Yesterday Varun Mahadevan, the 13-year-old geography king of California, came in third in the National Geographic Bee. (The Fremont Argus has a report.) Afterward, he told KQED’s Paul Lancour that the toughest question he received, and one he got wrong, was the identification based on a photograph of a lake north of Lake Superior. The answer was Lake Nipigon.

Another one Varun, who is from Hayward and goes to Fremont’s Prince of Peace Christian School, got wrong: What landlocked country borders Iran and Tajikistan?

Not necessarily the attributes you think of these days when you call to mind the correct answer: Afghanistan.

“I was under lots of pressure and wasn’t thinking properly, I guess,” Varun said. “And I was thinking that time was running out, so I entered Turkmenistan.”

But overall Varun was satisfied with his showing in the contest, which netted him a $10,000 college scholarship. “Third place is pretty good actually. At first I was very pressured, then I found a breakthrough and I did well.”

The winner of the bee was Rahul Nagvekar, a 14-year-old eighth-grader from Sugar Land, Texas. He won a $25,000 college scholarship, a trip to the Galápagos Islands, lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society, and a perpetual exemption from his partner asking him, “why don’t you just stop and ask for directions, already?”

Here’s the moment when a Bavarian city located on the Danube River — the legislative seat of the Holy Roman Empire from 1663 to 1806, mind you — netted Rahul the big prize…

2 Questions the Geography King of California Missed in the Bee, Plus the Winning Answer 25 May,2012Jon Brooks

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