feelings” Challenge
  6. Sudan, the last male northern white rhinoceros. Scientists are trying IVF techniques using the two remaining females to resurrect the species. 
  7. Century before lunch on Day 1 of a test.
  8. General Electric. It has been replaced by Walgreens Boots in the DJIA
  9. To define the kilogram. The balance links weight and current, allowing us to define the kilogram in terms of the Planck’s Constant.
  10. Mughalsarai was renamed Deendayal Upadhyaya in his memory this year. 
  11. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje 
  12. The Greatest Showman  
  13. On the new 100-rupee note. The site is the magnificent stepwell ‘Rani ki vav,’ at Patan. 
  14. “Girl with Balloon” by Banksy shredded itself using a shredder built into the frame. 
  15. The stress and anxiety caused by being separated from one’s mobile phone(no+ mobile + phobia)
  16. It was discovered that the church lacked a building permit.
  17. An Olive Ridley Turtle. These endangered sea turtles travel thousands of miles in the ocean and arrive in millions every year on Odisha’s Rushikulyaand Gahirmathabeaches for their annual nesting.
  18. Wall-Eand EVE 
  19. To a new government-sponsored cryptocurrency Petro, supposedly tied to the price of a barrel of oil.
  20. Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. This is her famous song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”


About the author

Anustup Datta

Anustup Datta lurks in Bangalore, consults for brands for a living, and quizzes to stay sane. Will happily travel to the ends of the world if there’s good food and/or single malt. Has a borderline pathological attachment to his Kindle.