English CBSE Class 12 NCERT Vistas Chapter 1 The Third Level Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words



THE presidents of the New York Central and the New York, New Haven and Hartford railroads will swear on a stack of timetables that there are only two.

Word Meaning
Swear Take oath
Stack Heap


The presidents of New York Central and of every other railway station would confirm that there are only two levels in a railway station. They would swear by the timetables of railways. [Timetable is considered to be an important document in railways. Everybody adheres to maintain it. Hence it is considered sacred by railway employees]



But I say there are three, because I’ve been on the third level of the Grand Central Station. Yes, I’ve taken the obvious step: I talked to a psychiatrist friend of mine, among others.


Word Meaning
Psychiatrist Specialist in treating mental disorders


But I say there are three levels in a platform. Because I have gone to the third level of Grand Central Station. Nobody believed me. I started thinking if it was my dream. So I even consulted a psychiatrist. He is my friend. I talked to many other people also.

I told him about the third level at Grand Central Station, and he said it was a waking dream wish fulfillment. He said I was unhappy.


Word Meaning
Waking Awake, Not sleeping
Fulfillment Achievement, Happiness


I told my psychiatrist friend about third level at Grand Central Station. He told me that I was dreaming while being awake. And my wish of seeing the third level got fulfilled. He further said that I was happy, therefore I could dream of such a thing.



That made my wife kind of mad, but he explained that he meant the modern world is full of insecurity, fear, war, worry and all the rest of it, and that I just want to escape.


Word Meaning
Kind of mad Very angry


After listening to above explanation, my wife became very angry. But he explained that the modern world is full of insecurity, fear, war etc. And I wanted to escape from such bad emotions.

Well, who doesn’t? Everybody I know wants to escape, but they don’t wander down into any third level at Grand Central Station.


Word Meaning
Wander Walk, Roam


In fact everybody wants to escape from such bad emotions. But nobody walks to the third level of Grand Central Station. [Author wants to say that he is the only person to have gone to third level]



But that’s the reason, he said, and my friends all agreed. Everything points to it, they claimed. My stamp collecting, for example; that’s a ‘temporary refuge from reality.’


Word Meaning
Refuge To escape, To be away


But he said that I wanted to escape from the modern world hence I had the feeling that I had travelled to the third level. All my friends agreed with him. They said that even my hobby of collecting stamps represents my wish to be away from reality.

Well, maybe, but my grandfather didn’t need any refuge from reality; things were pretty nice and peaceful in his day, from all I hear, and he started my collection.

Situation of world during those days was quite peaceful. I have heard that there was no need for him to run away from reality. My collection of postage stamp was started by my grandfather.  [Author wants to say that the hobby of collection of stamp has no relation with running away from reality]

It’s a nice collection too, blocks of four of practically every U.S. issue, first-day covers, and so on. President Roosevelt collected stamps too, you know.

It is good collection of stamps. It has almost every US issue, first day covers etc. President Roosevelt also used to collect stamps.



Anyway, here’s what happened at Grand Central. One night last summer I worked late at the office. I was in a hurry to get uptown to my apartment so I decided to take the subway from Grand Central because it’s faster than the bus.

Now author is describing events at the grand Central Railway Station. One night of summer season, I had worked till late hours in office. I wanted to quickly reach my hose. So I decided to take a local train from Grand Central. I had decided to travel by train because train takes less time than the bus.

Now, I don’t know why this should have happened to me. I’m just an ordinary guy named Charley, thirty-one years old, and I was wearing a tan gabardine suit and a straw hat with a fancy band; I passed a dozen men who looked just like me.


Word Meaning
Tan Dark colour
Gabardine A type of cloth


I do not know why this should have happened to me. My name is Charley. I am an ordinary person of thirty one. That day I was wearing a dark colour suit of gabardine. I was wearing a hat made of straw that had a fancy band. I crossed about a dozen men who were similar to me.

And I wasn’t trying to escape from anything; I just wanted to get home to Louisa, my wife. I turned into Grand Central from Vanderbilt Avenue, and went down the steps to the first level, where you take trains like the Twentieth Century.

I was not trying to run away from anything. I wanted to reach home to meet my wife Louisa. From Vanderbilt I took a turn to enter Grand Central. Then I went downstairs to the first level from where trains by the name of Twentieth Century used to run.



Then I walked down another flight to the second level, where the suburban trains leave from, ducked into an arched doorway heading for the subway — and got lost.


Word Meaning
Flight Row of stairs
Ducked Lowered or bowed the head
Heading Going


Then I walked down through another row of stairs. I reached second level. From this level local trains used to run. I lowered my head to enter in an arched door to go to the local train platform. But I lost my way.

That’s easy to do. I’ve been in and out of Grand Central hundreds of times, but I’m always bumping into new doorways and stairs and corridors.


