Monday, May 13, 2013
English roses--Do you always play by the rules?
I am not the kind of person who likes to break rules especially when I think the rules are reasonable. But when the rules are set just for the sake of setting them, then I have to find ways to get around them without stepping on others' benefits.
Years ago I visited England, and Cambridge and its colleges were on the top list. Before I got there, I imagined myself sitting on the long bench and reading my favourite book and paying tribute to one of my favourite Chinese writers who studied there 80 or 90 years ago.
I had no idea that the colleges were not shy from shutting all the tourists out saying that all colleges were closed during exam period--- early June. The first day I was in disappointment. That evening I tried to talk it out to my roommates in the hostel. Then I found out that most exams were held in the morning so basically afternoon visit would not bring such inconvenience to students. I received all kinds of suggestions. 'Hide your camera, try to look like a student.' 'Tell them that you study here.' 'Just break in.' 'Carry a few books then walk in.'
Next day, I did carry out my plans. First I tried to get in from the back door telling the porter that I travelled a long way to get here and I was not able to stay till the colleges were open for visitors again. She asked me if I study there, being an honest person, I must say no, I am just a visitor. Of course she gave me another chance, again I told her no, I am not a student. So, honesty did not get me far. I must try to be smart.
(The stone was engraved with the lines taken out from the poem written by my favourite Chinese writer who studied in King's college 80 years ago)
For the next few hours, I just took photos outside and I stopped a Chinese student asking him how to get in. His answers surprised me. 'Well, just get in, you dont need to talk to the porter, I doubt if they would stop you as long as you look like you study here.' So he told me to follow him and see if they will stop me. It's true, no one asked for my student ID. After showing me the college he was in and me saying thanks to him. We parted and I continued my own little adventure.
I used this method again and again, college after college, no one said a word. I remember when I was entering the door of King's college and looked straight at the eyes of the porter and wore a big smile, she remained calm and still. Yes, I got in, leaving others scratching their heads wondering how I did it.
'I dont know how they let her in.' was the thing I heard when passing a group of students. I dont know either, I guess luck plays a big part, of course courage to take the first step is important as well.
It's worth taking a risk when I got to see the English garden and its roses.