Kavya Shivashankar Becomes Spelling Champ

A bunch of thirteen year old kids of Indian origin ruled the roost at the Scripps National Spelling Bee tonight. Out of 11 finalists, more than half (Ramya Auroprem, Aishwarya Pastapur, Sidharth Chand, Neetu Chandak, Anamika Veeramani, Tussah Heera, and Kavya Shivashankar) had Indian names. That is an astounding 7 out of 11. In each round, anyone making a mistake was out of the competition. It took 16 rounds to crown the champion, in which Kavya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas spelt “Laodicean” correctly to take the trophy. It was interesting how she acted out writing each word on her hand with her finger before finally spelling it out.
The examiners were pronouncing each word for the contestants before they could spell it. They didn’t do badly with pronouncing the kids’ names either, except Anamika’s, which they pronounced as Anna-Meeka.


An Indian Tribute to Bob Dylan

Caught this excellent story on NPR’s All Things Considered today. So, there is this group of Bob Dylan fans in Shillong who make have been making a point to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday every year for the last 37 years. Read and listen to the story here, and get the audio here. This was my driveway moment today, or parking lot moment, if you may.


Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy on Taliban

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy's latest documentary on Pakistan - click to watch on PBSJust watched the PBS documentary “Pakistan: Children of the Taliban“. The situation in the region is really really scary. While I follow a lot of the news from the region these days, this perspective from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was somewhat of an eye-opener. While the players were no less important, the star of the show was definitely the presenter — Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the 30-year old Pakistan born journalist who seems to have risked a lot to cover stories from world’s major trouble spots. It is a shame that today is the first day I heard about this amazing journalist. The following from an article on Stanford University’s Alumni website gives an idea of who Sharmeen is: