(Explanation, Meaning of Difficult Words)


Author – Vikram Seth

[an extract from heaven lake]


Word Meaning
Cheap room Ordinary room
Sacred Pious, Holy

I get into a hotel that is located in the central area of Kathmandu. My room is an ordinary room. I sleep in my room for many hours. Next morning son of Mr. Shah and his nephew come to me. Together we went to two temples of Kathmandu. One of the temples is very pious to Hindus and the other one is very holy to Buddhists.



Word Meaning
Proclaim Announce officially
Febrile confusion Hectic activities, Total confusion
Roam Walk or move without any aim

First we got to Pashupatinath temple. Outside the temple an official announcement has been written. It says that only Hindus are permitted to enter the temple.  In the temple everything seems to be happening quickly. Everybody is in hurry. There is lot of confusion. Priests, hawkers, devotees, cows, monkeys, dogs and pigeons are moving around the temple.



Word Meaning
Worshippers Those who worship, Those performing ‘pooja’
Elbowed aside Pushed to side by elbow
Pushing their way to front Trying to get in the front

We offered some flowers in the temple. There is lot of crowd in the temple. Everybody is trying to get attention of the priest to perform ‘pooja’. People are pushing each other. Some people are trying to get in the front.



Word Meaning
Nepalese royal house Family of king of Nepal
Makes way Steps aside for other to walk first
Saffron-clad Wearing saffron coloured clothes
Westerner Person from western part of the world
Convinced Agreed, Sure

A princess from the family of the King of Nepal comes to the temple. People step sideways so that she can walk comfortably without any disturbance. At the main gate some people are wearing saffron coloured clothes. They are from the western part of the world. They are trying to get permission to enter the temple. But the policeman does not agree that they are Hindus. Only Hindus are allowed to enter in this temple.



Word Meaning
Breaks out Starts
Screaming Shouting

Two monkeys start fighting with each other. A monkey is running away and the other monkey is running after the first monkey. The first monkey climbs on the ‘shivlinga’. Then it starts shouting. He runs towards the holy Bagmati river. This river is flowing along the temple. The temple is constructed on the bank of this river.



Word Meaning
Corpse Dead body of a human being
Cremate Perform last rites
Bathe To take bath
Wilted Not fresh

Last rites of a dead body of a human being are performed at the bank of the river. Washerwomen are washing clothes at the bank. Their children are taking bath in the river. From balcony of a nearby house, a basket full of flowers and leaves is thrown into the river. The flowers and leaves are not fresh.



Word Meaning
Shrine A place of worship
Protrudes Projects, Extends
Emerges Appears

On the bank of river a rock platform is extended towards the river. This place has a temple. But this shrine is not completely developed. It is said that when this temple appears completely, the ‘Kaliyug’ will end on the earth.



Word Meaning
Stupa Place of worship of Buddhists
In contrast Opposite to
Stillness No movement
Immense Very big
Ringed Surrounded

We visit the Buddhist shrine in the Kathmandu. A place of worship of Buddhists is called stupa. In the stupa, there is silence. It is opposite to the noisy situation in temple. The dome of the stupa is very big. A road has been constructed all-round the dome.



Word Meaning
Immigrants People who have shifted from other countries
Quietness Silence

Small shops exist on the outer edge of the stupa. People who have come from Tibet are owners of many of these shops. Felt bags, paintings made in Tibetan style and jewellery made in silver is sold in these shops. These shops are not crowded. Other streets are busy and noisy. But this area is very quiet. It looks like we have come to heaven of silence. 



Word Meaning
Vivid Brilliant, Colourful
Mercenary Business oriented
Adorn Decorate
Deities Gods or Goddesses
Antiques Things of old style

Kathmandu is a brilliant and colourful town. People are business oriented. They are religious. The town has small places of worships. The Gods or Goddesses in these shrines are decorated with flowers. The streets are busy and narrow. Hawkers sell fruits, flutes and postcards. Some shops sell cosmetics made in western countries. Film rolls, chocolate, utensils made in copper and things made in old Nepalese style are also sold in these streets. 



Word Meaning
Blare out Utter loudly, To make unpleasant loud noise
Stray cows Cows moving in streets
Low Sound of an animal
Vendors Hawkers, Shopkeepers

Filmy songs are being loudly played on radio. Cars are blowing horn. Bells of bicycles are ringing. Cows moving in the street make sound as if to question drivers of motorcycles. Hawkers and shopkeepers are shouting name of things they want to sell.



Word Meaning
Indulge Enjoy
Mindlessly Without thinking
Marzipan A dish made of sugar and floor of almond
Cornon Roasted or boiled corn
Charcoal Coal
Brazier An equipment to heat something – ‘sigari’ or angithi’

I start enjoying the situation without much thinking. I buy a piece of marzipan. I buy a corn that was roasted on coal in a heating device – ‘sigari’ or angithi’. I applied salt, chilli powder and lemon on the roasted corn. I bought some old comics of love story. I also bought a Reader’s Digest.



