Answer the following questions in not more than 100 − 150 words each.

1. Compare and contrast the atmosphere in and around the Baudhnath shrine with the Pashupathinath temple.

2. How does the author describe Kathmandu’s busiest streets?

3. “To hear any flute is to be drawn into the commonality of all mankind.” Why does the author say this? 

1. The atmosphere at the Pashupatinath temple was noisy, and full of chaos and confusion. Worshippers were trying to get the priest’s attention; others were pushing their way to the front; saffron-clad Westerners were trying to enter the temple; monkeys were fighting and adding to the general noise; a corpse was being cremated on the banks of the river Bagmati; washerwomen were at their work, while children were bathing. In contrast, the Baudhnath stupa was “a haven of quietness in the busy streets around”. There was no crowd, which helped build the stillness and serenity at the Buddhist shrine.

2. Along Kathmandu’s narrowest and busiest streets, there are small shrines and flower-adorned deities. Apart from these, there are fruit sellers, flute sellers, hawkers of postcards, shops selling Western cosmetics, film rolls, chocolate, those selling copper utensils and Nepalese antiques. The author hears film songs that were blaring out from the radios, sounds of car horns and bicycle bells, vendors shouting out their wares. He says that stray cows roam about on the roads. He also draws a vivid picture of a flute seller with many bansuris protruding from his pole. He describes how the serene music produced by the flute seller is heard clearly above all the other noise.

3. The author considers flute music to be “the most universal and most particular” of all music. This is a musical instrument that is common to all cultures. We have the reed neh, the recorder, the Japanese shakuhachi, the deep bansuri of Hindustani classical music, the clear or breathy flutes of South America, the high-pitched Chinese flutes, etc. Even though each of these has its specific fingering and compass yet, for the author, to hear any flute is “to be drawn into the commonality of all mankind”. This is because in spite of their differences, every flute produces music with the help of the human breath. Similarly, despite the differences in caste, culture, religion, region, all human beings are the same, with the same living breath running through all of them.

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