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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Secret Lives of Bees 

In an enervated attempt to bring the tense spectacle of the Spelling Bee contest to the already-academics obsessed Indian living room, ESPN STAR Sports hosted the inaugural edition of Spelling Champs 2009 recently.

Unlike the now-familiar “ May I have the word again please”, “May I have the usage”, “May I have the language of origin” routine, one now had a staccato fire of words thrown at the contestant with the idea being the child with the highest number of words correctly spelt ( with negative scores for wrong ones) in the allotted time winning. Shorn of the drama that permeated the humid confines of the Grand Hyatt at the D.C. ( Ed—and the resulting ignominy of your getting one word right every two years !), this was a more pleasant, almost light-headed affair with the stakes being different-no visible parental egos and weighty expectations. A bright kid from the Do(o)n School, Piroune Balachandran won the contest besting the other finalists from The Mother’s International, Wellham Girls and Springdales.

While most words had a familiar ring and may come straight out of any standard word list, the host/Word Pronouncer Rajat Kapoor did his best to heighten the tension by enunciating the words in a quaint variant of Mythili. So his coshchuns were directed at well-dressed participants but his diction that effortlessly mispronounced almost every word made it an exciting aural if not visual delight. At first one thought he was doing it on purpose and one wonders what his co-hosts, Rana Dasgupta and British Council folks were there for. The man’s outlandish and garbled articulation confounded many a keen contestant in the Nat Geo earlier, and the fact that this set did not get swayed by him indicates an eerie association with this brutal mangling of words.

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