Word Meaning
Hundreds of times Several times
Bumping into Come across, See, Meet


At the Grand Central station one can easily forget the correct path. Hundreds of times (several times) I have gone to and came out of this railway station. But I always come across new doors, stairs and corridors.

Once I got into a tunnel about a mile long and came out in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel. Another time I came up in an office building on Forty-sixth Street, three blocks away.

Once I had entered a tunnel. It was about one mile long.Through this tunnel I reached into the lobby of Roosevelt Hotel. Next time, (when I walked through another tunnel) I reached in an office building located on 46th street.

[Author is trying to say that corridors, doors and tunnels at the station were so many to confuse anybody. Their exit points were not known]



Sometimes I think Grand Central is growing like a tree, pushing out new corridors and staircases like roots. There’s probably a long tunnel that nobody knows about feeling its way under the city right now, on its way to Times Square, and maybe another to Central Park.

Sometimes I think that Grand Station is like a tree. Corridors, staircase and tunnels are its roots. And these roots are growing every day. Probably there are tunnels that nobody knows about. It is a feeling among general public that there is a tunnel that is underground and goes up to Times Square. And another tunnel may be going towards Central Park.

And maybe — because for so many people through the years Grand Central has been an exit, a way of escape — maybe that’s how the tunnel I got into… But I never told my psychiatrist friend about that idea.

During previous years so many people have come out of the Grand central railway station. So probably it can  be considered a way to escape. Probably this was the reason I entered into a tunnel. But I cannot tell this thought to my psychiatrist friend.

The corridor I was in began angling left and slanting downward and I thought that was wrong, but I kept on walking. All I could hear was the empty sound of my own footsteps and I didn’t pass a soul.


Word Meaning
Angling Bending
Slanting Sloping
Didn’t cross a soul Did not cross or meet anybody


The corridor I was walking into started turning to one side and sloping downwards. I thought that I was moving in a wrong corridor but I continued to walk. I would only hear sounds of my own footsteps. There was echo of my footsteps because the corridor was empty. I did not cross anybody in the corridor.



Then I heard that sort of hollow roar ahead that means open space and people talking. The tunnel turned sharp left; I went down a short flight of stairs and came out on the third level at Grand Central Station.

Then I heard a noise and discussion of people which indicated that corridor was about to end into an open space. The tunnel took a sharp turn to left. I walked down some stairs. I came out of the tunnel and reached third level of Grand Central Station.

For just a moment I thought I was back on the second level, but I saw the room was smaller, there were fewer ticket windows and train gates, and the information booth in the centre was wood and old looking.


Word Meaning
Fewer Lesser in number


Just for a moment I thought I had come back to second level. But I noticed that rooms at this level were smaller. Number of ticket counters were less. Number of gates leading to platforms were less. The information booth at the centre was made of wood and it was looking old. [The information booth can be understood as enquiry window.]

And the man in the booth wore a green eyeshade and long black sleeve protectors. The lights were dim and sort of flickering. Then I saw why; they were open-flame gaslights.


Word Meaning
Sleeve protector A garment worn on forearm & arm
Flickering Not steady, Varying


The person sitting at the information booth had greenish eyes. Their sleeve protectors were long and of black colour. The lights were dim and it was flickering. Then I understood why light was flickering. The lamps were of gas operated burner type without protection against air. (Open flame type lamps)

There were brass spittoons on the floor, and across the station a glint of light caught my eye; a man was pulling a gold watch from his vest pocket. He snapped open the cover, glanced at his watch and frowned.


Word Meaning
Spittoons A pot for spitting
Glint Flash, Shine, Gleam
Frown Make an angry face


The spittoons placed on the floor were made of brass. A flash of light coming from other side of the platform struck my eyes. A man was taking out his gold watch from his front pocket of his shirt. He opened the cover of the watch, looked at the watch to note time and made an angry face. [Such spittoons and watches were common during olden time]

He wore a derby hat, a black four-button suit with tiny lapels, and he had a big, black, handlebar mustache. Then I looked around and saw that everyone in the station was dressed like eighteen-ninety-something; I never saw so many beards, sideburns and fancy mustaches in my life.


Word Meaning
Tiny Very small
Fancy Stylish, Style


He was wearing derby hat (a type of hat). His coat had four buttons and small flaps. He had a big black mustache of handlebar type. When I looked around the station I noticed that dresses of everybody was of 1890s. I had never seen so many beards, sideburns on temples and different styles of mustache in my life.

A woman walked in through the train gate; she wore a dress with leg-of mutton sleeves and skirts to the top of her high-buttoned shoes. Back of her, out on the tracks, I caught a glimpse of a locomotive, a very small Currier & Ives locomotive with a funnel-shaped stack.


