Oscar Wilde had once said that Oxford remained the most beautiful thing in England and nowhere else were life and art so exquisitely blended, so perfectly made one. Writing about such a radiant city is a difficult task because it is impossible to capture the allure of its architecture in words.
I got the chance to work for the University of Oxford between 2010 to 2012. Every day during the lunch hour, I would set off with my cheap camera and try to capture the grandeur of the city.
Oxford buzzes with activity and is dominated by the University, which has its Colleges scattered all over Oxford instead of having a single University campus. Cycles are everywhere and you can see the young students (and everyone else) zipping along on their bikes. Buskers routinely line the streets, often playing wonderful music. I was once stopped by a young student giving a free DVD of the movie that he had made. He had only a few copies but was doing his best to promote the movie using the best possible (and free) means. I went to buy a muffin once and the girl at the counter wondered if I knew the meaning of an English word that she was having difficulty with. The city is full of young people from all over the world.
Seeing hordes of tourists eagerly taking in every word of the tourist guide is a common sight. During summer months, the big tourist buses are safely parked outside the city as the hordes make their way, on the pebbled streets, from one sight to another. Oxford is small enough to be seen on foot and that is the way that it should be seen. When I see the open-top buses patiently doing the city rounds and giving the fascinated tourists a glimpse of the city, I know that Spring has finally arrived.
Oxford is a great place to people watch – who knows you may just spot a future prime minister. According to the University of Oxford’s website, the university has educated twenty six British Prime ministers. The University requires the students to wear the traditional robe during the examinations and at various times during the year, the students can be seen, walking along the beautiful streets, with their black robes fluttering in the wind, led by the formally dressed Oxford dons (tutor or Oxford fellow).
It was in Oxford that I first noticed, how beautiful stained glass looks at night, with the light reflecting off it. How did I manage to discover this fact so late in life? Beautiful architecture, interesting museums, numerous places to eat – many of them offering a discount for students, plenty of bookshops to browse and a great place to people watch. That is what makes Oxford special