It was my wife, Manasi’s, birthday last weekend. Birthdays are usually a big deal in our family. We tend to go all out to surprise the birthday person. But, given that Manasi and I try to surprise each other every year, it gets progressively difficult every year – the other person is already aware of all the tricks that you have up your sleeve to surprise them! This year, my friend, Asha, came to my rescue. She suggested that we organize a treasure hunt for Manasi in our very own neighborhood of Seattle, Capitol Hill. It took us 10 days of meticulous planning, gift shopping and a bunch of coding for a WindowsPhone treasure hunt application and we were all set for the D-day.
This is how it all unfolded – On her birthday, when she woke up, I was already out of the house. She found some instructions on her bedside table that told her to get ready and leave the house within the next hour. When she was ready to start the hunt, she got her clues (one by one) on the custom application that I had written for her. When she figured out where a clue pointed to, she would go to that place and find her gift – either with the checkout person at a cafe or just lying on the sidewalk or hidden underneath a streetside statue! Once she found the gift, she would have to open the app on her phone which would check her in at the location (on facebook as well). Only when she had successfully checked-in, would she get the clue to the next location i.e. her next gift. All the while she was out and about looking for her gifts, 3 of our friends – Asha, Gaurav, and Jugal – and I were running around in our perfect disguises (Gaurav deserves a callout here for the homeless guy disguise!) placing the gifts at the locations right before she arrived and then, hiding ourselves nearby to make sure nobody else other than her picked up the gifts. We perfected the ‘art’ of stalking that morning!
It took her about 2 hours to find all 9 of her gifts. It was not so long that she would get dead tired and just long enough to make her and the rest of us super hungry. Therefore, the last clue was very wisely chosen to point to our favorite brunch place on the hill (the fact that we had to wait for more than 30 minutes to get a table there was another story!). Overall, I think it turned out very well. The clues were pretty good (probably a bit on the easy side or may be Manasi was just very good!), the app worked perfectly, the stalking and other logistics were flawless (she never realized that we were around her at any time), and most importantly, she enjoyed it!
I have all the clues shown in the picture gallery below. One or two of them would make sense only to her as they relate to some events from our lives but most of them are generic enough for you to give a shot. So, if you live in Capitol Hill, or anywhere in Seattle, check them out and see if you can figure out where the treasures were hidden. I’ll post an update later with all the locations.
PS: If you want to know more about the app or Windows Phone in general, leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you.