Ethereal Light

Kenneth Pang

Dulwich Hill, Australia

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Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France Jun 2006.

Paris is atop or in the top three of many “city lists”, and having been myself, I can vouch that it is for good reason.

Many people probably share my desire to see Paris with my eyes and to experience what she has to offer. With so much reputation and hype at stake, there was also a bit of trepidation because I didn’t want to be disappointed. As things unfolded, my four days there in the middle of Summer was definitely insufficient.

There are many famous icons of Paris and the most famous is of course the Eiffel Tower. For me, there is much more to Paris than its visual beauty, which of course is stunning. There is also such a rich history to the French and Paris as the centre stage of many political, historical, social and religious events throughout history.

While doing the not-unusual random wandering around the streets of central Paris, I unexpectedly came across the <i>Cathedrale de Notre Dame</i> on the two islands in the River Seine. I was speechless at not only finally seeing the famous front facade (and also the amazing gothic features including the gargoyles) for myself, but having come across it unintentionally.

The cathedral definitely looked closed because it was dusk at the time and the doors were closed. While taking my pot shots of the famous circles on the front, as if by magic, or divine intervention, the huge front doors swung ajar as if to call me inside, right before I had finished the touristy shots and was about to continue on the rest of my walking adventure. I was thus lucky enough to visit the insides of the hallowed cathedral.

I’ve been to a fair few cathedrals throughout Europe but Notre Dame definitely sticks out in my mind when I think back to what it’s like to be inside them. Perhaps because sunlight was rapidly shrinking, or perhaps for some other reason, there was a somewhat <i>darker</i> feel inside – not in a spooky sense – but a certain tranquility and peace. The kind you might feel when you are gently cocooned in bed in an old but comfortable house, perhaps like when you visited your grandparents when you were young. It might have been stormy and raining hard outside, with lots of lurking shadows, but somehow deep inside, you felt completely safe because of where you are.

I took this photo during my earlier days of handling an SLR and though <i>technically</i> I feel I could’ve taken a better shot now, the fact that the image turned out the way that it did seemed to be purely by chance, like the way I stumbled inside the cathedral.

I know that there is much more to Paris than what lies on the surface and I hope I am lucky enough to see more of her for myself in the future.

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