NCERT Textbook - A Visit to Cambridge Class 8 Notes | EduRev

English Class 8

Class 8 : NCERT Textbook - A Visit to Cambridge Class 8 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Before you read
This is the story of a meeting between two
extraordinary people, both of them ‘disabled’, or
‘differently abled’ as we now say. Stephen Hawking
is one of the greatest scientists of our time. He suffers
from a form of paralysis that confines him to a
wheelchair, and allows him to ‘speak’ only by punching
buttons on a computer, which speaks for him in a
machine-like voice. Firdaus Kanga is a writer and
journalist who lives and works in Mumbai. Kanga was
born with ‘brittle bones’ that tended to break easily
when he was a child. Like Hawking, Kanga moves
around in a wheelchair.
The two great men exchange thoughts on what it
means to live life in a wheelchair, and on how the so
called ‘normal’ people react to the disabled.
Cambridge was my metaphor for England, and it was
strange that when I left it had become altogether something
else, because I had met Stephen Hawking there.
It was on a walking tour through Cambridge that
the guide mentioned Stephen Hawking, ‘poor man, who
is quite disabled now, though he is a worthy successor
to Issac Newton, whose Chair he has at the university.’
And I started, because I had quite forgotten that this
most brilliant and completely paralysed astrophysicist,
astrophysicist:
scholar of
astrophysics
— branch of
physics
dealing with
stars, planets,
etc.
2019-2020
Page 2


Before you read
This is the story of a meeting between two
extraordinary people, both of them ‘disabled’, or
‘differently abled’ as we now say. Stephen Hawking
is one of the greatest scientists of our time. He suffers
from a form of paralysis that confines him to a
wheelchair, and allows him to ‘speak’ only by punching
buttons on a computer, which speaks for him in a
machine-like voice. Firdaus Kanga is a writer and
journalist who lives and works in Mumbai. Kanga was
born with ‘brittle bones’ that tended to break easily
when he was a child. Like Hawking, Kanga moves
around in a wheelchair.
The two great men exchange thoughts on what it
means to live life in a wheelchair, and on how the so
called ‘normal’ people react to the disabled.
Cambridge was my metaphor for England, and it was
strange that when I left it had become altogether something
else, because I had met Stephen Hawking there.
It was on a walking tour through Cambridge that
the guide mentioned Stephen Hawking, ‘poor man, who
is quite disabled now, though he is a worthy successor
to Issac Newton, whose Chair he has at the university.’
And I started, because I had quite forgotten that this
most brilliant and completely paralysed astrophysicist,
astrophysicist:
scholar of
astrophysics
— branch of
physics
dealing with
stars, planets,
etc.
2019-2020
the author of A Brief History of Time, one of
the biggest best-sellers ever, lived here.
When the walking tour was done, I rushed
to a phone booth and, almost tearing the cord
so it could reach me outside, phoned Stephen
Hawking’s house. There was his assistant on
the line and I told him I had come in a
wheelchair from India (perhaps he thought I
had propelled myself all the way) to write
about my travels in Britain. I had to see
Professor Hawking — even ten minutes would
do. “Half an hour ,“ he said. “F rom three-thirty
to four.”
And suddenly I felt weak all over. Growing
up disabled, you get fed up with people asking you to
be brave, as if you have a courage account on which
you are too lazy to draw a cheque. The only thing
that makes you stronger is seeing somebody like you,
achieving something huge. Then you know how much
is possible and you reach out further than you ever
thought you could.
“I haven’t been brave,” said his disembodied
computer -voice, the next afternoon. “I’ve had no choice.”
Surely, I wanted to say, living creatively with the
reality of his disintegrating body was a choice? But I
kept quiet, because I felt guilty every time I spoke to
him, forcing him to respond. There he was, tapping at
the little switch in his hand, trying to find the words on
his computer with the only bit of movement left to him,
his long, pale fingers. Every so often, his eyes would
shut in frustrated exhaustion. And sitting opposite him
I could feel his anguish, the mind buoyant with thoughts
that came out in frozen phrases and sentences stiff as
corpses.
