Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Oh! No!

I have been living under a rock and am catching up on news from last month. Yet another nerdy-geeky ABCD kid with spectacles won the Spelling Bee contest this year. I can't imagine the amount of publicity this is getting. This will probably motivate a generation of desi kids to become geeks. I think Indians in US produce more spectacled-geek kids every year than any other immigrant population. I hope there will come a day when Indian kids in this US will go beyond spelling the word "s p o r t" and "p h y s i c a l a c t i v i t y".

There is nothing more annoying than watching spectacled ABCD kids on TV and you-tube indulging in spelling words or naming capitals of countries. Will I ever get to hear of a kid who actually gets to be in a sports team? Will 2nd-gen desi ever become popular in baseball, basket ball, or football? Maybe I missed it. But is there anybody in this category at all? The farthest people have gone is put the kid in some soccer class (that is offered as a package set with a piano class). That too after 8th grade all forms of physical activity vanish. I can't imagine why a desi parent would be proud of saying that their kid won a teen science award or a spelling-bee thing. Evalavu naalaikku da ithaye pannuvenga?

And - Whats with ABCD kids and spectacles. Every time some one mentions a 2nd-gen kid, the image that pops in my head is spectacles, dental braces and playing playstation/x-box. Gives one an impression that spectacles are an Indian tradition. In all my years of living in the US - I haven't seen an ABCD kid w/o glasses or dental braces.

Niruthanum. Ellathaiyum Niruthanum.


Anonymous said...

ayyo rama!!! you took the words out of my mouth....

desi kids and sports.. ada poda... all our desis are good only to watch not play.

- Ganesh

Jillu Madrasi said...

I hate Spelling Bee even more after watching the acclaimed SpellBound.

But just now -- I meet a nice ABCD kid without glasses, braces.

Karthik Sriram said...

I always thought Raja Bell was Raja Mani.... :)


Sowmya said...

I have a feeling that mothers read spellings to their in-utero kids and send them off to kumon - the math and reading center when they can walk.

Ram said...

I can't believe this either.. I had blogged about the same topic last year... it is way too tuned up... and it does not seem as if it is the greatest application of the brain to spell some 20 letter words correctly... there is just so much pressure on those kids and parents.. way too hyped up. I would be very curious to see a "Where they are now" on those champs in the Spelling Bee contest to see if they really achieved anything else...

Anonymous said...

You stop marketing Xboxes and kids will stop sitting close to the TV and it eventually will result in less 'spect-ocular' kids

Anonymous said...

you know what.. i am telling same thing what you said after hearing that news....

when will our kids will be baseball player or a tennis player.. i will be the happiest person that day...

vicky said...

I was surprised when I first saw spelling bee on sports channel couple of years back.

While braces may be 'any kid growing up in America wears braces to have perfect teeth one day' thing, glasses may be due to the hyper sensitive parenting skill that kicks in when the kid obtains less mark than the neighbor's OR we have VSP lets make use of it thingie

(Reality Check : I might be heading in that direction...)

Anonymous said...

Their parents encourage them to be like themselves, not good even at creative thinking, only rote learning. Maybe we'll see a change in 3rd generation desis ? They do attend a lot of extracurricular activity classes in a frantic pace on weekends though none of them physical.

Archana said...

Hmm yeah as you say most of the ABCD's are Couch potatoes. Not showing interest towards games. Adding to the spectacles and dental braces,most of them have a big thoppai(tummy).As you say "Thirunthatha jenmangal".

Sundar Narayanan said...

watch from the ninth minute..


Vijay said...

In India we dont mind crooked teeth (thethu pallu) and squint eye. But USA guys do. Better looks and knowledge is enough to gain respect, get good schooling and live with a decent job ever after.

(An ABCD cousin - 2nd gen - fitting your descriptions - in IBM has survived from 1989, voila! Multimillion $ mansion overlooking Hudson and timeshare on a bizjet and all... with same description offsprings, 3rd gen)

Obvisously the games they play is on XBoxes, inducing less sports & physical activity.

maxdavinci said...

i think its gotta do with playing safe and choosing safer careers. Playing safe is like the cornerstone of the indian mentality and we use it in every situation except when warming the sheets.

I dont see even 5th gen desi kids making to the NBA/NFL draft coz it requires a huge move frm the mental makeup.

sit at home n play wii/xbox, wear specs and learn to spell as it will help you with your SAT, and then take up science or become an investment-banker/lawyer.

Isnt that the ghar ghar ki kahani?

Destination Infinity said...

Enge irrundhappo Govt Job and more recently softwaru... Ange ponnaparama vera yenna pudhusa panniraporange? Ange irrukkara makkala kedukkama irrundha sari!

Destination Infinity.

Arun Sundar said...

ABCDs winning spelling bee makes me proud like our ladies winning or Miss.universe.

Avangalaala mudiyidhu pannittu poraanga. You why blood boiling?

