Friday, May 30, 2003

13 year olds and the bees

Springs in full swing and its that time of the year when the bees are out. Notice that I haven't said anything about the birds. So this is not about the facts of life :) All you naughty kids need a rap in your knuckles for sure.

This "bee" that I am talking about is the is the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee competition, where kids from below the age of 16 and who have not passed 8th grade yet, here in the USA. This year's final was telecast live on ESPN yesterday (Thursday, 29th March). I happened to catch the ending and boy, was I surprised! The event was won by Sai Gunturi, a 13 year old from Dallas who was appearing for the fourth time in the competition. In 2000, he tied for 32nd place, in 2001 he tied for 16th place and in 2002 he tied for seventh place.

The word Sai spelt correctly to win the competition over Evelyn Blacklock was pococurante. (Click on the link to know what it means). All you geeks who claim to have godly verbal powers should take a test on the word spelt correctly by the two finalists. I got a couple of them (peirastic and symphily, to be more specific). This does not mean that I am the God of all things spelt with more than 4 letters. However it does mean that I am the God of all guesses.

Those kids were amazing. To see the son of a Indian immigrant (a chemical engineer actually) win the competition beating a Caucasian girl was mindblowing. To top it all, another Indian American, Samir Patel, a nine year old from Fort Worth (Texas) was tied for the third place.

Children with Indian roots have always done well in the competition, atleast in the last decade or so and Sai is not the first one to win this contest. That honor goes to Balu Natarajan from Chicago who won way back in 1985. There have been several other Indian American kids who have won the contest since then. Infact Sai's sister Nivedita was tied for the 8th place in 1997 and his brother Abhiram was beaten by Sai himself, in this year's reginal finals. Hmmm, and I thought I was a spelling geek.

And the kid wants to go into genetic engineering. Taking after his father, who is a chemical engineer, I guess. But it was refreshing to see Sai tell a interviewer that he would use his $12,000 prize money to buy tons of video games. Just goes to show that he is a normal human being after all.

QOTD: "College isn't the place to go for ideas." - Helen Keller

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