I love the littlest Shivashankar…

Kavya meets the President!

…contender-to-watch Vanya, so sassy in her blue and black frock. I can’t help it. She’s the reason why I’m writing this post. Well, that and because luminous Mutineer Nilanjana tweeted the link to this picture– and had she not made like a virtual, social-media bird, I would have never seen such a delightful image of last year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee champion, Kavya Shivashankar (on the left), meeting the President, with her family proudly beside her.Back to Vanya. Little girl is so blase about meeting the most important person in the world. Hands on her lips, nary a smile on them lips, she’s sizing him up…and I’d give almost anything to know what her verdict was.

As for Kavya, I apologize in advance for what I am about to type (because it is pointless drivel). It all hits too close for ex-spelling bee-participant (and loser!) me. That long hair (though at 14, my hair was down to my knees), that prim clasping of hands, that shy smile. Unlike Kavya and Vanya however, I was never allowed to wear black. My father thought it a terrible, inauspicious color; he also, with all the pragmatism of an engineer, dismissed any notion of it being flattering. “You have darker skin. Wear white. Looks good. Black is for white people.” Tell that to a teen secretly brooding to Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Obama spent fifteen minutes with the Shivashankars, earlier this month. Kavya had to wait a year for her Presidential prize:

“It was just so electrifying,” Kavya said afterward. “When I won the bee last year, I asked when I was going to get to meet the president. I thought it might not happen. But just two days ago, we got the call.”

The family and the president chatted about the spelling bee, which was going on at that very moment at a hotel just a few blocks away, and the importance he places on education. Then Vanya said she had a question.

“Are you going to ask me to spell something?” Obama asked.

But Vanya just wanted to ask about Bo, the president’s dog. [link]

The little girl has sass, but the Bee took a pass:

A brief cab ride through the rain took them back to the Grand Hyatt Washington hotel, the site of the bee, where they learned that Vanya — the youngest speller in this year’s competition — had not made the cut to today’s semifinals.

But no one in the family seemed downcast, least of all her.

“It was just a great experience being on the stage and spelling the words, even if you get it wrong,” she said. [link]

With an attitude like that, I have a feeling the Shivashankars will be back in the Oval Office, some year soon…

26 thoughts on “I love the littlest Shivashankar…

  1. Is it a tradition for the Bee Champion to get to meet the Prez or is this something started by Obama?

  2. Dad Mirle is nattily dressed—I am impressed with his family! More power to them!

  3. Nice family and i wish them all the best..i hope the little one who is sizing up obama will go a long way:-).

  4. I love the look on that “Secret service agent?” on the right.

    You can almost see the thought bubble over his head.

    “Yeah, whatever! Spelling Bee winner my ass. I got my eyes all over you.”

  5. Nice portrait of Abe Lincoln watching over a group of winners of all colors. Sort of mitigates dying before his time if that’s what he fought for.

  6. I LOVE this photo! Look at the blond security detail. He clearly looks endeared, and he’s looking at the President to see if Mr. Obama feels the same way (endeared). The other security detail…I can clearly see what’s on his mind: “Jeez…this is the easiest day of my career here.”

    The mother and father are so proud and typically Desi. I love it.

    Guys…let me review the etymology of these funky words…

  7. dismissed any notion of it being flattering. “You have darker skin. Wear white. Looks good. Black is for white people.”

    My mother said the SAME THING! What gives? I always thought the flipside…darker complexions look better in black; lighter ones in white. It matches the farang tan obsession and brown skin brightening counterpart.

    That carpet on the ground was commissioned by George W. Bush

    And that has what to do with anything?

  8. Anna’maa,

    Your dad told you not to wear black and you obeyed? You are a very chamathu poNNu My daughter has never done that!

  9. You are seeing Shivashankars and the president BO in the picture. The other 2 are not security folks. One is Tim King (blond Guy)- the VP of Scripp’s company and the other one is Mr. William Jawondo, the Director of education and public affairs of White House. There were no security guards inside the Oval office, however they were out side the room.

  10. love the smirk on her face

    That carpet on the ground was commissioned by George W. Bush
    And that has what to do with anything?

    Look at the pattern again on that carpet then go watch “Harold and Kumar Escape GBay”, you’ll know what he meant :)

  11. Obama: the economy grew less than expected last quater and unemplyment is around 10%

    Vanya : whatchu talkin about willis?

  12. Caption contest submission: Vanya: You may be president and twice as tall as me but you are my bitch, bitch.

  13. Obama thinks: Come on little girl, blink, blink first.

    Vanya: I voted for Hillary, so there.

  14. Obama: “That’s the nice thing about my teleprompter… it has spell check built in”.

  15. Anna, where were you when we were growing up, my ex-Goth sista? I had to sit brooding in the corner alone at those desi family parties in junior high where all the kids were talking about how much they loved the Milli Vanilli/NKOTB concert they went to with their “hipster” dad. Argh.

    But I digress…had Amma let me wear black more often, maybe I’d have gone past district-level on those spelling bees.