“A lot of people seem to think that disabled people
are chronically unhappy,” I said. “I know that’s not true
myself. Are you often laughing inside?”
buoyant:
intensely
active and
vibrant
A Visit to Cambridge 97 97 97 97 97
2019-2020
Page 3


Before you read
This is the story of a meeting between two
extraordinary people, both of them ‘disabled’, or
‘differently abled’ as we now say. Stephen Hawking
is one of the greatest scientists of our time. He suffers
from a form of paralysis that confines him to a
wheelchair, and allows him to ‘speak’ only by punching
buttons on a computer, which speaks for him in a
machine-like voice. Firdaus Kanga is a writer and
journalist who lives and works in Mumbai. Kanga was
born with ‘brittle bones’ that tended to break easily
when he was a child. Like Hawking, Kanga moves
around in a wheelchair.
The two great men exchange thoughts on what it
means to live life in a wheelchair, and on how the so
called ‘normal’ people react to the disabled.
Cambridge was my metaphor for England, and it was
strange that when I left it had become altogether something
else, because I had met Stephen Hawking there.
It was on a walking tour through Cambridge that
the guide mentioned Stephen Hawking, ‘poor man, who
is quite disabled now, though he is a worthy successor
to Issac Newton, whose Chair he has at the university.’
And I started, because I had quite forgotten that this
most brilliant and completely paralysed astrophysicist,
astrophysicist:
scholar of
astrophysics
— branch of
physics
dealing with
stars, planets,
etc.
2019-2020
the author of A Brief History of Time, one of
the biggest best-sellers ever, lived here.
When the walking tour was done, I rushed
to a phone booth and, almost tearing the cord
so it could reach me outside, phoned Stephen
Hawking’s house. There was his assistant on
the line and I told him I had come in a
wheelchair from India (perhaps he thought I
had propelled myself all the way) to write
about my travels in Britain. I had to see
Professor Hawking — even ten minutes would
do. “Half an hour ,“ he said. “F rom three-thirty
to four.”
And suddenly I felt weak all over. Growing
up disabled, you get fed up with people asking you to
be brave, as if you have a courage account on which
you are too lazy to draw a cheque. The only thing
that makes you stronger is seeing somebody like you,
achieving something huge. Then you know how much
is possible and you reach out further than you ever
thought you could.
“I haven’t been brave,” said his disembodied
computer -voice, the next afternoon. “I’ve had no choice.”
Surely, I wanted to say, living creatively with the
reality of his disintegrating body was a choice? But I
kept quiet, because I felt guilty every time I spoke to
him, forcing him to respond. There he was, tapping at
the little switch in his hand, trying to find the words on
his computer with the only bit of movement left to him,
his long, pale fingers. Every so often, his eyes would
shut in frustrated exhaustion. And sitting opposite him
I could feel his anguish, the mind buoyant with thoughts
that came out in frozen phrases and sentences stiff as
corpses.
“A lot of people seem to think that disabled people
are chronically unhappy,” I said. “I know that’s not true
myself. Are you often laughing inside?”
buoyant:
intensely
active and
vibrant
A Visit to Cambridge 97 97 97 97 97
2019-2020
Honeydew 98 98 98 98 98
About three minutes later, he responded, “I find it
amusing when people patronise me.”
“And do you find it annoying when someone like me
comes and disturbs you in your work?”
The answer flashed. “Y es.” Then he smiled his one-
way smile and I knew, without being sentimental or
silly, that I was looking at one of the most beautiful
men in the world.
A first glimpse of him is shocking, because he is like a
still photograph — as if all those pictures of him in
magazines and newspapers have turned three-dimensional.
