Textbook: FIRST FLIGHT
A Letter to God
- What did Lencho hope for?
Ans: Lencho hoped that the hailstorm should go as quickly as possible.
- Why did Lencho say the raindrops were like ‘new coins’?
Ans: As raindrops would have helped in getting a better harvest resulting in more prosperity, Lencho compared them with new coins.
- How did the rain change? What happened to Lencho’s fields?
Ans: The rain changed to hailstorm. All the crop in the field was destroyed.
- What were Lencho’s feelings when the hail stopped?
Ans: After the destruction caused by hail, Lencho was shattered. He could see a bleak future for him and his family. He was worried about lack of food for the coming year.
- Who or what did Lencho have faith in? What did he do?
Answer: Lencho had faith in God. He believed that God could see everything and would help him out. Lencho wrote a letter to God, explained his situation and asked for some money from Him.
- Who read the letter?
Answer: The postmaster read the letter.
- What did the postmaster do then?
Answer: The postmaster was deeply touched by Lencho’s faith in God. He asked his colleagues to contribute some money so that they could send that to Lencho.
- Who does Lencho have complete faith in? Which sentences in the story tell you this?
Answer: The following sentences explain Lencho’s faith in God, “But in the hearts of all who lived in that solitary house in the middle of the valley, there was a single hope: help from God. “Don’t be so upset, even though this seems like a total loss. Remember, no one dies of hunger.”
- Why does the postmaster send money to Lencho? Why does he sign the letter ‘God’?
Answer: The postmaster was moved by Lencho’s complete faith in God. So, he decided to send money to Lencho. Moreover, the postmaster did not want to shake Lencho’s faith in God. So, he signed the letter as ‘God’. It was a good ploy to convey a message that God had himself written the letter.
- Did Lencho try to find out who had sent the money to him? Why/Why not?
Answer: As Lencho had complete faith in God, he did not try to find out the actual sender of money.
- Who does Lencho think has taken the rest of the money? What is the irony in the situation?
Answer: Lencho had all his doubts on people working in the post office. The irony of the situation is the finger pointing to those who had tried to help out Lencho. In real life also we come across such situations. Many a time you would have tried helping someone and he may get a wrong message.
- Was Lencho surprised to find a letter for him with money in it?
Answer: Lencho was not surprised to get the money.
- What made him angry?
Answer: The fact that he received half the amount he had requested for, made him angry.
- Are there people like Lencho in the real world? What kind of a person would you say he is? You may select appropriate words from the following list to answer the question.
Greedy, naïve, stupid, ungrateful, selfish, comical, unquestioning
Answer: In the real world it almost impossible to find people, like Lencho. Lencho seems to be naïve and unquestioning. Naïve in the sense that he doesn’t even bother to think about who sent the money or if God would actually send the money. Probably his naiveté comes from his unquestioning belief in the God.
- There are two kinds of conflict in the story: between humans and nature, and between humans themselves. How are these conflicts illustrated?
Answer: In the initial part of the story the episode of rainfall turning into a hailstorm shows the conflict between man and nature. When it is a rainfall the man is very happy dreaming about happy days ahead. But once the rain turns into hail the man is ruing the happening of hailstorm. The way Lencho is feeling sad and gloomy after the storm appropriately projects the conflict of the nature and the man. In the later part of the story when Lencho blames post office people for stealing part of the money then it is showing the conflict between humans. Although nothing is written what happened after that, but anybody can imagine the mental situation when postmaster read the letter.
Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
- Where did the ceremonies take place? Can you name any public buildings in India that are made of sandstone?
Answer: The ceremonies took place in the campus of the Union Building of Pretoria. Rashtrapati Bhavan, and Red Fort are some of the buildings made from sandstone.
- Can you say how 10 May is an ‘autumn day’ in South Africa?
Answer: As South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, so it is autumn season there.
- At the beginning of his speech, Mandela mentions “an extraordinary human disaster”. What does he mean by this? What is the “glorious … human achievement” he speaks of at the end?
Answer: The extraordinary human disaster was the practice of apartheid in South Africa. During apartheid regime there was racial segregation based on skin colour of people. Black people did not have proper constitutional rights.
The end of apartheid regime and the beginning of a more tolerant society was the glorious human achievement.
- What does Mandela thank the international leaders for?
Answer: During apartheid era many country had severed diplomatic ties with South Africa. On that day most of the countries dignitaries were present to attend the swearing in ceremony. This was a gesture of international recognition to a newly born free nation. Nelson Mandela was thanking them for this recognition.
- What ideals does he set out for the future of South Africa?
Answer: Mandela set out the ideals of poverty alleviation, removal of suffering of people. He also set the ideal for a society where there would be no discrimination based on gender or racial origins.
- What do the military generals do? How has their attitude changed, and why?
