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Bangalore City today is gradually gaining fame as the Silicon Valley of Asia. It is destined to be one of the great cities of India, and will play a great part in bringing that country back to its one-time greatness. The rapid growth of the city is testimony that anything can happen if dedicated men and women get together to make it happen. Having been a place where the British had a garrison, the city was already full of stolid buildings and roads after the colonialist left in 1947. For a few decades, the people prepared themselves and went about their roles as farmers and as small industry workers. Then came the computer boom and they took to it like ducks to water.

Just 15 years ago, Bangalore did not look at all what it is today. The writer who spent one month in Bangalore had an entirely different experience. The bus that he took from Madras City took the whole night to travel to Bangalore. The ride was terrible and he held his heart in his mouth throughout the journey. When he arrived at 7:00 am, another surprise awaited him; none of the smaller hotels wanted to give him accommodation. This was not because of a lack of rooms. Everywhere the hoteliers had the same message: We don't want foreigners! Then it was explained to the writer that this was because foreigners got drunk, took drugs, brought prostitutes to their rooms and caused all sorts of trouble. The writer was very upset when the hotel clerk said that they did not especially want Singaporeans.

The solution was simple, the writer - who was of Indian ethnicity - posed as an Indian citizen. He vaguely remembered his father telling him that he was from the village of Arasantham Patti and at the next hotel claimed that he was from that village. The clerk let out a yawn and registered him. The room was not air-conditioned, but then the whole of Bangalore city had natural air-conditioning, as it was on the Deccan plateau.

From the hotel, the writer planned short excursions to places that he wanted to see. Being on a budget, he could not afford the package tours and so had to rely on public transport. The public transport system was far from satisfactory. Every bus was overloaded and the bus conductors were kings. they charged bus fares according to their whims and fancies, and gave out tickets only when they wanted to - pocketing the fares when they thought they saw a passenger that they could shout down. The writer even witnessed an incident when a conductor collected fare from a passenger twice - because he did not have a ticket. But the ultimate happened when once the bus driver stopped ten kilometers from the writer's destination and decided to turn back. The reason was apparently because the writer was the only passenger left in the bus, and bus crew did not think it worthwhile to travel the distance for one man. Anyway, what happened was when the writer asked why the bus was not making the full route, the conductor threatened to throw him out unless he got off. Usually it is not wise to get into a fight in a foreign land so the writer got off and walked the ten kilometers.

The people of Bangalore were very kind; that was the most beautiful experience the writer had from the city. They were hospitable, and the writer got a lot of kindness from complete strangers. One elderly gentleman invited the writer home for dinner, when all the writer asked was where he could get a good meal in the vicinity. At first the writer refused politely, but the gentleman insisted so strongly that the writer felt honored to dine with such a person. When the writer finally accepted the invitation, he was given a sumptuous meal which the ladies of the house cooked at short notice. He was actually treated as a guest, the elder even sent out messages to invite a few relatives and friends and made the occasion into a small celebration. The writer remained friends with the gentleman until he passed away a few years ago.

   
  Questions
   
  1. (a) What is the greatness of Bangalore city today ?
    (b) How did the presence of the British in the city in colonial times work to Bangalore's advantage ?
    (c) Why was the writer turned away at hotels ?
    (d) How did he finally manage to get a room ?
       
  2. (a) Describe how the bus conductors went about their work.
    (b) Described an incident that proved how dishonest they were.
    (c) Why did the writer avoid quarreling with the bus crew ?
       
  3.   Describe the writer's experience about the hospitality of the people of Bangalore.
       
  4.   For each of the following words give one word or short phrase ( not more than seven words ) which has the same meaning as it has in the passage.
      i.   rapid   v.   accommodation
      ii.   dedicated   vi.   whims
      iii.   stolid   vii.   pocketing
      iv.   entirely   viii.   sumptuous
       
  5. The writer had a few nasty experiences and a few good ones which balanced the nasty ones. Describe both types of experiences and the conclusion drawn from them. Your summary should be about 160 words.
       
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  Answers
       
  1. (a) Bangalore today is becoming a center for computer technology.
    (b) The British built roads and left buildings.
    (c) There seemed to be a policy that hotels did not want foreigners.
    (d) He solved the problem by claiming that he came from a village, where his father had come from, in India.
       
  2. (a) They scolded passengers, charged as they liked and often pocketed the money.
    (b) The writer saw a conductor charging a passenger twice; when it was obvious that he had collected his fare earlier and had not given him a ticket.
    (c) Being alone and in a foreign country, he thought it wise to avoid a quarrel.
       
  3.   He met an old gentleman and asked him fro directions to a restaurant. The gentleman insisted that he accompany him home for dinner and gave him a good meal and in fact made a celebration of it.
       
  4. i fast
    ii devoted
    iii still
    iv all
    v place to stay
    vi wishes
    vii keeping
    viii luxurious
       
  5. The first nasty experience that the writer had was on the way to Bangalore by bus. The ride was dangerous and he was worried throughout the journey. When he arrived in Bangalore, he was surprised that none of the smaller hotels wanted him for a guest -- on the grounds that he was a foreigner. He posed as an Indian to get a room.  The writer observed that the conductors were unscrupulous and often pocketed the fares. One personal experience that the writer had was when the bus abandoned him 10km from his destination because he was the only passenger on board. They threatened him and he had to get off.

The people of Bangalore, according to the writer were kind and hospitable. On one occasion, he asked an old gentleman where a good restaurant could be found. The gentleman responded by taking him home and throwing a dinner. the writer feels that with such people Bangalore would surely succeed. ( 160 words )

           
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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