Then you see the head twisted sideways into a slump,
the torso shrunk inside the pale blue shirt, the wasted
legs; you look at his eyes which can speak, still, and
they are saying something huge and urgent — it is hard
to tell what. But you are shaken because you have seen
something you never thought could be seen.
Before you, like a lantern whose walls are worn so
thin you glimpse only the light inside, is the
incandescence of a man. The body, almost irrelevant,
exists only like a case made of shadows. So that I, no
believer in eternal souls, know that this is what each of
us is; everything else an accessory.
“What do you think is the best thing about being
disabled?” I had asked him earlier.
“I don’t think there is anything good about being disabled.”
“I think,” I said, “you do discover how much kindness
there is in the world.”
“Yes,” he said; it was a disadvantage of his voice
synthesiser that it could convey no inflection, no shades
or tone. And I could not tell how enthusiastically he
agreed with me.
Every time I shifted in my chair or turned my wrist
to watch the time — I wanted to make every one of our
thirty minutes count — I felt a huge relief and
exhilaration in the possibilities of my body. How little it
mattered then that I would never walk, or even stand.
incandescence:
inner glow or
light
accessory:
not essential
but extra,
though
decorative
inflection:
rise and fall of
the voice in
speaking
torso:
upper part of
the body
2019-2020
Page 4


Before you read
This is the story of a meeting between two
extraordinary people, both of them ‘disabled’, or
‘differently abled’ as we now say. Stephen Hawking
is one of the greatest scientists of our time. He suffers
from a form of paralysis that confines him to a
wheelchair, and allows him to ‘speak’ only by punching
buttons on a computer, which speaks for him in a
machine-like voice. Firdaus Kanga is a writer and
journalist who lives and works in Mumbai. Kanga was
born with ‘brittle bones’ that tended to break easily
when he was a child. Like Hawking, Kanga moves
around in a wheelchair.
The two great men exchange thoughts on what it
means to live life in a wheelchair, and on how the so
called ‘normal’ people react to the disabled.
Cambridge was my metaphor for England, and it was
strange that when I left it had become altogether something
else, because I had met Stephen Hawking there.
It was on a walking tour through Cambridge that
the guide mentioned Stephen Hawking, ‘poor man, who
is quite disabled now, though he is a worthy successor
to Issac Newton, whose Chair he has at the university.’
And I started, because I had quite forgotten that this
most brilliant and completely paralysed astrophysicist,
astrophysicist:
scholar of
astrophysics
— branch of
physics
dealing with
stars, planets,
etc.
2019-2020
the author of A Brief History of Time, one of
the biggest best-sellers ever, lived here.
When the walking tour was done, I rushed
to a phone booth and, almost tearing the cord
so it could reach me outside, phoned Stephen
Hawking’s house. There was his assistant on
the line and I told him I had come in a
wheelchair from India (perhaps he thought I
had propelled myself all the way) to write
about my travels in Britain. I had to see
Professor Hawking — even ten minutes would
do. “Half an hour ,“ he said. “F rom three-thirty
to four.”
And suddenly I felt weak all over. Growing
up disabled, you get fed up with people asking you to
be brave, as if you have a courage account on which
you are too lazy to draw a cheque. The only thing
that makes you stronger is seeing somebody like you,
achieving something huge. Then you know how much
is possible and you reach out further than you ever
thought you could.
“I haven’t been brave,” said his disembodied
computer -voice, the next afternoon. “I’ve had no choice.”
Surely, I wanted to say, living creatively with the
reality of his disintegrating body was a choice? But I
kept quiet, because I felt guilty every time I spoke to
him, forcing him to respond. There he was, tapping at
the little switch in his hand, trying to find the words on
his computer with the only bit of movement left to him,
his long, pale fingers. Every so often, his eyes would
shut in frustrated exhaustion. And sitting opposite him
I could feel his anguish, the mind buoyant with thoughts
that came out in frozen phrases and sentences stiff as
corpses.
