Sunday, January 09, 2005

To Stanford University

With the year-end vacation drawing to an end, I thought I should visit my school friend, Vikram, at Stanford University today, for it may not be possible later.

I took the VTA (Valley Transport Authority, the public transport organisation for Santa Clara county) bus to Palo Alto, where the university is located. Generally, whenever I travel somewhere I carry my lunch, to save on expenses. I did not have time in the morning to cook food, and so, just packed some apples and carrots and rushed to catch the bus.
Stanford Photos

The famous University was founded by Leland Stanford in 1891. He was of humble origins and through his own efforts grow into a millionaire in the railroad business. His son, also Leland, died young and the Stanfords decided to adopt the youth of whole of California as their children in place of the one they lost. They decided to build this university in their son's memory.

The campus is a blend of stately old buildings of stone as well as steel structures of modern architecture. Interspersed here and there are other works of art such as sculptures. There was a wooden totem pole, there was a brass one depicting gay
liberation, and an abstract work in the Business School. But the most famous of all the sculptures is the "Burghers of Calais." Stanford Photos 2

During the Hundred Years war between the England and France, the French king abandoned the beseiged city of Calais to its fate. When governor petitioned the King of England to spare the citizens while doing as he pleased with the city itself. Seeking revenge for enormous loss accrued due to the warriors from that city in the war, the English king offered that if six citizens were handed over to him as punishment the rest would not be harmed. The sculpture is of the six volunteers (all
respected and wealthy citizens) on their way to the English camp. The artist, Rodin, brings out their inner turmoil by depicting their "faltering steps, despairing gestures and anguished expressions."

A few decades ago in India, people travelling Benares would give up eating a vegetable, in memory of the pilgrimage. The trip to Stanford too was a pilgrimage of sorts for me. While taking a photograph, I kept down the food I was carrying and forgot to pick it up. Thus, in memory of the visit, I left behind somewhere in Stanford, my lunch for the day...

Pictures are here


maheshbalaji said...

vanakkam 'Swaami' avargale!

nyaabagam irukka?! anyways! was jus too happy to see u'r link n the snaps along! jus really elated to see Bumpy too!

am grinnin wide enuf...n am unable to (meaning do not wannu) think of anything to write now!

Srikanth said...

Hey Mahesh!
Man, it's been ages! So how has life been to you? Do mail me (srikanthsubram AT gmail DOT com) when you find time, I shall too (btw, what's your email id?). Keep in touch