Word Meaning
Glimpse Look
Locomotive Engine


A woman came from one of the gates of platform. She was wearing a special type of dress called leg of mutton. Her skirts was up to her shoes. The shoes were extending above ankles and had large buttons. Behind her, on the railway track, I could see engine of the train. It was a small engine manufactured by Currier and Ives. Its stack (piece from where smoke comes out) was funnel shaped.

And then I knew. To make sure, I walked over to a newsboy and glanced at the stack of papers at his feet. It was The World; and The World hasn’t been published for years.

And then I understood that I had travelled back into the time. To make sure about it, I went to a person who was selling newspaper. I looked at the newspaper stacked on the floor. The person was standing. Name of the newspaper was ‘The world’. This newspaper used to get published many years ago.

The lead story said something about President Cleveland. I’ve found that front page since, in the Public Library files, and it was printed June 11, 1894.


Word Meaning
Lead story Main article


The main article in the newspaper was about President Cleveland. From the front page of the newspaper I came to know that the date was June11, 1894.

I turned toward the ticket windows knowing that here — on the third level at Grand Central — I could buy tickets that would take Louisa and me anywhere in the United States we wanted to go. In the year 1894. And I wanted two tickets to Galesburg, Illinois.

I went to ticket windows. I knew that from third level I could buy tickets to anywhere in United States. It was the year 1894. I wanted to purchase two tickets (For myself and my wife Louisa) to go to Galesburg town of Illinois state.

Have you ever been there? It’s a wonderful town still, with big old frame houses, huge lawns, and tremendous trees whose branches meet overhead and roof the streets.

Have you been to that town? Even today it is a beautiful town. It has big farm houses, huge lawn and very big trees. Braches of these trees meet at a good height in the sky. These branches create sort of roof over the streets. So the roads are covered by branches of trees and would have a shade.

And in 1894, summer evenings were twice as long, and people sat out on their lawns, the men smoking cigars and talking quietly, the women waving palm-leaf fans, with the fire-flies all around, in a peaceful world.


Word Meaning
Fire flies Insect that shines during evenings and nights


In 1894, summer evening were very long. People used to sit in their lawns. Men would be quietly smoking cigars. Women would be moving a palm-leaf hand fan to help them against the heat. There would be fire-flies around. It was very peaceful atmosphere.

To be back there with the First World War still twenty years off, and World War II over forty years in the future… I wanted two tickets for that.

The First World War was 20 years from this date and the Second World War was 40 years away. And I had asked for two tickets for Galesburg town of Illinois state.

The clerk figured the fare — he glanced at my fancy hatband, but he figured the fare — and I had enough for two coach tickets, one way. But when I counted out the money and looked up, the clerk was staring at me.


Word Meaning
Figured Calculated
Glanced Looked
Coach ticket Ticket for upper class


The clerk calculated fare. He looked at my fancy band on the hat. (He had not seen such hat). But he calculated the fare. I had enough money with me for two tickets in upper class for one way journey. I counted money and gave it to the clerk. He started looking at me.

He nodded at the bills. ‘‘That ain’t money, mister,’’ he said, ‘‘and if you’re trying to skin me, you won’t get very far,’’ and he glanced at the cash drawer beside him. Of course the money was old-style bills, half again as big as the money we use nowadays, and different-looking. I turned away and got out fast. There’s nothing nice about jail, even in 1894.


Word Meaning
Bills Currency notes
Skin To cheat, Deceive


The clerk looked at the currency notes. He told that these notes were not acceptable. And if you are trying to cheat me, you will not get far away. You will be put into jail. Then he looked at the drawer near him. Notes in the drawer were of old style. Size of those notes was about one and a half times the size of notes we use nowadays. They were of different type. I turned back and quickly came out of the station. Even during 1894 jails were bad.

And that was that. I left the same way I came, I suppose. Next day, during lunch hour, I drew three hundred dollars out of the bank, nearly all we had, and bought old-style currency (that really worried my psychiatrist friend).

And that was the story at the station. I came back from the station, probably through the same route. Next day, during lunch time, I withdrew three hundred dollars from bank. It was all the money I had with me. With this money I bought old currency. This was a cause of worry to my psychiatrist friend.

You can buy old money at almost any coin dealer’s, but you have to pay a premium. My three hundred dollars bought less than two hundred in old-style bills, but I didn’t care; eggs were thirteen cents a dozen in 1894.

One can buy old currency at any of the coin dealer. But one has to pay more to buy old currency. Three hundred dollars of new currency was equal to two hundred currency of old currency. But I did not bother. In 1894 price of eggs was thirteen cent per dozen. [It was cheaper in 1894]

But I’ve never again found the corridor that leads to the third level at Grand Central Station, although I’ve tried often enough.

After that many times I tried to find out the corridor that leads to third level at Grand Central Station. But I could not locate that corridor.

Louisa was pretty worried when I told her all this, and didn’t want me to look for the third level any more, and after a while I stopped; I went back to my stamps.


