Understanding the text
Question 1. Give reasons for the following.
(i) The article has been titled ‘Silk Road’.
Answer : All along the route from Ravu to Mansarovar, the places that the author saw were festooned with white silk scarves and prayer flags. Also, Hor, was situated on the main East-West highway. It was the old trade route from Lhasa to Kashmir. Silk was one of the main export items. Hence, it came to be known as ‘Silk Road’.
Question 2. Tibetan Mastiffs were popular in China’s imperial courts.
Answer : Tibetan Mastiffs were huge black dogs that guarded the tents of the nomads. They were shaggy monsters who would speed directly to the target like a bullet from a gun. Their bark was ferocious and they were completely fearless. They used to chase away invaders. Their ferociousness made them popular in China’s imperial courts as hunting dogs. They were brought along ‘Silk Road’ in ancient times as a tribute from Tibet.
Question 3. The author’s experience at Hor was in stark contrast to earlier accounts of the place.
Answer : Previous travellers Ekai Kawaguchi, a Japanese monk, Sven Hadin, a Swede, were so moved by the sanctity of the lake that they had a sentimental outburst. But the author found Hor, which was situated on the shore of lake Mansarovar a grim and miserable place. There was no vegetation whatsoever, just dust and rocks liberally scattered with years of accumulated refuse.
Question 4. The author was disappointed with Darchen.
Answer : Darchen was partially derelict and punctuated by heaps of rubble and refuse. The author was disappointed because it was not the tourist season and there were no pilgrims.
Question 5. The author thought that his positive thinking strategy worked well after all.
Answer : The author was not willing to do the Kora all by himself. When he met Norbu and the latter told him his purpose to come to Mansarovar, the author was delighted. Norbu told him that both of them could be a team to do the Kora. This made the author think that his positive thinking strategy had worked.
Briefly comment on
Question 1. The purpose of the author’s journey to Mount Kailash.
Answer : The purpose of the author’s journey to Mount Kailash was to complete the Kora, which was a sacred religious ritual according to Hindu and Buddhist tradition.
Question 2. The author’s physical condition in Darchen.
Answer : The author suffered a cold, which made him very uncomfortable. He had problems in breathing, especially when lying down. He felt that if he went to sleep, he would never wake up.
Question 3. The author’s meeting with Norbu.
Answer : The author was sitting in a cafe in Darchen when he met Norbu. He was delighted to meet him since Norbu was also planning to do Kora. Norbu, who worked in Beijing at the Chlinese Academy of Social Sciences, had written papers on Kailash Kora.
Question 4. Tsetan’s support to the author during the journey.
Answer : Tsetan was driving the vehicle for the author. He was a very efficient driver and managed to drive the tough terrains without any mishaps. Further in Darchen, when the author felt terribly sick, he tended well and took him to the doctor whose medicines cured the author.
Question 5. ‘‘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.’’
Answer : These were Tsetan’s words spoken to the author. After the author’s sickness was cured, Tsetan wanted to go to Lhasa. By saying these words, he showed his caring attitude towards the author and at the same time, he firmly reinstated that he was a Buddhist, who believed that physical death was not death in the real sense. However, he thought that the death of a tourist could affect his business as a taxi driver, badly.
Talking about the text
Discuss in groups of four
Question 1. The sensitive behaviour of hill folk.
Answer : People in the hilly regions lead a very tough life. Everyday, they encounter death in one form or the other. This kind of experience makes them understand the value of life and this makes them sensitive to other people’s needs as well.
People in the hilly areas have to face the travails of life. Also, basic supplies are in short supply in hilly areas. Thus, they learn to share and help. This trait is so evidently seen in Tsetan’s behaviour. He is a skilled driver and knows the terrains completely. With his efficient driving, he makes author’s journey quite hazardless. Even though Tsetan’s job was over when they reached Darchen, he did not leave the author who had fallen sick. He looked after him well and left only when the author was cured.
Question 2. The reasons why people willingly undergo the travails of difficult journey.
Answer : Human beings are different from other species because their sense of discerning is superior than the rest. But human minds are very strange. Most of us like to lead a very straight forward life, yet some of us always have the urge to do something different. This is the reason, few of us want to undertake adventurous tasks. Adventurous sports and adventurous journey are taken by these kind of people who are not only courageous, brave and daring but want to do something extraordinary.
The difficulties make the adventure more challenging. Some of us do not feel burdened or apprehensive when faced with problems. A glaring example is the author of ‘Silk Road’. It is very difficult to complete the Kora of Mansarovar. He faces a lot of hazards on his way. To drive on a slippery terrain is not an easy task but the author’s driver Tsetan does not flinch. However, the credit should be given more to the author as he is not the native of Tibet. He is not used to the severe climate nor is he accustomed to travel slippery hilly regions. It is his sense of adventure that surges him ahead to accomplish his task.
Question 3. The accounts of exotic places in legends and the reality.
Answer : The world is full of places, which are very beautiful and exotic. We cannot visit all of them but we certainly like to read about them. The places of religious importance top this list of the places which we like to visit. Our legends about these places give such detailed exotic account that at the first opportunity we would like to visit them with a lot of expectation.
Unfortunately, these places bear the brunt of neglect. We realise it only when we go there. Whether it is Rameshwaram or Ayodhya or even Jagnnathpuri. The overall conditions of these places present a stark contrast from the account that we read. We get motivated to visit the places if we read about them or someone describes them.
However, when we actually see them, we realise that fiction is different from facts. The author of the lesson ‘Silk Road’ went to Mansarovar with a lot of expectations. He had read how the Mansarovar lake had an overwhelming effect on a Japanese monk Ekai Kawaguchi, and Swede, Sven Hadin. But when he visited Hor, a town sat on the shore of Mansarovar lake, he was aghast to see that Hor was a grim and miserable place with no vegetation, just dust and rocks liberally scattered with years of accumulated refuse.