A Visit to Cambridge
Question 1: Did the prospect of meeting Stephen Hawking make the writer nervous? If so, why?
Answer: When normal people meet disabled people they tend to look sympathetic and give advice to have courage. The author was fed up of this attitude of normal people. He was apprehensive that some of the assistants of Professor Hawking may show same attitude. That is why he was nervous.
Question 2: Did he at the same time feel very excited? If so, why?
Answer: Stephen Hawking is a celebrity because of his startling discoveries in astrophysics. Anybody can become excited at the prospect of meeting such a celebrity.
Question 3: Guess the first question put to the scientist by the writer.
Answer: The likely first question put by the author can be as follows, "You must have been brave to overcome your physical disability". Professor Hawking's statement that he was not brave rather it was compulsion for him to live with his disability indicates towards this.
Question 4: Stephen Hawking said, "I've had no choice." Does the writer think there was a choice? What was it?
Answer: The author thinks disabled people do get a choice. And that choice is to live creatively in spite of the obstacle of your disability. Once a disable person accepts defeat he will always be a burden for himself and for others. But if in spite of the disability he tries to excel in his chosen field then he becomes an asset for himself as well as for the society. He should always be positive that he can also contribute towards his society.
Question 5: "I could feel his anguish." What could be the anguish?
Answer: Stephen Hawking's body is unable to keep pace with his vibrant mind. His mind is faster at thinking newer and newer ideas, while his body allows him to express his thoughts at a much slower pace. It must be like dreaming to fly only to find that somebody has clipped your wings. Anybody will feel the anguish and frustration in such situations.
Question 6: What endeared the scientist to the writer so that he said he was looking at one of the most beautiful men in the world?
Answer: The way the author empathized with the scientist made him feel happy from inside. The fact that author was a little bit like Stephen Hawking also helped in matching their wavelengths. As a result there was a smile on Hawking's face.
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, is a very old saying. The definition of beauty varies as per situation and subject. The weak, pale and disable scientist may not look beautiful at all through conventional angle. But the radiance of intelligence and self-satisfaction of attaining so much in terms of discovery make Stephen Hawking one of the most beautiful men in the world.
Question 7: Read aloud the description of the beautiful man. Which is the most beautiful sentence in the description?
Answer: The sentence describing the inner glow of Hawking's personality which makes his physical looks irrelevant is probably one of the most beautiful descriptions of beauty.
Question 8: Answer the following:
(a) If the lantern is the man, what would its walls be?
Answer: The physical body is the wall of the lantern.
(b) What is housed within the thin walls?
Answer: Within the thin walls of the lantern is nothing but light which has the power to enlighten you.
(c) What general conclusion does the writer draw from this comparison?
Answer: Everyone is a distinct soul and the soul is our true identity. The physical body is just like an accessory playing the supporting role.
Question 9: What is the scientist's message for the disabled?
Answer: Professor Hawking's message for the disabled was that they should do things at which they are good.
Question 10: Why does the writer refer to the guitar incident? Which idea does it support?
Answer: The writer was trying a thing he was not naturally inclined to do. It led to unnecessary embarrassment and waste of time for him. The incidence supports the advice given by Hawking that one should do things at which one is good.
Question 11: The writer expresses his great gratitude to Stephen Hawking. What is the gratitude for?
Answer: Stephen Hawking took time out of his schedule. He gave full attention to the writer in spite of all the problems Hawking was facing. Due to this, the writer expressed his gratitude to Stephen Hawking.