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Canals But Not Really

SoCal is pretty dry. Frankly, it rains somewhere around 4 times a year, and the nearest body of water is the ocean, which takes a bit of time to get to with a car. Cambridge, on the other hand, is one of those universities that happen to be right next to a body of water, a river actually, being the River Cam. Really, the river itself is more a tributary, maybe a little over 7 feet deep in the areas around Cambridge. It’s a beautiful thing, great to sit by, cross over with bridges, relax, around, etc. One of the nicest things about it, though, has been one of the popular traditions of Cambridge: punting. And for this one, I’m going to eschew the random picture at the end for some quite relevant pictures now.

Punting is basically the art of navigating the river in a flat bottomed boat using a long pole that you push against the riverbed with. The end result is a gondola-like experience of traversing serenely through Cambridge, either sitting in the boat or punting yourself. In the warmer months, punting is a diversion often taken by quite a few many people, and it’s not uncommon to be crossing a bridge and see a great many boats crossing underneath you.

So I came into Cambridge earlier than a lot of other students, with the international. Bit confused, bit new to all of this, sort of had no idea what to do, I was just generally not in an amazing place. My college, however, had a decent idea how to introduce new people to university and did its best to occupy our time while we were here, not the least of which was taking us punting. Frankly, once I got into a boat with two other pretty cool guys, being punted about by a very cool third year, most of my worries just faded way. It’s just really difficult to be bothered when you’re lazily making your way through the river, watching the landscape slowly pass you by.

I even got a chance to try to punt. The keyword here, naturally, is “try”, because the end result was that as soon as I had to turn with a decent level of control, we started spinning around in a circle while I desperately tried to get us going in one direction again. I like to consider it a mild success, we eventually got where we were going, but you know, a bit less twirling madly would have been nice. Still, in between trying to wrest control of a boat using nothing but a giant stick, you do get some fantastic views. The Cam happens to run by some very nice bridges and colleges in Cambridge, including a good back view of King’s Chapel, the Bridge of Sighs in St. Johns, the new and old parts of Queens College, and so on. The whole time too you’ll have a fair number of other people punting along with you, so you generally have company. It’s heartening to see other people also try punting for their first time and do about as well as you’re doing.

End of the day, punting wasn’t part of some huge club, it wasn’t some massively awe inspiring experience, it wasn’t a mind blowing new activity, but frankly, it was one of the prettiest, nicest things I’ve done. This post wasn’t as excited as some of my other posts, but that’s alright; like punting, it’s content, relaxed, and just genuinely enjoyable I like to think.

…I should get a boat.

Doesn’t have enough money for a boat,

Aditya

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