A Visit to Cambridge: Summary Solutions and Meanings Class 8 English

A Visit to Cambridge: Class 8 English Question Answers, Meanings and a Summary. This chapter deals with the meeting of two handicapped people, one great scientist and another the narrator and writer Firdaus Kanga who also happens to be a journalist.


Meeting Stephen Hawking in Cambridge

Earlier England was important to the author only because there was Cambridge. Now it had a greater appeal for him. He had met Stephen Hawking there during a walking tour. Stephen Hawking is a disabled person. He is the successor of Issac Newton and has his Chair at the university. He is a brilliant astrophysicist. He is also the author of ‘A Brief History of Time’. It is the biggest, best-seller of his times.

Setting up the Interview

The tour was over. The writer phoned Stephen Hawking’s house. Hawking’s assistant attended the telephone call. He told the assistant that he had come from India. He added that he was on a wheel chair. He mentioned that he wanted to write a book about his travels in Britain. Then he expressed his desire to see Stephen Hawking. The time for his meeting the Professor was fixed. It was from three-thirty to four. The interview began on time.

Stephen Hawking on Disability

The writer felt that the disabled got fed up with people asking them to be brave. They got stronger on seeing somebody like them, achieving something huge. The computer voice replied that Professor Stephen Hawking hadn’t ever been brave. He had no choice in it. The writer told him that most people think that the disabled people are chronically unhappy. He asked Hawking if he found this amusing. The voice replied that he found it amusing when people patronised him.

Hawking’s Advice to the Disabled

The writer’s next question was about himself. He asked whether he felt annoyed when people like him disturbed him. The answer flashed ‘yes’. Hawking smiled after giving this answer. Prof. Hawking appeared to the writer as one of the most beautiful men in the world. However, the writer was shaken by his first glimpse. He seemed only a skeleton then. The writer asked Hawking’s opinion about the best thing about being disabled. The reply was negative. The writer’s next question was if this didn’t help him discover great kindness in the world. The voice agreed fully with the writer.

Hawking’s View on Over-Enthusiasm

Like others, the writer also got highly inspired by the answers. This idea didn’t appeal or console Hawking. The question made the writer feel sorry. Others’ admiration of Hawking’s living could not console him. Then the writer asked him about his advice to the disabled people. The voice advised the disabled to concentrate on what they are good. They should try nothing beyond it. They must not be over-enthusiastic.

A Successful and Inspiring Journey

Then the writer saw Hawking’s big garden. At last, he wheeled out. The writer found his journey successful and inspiring.

Word Meanings

metaphorfigurative meaning, showing a comparison without using words as or like
mentionedreferred to earlier
disabledcrippled, handicapped
astrophysicista scholar of physical astronomy
rushedran toward
worthyable and deserving
successorinheritor of wealth or heritage or character
startledsurprise, was taken aback
would dowould be welcome
fed upannoyed
hugevery large
reach outextend the hand
disembodiedexisting without body
realityactuality fact
disintegratingbreaking up
guiltyat fault
tappinghitting with light blows
frustratedtotal loss of strength
anguishsevere distress
chronicallylasting for a long time
patroniseto support
flashedcame out instantly
glimpsebrief view
twistedwretched out
corpsesdead bodies
discoverto find out
synthesisercompositor of several things
exhilarationextreme joy
claustrophobicclosed room causing abnormal fear
concentrateto devote attention on
unstringedremoved the strings
grinninglaughing in an affected manner
rumblingwalking with a sound
wheeled outwent out in the wheelchair
embodimentperson or thing as example of an idea or quality

Comprehension Check – Intext Questions

Comprehension Check (Page – 104)

What is the right sentence?

Q. 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.

Ans. (iii) Cambridge was the real England.

Q. 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.

Ans. (ii) from outside a phone booth.

Q. 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.

Ans. (ii) he forced the scientist to use his voice synthesiser.

Q. 4. “I felt a huge relief… in the possibilities of my body.” In the given context, the italicised words refer to

(i) shifting in the wheel chair, turning the wrist.
(ii) standing up, walking.
(iii) speaking, writing.

Ans. (i) shifting in the wheel chair, turning the wrist

Textbook Exercises

Working with the Text (Page – 18)

I. Answer the Following Questions:

Q. 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?


(i). Yes, he felt very excited. Hawkings was his idol and his inspiration and this was his first meeting with him.

(ii). Yes, he felt nervous because Hawking was one of the most brilliant and celebrated scientists that time. He was
going to meet someone he had seen only in pictures.

Q. 2. Guess the first question put to the scientist by the writer.

Ans. “You have been very brave, haven’t you?”, said the narrator.

Q. 3. Stephen Hawking said, “I have had no choice.” Does the writer think there was a choice? What was it ?

Ans. Yes, the writer thought that Stephen Hawking had a choice. He chose to live creatively despite his paralysis.

Q. 4. “I could feel his anguish.” What could be the anguish?

Ans. Stephen’s anguish was that he found it difficult to find the right words on his computer. He felt frustrated and tired.

Q. 5. What endeared the scientist to the writer so that he said he was looking at one of the most beautiful man in the world?

Ans. What endeared Hawking to the writer was his frankness. Without being sentimental or silly, he declared that he was annoyed when somebody came to disturb him in his work.