Jillu Madrasi said...

here is one athlete


Sriram said...

You seem to move about nice desi kids. The ones that I have met here are all brats giving you the "you from that poor country?" look.

Jillu Madrasi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jillu Madrasi said...



Jillu Madrasi said...

cha - that link has changed. Anyway here is that person:

Smita Shyam Gupta is tough to catch. Literally.

The 22-year-old Brown University senior finished first-place in the mile run at a recent Harvard University select meet. Clocking in at four minutes 51.7 seconds, Gupta left her closest competitor a full eight seconds behind.

The Texas native’s racing success is the result of a life-long interest in athletics, starting from grade one. An all-around athlete, she has dabbled in gymnastics, volleyball, basketball and soccer.

“But I have come to love track and field,” said Gupta, who is double majoring in history and biology and hopes to eventually study medicine.

Anonymous said...

couldn't agree more dude! i accidentally caught it live on one of the channels and cringed at every moment of it.

WA said...

adhaane avungalaala mudiyudhu panraanga, idhukku ellam why you getting upset?

Anonymous said...

Have been doing contracting in the US for a while. I really hate it when Desis interview me. They expect me to know the syntax of every command/keyword in Oracle.

Looks really like a spelling bee. Only difference is to mug up the Oracle manuals.

Hawkeye said...


they play something in India


you've had a rare sighting.

the harvard runner. thanks for the link. such things never get put on rediff and other indian mainstream media




if they dont do that they get burned by the society.


/* it does not seem as if it is the greatest application of the brain to spell some 20 letter words correctly... */

totlaly agree. its just the pressure that hypes up the event. handling pressure is important but the game within itself needs to have more content.


XBOX isnt the onli reason people sit b4 TV :-)


a revolution will happen and there will be desi NFL players.


/*I was surprised when I first saw spelling bee on sports channel couple of years back. */

sports channel :-) it really ought to be in PBS.


there must be 3rd gen indians here. still no sound.



sundar narayanan,

welcome :-). Rusell Peters is so addictive everytime I go to a youtube viedoe of his I lose like 2 hours.


the fact is why is there a need to wear braces to look good. Are braces that common in India?

max davinci,

/* i think its gotta do with playing safe and choosing safer careers. */

i agree.

although becoming a lawyer and i-banker in the indian context is like being completely 'out there'. those are more of an american 'play it safe' thing.

destination infinity,

keduthuduvaanga pola thaan irukku.

Sundar & WA,

the whole criticism is directed towards the fact that they *can* do this. that is what is being criticised.


i have been called a 7/11 indian by them.


ya! in the past there was a boy and father who both cried. I cringed big ttime.



Anonymous said...

there are quite a few good young 2nd gen indian cricket players ..

one of them recently represented ICC Americas team and did extremely well in the U-15 WC.


Inna said...

By just reading rediff and other indian news websites, you are also being a stereotype. There have been quite a few desi sportspersons. Not as many as one would like, but a decent number, da.

There was Mohini Bharadwaj who won a medal in the 2004 olympics in the US gymnastics team. There are the Uberoi sisters in tennis. Then there is Rajeev Ram who is ranked in the 100s on the ATP tour. There was a guy called Brandon Chillar in the NFL a couple of years back. There was also a Sanjay something in the Packers team in the early 90s... dont remember his last name. There was also a female desi tennis player from the US in the early 90s, but my age is catching up with me so cant remember her name.

Anonymous said...

Sanjay Rajeev Beach, Good catch "Inna"! That was the guy you were thinking about who played for the Green Bay Packers. interesting note though SB is only half East Indian. His mom is Jamaican. Ironically though he currently in Investment Banking! :)
Also Brandon is half Indian as well. I don't think I know any full blooded Indian American in NFL or Basketball yet. But I will take this. Maybe my kid? :)

rads said...

OMG! If your post made me go "whoa" the comments are another take altogether :)

Hawkeye, you are so far removed from reality, I am not quite sure where to begin. And yes, my kids are "ABCD" (though hardly confused :)) and they kick ass on the basketball court, as much as they bring home the honor roll. It isn't easy either, considering the fight's almost always between the brown, the yellow and to a lesser extent the black/white kids.

So there. It isn't far you know, when we'd ace sports too. :)

Hawkeye said...


good examples. thanks for giving those. i only hope they are given at least 1% the media attention that the spell bee is given.


while i agree that we all have different realities - the post is based on 10 years of living here and seeing various 2nd gen people. While its nothing personal, myself and many commentors here have close relatives who are 2nd gen kids. To me this is reality. If we kick ass and make news in a sports field I will be quite happy to write 'at last' post.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at your ignorance.
Ever heard of:

Rajeev Ram (top 150 - ATP tennis)
Prakash Amrtiraj (top 250)
Neha Uberoi
Shikha Uberoi
Sunitha Rao
Tara Iyer
Mohini Bharadwaj (Olympian)

All are 2nd gen Indian-Americans.