LINGUASKILL – Lectura ampliada (nivel C1)

You are going to read an extract from a novel. Choose the answer (A, B, C or D) which you think fits best according to the text.

Brick Lane

Thirty or so years after he arrived in London, Chanu decided that it was time to see the sights. “All I saw was the Houses of Parliament. And that was in 1979.” It was a project. Much equipment was needed. Preparations were made. Chanu bought a pair of shorts which hung just below his knees. He tried them on and filled the numerous pockets with a compass, guidebook, binoculars, bottled water, maps and two types of disposable camera. Thus loaded, the shorts hung at mid-calf. He bought a baseball cap and wore it around the flat with the visor variously angled up and down and turned around to the back of his head. A money belt secured the shorts around his waist and prevented them from reaching his ankles. He made a list of tourist attractions and devised a star rating system that encompassed historical significance, something he termed ‘entertainment factor’ and value for money. The girls would enjoy themselves. They were forewarned of this requirement.

On a hot Saturday morning towards the end of July the planning came to fruition. “I’ve spent more than half my life here,” said Chanu, “but I’ve hardly left these few streets.” He stared out of the bus windows at the grimy colours of Bethnal Green Road. “All this time I have been struggling and struggling, and I’ve barely had time to lift my head and look around.”

They sat at the front of the bus, on the top deck. Chanu shared a seat with Nazneen, and Shahana and Bibi sat across the aisle. Nazneen crossed her ankles and tucked her feet beneath the seat to make way for the two plastic carrier bags that contained their picnic. “You’ll stink the bus out,” Shahana had said. “I’m not sitting with you.” But she had not moved away.

“It’s like this,” said Chanu, “when you have all the time in the world to see something, you don’t bother to see it. Now that we are going home, I have become a tourist”. He pulled his sunglasses from his forehead onto his nose. They were part of the new equipment.

He turned to the girls. “How do you like your holiday so far?” Bibi said that she liked it very well, and Shahana squinted and shuffled and leaned her head against the side window.

Chanu began to hum. He danced with his head, which wobbled from side to side, and drummed out a rhythm on his thigh. The humming appeared to come from low down in his chest and melded with the general tune of the bus, vibrating on the bass notes.

Nazneen decided that she would make this day unlike any other. She would not allow this day to disappoint him.

The conductor came to collect fares. He had a slack-jawed expression: nothing could interest him. “Two at one pound, and two children, please,” said Chanu. He received his tickets. “Sightseeing,” he announced, and flourished his guidebook. “Family holiday.”

“Right,” said the conductor. He jingled his bag, looking for change. He was squashed by his job. The ceiling forced him to stoop.

“Can you tell me something? To your mind, does the British Museum rate more highly than the National Gallery? Or would you recommend the gallery over the museum?”

The conductor pushed his lower lip out with his tongue. He stared hard at Chanu, as if considering whether to eject him from the bus.

“In my rating system,” explained Chanu, “they are neck and neck. It would be good to take an opinion from a local.”

“Where’ve you come from, mate?”

“Oh, just two blocks behind,” said Chanu. “But this is the first holiday for twenty or thirty years.”

The conductor swayed. It was still early but the bus was hot and Nazneen could smell his sweat. He looked at Chanu’s guidebook. He twisted round and looked at the girls. At a half-glance he knew everything about Nazneen, and then he shook his head and walked away.