Miss America contestant, Miss New York Nina Davuluri performs a traditional Indian dance during the 2014 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Image Credit: REUTERS

Hyderabad: The news was so unexpected that initially it found few believers. Now it’s sunk in, 24-year-old Nina Davuluri’s win in Miss America has left everybody in her ancestral home town of Vijaywada dumbstruck.

Not many knew that a girl belonging to a local family was a serious contender in the iconic event in the United States. V. Koteshwaramma, 89, Davuluri’s maternal grandmother, was among the few who kept a close watch on the news which came in the small hours.

“I am very, very happy. But I was expecting it, as I knew of the determination and talent of my granddaughter," said Koteshwaramma, who is founder secretary of Montessori Mahila Kalasala in Vijaywada.

Davuluri’s mother, Shiela Ranjani, migrated to the United States soon after she married Dr Davuluri Koteshwara Choudhary in 1981. While Choudhary is a gynecologist, Ranjani works as a software professional.

Speaking over the phone from Vijaywda, Koteshwaramma said: “I am delighted that my granddaughter achieved what she set out to do. Winning Miss America title was her dream and she did it. I think God wanted it to happen”.

“Nina also wants to become a doctor, a cardiologist”, said Koteshwaramma as she was interrupted by phone calls and visitors congratulating her.

However the ordinary people on the street had no idea how a member of a local family was dominating headlines and TV screens across the ocean. “Locals have a faint idea of it. But those following the news carefully know she has a connection to Vijaywada," said Ramanna Chary, a Vijaywada resident.

Davuluri, who visited Vijaywada to meet her grandparents in 2007, is no stranger to Indian and Telugu culture, learning Kuchipudi and Bharatanatiyam dance as parts of her plan to seriously pursue the dream of becoming Miss America. She visited the city of her ancestors soon after becoming first runner up in Miss America’s Outstanding Teen contest in 2007.

Speaking on the occasion, she said Telugu films were one of the mediums she used to keep herself connected to her cultural roots. “I am a big fan of Telugu films,  especially the new generation films," she said them. However she ruled out the possibility of a movie career. “I am serious about becoming a cardiologist,” she said.

Her family has doctors on both sides. Her maternal aunt and uncle are doctors and run a nursing home in Vijaywada while her father’s sister and brother are also doctors in the USA.