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Chapter 8- Silk Road Interview Questions Answers

Question 1 :
The article has been titled ‘Silk Road.’

Answer 1 :

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.

Question 2 :
Tibetan mastiffs were popular in China’s imperial courts.

Answer 2 :

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.

Question 3 :
The author’s experience at Hor was in stark contrast to earlier accounts of the place.

Answer 3 :

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.

Question 4 :
The author was disappointed with Darchen.

Answer 4 :

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.

Question 5 :
The author thought that his positive thinking strategy worked well after all

Answer 5 :

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.

Question 6 :
The purpose of the author’s journey to Mount Kailash.

Answer 6 :

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.

Question 7 :
The author’s physical condition in Darchen.

Answer 7 :

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.

Question 8 :
The author’s meeting with Norbu.

Answer 8 :

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.

Question 9 :
Tsetan’s support to the author during the journey.

Answer 9 :

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.

Question 10 :
“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 10 :

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.



Chapter 8- Silk Road Contributors


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