One of the first questions that pops up when you mention that you visited the U.K. is that have you visited Oxford. This Saturday, six of us decided to answer that question in affirmative. Would we get to see the coveted Oxford college at this late juncture of our lives? Or even manage to get a degree? We wittily mused. Reaching at 10 am in Oxford, most of the planning was done in the Tourism information centre itself. They were so thoughtful that they have a walking guide that covers all the important places you’d like to visit there. It is as simple as blindly following the arrows.
Even so with my famous sense of direction, I managed to reach a dead end at an uncrowded mall. Smitha and Bharathy decided it would be a good time to open the tiffin box. I was too busy gobbling down the Bread Upama. While JD didn’t miss the opportunity to tease about the girls' culinary skills. Meanwhile Jaanavi bought some essential supplies to ‘fuel’ us for the rest of the day.
Cornered in the Quad
Though unfortunately many colleges were closed on Saturday, the most important (and spectacular) one wasn’t. That was Christ Church/College
- where Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka. Lewis Carroll) taught and in the settings of which based his famous book ‘Alice in Wonderland’ . Some of the nooks and crannies of the place began looking eerily familiar when someone pointed out that many parts of the college was used for shooting the Harry Potter movies. The rectangular grassy open space in the centre (referred to as the Quadrangle) was truly breathtaking. Whenever this happens, that is, stumbling across such breathtaking vistas - the inevitable, the unavoidable happens. The next 15 mins is taking pictures of the individuals, sometimes in different permutations, with our gorgeous view backdrop. Rather, whatever you could make out of the view from the jigsaw puzzle that was created. Newbie photographers like me prefer to shoot just the landscape, but my more knowledgeable friends never fail to advice me - “Da fool, how will others know that you visited that place”. I scratch my head and grin as if I’m a fool and move on. Enough of my rant on photography.
As we went inside the church, a sweet lady noticed our interest in the stained glass paintings and offered to explain. For the next 30 minutes or so, I have never experienced such a perceptive and detailed analysis of a place or an object. It was like she was taking us hand in hand through time. Retelling forgotten tales peppered with humour, unravelling hidden forms from a seemingly complex artwork, pointing out awe inspiring characteristics that would be normally missed by a casual observer, she would weave herself and us across the Church. Hearing I’m from Kerala, she mentioned that she is writing a children’s book based on and elephant from Kerala. No wonder she is so good at story telling besides being patiently meticulous about finer details.
As we made exit from Christ Church, it started drizzling. But we continued visiting most of the colleges which comprise the world famous Oxford University. Being a weekend and vacation time, many of them were closed, but we managed to go inside a few of them. They were quite different from our Indian colleges. Mainly it was designed for a lot less people and had a lot of well maintained green spaces.
If we ever visit Oxford another time, I would surely try out the water ways, as it practically encircles the city. After a fair bit of (window) shopping at high street we boarded our return trains.
This Sunday we saw ‘The Rising’, a period drama based on the first war of Indian independence centred around the life of Managal Pandey. I expected a pretty boring retelling of events. I was surprised to find it quite well written both in terms of story and dialogue. However, it failed in numerous areas. The characters were not fleshed out well (even Mangal!) and the songs were jarring interruptions to the serious tone of the movie. I’m not writing a full review here, as the celebrities say, see it for yourself!