Answer: Military generals salute Nelson Mandela, which is having tis own importance as during apartheid era they would have arrested Mandela. The change in their attitude was because of struggle and sacrifices put in by many heroes of South Africa. This struggle not only ensured the freedom of South Africa but also brought a change of mindsets for many. As Nelson Mandela believed that like hate love can also be taught and human being is naturally oriented towards love rather than hate.
- Why were two national anthems sung?
Answer: The rendition of national anthem from old republic as well as new republic was sign of the pledge of those who were laying the foundation of a new nation. As it was pledge to build a society devoid of any type of discrimination, the old republic song was also sung to show solidarity with white people and to show that it will be a truly multicultural society.
- How does Mandela describe the systems of government in his country (i) in the first decade, and (ii) in the final decade, of the twentieth century?
Answer: In the first decade after the Anglo-Boer war it was the birth of an oppressive regime which created a system to deprive the black people of every basic human rights. In the final decade, of the twentieth century the system developed a strong pattern of even ignoring the sacrifices made by so many great leaders of South Africa. It was like as if black never existed for the apartheid regime.
- What does courage mean to Mandela?
Answer: For Mandela courage does not mean the absence of fear but a victory over fear. According to him brave men need not be fearless but should be able to conquer fear.
- Which does he think is natural, to love or to hate?
Answer: Mandela thinks for human beings it natural to love rather than to hate.
- Why did such a large number of international leaders attend the inauguration? What did it signify the triumph of?
Answer: The presence of large number of international leaders was a gesture of solidarity from international community to the idea of the end of apartheid. It signified the triumph of good over evil, the triumph of the idea of a tolerant society without any discrimination.
- What does Mandela mean when he says he is “simply the sum of all those African patriots” who had gone before him?
Answer: As Mandela was carrying forward the baton of the freedom struggle, he was also carrying the legacy of leaders of yesteryears. In a baton race the new runner simply carries forward the work done by his predecessors. This is what Nelson Mandela was doing. That is what he was trying to convey by making this statement.
- Would you agree that the “depths of oppression” create “heights of character”? How does Mandela illustrate this? Can you add your own examples to this argument?
Answer: I agree with the statement that depths of oppression create heights of character. Nelson Mandela illustrates this by giving examples of great heroes of South Africa who sacrificed their lives in the long freedom struggle.
India is full of such examples. During our freedom struggle there was a galaxy of leaders of great characters. Probably the oppression of British rule created so many men of such characters. If we compare this with the quality of political leaders India is having today, then Nelson Mandela seems to be absolutely right.
- How did Mandela’s understanding of freedom change with age and experience?
Answer: During young age freedom for Mandela meant a freedom on a personal level. The freedom to raise a family, and the freedom to earn a livelihood. After gaining experience the freedom meant a lot more to Nelson Mandela. It was a freedom for everybody. It was a freedom from fear and prejudice. Age and experience made his perspective wider.
- How did Mandela’s ‘hunger for freedom’ change his life?
Answer: Slowly Nelson Mandela’s hunger for freedom turned from that on a personal level to a broader mass level. This changed the fearful man to a fearless rebel. He sacrificed the comforts of a settled family life to fight for a greater cause.
- What “twin obligations” does Mandela mention?
Answer: In South Africa or in any nation there are two obligations for a person. One is at the personal level towards his family. Another obligation is towards the society. Apart from striving for personal goals a person should also work hard to contribute something to the society.
- What did being free mean to Mandela as a boy, and as a student? How does he contrast these “transitory freedoms” with “the basic and honourable freedoms”?
Answer: Like any other kid for Mandela also the freedom meant a freedom to make merry and enjoy the blissful life. Once anybody becomes an adult then antics of childhood looks like transitory because most of the childish activity is wasteful from an adult’s perspective.
Once you are adult then someday you have to earn a livelihood to bring the bacon home, then only you get an honourable existence in the family and in the society.
- Does Mandela think the oppressor is free? Why/Why not?
Answer: Mandela does not think that the oppressor is free. Because, the oppressor is, the prisoner of hatred and prejudice.
Glimpses of India: Coorg
- Where is Coorg?
Answer: Coorg is situated in Karnataka. It is midway from Mysore to Mangalore.
- What is the story about the Kodavu people’s descent?
Answer: It is believed that Kodavu people are of Arabic origin. It is said that some of Alexander’s army moved to the south and settled there. Their costumes, martial practices and marriage rituals also point to the fact that they are from Arabic origin.
- What are some of the things you now know about
(i) the people of Coorg?
Answer: The people of Coorg are a proud martial race. Their women are beautiful. Martial race means those who have well developed fighting skills. They have a great tradition of hospitality. They would often recount stories of valour of their menfolks.
(ii) the main crop of Coorg?
Answer: The description of abundance of coffee plantations indicate that coffee is the main crop of Coorg.
(iii) the sports it offers to tourists?
