Vocabulary for ambitious school students

May 24, 2015 at 8:33 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fill in the blanks with suitable words, a list of which is given at the bottom.

The head master of our school had been to a high school in a far off place where he saw students enthusiastically learning martial arts under a Buddhist monk’s ———-. Highly impressed with the newly acquired ———– of the students to fend off attacks, he wanted to ——— the same program in his school, but he lacked a suitable expert. So, he requested the monk to come to his school to start the coaching.

Quite sadly for our head master, the monk showed only ——— interest in the offer. When pressed further, the monk cited a number of reasons for his declining the request. To the amazement and distress of our head master, the monk cited a —-of complaints against our school. These included the —— salary our school management pays to our teachers, the high drop-out rate of students, the absence of toilets for girls, and most shamefully, the recent media reports of molestation of girl students by male teachers. All these left our head master red-faced. The monk, obviously, was very well-informed about schools in the district.

Our head master, however, persisted in his effort to ——– — the venerated monk, whose ——– as a martial art coach was well known. Unnerved by the monk’s adverse observations, our head master tried to ——- the guru’s negative perception about our school. He narrated how our school had won the state-level football tournament, got at least one berth in the top ten in the final examination results for last three years consecutively, and had won the Chief Minister’s award for planting the highest number of saplings.

The monk heard everything quietly. His face remained ———– for a long time making our head master wonder if the monk was ready to reconsider his stand. After a while, with a broad grin in his face, he looked into the eyes of our head master and said, “A good teacher must never disappoint a good learner.” Without, saying anything more, he begged leave of our head master and went into his room. Our head master took the one-line comment of the monk as his willingness to come to our school. ‘Although, the message was ———, it surely was positive,’ assumed our teacher. On his way home, our head master pondered his interaction with the monk. He thought perhaps Buddhism teaches its disciples to be —– with the words.

[Cryptic, Miser, Tutelage, Replicate, Lukewarm, Prowess, Litany, Frugal, Rope in, Dispel, Attributes, Impassive]


Some confusions in English grammar 1

May 23, 2015 at 9:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Some confusion inherent in English grammar ….

See these sentences …

Do you mind my speaking (in) Hindi? .. Very formal and fully correct
Do you mind me speaking (in) Hindi? … Informal, but acceptable
I understand his wanting a change in his duty. Very formal and fully correct
I understand him wanting a change in his duty. Informal, but acceptable
The bank’s agreeing to extend the deadline for loan repayment made things a lot easier. Very formal and fully correct
The bank agreeing to extend the deadline for loan repayment made things a lot easier. Informal, but acceptable
Other ways of the use of –ing is as follows. [All these uses are deemed correct.]
a. The worst thing about the result publication is the waiting that precedes it.

b. All the ceaseless arguing in T.V debates frays my nerves.

c. The most horrible time for a job is the waiting for the interview call.

d. The frying of fish in my neighbour’s home made my vegetarian mother vomit.

e. The shouting and screaming of the captain made the players feel humiliated.

f. Lighting fires in forests by picnickers is forbidden.
The lighting of fires in forests by picnickers is forbidden.

But, don’t write ..
The lighting fires in forests is forbidden.
Exercise …
Rewrite the following sentences to make them look more ‘informal’.

1. I am surprised at his accepting my invitation to come for tea. Model answer .. I am surprised at him accepting my invitation to come for tea. Or I am surprised that he has accepted my invitation to come for tea.

2. Do you mind my sitting beside you? Answer .. Do you mind if I sit here?

3. I don’t understand Kohli’s declining invitation for the fashion show.

4. We were surprised at Pariker’s being appointed Defense Minister.

5. I hate Mamta Banarjee’s blowing hot and cold over minor political issues.

6. I detest his lecturing us on morality when he himself is so immoral.

7. Do you remember my telling you Ihave kept Rs. One lakh as fixed deposit in your name?

8. I am worried about the coach’s not ttravelling with the tteam.
Some more hints …
a. His resignation from the post of the Vice Chancellor’s post shocked everyone. Good way
His resigning from the post of Vice Chancellor shocked everyone . Does not sound good, but acceptable

b. Kejriwal’s decision to challenge the Lieutenant Governor was quite courageous. Good way
Kejriwal’s deciding to challenge the Lieutenant Governor was quite courageous. Does not sound good, but acceptable.


Bloggers’ blood in the soil of Bangladesh

May 18, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bangladesh’s Heroes who upheld free speech with their blood

As you read this blog and enjoy reading its free-wheeling contents, diehard bloggers in Bangladesh are being felled at the hands of some fanatical Islamists, who find the bloggers’ views as abhorrent. Instead of staging peaceful protests, going to courts or airing their indignation through the media, these zealots go to the extreme – they stifle the bloggers by eliminating them altogether.