Q. 6. Read aloud the description of ‘the beautiful man’. Which is the most beautiful sentence in the description?

Ans. ‘Before you, like a lantern whose walls are worn so thin you glimpse only the light inside, is the incandescence of a man.’

Q. 7. (i) If ‘the lantern’ is the man, what would its ‘walls’ be?

Ans. The walls of the lantern are formed by the body.

(ii) What is housed within the thin walls?

Ans. The eternal soul.

(iii) What general conclusion does the writer draw from this comparison?

Ans. The writer draws the conclusion that each of us is an eternal soul, the body is not such an essential thing.

Q. 8. What is the scientist’s message for the disabled?

Ans. Stephen Hawking’s message for the disabled people is that they should concentrate on what they are good at. Olympics for the handicapped or disabled people are a waste of time.

Q. 9. Why does the writer refer to the guitar incident ? Which idea does it support ?

Ans. The writer supports Hawking’s idea that the disabled people must not try to over reach themselves. The writer once tried to play a big guitar. He felt defeated. So he destroyed it one night.

Q. 10. The writer expresses his great gratitude to Stephen Hawking. What is the gratitude for ?

Ans. The writer expresses his gratitude to Hawking for giving him strength and confidence to be brave and to live creatively.

Q. 11. Complete the following sentences taking their appropriate parts from both the boxes below:

(i) There was his assistant on the line ….

(ii) You get fed up with people asking you to be brave ….

(iii) There he was ….

(iv) You look at his eyes which can speak ….

(v) It doesn’t do much good to know ….


(i) There was his assistant on the line I had come in a wheelchair from India.

(ii) 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.

(iii) There he was, tapping at a little switch in his hand trying to find the words on his computer.

(iv) You look at his eyes which can speak, and they are saying something huge and urgent it is hard to tell what.

(v) It doesn’t do much good to know that there are people smiling with admiration to see you breathing still.

Working with Language (Page – 102)

1. Fill in the blanks in the sentences below using appropriate forms of words given in the box.

(i) I met a ________ from an antique land.
(ii) I need special _________in mathematics. I can’t count the number of times I have failed in the subject.
(iii) The guide called Stephen Hawking a worthy _________ to Issac Newton.
(iv) His other problems __________ into insignificance beside this unforeseen mishap.
(v) The meeting was __________ by the youngest member of the board.
(vi) Some people say ‘yours ______
_’ when they informally refer to themselves.
(vii) I wish it had been a ________ match. We would have been spared the noise of celebrations, at least.


1. traveller, 2. guidance, 3. successor, 4. paled, 5. guided, 6. truly, 7. drawn

2. Now make six such phrases using the words given in the box.


(i) A reading session.
(ii) A walking face.
(iii)A smiling face.
(iv)A revolving chair.
(v) A winning chance.
(vi)A dancing doll

3. Use all or both in the blanks. Tell your partner why you chose one or the other.
(i) He has two brothers ______ are lawyers.
(ii) More than ten persons called
_______ of them wanted to see you.
(iii) They cheered the team _______ .
her parents are teachers _________ .
(v) How much have you got? Give me ________of it.

Answers: i) Both (ii) All (iii) all (iv) Both (v) all

4. Complete each sentence using the right form of the adjective given in brackets.

(i) My friend has one of the cars on the road. (fast)

(ii) This is the story I have ever read. (interesting)

(iii) What you are doing now is than what you did yesterday. (easy)

(iv) Ramesh and his wife are both. (short)

(v) He arrived as usual. Even the chief guest came than he did. (late, early)

Ans. (i) fastest (ii) most interesting (iii) easier (iv) short (v) late, earlier

Speaking and Writing (Page – 103)

1. Say the following words with correct stress. Pronounce the parts given in colour loudly and clearly.

2. Underline stressed syllables in the following words. Consult the dictionary or ask the teacher if necessary.


ar tist, mis take, acci dent, mo ment,
com pare, sa tis fy, re la tion, ta ble,
ill egal, a gree, back ward, moun tain

3. Imagine that you are a journalist.

  • You have been asked to interview the president of the village panchayat.
  • Write eight to ten questions you wish to ask.
  • The questions should elicit comments as well as plans regarding
  • water and electricity, cleanliness and school education in the village


As a journalist, here are eight to ten questions I would ask the president of the village panchayat:

  1. Can you tell us about the current status of water and electricity supply in the village, and what steps are being taken to improve it?
  2. What measures are being taken to ensure the cleanliness of the village, especially with regards to waste management and sanitation?
  3. What plans do you have in place to ensure that all children in the village have access to quality education, including those from marginalized communities?
  4. What are some of the challenges you face in implementing these plans, and how do you plan to address them?
  5. Can you speak to any recent initiatives taken by the panchayat to improve the infrastructure in the village, such as roads or public transportation?
  6. What role do you see the village panchayat playing in promoting sustainable and eco-friendly practices within the village?
  7. Are there any particular areas of the village that are currently underserved or facing neglect, and how do you plan to address those issues?
  8. How does the panchayat involve the villagers in decision-making processes and ensure their voices are heard?
  9. Can you speak to any upcoming projects or initiatives that the panchayat has planned for the village?
  10. Lastly, how do you envision the village developing and improving over the next five to ten years, and what steps will be taken to achieve that vision?

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