Thinking About The Text
Q.I: Answer these questions in one or two words or in short phrases:
a) Name the two temples the author visited in Kathmandu.
Ans: Pashupatinath and Baudhnath Stupa.
b) The writer says, “All this I wash down with Coca Cola”. What does ‘all this’ refer to ?
Ans: A bar of marzipan and a corn-on-the-cob.
c) What does Vikram Seth compare to the quills of a porcupine ?
Ans: Bansuris (Flutes)
d) Name five kinds of flutes.
Ans: The reed neh, the recorder, the Japanese shakuhachi, the deep bansuri of Hindustani classical music and the clear or breathy flutes of South America.
Q.II: Answer each question in a short paragraph:
a) What difference does the author note between the flute seller and the other hawkers ?
Ans: The author notices that unlike other hawkers, the flute seller never shouts out his wares. Occasionally he makes a sale, but in a curiously offhanded way as if this were incidental to his enterprise.
b) What is the belief at Pashupatinath about the end of Kaliyug ?
Ans: On the bank of river Bagmati, there is a small shrine half protruding from the stone platform. It is believed that, when the shrine emerges fully, the goddess inside will escape, and the evil period of Kaliyug will end.
c) The author had drawn powerful images and pictures. Pick out three examples each of:
i. the atmosphere of ‘febrile confusion’ outside the temple of Pashupatinath
(for example: some people trying to get the priest’s attention are elbowed
Ans: The author is talking about the fight between two monkeys, where one chases the other, who jumps onto a shivalinga, then runs screaming around the temples and down to the river.
ii. the things he sees
Ans: The author sees a princess of Nepalese Royal house at the temple. He sees that a corpse is being cremated on the river’s banks, washerwomen at their work and children bathe.
iii. the sounds he hears
Ans: The author hears film songs blare out of radios, car horn sounds, bicycle bell rings, stray cows low questioningly at motorcycles, vendors shout out their wares.
Q.III: Answer the following questions in not more than 100-150 words each:
a) Compare and contrast the atmosphere in and around the Baudhnath shrine
with the Pashupatinath temple.
Ans: At Pashupatinath, there is an atmosphere of ‘febrile confusion’. Priests, hawkers, devotees, tourists, cows, monkeys, pigeons and dogs roam through the grounds. There are so many worshippers that some people trying to get the priest’s attention are elbowed aside by others pushing their way to the front. By the main gate, a
party of saffron-clad Westerners struggle for permission to enter. A fight breaks out between two monkeys. One chases the other, who jumps onto a shivalinga, then runs screaming around the temples and down to the river, the holy Bagmati. At the Baudhnath stupa, the Buddhist shrine of Kathmandu, there is, in contrast, a sense of
stillness. Small shops stand on its outer edge: many of these are owned by Tibetan immigrants. There are no crowds: this is a haven of quietness in the busy streets around.
b) How does the author describe the Kathmandu’s busiest streets ?
Ans: The author describes the streets as narrowest and busiest with fruit sellers,
flute sellers, hawkers of postcards; shops selling Western cosmetics, film rolls and chocolate; or copper utensils and Nepalese antiques. Film songs blare out from the radios, car horns sound, bicycle bells ring, stray cows low questioningly at motorcycles, vendors shout out their wares.
c) “To hear any flute is to be drawn into the commonality of all mankind.” Why
does the author say this?
Ans: According to the author, flute music is at once the most universal and most particular of sounds. There is no culture that does not have its flute — the reed neh, the recorder, the Japanese shakuhachi, the deep bansuri of Hindustani classical music, the clear or breathy flutes of South America, the high-pitched Chinese flutes. Each has its specific fingering and compass. It weaves its own associations. By hearing any flute, we are moved by the music closest in its phrases and sentences to the human voice. Its motive force too is living breath; it too needs to pause and breathe before it can go on.