Name the two temples the author visited in Kathmandu.
Pashupatinath and Baudhnath stupa.
The writer says, “All this I wash down with Coca Cola.” What does ‘all this’ refer to ?
It refers to a bar of marzipan and a roasted corn-on-the-cob eaten by the writer.
What does Vikram Seth compare the quills of a porcupine to ?
He compares them to the flute seller’s bansuris.
Name five different kinds of flute.
The five different kinds of flute are : (1) the reed neh, (2) the recorder, (3) the Japanese shakuhachi, (4) the Hindustani bansuri, and (5) the Chinese flute.
What is the difference between the behaviour of the flute seller and that of the other hawkers ?
The flute seller does not shout out his wares. He plays one of his bansuris for a minute or two. Its sound attracts the people. Thus he makes a sale occasionally.
What is the Nepalese belief about the end of Kaliyug ?
There is a small shrine on the bank of the river Bagmati. It half protrudes from water. It is believed that when the shrine emerges fully, the goddess inside will escape. And then the evil period of the Kaliyug will end.
Compare and contrast the atmosphere in and around the Baudhnath shrine with that at the Pashupatinath temple.
At the Pashupatinath temple, it is all noise and confusion. Only Hindus are allowed to go in. Visitors have to convince those on duty that they are Hindus. So there is a lot of confusion at the entrance. Inside the temple, there are all sorts of noises. There are priests, hawkers, devotees, tourists, cows, monkeys, pigeons and dogs. People push each other to get to the front. Each one tries to have the priest’s attention. But at the Baudhnath shrine, it is all different. There are no crowds or noises. It is a quiet place. In the midst of noisy streets, it looks like a haven of quietness.
How does the author describe Kathmandu bazaar ?
The author says that the Kathmandu's main bazaar is a very busy place. It is crowded with fruit sellers and flute sellers. There are postcard hawkers also. Some shops sell copper utensils. Others sell film rolls and chocolates. The bazaar is crowded as well as noisy. Loud film songs are played on the radio sets. The sounds of car horns and bicycle bells can be heard all around. Vendors shout out their wares. Stray cows low at passing motorcycles. There are small shrines all along the narrow streets. The idols in these shrines are adorned with flowers. The author says that all the activities in bazaar are related with money or religion.
‘To hear any flute is to be drawn into the commonalty of all mankind.’ Why does the author say that ?
The music of the flute is the most universal music. It is closest to the human voice. Like human voice, it needs pauses. Thus, it draws us close to all mankind.
How does the writer describe the Baudhnath stupa ?
The Baudhnath stupa is a Buddhist shrine in Kathmandu. It is the most sacred Buddhist shrine. It has a huge white dome. A road goes round the stupa. Along the outer edge of the road, there are small shops. The owners of many of these shops are Tibetans. They sell felt bags, silver jewellery and Tibetan prints. The writer says that it is a quiet place. It is not like the Pashupatinath temple. There are no crowds or loud noises here. The writer calls it a haven of quietness.
What does the writer say about the streets of Kathmandu ?
The writer says that the streets of Kathmandu are very narrow. They remain crowded. There are fruit sellers, flute sellers and hawkers of postcards. They shout out to sell their wares. All along the streets, there are small shrines. These shrines have the idols of various gods and goddesses. They are adorned with flowers.
How does the author describe the flute seller he sees in a square of Kathmandu ?
The flute seller stood in a corner of the square. He had a pole in his hand. The pole had an attachment at the top. About fifty or sixty bansuris were stuck on it. They protruded in all directions. From time to time, he would stand his pole on the ground and select a bansuri. He would play it for a few minutes. His music rose above all other noises. He made a sale occasionally. But he didn’t show much enthusiasm about it. Sometimes he would stop playing his flute. Then he would talk to a fruit seller. It seemed to have been the pattern of his life for years.