Student Experience Blog

Stray donkeys and knowledge

As I write this (this seems to be a common thing I say in my blogs, right?), It is 2:30 a.m. in Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, India. For those of you who actually bothered to read my previous blog posts/cared, I just came back from spending almost a month in Guwahati, working on my Davis Project for Peace. And now, from an area where the highest recorded precipitation in the world is a common occurrence, and it got so hot that 20 odd people died, I ended up here, in Leh. A small town in the middle of the Himalayas, roughly 12,000 feet above sea level. I can look out of the window and see snow. Quite a change.



I actually did the math, and I have traveled enough in this break that the collective mileage would be enough for me to circumnavigate the world. In the space of 6 months, I have seen a temperature differential of over a 100 degrees Celsius (for you folk who don't use metric, it's from -40 Fahrenheit to 120 Fahrenheit) in three different climatic zones, and what not. I don't know why I am telling you this, because it is not really pertinent to what I am going to say. But I felt the need to give a bit of background.



I am here to meet a good friend of mine, Sohum, who I had not seen for the last 3 years. He is currently studying zoology in Australia (Sounds like a good idea to me to study animals in a continent where most of them are actively out to kill you). The last four days have been pretty fun, and illuminating. I have previously talked about PEAK and the Art of Hot Rodding, but I feel the need to go at it again. You see, I am just a lowly art major. And not even a spectacular one at that. I take pictures and make pots, and do not take part in shenanigans. But as such, most of my technical expertise and knowledge is restricted to stuff like how this one guy took a lady, slathered her in paint, and hucked her on a canvas.

Talking to a guy who works with animals all day and studies chemistry at night would have been impossible. Because I would talk about burning cords of wood to make pots, and he would talk about how seahorses mate. But then, I am not your regular art major schmuck, am I? No. I study a curriculum that makes me take classes like geology and environmental philosophy and post-colonial literature. (All those classes are really phantastic, yes, with a ph. Take them.)

Because I take these classes that, on the surface, do not really relate to pots or photos in any way, I could actually have long fulfilling discussions with Sohum and other people here. We talked at length about HAM Radio (which is the coolest thing ever), relativity, neurology, Steve Irvin, and the role of the civil service in the British Parliamentary system (We watched "Yes, Minister." It is hilarious.). I ended up in the Leh palace, which is this old clay and rock structure, and talked to the lady who worked there about stratification in traditional Ladhaki society. It was cool.

Now, by now you must be thinking, wow, this guy is a pretentious jerk.

I probably am. But that is not the point here. I read somewhere that most college graduates have jobs that have nothing to do with their major. PEAK offers breadth that informs you of a wide range of subjects. In addition to that, it is just something really cool. I talk a lot, and am a huge fan of trivial information. It gives me no greater pleasure than to make a huge appeal to authority and say, "Yeah dude, I took this class in college on the role of social workers in society," and then use it as a tangent for some thing else that is cool. Is that not the point of an education, after all? Getting to know cool stuff? I found out that what you call granite is actually not granite at all. Also, granite is pink. Match that.

While I can go on and on about how PEAK made me a better conversationalist, or more well rounded, there is a year for me to do that. Instead, I will tell you a fun fact and call it good. Leh has a huge population of stray donkeys. Also I rode a two-humped camel. Am I not the coolest person you know/will get to know?

-Rahul Sharma

Rahul is a senior art major from Jammu, India.