“A lot of people seem to think that disabled people
are chronically unhappy,” I said. “I know that’s not true
myself. Are you often laughing inside?”
buoyant:
intensely
active and
vibrant
A Visit to Cambridge 97 97 97 97 97
2019-2020
Honeydew 98 98 98 98 98
About three minutes later, he responded, “I find it
amusing when people patronise me.”
“And do you find it annoying when someone like me
comes and disturbs you in your work?”
The answer flashed. “Y es.” Then he smiled his one-
way smile and I knew, without being sentimental or
silly, that I was looking at one of the most beautiful
men in the world.
A first glimpse of him is shocking, because he is like a
still photograph — as if all those pictures of him in
magazines and newspapers have turned three-dimensional.
Then you see the head twisted sideways into a slump,
the torso shrunk inside the pale blue shirt, the wasted
legs; you look at his eyes which can speak, still, and
they are saying something huge and urgent — it is hard
to tell what. But you are shaken because you have seen
something you never thought could be seen.
Before you, like a lantern whose walls are worn so
thin you glimpse only the light inside, is the
incandescence of a man. The body, almost irrelevant,
exists only like a case made of shadows. So that I, no
believer in eternal souls, know that this is what each of
us is; everything else an accessory.
“What do you think is the best thing about being
disabled?” I had asked him earlier.
“I don’t think there is anything good about being disabled.”
“I think,” I said, “you do discover how much kindness
there is in the world.”
“Yes,” he said; it was a disadvantage of his voice
synthesiser that it could convey no inflection, no shades
or tone. And I could not tell how enthusiastically he
agreed with me.
Every time I shifted in my chair or turned my wrist
to watch the time — I wanted to make every one of our
thirty minutes count — I felt a huge relief and
exhilaration in the possibilities of my body. How little it
mattered then that I would never walk, or even stand.
incandescence:
inner glow or
light
accessory:
not essential
but extra,
though
decorative
inflection:
rise and fall of
the voice in
speaking
torso:
upper part of
the body
2019-2020
A Visit to Cambridge 99 99 99 99 99
I told him how he had been an inspiration beyond
cliche ´ for me, and, surely, for others — did that thought
help him?
“No,” he said; and I thought how foolish I was to ask.
When your body is a claustrophobic room and the walls
are growing narrower day by day, it doesn’t do much
good to know that there are people outside smiling with
admiration to see you breathing still.
“Is there any advice you can give disabled people,
something that might help make life better?”
 “They should concentrate on what they are good at; I
think things like the disabled Olympics are a waste of time.”
“I know what you mean.” I remembered the years I’d
spent trying to play a Spanish guitar considerably larger
than I was; and how gleefully I had unstringed it one night.
The half-hour was up. “I think I’ve annoyed you
enough,” I said, grinning. “Thank you for...”
“Stay.” I waited. “Have some tea. I can show you the garden.”
The garden was as big as a park, but Stephen
Hawking covered every inch, rumbling along in his
motorised wheelchair while I dodged to keep
out of the way. We couldn’t talk very much;
the sun made him silent, the letters on his
screen disappearing in the glare.
An hour later , we were ready to leave. I didn’t
know what to do. I could not kiss him or cry. I
touched his shoulder and wheeled out into the
summer evening. I looked back; and I knew he
was waving, though he wasn’t. Watching him,
an embodiment of my bravest self, the one I
was moving towards, the one I had believed in
for so many years, alone, I knew that my
journey was over. For now.