Word Meaning
Nauseating Causing nausea, Having a strong sharp smell

After eating, I drink one Coca Cola. I also drink an orange coloured drink. It had a strong sharp smell. After eating and drinking I start feeling much better.



Word Meaning
Consider Think, Evaluate
Propelled Encouraged
Enthusiasm Eagerness, Keenness
Per se By itself, Only

I start thinking about the route I should take to return home. If I were encouraged only by the eagerness to travel, I should travel to Patna by bus and train. From Patna I should take a boat to travel in Ganges river to Benaras and from there to Allahabad. From Allahabad I should travel by boat in Yamuna river to Agra and from there to Delhi.



Word Meaning
Exhausted Tired

But I am very tired. I am also feeling homesick. Today is 31st August. I tell myself that I should directly go home. So I went to the office of Nepal Airlines. I bought a ticket for tomorrow to travel by air.



Word Meaning
Protrude Extend, Hang
Quills Sharp and strong hair
Porcupine An animal

I start walking towards my hotel. On my way I see a flute seller. He is standing in a corner of a square near my hotel. He is holding a big pole in one of his hands. On the top of the pole he has made an attachment. Many flutes are tied to that attachment. They are hanging from there. These could be fifty or sixty in numbers. It looks likes hairs of a porcupine.



Word Meaning
Crossflute Type of flute which is held sides ways to play
Recorder Type of flute that is blown straight
From time to time Again and again after a gap of sometime

These flutes are made of bamboo. He has crossflutes as well as recorder type of flutes. Again and again the person puts the pole on the ground. He selects a flute. He plays the flute for some minutes. The sound of the flute rises above the noise of traffic and the shouts of hawkers.



Word Meaning
Meditatively As if doing meditation, Think, Ponder
Offhanded Coolly, Without much shouts and aggression
Incidental Minor things
Enterprise Business

He plays flute slowly as if he is meditating or praying. He is not trying to do an excessive show. He does not shout about what he intends to sell. Sometimes he sells a flute. But strangely he is very cool. It looks as it was a minor incident in his business.



Word Meaning
Break off playing Stops playing

Sometimes he stops playing the flute. He talks to fruit seller. I think since years this is how he has been doing his business.



Word Meaning
Tear myself away To move myself away

It has become very difficult for me to leave the square. I cannot move away whenever I listen to a flute. I think the flute is found everywhere in the world. It is one of the most special sounds of music.



Every culture has flute of its own. Somewhere it is called reed or recorder. In Japan it is called ‘shakuhachi’. In Hindustani classical music it is called ‘bansuri’. The flute of South America is very neat and one has to blow lot of wind to play. The flutes of China have high pitched sound.



Word Meaning
Specific Special
Fingering Arrangement to put fingers
Compass The range of sound
Weaves Makes
Association Combination
Commonality Being common
Phrases Parts

Each flute has its own special arrangements to put fingers. And the range of the sound each flute can make is also different. This makes a special combination for each flute. Still I feel to hear sound of flute is like being a common man of the world. Author wants to say that everybody wants to hear flute. One can move closer to music step by step. Or one can be attached to music in first instance itself.



Word Meaning
Motive force One who is playing the flute
Living breath Living being, he needs to take breath

The person who plays flute is also a living being. So he also needs to take breath. Thus he needs to stop playing flute for some time. It is necessary to stop for some time so that he can continue after a short break.



Word Meaning
Hardly Barely
Abroad Foreign countries
Invested Understood, Realised
Significance Importance

If the music played on flute is known to me I get easily impressed. I am surprised that the listening to flute even for a short time can affect me so much. Last time when I had returned from my foreign travel, I had not observed such details. I never understood the importance of music as I have understood this time.


[ an extract from Heaven Lake]




A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal


Poet – William Wordsworth


This poem is written after, Lucy, the lover of the poet had died.

Word Meaning
Slumber Deep sleep
Spirit Feeling, Soul
Seal Close
Poetic Device
A slumber did my spirit seal Alliteration

The doors of my souls and feelings were closed. I was in a deep sleep. I could not understand realities of life. I thought there was no reason to be afraid of. The situation in life is going to remain the same pleasant one. There cannot be any loss or damage to me.



Word Meaning
Earthly years The realities of time

In this stanza ‘she’ refers to the lover of the poet. Poet had thought his lover would never be affected by the realities of life.  He thought that nothing bad could ever happen to his lover. The time will not affect her in anyway.



Word Meaning
Motion Movement

But his lover does not move. She does not have any power. She cannot hear. She cannot see. Poet wants to say that ‘she’ has died.



Word Meaning
Diurnal Daily
Course Routine

Diurnal course can also mean daily movement of earth on its axis and around the Sun.

His lover has been buried under the earth. This is the routine of this world. Her body will disintegrate with time. She may become a rock or a stone. Or trees will grow on and around where she was buried.



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