Answer: The sporting activities in Coorg are of high energy variety. They are river rafting, canoeing, rock climbing, rappelling and mountain biking.
(iv) the animals you are likely to see in Coorg?
Answer: Macaques, Malabar squirrels, langurs and slender loris are widely found in Coorg. Apart from them elephants are also present.
(v) its distance from Bangalore, and how to get there?
Answer: Coorg is 252 kms from Bangalore. From Mysore it is 146 Kms and there is good train connectivity between Mysore and Coorg. From Bangalore bus services are available. From the rest of India anybody can reach Bangalore airport by flight and proceed towards Coorg. (ref: http://www.karnataka.com/tourism/coorg )
- Here are six sentences with some words in italics. Find phrases from the text that have the same meaning. (Look in the paragraphs indicated)
(i) During monsoons it rains so heavily that tourists do not visit Coorg. (para 2)
Answer: During the monsoons, it pours enough to keep many visitors away.
(ii) Some people say that Alexander’s army moved south along the coast and settled there. (para 3)
Answer: As one story goes, a part of Alexander’s army moved south along the coast and settled here when return became impractical.
(iii) The Coorg people are always ready to tell stories of their sons’ and fathers’ valour. (para 4)
Answer: Coorgi homes have a tradition of hospitality, and they are more than willing to recount numerous tales of valour related to their sons and fathers.
(iv) Even people who normally lead an easy and slow life get smitten by the high-energy adventure sports of Coorg. (para 6)
Answer: The most laidback individuals become converts to the life of high-energy adventure with river rafting.
(v) The theory of the Arab origin is supported by the long coat with embroidered waist-belt they wear. (para 3)
Answer: The theory of Arab origin draws support from the long, black coat with an embroidered waist-belt worn by the Kodavus.
(vi) Macaques, Malabar squirrels observe you carefully from the tree canopy.
Answer: Macaques, Malabar squirrels, langurs and slender loris keep a watchful eye from the tree canopy.
Madam Rides The Bus
- What was Valli’s favourite pastime?
Answer: As Valli had no playmate of her age, so her favourite pastime was to stand in her doorway and watch the street. The street outside used to be full of activities which were enough to keep her amused and engaged.
- What was a source of unending joy for Valli? What was her strongest desire?
Answer: The bus was a source of unending joy for her. The bus used to bring a new set of passengers every-time it came from the town. The diversity of people, their activities were a treat to watch for Valli. Her strongest desire was to take a ride in the bus at least once.
- What did Valli find out about the bus journey? How did she find out these details?
Answer: Valli tried to listen to her neighbours to get the desired information about the bus journey. She would ask some discrete questions to get more information. She got information about distance of the town from her village and the total journey time it usually took.
- What do you think Valli was planning to do?
Answer: Till now information provided in the story indicate towards her plan to fulfill her strongest desire which was to go on a bus ride.
- Why does the conductor call Valli ‘madam’?
Answer: Valli is trying to behave more mature than her age. She is trying to look overconfident and smart. The conductor is amused at her behaviour and in an effort to tease her calls her ‘madam’.
- Why does Valli stand up on the seat? What does she see now?
Answer: Valli’s view was obstructed because of a canvas blind on the window and because of her small height as well, she was unable to have a good view outside. She stood up on her seat to have a better view of the scenery outside. She could see a canal with palm trees, grasslands, distant mountains and blue sky as backdrop. On the other side there was a ditch followed by vast tract of greenery.
- What does Valli tell the elderly man when he calls her a child?
Answer: Valli doesn’t like to be called a child. She thinks that she is grown up. She says that she had paid her full fair the way adults do. This is typical behaviour shown by many kids of Valli’s age.
- Why didn’t Valli want to make friends with the elderly woman?
Answer: The elderly woman was having big earlobes with bigger holes. She chewing betel nut and the betel juice was about to seep out of her mouth. She was giving a sight of unrefined elderly lady. That is why Vaali did not want to make friends with her.
- How did Valli save up money for her first journey? Was it easy for her?
Answer: Valli saved every coin that came her way. She made great sacrifices by controlling her normal childish urges of having candies, toys and joyrides. This must have been difficult for her. Kids find it very difficult to savour a candy or to enjoy a toy.
- What did Valli see on her way that made her laugh?
Answer: A scared cow was running for her life in the middle of the road. It was jumping with tails up. The more incessantly bus driver honked the more furious its scamper became. Valli could not control her laughter after seeing this.
- Why didn’t she get off the bus at the bus station?
Answer: She did not know anything about the town so was afraid of getting lost. Moreover, her meticulous savings plan allowed her enough money to buy only tickets for her journey. Additionally, she had to return before her mother could find her missing.
- Why didn’t Valli want to go to the stall and have a drink? What does this tell you about her?
Answer: She did not want to take obligation from the conductor. This indicates that she is taught of not taking anything from strangers. She may be a small child but she knows how to behave properly in the outside world.