FIRDAUS KANGA
 from Heaven on Wheels
cliche ´:
phrase or idea
used so often
that it loses
its meaning
claustrophobic:
very small and
suffocating
(‘Claustrophobia’
is abnormal
fear of being
in an enclosed
space)
gleefully:
very happily
2019-2020
Page 5


Before you read
This is the story of a meeting between two
extraordinary people, both of them ‘disabled’, or
‘differently abled’ as we now say. Stephen Hawking
is one of the greatest scientists of our time. He suffers
from a form of paralysis that confines him to a
wheelchair, and allows him to ‘speak’ only by punching
buttons on a computer, which speaks for him in a
machine-like voice. Firdaus Kanga is a writer and
journalist who lives and works in Mumbai. Kanga was
born with ‘brittle bones’ that tended to break easily
when he was a child. Like Hawking, Kanga moves
around in a wheelchair.
The two great men exchange thoughts on what it
means to live life in a wheelchair, and on how the so
called ‘normal’ people react to the disabled.
Cambridge was my metaphor for England, and it was
strange that when I left it had become altogether something
else, because I had met Stephen Hawking there.
It was on a walking tour through Cambridge that
the guide mentioned Stephen Hawking, ‘poor man, who
is quite disabled now, though he is a worthy successor
to Issac Newton, whose Chair he has at the university.’
And I started, because I had quite forgotten that this
most brilliant and completely paralysed astrophysicist,
astrophysicist:
scholar of
astrophysics
— branch of
physics
dealing with
stars, planets,
etc.
2019-2020
the author of A Brief History of Time, one of
the biggest best-sellers ever, lived here.
When the walking tour was done, I rushed
to a phone booth and, almost tearing the cord
so it could reach me outside, phoned Stephen
Hawking’s house. There was his assistant on
the line and I told him I had come in a
wheelchair from India (perhaps he thought I
had propelled myself all the way) to write
about my travels in Britain. I had to see
Professor Hawking — even ten minutes would
do. “Half an hour ,“ he said. “F rom three-thirty
to four.”
And suddenly I felt weak all over. Growing
up disabled, you get fed up with people asking you to
be brave, as if you have a courage account on which
you are too lazy to draw a cheque. The only thing
that makes you stronger is seeing somebody like you,
achieving something huge. Then you know how much
is possible and you reach out further than you ever
thought you could.
“I haven’t been brave,” said his disembodied
computer -voice, the next afternoon. “I’ve had no choice.”
Surely, I wanted to say, living creatively with the
reality of his disintegrating body was a choice? But I
kept quiet, because I felt guilty every time I spoke to
him, forcing him to respond. There he was, tapping at
the little switch in his hand, trying to find the words on
his computer with the only bit of movement left to him,
his long, pale fingers. Every so often, his eyes would
shut in frustrated exhaustion. And sitting opposite him
I could feel his anguish, the mind buoyant with thoughts
that came out in frozen phrases and sentences stiff as
corpses.
“A lot of people seem to think that disabled people
are chronically unhappy,” I said. “I know that’s not true
myself. Are you often laughing inside?”
buoyant:
intensely
active and
vibrant
A Visit to Cambridge 97 97 97 97 97
2019-2020
Honeydew 98 98 98 98 98
About three minutes later, he responded, “I find it
amusing when people patronise me.”
“And do you find it annoying when someone like me
comes and disturbs you in your work?”
The answer flashed. “Y es.” Then he smiled his one-
way smile and I knew, without being sentimental or
silly, that I was looking at one of the most beautiful
men in the world.
A first glimpse of him is shocking, because he is like a
still photograph — as if all those pictures of him in
magazines and newspapers have turned three-dimensional.
Then you see the head twisted sideways into a slump,
the torso shrunk inside the pale blue shirt, the wasted
legs; you look at his eyes which can speak, still, and
they are saying something huge and urgent — it is hard
to tell what. But you are shaken because you have seen
something you never thought could be seen.
Before you, like a lantern whose walls are worn so
thin you glimpse only the light inside, is the
incandescence of a man. The body, almost irrelevant,
exists only like a case made of shadows. So that I, no
believer in eternal souls, know that this is what each of
us is; everything else an accessory.
“What do you think is the best thing about being
disabled?” I had asked him earlier.
