RBSE Solutions for Class 11 English Hornbill Chapter 8 Silk Road
RBSE Solutions for Class 11 English Hornbill Chapter 8 Silk Road
Text Book Questions and Answers
Understanding the text
I. Give reasons for the following statements.
The article has been titled ‘Silk Road.’
The article has been titled Silk Road because it chronicles the author’s expedition to Mount Kailash through the Silk Road region. The name Silk Road or Silk Routes, coined by German geographer and traveller, Ferdinand von Richthofen, refers to a network of trade roads that connected the East and the West. The road’owes its name to the silk trade that was established between China, Europe and Africa.
Tibetan mastiffs were popular in China’s imperial courts.
Tibetan mastiff is a ferocious breed of dog found in Tibet. These dogs are used as guards and hunting dogs. These are big dogs with massive jaws. They cock their big heads when they see an approaching stranger and fix them in their sights. They are totally fearless and shoot straight at the stranger like a bullet from a gun. While passing by nomads’ tents, the author’s car was chased by Tibetan mastiffs.
They put up a fierce chase for about a hundred meters and gave up only when they realised the car was off the property. The sinister sight of the dogs and their aggressive behavior made the author realise why the Tibetan mastiff was popular in China’s imperial courts as hunting dogs.
The author’s experience at Hor was in stark contrast to earlier accounts of the place.
The earlier travel accounts the author read or heard of presented the town in a completely different light from what he saw before his eyes. He found the place grim and miserable, dusty and rocky with no vegetation. Years of accumulated refuse scattered all over the place. It was an unfortunate sight given the fact that Hor was situated on the shore of Lake Manasarovar.
The author expected something spectacular which would appeal to his senses and his psyche. According to one of the earlier accounts, Ekai Kawaguchi, a Japanese monk who arrived at Lake Manasarovar in 1900, was so moved by the sight that he burst into tears. The same happened to a Swedish traveller, Sven Hedin, who broke into tears too at the Lake. However, the author found his experience in stark contrast to the earlier accounts.
The author was disappointed with Darchen.
The author was slightly disappointed in Darchen. To begin with, he had an acute breathing problem. Due to cold as well as the height of the place from the sea level, he felt heaviness in his chest and was unable to breathe every time he tried to lie down. He literally spent the first night in Darchen sitting wide awake against a wall. The problem, however, subsided after he visited a doctor the next day and took Tibetan medicine.
Secondly, the place was dusty and partly neglected. There were heaps of rubbish scattered around. Since the author was too early to arrive, there were hardly any pilgrims in Darchen. He was lonely and felt so because there was hardly anyone who spoke English. Had it not been for a clear sky and a brightly shining sun, Darchen would itself gloomier than ever to the author.
The author thought that his positive thinking strategy worked well after all
The author was dejected in Darchen. A bad health, a gloomy town, almost no pilgrims and no one around to talk to made his stay in the town quite demoralising. Although he was trying to boost himself up with positive thinking, his options to make it to Mount Kailash seemed severely limited to him. It was then that he met Norbu, a Tibetan academic, in the only cafe of Darchen. Norbu worked in Beijing, spoke English and was on his way to Mount Kailash.
When the author revealed that that was his intention too, Norbu suggested that they made a team. This was something the author wanted and hoped for. He needed a company, someone who knew the region and could also spoke English. At that point in time, there could not be any better companion for him than Norbu. This made the author feel his positive thinking really worked.
II. Briefly comment on
The purpose of the author’s journey to Mount Kailash.
The author, Nick Middleton, is a geographer and a traveller. His purpose of the journey to Mount Kailash was to do the kora, which is the pilgrimage walk around Tibet’s most sacred mountain, Mount Kailash.
The author’s physical condition in Darchen.
The author’s physical condition in Darchen was far from being good. He had already been suffering from cold and one of his nostrils was blocked compelling him to breathe through only one nostril. He also suffered from breathlessness due to high altitude. The first night in Darchen was all the more difficult for him as he could not sleep due to heaviness in the chest. This problem, however, was cured by the Tibetan treatment he received the next day.
The author’s meeting with Norbu.
The author’s meeting with Norbu was accidental, which, for him was more than a welcome accident. He met Norbu at the cafe of Darchen where he sat pondering over his options of making it to Mount Kailash. Norbu approached the author and struck up a conversation with him. The author was happy to meet Norbu, primarily because he spoke English. Norbu was a Tibetan academic working at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in Beijing. He was in Darchen for the Kailash kora on which he had written many academic papers but never did it himself. When he heard the author also hoped to do the kora, he suggested that they made a team. This was what the author wanted too to complete his expedition and hence it was a happy meeting for him.
Tsetan’s support to the author during the journey.
Tsetan was a good guide and a competent driver. He was very careful driving the car in the rough terrain. He knew everything about the region which made the journey of the author quite easy. Tsetan also took care of the author when he fell sick. He took the author to the hospital and saw to it that the latter got proper treatment.
