There are only two kinds of people in the world: Those who avidly shun cartograms and those who can’t take their eyes off them.
For a young Rahul Nagvekar, a geographical craze caught
his fancy early. Therefore, unlike most his age, he actually
enjoyed studying geography!
Particularly, studying was never really ‘work’ for him, but
was more akin to having fun.
Studying as hard as a mariner, he secured 18th place in
the state bee that year, motivated to do better next year.
This was an incredible endeavor, particularly in a state
that produced three national champions in four years.
In May of that year, he was merely in front of his television instead of Washington, DC to watch the finals and to
be inspired by fellow Indian American Akshay Rajagopal
winning the competition.
In the subsequent years, akin to a countdown timer, he
never gave up, relentlessly edging towards his goal, placing
4th, 3rd, 2nd and finally 1st to represent the Lone Star
State in the national competition.
At first, contrary to what one would expect, Rahul
seemed like he was not really concerned about winning. He
just wanted to try his best to answer all the questions fired
In the national prelims, he managed to dodge each question with the grace of a swan until he encountered the
dreaded analogy question. In an unfortunate set of circumstances, he answered incorrectly!
However, not allowing this impediment to debilitate his
composure, Rahul sailed through the rest of the ocean.
With the preliminary rounds completed, he progressed to
the tie breakers with the confidence of a peacock and then
to the National finals, competing against seasoned veterans.
He respected his experienced fellow competitors and
seemed never truly concerned with competing with them,
just wanting to do his personal best.
An unexpected development for Rahul was the format of
the new final rounds.
As he had seen on TV in previous years, each participant
used to have a lifeline, the ability to miss one question,
before he or she became eliminated. However, he was
immediately informed that it was no longer the case.
That the finals would be run on a point scale alleviated
his fear of being eliminated from missing two questions.
Rahul had always dreamt of meeting Alex Trebek. It was
an exciting experience for him to meet the famed
Canadian-American TV host in person: a once in a lifetime
Furthermore, the day of the National preliminaries
turned out to be his birthday, making the Bee his world-encompassing birthday gift!
Armed with only his self-confidence and brainpower,
Rahul steered his ship on, finally making it to incognito territory: The Championship round against veteran three-time National Top-Ten Finalist Vansh Jain.
He never expected to make it that far, but nevertheless he
was excited at doing so.
Rahul confronted eight more obstacles on his path to vic-
tory until he reached the final maelstrom: ‘What Bavarian
city on the Danube River was the legislative seat of the Holy
Roman Empire from 1663 to 1806?’
He was not sure of the answer and he had to make a crit-
ical decision: One that would determine the course of the
Quest of a champion
2010 National Geographic Bee Champ Aadith Moorthy on 2012 National
Geographic Bee Champ Rahul Nagvekar.
Rahul Nagvekar walked in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, continuing the voyage of victory that Darwin began more than
150 years ago and was picked up by the previous National Geographic Bee champions, including Aadith Moorthy.
COURTES Y: THE NAGVEKARS
rest of his life.
Would he find the Golden Fleece or would he be shipwrecked?
Rahul wrote down his guessed answer and was genuinely
surprised at the result. What an apropos birthday present!
The rest is history.
Throughout his preparation for the Bee, Rahul’s parents,
teachers and friends actively supported him.
When he later returned to his school after his great feat,
much to his astonishment, all his friends and teachers were
chanting his name and clapping.
His parents were especially thrilled. For the past five
years, the Nagvekar family had been deeply immersed in
The Argonauts’ effort to navigate to the national title had
finally paid off.
Despite his entry into the limelight, Rahul has remained
modest: He humbly states that his life has not really
changed since he won the Bee.
Aadith Moorthy is the 2010 National Geographic Bee
Champion and winner of the India Abroad Award for
Special Achievement 2010.
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