“I don’t think there is anything good about being disabled.”
“I think,” I said, “you do discover how much kindness
there is in the world.”
“Yes,” he said; it was a disadvantage of his voice
synthesiser that it could convey no inflection, no shades
or tone. And I could not tell how enthusiastically he
agreed with me.
Every time I shifted in my chair or turned my wrist
to watch the time — I wanted to make every one of our
thirty minutes count — I felt a huge relief and
exhilaration in the possibilities of my body. How little it
mattered then that I would never walk, or even stand.
incandescence:
inner glow or
light
accessory:
not essential
but extra,
though
decorative
inflection:
rise and fall of
the voice in
speaking
torso:
upper part of
the body
2019-2020
A Visit to Cambridge 99 99 99 99 99
I told him how he had been an inspiration beyond
cliche ´ for me, and, surely, for others — did that thought
help him?
“No,” he said; and I thought how foolish I was to ask.
When your body is a claustrophobic room and the walls
are growing narrower day by day, it doesn’t do much
good to know that there are people outside smiling with
admiration to see you breathing still.
“Is there any advice you can give disabled people,
something that might help make life better?”
 “They should concentrate on what they are good at; I
think things like the disabled Olympics are a waste of time.”
“I know what you mean.” I remembered the years I’d
spent trying to play a Spanish guitar considerably larger
than I was; and how gleefully I had unstringed it one night.
The half-hour was up. “I think I’ve annoyed you
enough,” I said, grinning. “Thank you for...”
“Stay.” I waited. “Have some tea. I can show you the garden.”
The garden was as big as a park, but Stephen
Hawking covered every inch, rumbling along in his
motorised wheelchair while I dodged to keep
out of the way. We couldn’t talk very much;
the sun made him silent, the letters on his
screen disappearing in the glare.
An hour later , we were ready to leave. I didn’t
know what to do. I could not kiss him or cry. I
touched his shoulder and wheeled out into the
summer evening. I looked back; and I knew he
was waving, though he wasn’t. Watching him,
an embodiment of my bravest self, the one I
was moving towards, the one I had believed in
for so many years, alone, I knew that my
journey was over. For now.
FIRDAUS KANGA
 from Heaven on Wheels
cliche ´:
phrase or idea
used so often
that it loses
its meaning
claustrophobic:
very small and
suffocating
(‘Claustrophobia’
is abnormal
fear of being
in an enclosed
space)
gleefully:
very happily
2019-2020
Honeydew 100 100 100 100 100
Comprehension Check
Which is the right sentence?
1. “Cambridge was my metaphor for England.” To the writer,
(i) Cambridge was a reputed university in England.
(ii) England was famous for Cambridge.
(iii) Cambridge was the real England.
2. The writer phoned Stephen Hawking’s house
(i) from the nearest phone booth.
(ii) from outside a phone booth.
(iii) from inside a phone booth.
3. Every time he spoke to the scientist, the writer felt guilty
because
(i) he wasn’t sure what he wanted to ask.
(ii) he forced the scientist to use his voice synthesiser.
(iii) he was face to face with a legend.
4. “I felt a huge relief... in the possibilities of my body.” In the
given context, the highlighted words refer to
(i) shifting in the wheelchair, turning the wrist.
(ii) standing up, walking.
(iii) speaking, writing.
Answer the following questions.
1. (i) Did the prospect of meeting Stephen Hawking make the writer nervous?
If so, why?
(ii) Did he at the same time feel very excited? If so, why?
2. Guess the first question put to the scientist by the writer .
3. Stephen Hawking said, “I’ve had no choice.” Does the writer think there
was a choice? What was it?
4. “I could feel his anguish.” What could be the anguish?
5. What endeared the scientist to the writer so that he said he was looking at
one of the most beautiful men in the world?
6. Read aloud the description of ‘the beautiful’ man. Which is the most beautiful
sentence in the description?
2019-2020
Read More
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