The most victim of such murderous mindset was Ananta Bijoy Das of Sylhet province. He is not alone to be the subject of the fundamentalis’ fury. Some days ago, another passionate blogger by the name of Avijit Roy was also smothered by the fundamentalists, who can not tolerate any mildly atheistic or secular views. Aviji Roy midwife the blog ‘Mukto Mona’ to give a platform to air their views with no fear of retribution. Internet was the vehicle they used to deflect any risk of attracting hostile attention of the fundamentalists. But, in due course, they ruffled the feathers of the fringe groups who simply can not countenance expression of views that are not morbidly orthodox, and not in conformity with their interpretation of Islam.

For decades, Bangladesh’s society has seen the fault-lines between the liberal mainstream opinion and the jealous adversaries widening. Like in Pakistan, Bangladesh’s birth was celebrated with a declaration to imbibe secularism as the ethos. But, gradually, the orthodox and intolerant elements made inroads to the public space through pungent and insidious propaganda. The country’s poverty and backwardness provided the right environment for the merchants of hate to gain ground.

The bloggers tried to hold aloft the flag of secularism, tolerance and liberalism, despite the threat and intimidation by the tiny but extremely dangerous Islamist groups. Among these groups were people who had actively collaborated with the Pakistani army in their savage brutal campaign to stifle the freedom struggle.
The fast-tracking of the pending court cases against the ‘collaborators’ by the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government in 2010 provided a cause for the fundamentalists to turn on their liberal brethren. The punishment meted out to the volunteers of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders has triggered the violent onslaughts on the ‘free and secular’ thinkers. Abdul Quader Mollah, a leading figure of Jammat-e-Islami was convicted, and soon his supporters unleashed their anger against the courts and the government. As a backlash, widespread protests erupted demanding death penalty for all those who had collaborated with the Pakistanis. The climax of these agitations was the Shahbag protests of 2013.

Thus, the anger against the citizens who connived with Pakistanis continues to simmer accentuating the fractious nature of Bangladesh politics. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party has begun to fish in troubled waters by extending tacit support for the fringe groups who proclaim their solidarity with the ‘collaborators’.

Secular and progressive citizens that included crusaders like Roy and other bloggers took a stand adversarial to that of Jammat-e-Islami and the groups who sang the same song. The government has tried to placate the people who want strict punishment for those who betrayed the freedom movement by aiding the Pakistani army men to engage in grotesque brutality against innocent civilians. But, it has somewhat stepped back from its duty to bring the murders of the bloggers to book through coercive means. The government, obviously, is treading a fine line. Sadly, the threat against other bloggers looms, imperiling the country’s adherence to the spirit of free speech.

Village Song by Sarojini Naidu –Odisha State Board English Class X

May 8, 2015 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Village Song by Sarojini Naidu


First stanza … The scene is set in a rural household where a marriage ceremony is about to begin. Such ceremonies are generally marked by a lot of mirth and merry-making. The bride is bedecked with beautiful attire and nice ornaments to look her best. The rituals that precede the marriage are the bride’s mother’s responsibility. In this case, the girl, perhaps of her tender age, childlike simplicity, or an abiding love for Nature seems unwilling to be chained to the marital bond.
Quite naturally, the mother is distraught. Her daughter’s indifference appears so distressful to her. She asks her daughter if she is determined to abort the marriage, and disappoint the bridegroom who is soon to arrive. She reminds the nonchalant daughter about the affection she had showered on her in bringing her up. She draws her daughter’s attention to the beautiful jewellery she was wearing for the occasion.

Second stanza … The daughter replies that the woods beckon her. She wants to escape to the forest to be able to enjoy the many sweet sights and sounds there. The champa tree is laden with the beautiful yellow blossoms. The aroma is irresistible. The river flowing by the village has tiny islands that are home to the koil. The lotus and the lilies add to the charm of the surrounding. The fairy folks sing their songs. All these mean far more enjoyable to the girl than the mundane pleasures of a married life.

Third stanza … The mother finds the daughter’s fantasy to be nothing but silly. She reminds her about the many happiness of worldly life. The bridal songs are sweet and joyful. Motherhood brings fulfillment and pleasure. The bliss of marital leisure is something rare and irresistible. The sarees have been woven with meticulous care in silver and saffron colour. Elaborate meals are being made ready. Saying all these, the mother beseeches her daughter to stay back and be at the center stage of the festivities.

Fourth stanza … The bride seems unimpressed. She discerns sorrow and misery that invariably mar the happiness of marriage. Like a saint with profound wisdom, the daughter says that all the joys of life are transitory. They come and go, ceding place to suffering and disappointment.
She feels a life in the lap of Nature gives enduring happiness. The charm of the woods never disappears. The calling of the forest is pristine and pure. The brook in the forest falls relentlessly. They are a treat to the eye. Narrating all these, the daughter says she is leaving the home for the wilderness of the forests.

Education, then and now — A moving letter from a school boy

May 5, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You saw an old family photograph which shows your great grandfather walking to school barefooted, holding a bag with a just a black, wooden-framed slate, and a small bag of rice to be given to the teacher as the monthly fees.