“As a Buddhist, he told me, he knew that it didn’t really matter if I passed away, but he thought it would be bad for business. ”
Tsetan was a Buddhist and believed that death was not the end of all. Moreover, passing away at the Manasarovar Lake near Mount Kailash would actually be a good thing. So he told the author that it didn’t really matter if the author passed away at Darchen. However, it wouldn’t be good for his business because if any of his tourists passed away, he would lose his credibility as someone who could not look after his tourists.
Talking about the text
Discuss in groups of four
The sensitive behaviour of hill-folk.
Hill-folk shown in the text are shown to be very cordial and empathetic towards the narrator. The driver Tsetan shows perseverance to ensure the narrator’s safety, while he struggles with breathing and a persisting cold in the freezing high altitude. The Tibetan doctor’s unusual local medicine help the author with his recovery, while Norbu is willing to team up on their pilgrimage after a brief meeting with the narrator. All these characters show a sense of concern and desire to help visitors adapt to an unfamiliar environment.
The reasons why people willingly undergo the travails of difficult journeys.
In this text, the narrator undertakes this difficult journey because he wishes to complete the Kailash kora, a difficult pilgrimage through several rocky mountain passes to the high altitude Mount Kailash. Both Darchen and he are academics, who decide to travel together for scholarly purposes. However, many other pilgrims undertake this difficult journey for spiritual growth. Other reasons that people may undergo such difficult journeys include a desire for such adventures or as tourists a genuine interest in visiting such historic sites.
The accounts of exotic places in legends and the reality.
The narrator describes his experiences in the small Tibetan town Hor as very different from the accounts of earlier travellers that he has read. Accounts by a Japanese monk and a Swede visitor describe how they were both sentimentally overwhelmed by the sanctity of the lake. However the narrator describes Hor as a miserable place full of rocks and years of accumulated garbage. This indicates that portrayals in exotic accounts may starkly differ from personal experiences of places.
Thinking about language
Notice the kind of English Tsetan uses while talking to the author. How do you think he picked it up?
We notice the influence of Tsetan’s mother tongue Tibetan on his use of the English language. Phrases like “Not knowing, Sir” when queried about snowfall and “but no smoking” referring to the car’s petrol tank, indicate that he is relatively comfortable communicating in English and he prefers to use short sentences while speaking the language. As a driver who regularly takes foreign visitors all over Tibet, Tsetan may have learned English through his interactions , with these visitors.
What do the following utterances indicate?
i) “I told her, through Daniel…”
This utterance indicate that since the narrator doesn’t speak Tibetan, Daniel translates his sentences from English to Tibetan so he can communicate with Lhamo, to tell her that he plans to complete the kora pilgrimage.
(ii) “It’s a cold, ” he said finally through Tsetan.
The doctor, who speaks Tibetan, gets Tsetan to translate his words into English, to inform the narrator that he has a cold and will be giving him medicine to cure this.
Guess the meaning of the following words,
kora , drokba , kyang
In which language are these words found?
- Kora – A Tibetan meditation practice or Pilgrimage
- Drokba – Tibetan Nomads who manage herds
- Kyang – Wild asses found in Tibet
Working with words
The narrative has many phrases to describe the scenic beauty of the mountainside like:
A flawless half-moon floated in a perfect blue sky.
Scan the text to locate other such picturesque phrases.
Other picturesque phrases include:
Extended banks of cloud like long French loaves glowed pink
Sun emerged to splash the distant mountain tops with a rose-tinted blush
Snow-capped mountains gathering on the horizon
River was wide and mostly clogged with ice, brilliant white and glinting in the sunshine.
The trail hugged its bank, twisting with the meanders Big rocks daubed with patches of bright orange lichen.
It was marked by a large cairn of rocks festooned with white silk scarves and ragged prayer flags.
The plateau is pockmarked with salt flats and brackish lakes
Explain the use of the adjectives in the following phrases.
- shaggy monsters – Tibetan mastiff dogs with lots of fur
- brackish lakes – Water bodies with lots of salt
- rickety table – Table that shook because its legs were not fastened well together
- hairpin bend – A U-shaped bend along a road
- rudimentary general stores – Basic stores found everywhere that sell most necessary provisions
The account has only a few passive voice sentences. Locate them. In what way does the use of active voice contribute to the style of the narrative.
What was the likelihood of that I asked.
By late afternoon we had reached.
That night, after my first full day’s course, I slept very soundly.
Once he saw that I was going to live Tsetan left me…
The pilgrimage trail was well-trodden…
The cafe had a single window beside which I’d taken up position…
Active voice is used to indicate that the subject is the person, place or thing that is responsible for the action. The use of the active voice in this narrative puts the reader in the position of the narrator. It makes us identify with his journey as the “I” in the narrative, and also makes us feel like we are travelling along with them through Tibet.
Notice this construction: Tsetan was eager to have them fixed. Write five sentences with a similar structure.
- I was hoping to have the windows repaired.
- The man was impatiently waiting to have his teeth fixed.
- The driver was going to have his license cancelled.
- The kids were waiting to get their ice-cream cones refilled.
- The teacher was longing to have her tenure extended.
RBSE Solutions for Class 11 English Hornbill Chapter 8 Silk Road, Study Learner