Arvind Mahankali, the King of Spelling !!!


The 2013 edition of the Scripp’s National Spelling Bee has concluded, and we have a winner in Arvind Mahankali from New York. Arvind nailed the word ‘knaidel’ which means a type of dumpling eaten by Jews during passover. So before I say anything more, kudos to Arvind. And tons of respect.

I’ve been following the Spelling Bee ever since 2007 when Evan O’ Dorney won, and I have come to love it so much, that even when I can’t watch it (when I’m at college), I make it a point to follow the developments online. And just hours ago, I was reading the live updates on the ABC news website when I learnt of Arvind’s massive victory.

Massive? No, it wasn’t just a regular adjective. I’m sure everyone will agree that this is a huge achievement in itself, but consider this – this is Arvind’s fourth and final outing to the Bee. Every single time in the past he has made an impact. But he was always one tiny fraction of distance away from the cup.

Until now. Now the cup is all his, as is a hoard of other prizes that he receives. And I want to bring up his persistence, never give up attitude, and above all his cool demeanor. Arvind is just such a pleasure to watch in the game. One classic moment I still remember from the 2011 bee is when Arvind misspelled a word, tripping up on a silent letter, he didn’t hang his head up in shame, or sadness. Instead, he said, “Oh…a silent letter !!! ” and gave the crowd a salute in return for a massive ovation.

What makes the icing on the cake is the fact that the word he spelled to win was a German derived Yiddish word. The key part is German. Arvind was eliminated by German words in 2011 and 2012 ( I am not so sure about 2009-10). The fact is that German words were a special nemesis for Arvind, and how fitting was it that he won after pinning his nemesis. In his own words, “The German curse became a blessing…”

Other finalists included Pranav Sivakumar (second), Sriram Hathwar (third) and Amber Born (forth). Vismaya Kharkar, making her third and final appearance, placed 5th (tie). Another veteran Grace Remmer placed 7th. Vanya Shivashankar, who has go spelling (and possibly winning) in her blood, her sister being 2009 champion Kavya, tied with Vismaya for 5th. The again she is only 11 and can come back two more years.

Kudos go out to all of you…and everyone who participated. Massive respect for your dedication, brilliance, poise and motivation.


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