PEOPLE His love for words goes much beyond the Spelling Bee contests. This love has turned Nandakrishnan K. S. into a voracious reader
H e seems a quiet boy but has deep eyes and a look that translates into, “Hey, I'm the serious kind of boy who knows what I want”. He always takes a second or two before he replies, as if sizing up the answer before he spells it out.
Nandakrishnan K. S. did that literally, at the MaRRs International Spelling Bee contest held at Putra Jaya, Malaysia, recently, getting the fifth place in his age group, six to 16. Nandakrishnan competed with children from Korea, Malaysia, India, the Philippines, China and the UAE and won the coveted place, getting a certificate, trophy and Rs. 10,000.
Studying in Std VI at the Bishop Moore Vidyapeeth at Cherthala, his mother, M. K. Shiba, who works in All India Radio, has a crucial role to play in Nandakrishnan's love for the word. “I work in Thiruvananthapuram and every time I come home, I would bring a book for him, often from the library”. His own collection is also pretty big. His love for books does not begin and end with J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series as many would imagine. “I love Enid Blyton, C. S. Lewis's ‘Chronicles of Narnia' and Hardy Boys books,” he says. And his other love is, guess what? Biographies!
So, spellings just got into him, via the books he read. Well, he started out quite young, imbibing the written word. Right from Class III, he has been into books. Before that, his mother would read out the books to him. “He loved certain books and if I changed the story, he would object to it and tell me that I had gone wrong, even as a very small boy.”
The spelling bee contest involves a lot other than spellings of words. Apart from dictation, there are jumbled words which the children have to crack, there is word application exercise, crossword, idioms, phrasal verbs and pronunciation besides.
“With the Cambridge Dictionary, I got a CD and made full use of it. Even otherwise, I used to learn phonetics with the help of the page in the dictionary, where they teach you how to pronounce the words, with the sound keys,” Nandakrishnan explained.
Tough words which he practised for the contest include ‘rendezvous'. Well, one would think since Nandakrishnan has this boundless love for the English words, he may want to be an English teacher or something. But no, this lad's rendezvous with words ends with spelling bees. He loves Math and his ambition is to be an automobile engineer.
Nandakrishnan is not an ‘outdoors' person. There's little sports activity after his tryst with books and the computer. But classical music is something that he has started learning, not because he wants to be a singer but because he wants to know something about music. Philately, numismatics are his other loves.
The only child of Shiba and K. R. Suresh, an advocate, Nandakrishnan says he had a wonderful time in Malaysia and Singapore, after the contest.