Word Meaning
Pretty worried Much worried, Quite worried
After a while After sometime


Louisa was very much worried about me when I narrated all the incident to her. She advised me not to search for the third level again. After sometime I stopped searching. I started giving attention to my hobby of stamp collection.

But now we’re both looking, every weekend, because now we have proof that the third level is still there. My friend Sam Weiner disappeared!

But now we both, myself and my friend, started searching for the third level during weekend. We did this because now we had the proof that third level existed. My friend Sam Weiner had disappeared.

Nobody knew where, but I sort of suspected because Sam’s a city boy, and I used to tell him about Galesburg — I went to school there — and he always said he liked the sound of the place. And that’s where he is, all right. In 1894.


Word Meaning
Suspected Doubted
City boy One who like city life


Nobody knew where he had gone. But I had a doubt. Sam was a person who had lived in a city and loved city life. I used to tell him about Galesburg. I did my schooling there. He told me that he liked the place. And I doubted that he had gone there. In the time of 1894.

Because one night, fussing with my stamp collection, I found — Well, do you know what a first-day cover is? When a new stamp is issued, stamp collectors buy some and use them to mail envelopes to themselves on the very first day of sale; and the postmark proves the date. The envelope is called a first-day cover. They’re never opened; you just put blank paper in the envelope.


Word Meaning
Fussing with Going through without any purpose


One day I was looking at my collection of stamps. Do you know what a first-day cover is? When a stamp is issued, stamp collectors buy some stamps on the very first day. They put the stamp on an envelope and send the envelope to themselves. The seal of the post-office proves that it was sent on the first day of issue of stamp. Such envelop is called a first-day covers. That envelope is never opened. The envelope has a blank paper in it.

That night, among my oldest first-day covers, I found one that shouldn’t have been there. But there it was. It was there because someone had mailed it to my grandfather at his home in Galesburg; that’s what the address on the envelope said.

That night I looked at one particular envelope among my oldest first-day covers. That cover should not have been there but it was there. Someone had sent that to my grandfather at the address of his home that was in Galesburg. I understood this from the address on the envelope.

And it had been there since July 18, 1894 — the postmark showed that — yet I didn’t remember it at all. The stamp was a six-cent, dull brown, with a picture of President Garfield. Naturally, when the envelope came to Granddad in the mail, it went right into his collection and stayed there — till I took it out and opened it.

The seal of post office on the envelope was of July 18, 1894. But I did not remember having seen the envelope earlier. Value of the stamp was six cents. Its colour was dull brown and had the picture of President Garfield on it. Obviously, when the envelope came to my grandfather, he had put it in his collection. I opened the envelope.

The paper inside wasn’t blank. It read:

The paper in the envelope was not blank. Following was written on the paper.

941 Willard Street

Galesburg, Illinois

July 18, 1894


I got to wishing that you were right. Then I got to believing you were right. And, Charley, it’s true; I found the third level! I’ve been here two weeks, and right now, down the street at the Daly’s, someone is playing a piano, and they’re all out on the front porch singing ‘Seeing Nelly Home.’ And I’m invited over for lemonade. Come on back, Charley and Louisa. Keep looking till you find the third level! It’s worth it, believe me!

It is addressed to the author. Sender’s address is of Illinois. Written on July 18. 1894.

Hope you are alright there. I started believing that you were correct. I found the third level. I am here since last two weeks in the street called Daly’s. Someone is playing a piano. Everybody is on the side of a road and singing a song ‘Seeing Nelly Home’. I have been invited for a lemon juice party. Charley and Louisa, you should come here. Keep searching till you find the third level. Please believe me that it is good to make the effort.

The note is signed Sam.

The letter is signed by Sam. He is friend of the author.

At the stamp and coin store I go to, I found out that Sam bought eight hundred dollars’ worth of old-style currency. That ought to set him up in a nice little hay, feed and grain business; he always said that’s what he really wished he could do, and he certainly can’t go back to his old business. Not in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1894. His old business? Why, Sam was my psychiatrist.

I went to the stamp and coin store. I found out that Sam had purchased eight hundred dollars of old currency. This money was sufficient to start a business of hay  feed (food for animals) and grain business. He always wanted to do this business. In 1894 at Galesburg, Illinois, there was no possibility of starting his previous business of being a psychiatrist. Though Sam was my psychiatrist.



Important Links
The Third Level – Textbook Q&A The Third Level – Extra Q&A
Memories of Childhood – Explanation Tiger King – Explanation
Memories of Childhood – Textbook Q&A Tiger King – Textbook Q&A
Memories of Childhood – Extra Q&A Tiger King – Extra Q&A
Passages Note Making
Letter Writing Notice Writing
Advertisement Writing Article Writing
Report Writing


Leave a Reply

error: Content is protected !!