Today I visited Cambridge. Cambridge is a much smaller university town than Oxford. The atmosphere is much more homely and informal. I took a tourist bus for sightseeing in general and for an overview of the major college campuses within the University; Trinity College, Kings College, Queens College, St. John’s College, Peterhouse and Christ’s College
Trinity College is the largest, richest college in Oxford as well as Cambridge. It has the largest college grounds. I met some very interesting people while touring the vast halls and chapel and had long talks with them. They were able to provide a lot of insight and information about the art and architecture to be found in the ancient structures.
Kings College has the most beautiful chapel of them all. It has stained-glass windows which have glass panels dating back to the 11th century! The guide who took us around, fascinated us with his explanation of the symbolic significance of the architectural design, sculptures and art work.
St Johns has an impressive facade and there is a cemetery for American soldiers in Cambridge which has the US flag planted in the middle of it, on a tall pole.
Most beautiful of all was the canal running right through the heart of the town. There were numerous punting boats floating lazily on the stream, beneath cornflower blue skies, along grassy wooded banks. There is also a place where tourists can feed the dozens of beautiful white swans which swim on the sun-burnished waters.
And then I saw it, right in the midst of a flurry of graceful white wings, was a very large, breathtakingly beautiful, black swan. That was the first black swan I had ever seen. It reminded me of the first notes of Bruckner’s 9th Symphony where a black swan forms a key motif. Believe me, black swans are a million times more magnificent and more mesmerizing than white ones.
I had been taking numerous snaps till that time. At the very moment when I tried to take a photograph of this unforgettable scene, sadly, unforgivably, my film roll gave out. Somehow I had no extra rolls with me at that moment. This is something I guess I will regret forever, for that moment will never return. That is one picture that will stay imprinted in my memory forever.
[This is a guest post. The author, Madhurima Gupta, who was a student of English Literature in Jadavpur University, is now working as a successful animator. These are excerpts from email and letter which she wrote during her visit to England.]