Write a letter to your friend about the feelings that arose in your mind on seeing this photograph. Compare it with the facilities you get to enjoy today.

                                                                                                        New Delhi
Dear Kashyap,                                                                              Date …..

Ever since I came to my grandfather’s house for the summer holidays, it has been a journey down the memory lane, full of intrigue and excitement.

Yesterday, my grandfather asked me to look for a certain property document which was not in its usual place – the hidden wooden chamber under my grandma’s cot. So, I was ordered to open the family vault that stores the family’s valuables. It is an antic wooden box that has been in the family home from time immemorial. Its lock is a huge 5kilo contraption that needs a 12-inch long key to open it. The ornate brass key has heads of so many gods and goddesses intricately engraved on it. The vault is kept just behind the family deity of Mother Kali. She is believed to keep the prying eyes of unwanted visitors away.

I proceeded to open the vault, clearing the cobwebs along the narrow dark passage. Before embarking on my mission, I said my prayers to the deity invoking her not to treat me as a trespasser as I was simply obeying orders. I cringed as a few bats flew off the passage’s walls. It took me some effort to open the lock. I poured a generous amount of coconut oil to nudge the lock to let the key in. Finally, as I turned all my strength on the key, the lock opened making a weird sound.

I began to rummage through the vault’s contents with a torch in my left hand. In minutes, I got the giant red-coloured cover that had the documents inside it. I was clearly elated. My eyes soon fell on an old photograph that had turned yellow with age. Its edges appeared frayed –perhaps disgusted with such long solitary confinement. I looked at it. It was the portrait of a young boy who resembled a beggar more than a student. The boy looked emaciated, forlorn and resigned to his fate. I was clearly intrigued.

Triumphantly, I brought the property documents out and also the tattered portrait. I handed over the documents to my grandfather, and received a hug from him for the hard work I did for him.

With sneer writ large in my face, I took the old photograph to my grandmother and asked who the ‘beggar boy’ was. ‘Or, was he our servant?’, I asked. She recoiled in horror at my arrogance and stupidity. With great reverence, she touched the photograph to her forehead, and admonishingly looked at me. She said, ‘It is your great grandfather.’ Then, she proceeded to give me a fleeting view of the eventful life of her father-in-law. She spoke about his humble beginning, his long duel with poverty, his intellect, and his success in studies. He had passed his Matriculation examination in first class. His record in marks stood unchallenged for nearly two decades.

The British government soon spotted him and offered him a clerk’s job in the District Collector’s office. By the time he retired as Deputy Collector 40 years later, he had served under nearly 10 different British collectors. For his long distinguished service, he received government awards on three occasions.

With a chuckle, she told me that her father-in-law got to use pen and paper only after he reached class eight! And he had just one pen, one pencil and an annual allotment of just 100 sheets of paper!

I gaped at her face as she reeled off these figures. Then, with searching eyes, she confronted me with the question that had my brain reeling from a mix of amazement, and guilt. Initially, I was incredulous. One pen, one pencil and just 100 sheets of paper in whole one year! To add to my bewilderment, my grandma added that my father had just two khaki pants, two vests, and no footwear. And his monthly school fees were just a few morsels of rice. He could not afford the monthly fees of four annas (25 paise of today).

For his first and only job interview before the British Collector, he wore the shoe so lovingly presented to him by the village cobbler. His full pant and shirt were stitched by the village tailor free of cost with the cloth the village temple priest had donated.
With pride and a sense of deep satisfaction, she narrated how her philanthropist father-in-law paid back to his village for the affection they had shown to him. Out of the savings from his salary, he bought and donated land for the village school’s expansion, renovated the temple, and used his influence to have loans of scores of distressed farmers waived. He got many widows remarried. When he departed from this world, villagers from far and wide came to give him a tearful farewell. His bronze bust stands at the entrance of the village.

With a glance that seemed to ask me a thousand questions, she told me, “How do I compare my student days with my great- grandfather’s?” I have a dozen pairs of dress, four sets of uniforms, three pairs of shoes, box-full of pencils and pens, inexhaustible supply of paper, internet, laptop, tablet, and, of course, the air-conditioned school bus.

She asked me about the enormous investment of resources in my education, the large carbon foot-print I was leaving on the environment, and, most disturbingly, my snobbish attitude to people around me. I felt miserable as I reflected on my upbringing, my selfishness and my total indifference to those boys and girls who lived next door, and went to the inexpensive government schools, because they were poor. A boy, attired like my great grandfather, would be shooed away by the security guard at my school gate, let alone get admission to study. As regards the expenses, my one month’s school fees are equal to my great grandfather’s ten years’ salary, possibly. How have things changed! For the better, or for the worse?

I began to introspect. Why the process of education needs to be so sophisticated, so expensive, so elitist? Remorse and repentance swept through my mind as I had mistaken my great grandfather to be a beggar. I was disturbed, and am quite so still. How far have we drifted from Gandhiji’s espousal of plain living and high thinking!

Yours dear friend,


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