The Voyage: AHSEC Class 12 Alternative English notes

The Voyage
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Get summaries, questions, answers, solutions, notes, extras, PDF and guide of Class 12 (second year) Alternative English textbook, chapter 2, The Voyage, which is part of the syllabus of students studying under AHSEC/ASSEB (Assam Board). These solutions, however, should only be treated as references and can be modified/changed. 

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“The Voyage” is an autobiographical account by Bhupen Hazarika, detailing his journey to the United States in 1949 after receiving a scholarship. Hazarika, a prominent cultural figure from Assam, begins his narrative by preparing for the trip with the help of Robert Brown, a pastor in Guwahati. Hazarika’s journey is marked by the assistance of Gopinath Bardoloi, the then Chief Minister of Assam, and blessings from Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, ailing at the time.

The journey starts in September 1949. Hazarika chooses a non-traditional route to observe various countries en route to America. He travels from Guwahati to Dumdum by air and then proceeds to Visakhapatnam and Colombo. From Colombo, he embarks on a thirteen-day sea voyage to Marseille aboard the SM Samponio, with plans to travel by train to Paris to observe France.

At Kanhikuchi Airport in Guwahati, Hazarika is accompanied by family members and friends, including his mother, father, brother Jayanta Hazarika, and friends Syed Abdul Malik and Saila Barua. During the takeoff, Hazarika realizes he has left his bag containing his passport and other essential documents behind. The plane is halted, and the bag is retrieved, allowing the journey to proceed.

Upon reaching Calcutta, Hazarika is received by his classmate Bhaben Das. The journey from Calcutta to Visakhapatnam feels like departing from Assam and India. Leaving Visakhapatnam, Hazarika experiences a sense of heaviness for his country, contemplating whether he will return. This sentiment is reinforced by the prevalent ‘brain-drain’ issue, where many who left for America did not return.

On 11 September 1949, Hazarika flies from Visakhapatnam to Colombo, spending two days in Sri Lanka. He describes the landscape and culture of Colombo and Kandy, where he witnesses the Yakuma Natum, a demon dance reminiscent of Assam’s deodhani dance. This cultural connection evokes a sense of unity and nostalgia for his homeland.

Embarking on the sea voyage from Colombo, Hazarika encounters communication challenges as most passengers are from Indochina and speak little English. He meets a French soldier named Andre who becomes a companion. During the voyage, they stop at Aden, where Hazarika purchases a Rolleiflex camera. In Djibouti, Hazarika observes the lack of development and rampant poverty under Italian colonial rule.

In Cairo, although he hopes to visit the Pyramids, time constraints prevent him. The journey continues with a remarkable experience at sea: witnessing a star above the crescent moon, a rare sight that he captures with his camera. This event fills him with a sense of divine blessing and a resolve to continue his journey with joy.

Another striking sight during the voyage is the phosphorescent fish lighting up the sea, which Hazarika finds mesmerizing. His reflections on these experiences reveal a profound appreciation for the natural and cultural wonders he encounters. Despite the uncertainties ahead, Hazarika’s narrative conveys a sense of adventure and an unwavering quest for knowledge and cultural understanding.

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Textbook solutions

State whether these statements are True or False

1. Bhupen Hazarika had brought his Rolleiflex from home.

Answer: False

2. The sight of the Egyptian pyramids enthralled Bhupen Hazarika.

Answer: False

3. Bhupen Hazarika’s companion on the flight from Guwahati to Dumdum was Bhaben Das.

Answer: False

4. Bhupen Hazarika had a weakness for Kalmou saak.

Answer: True

Answer in one or two words

1. What was the name of the airport situated in Guwahati in 1949?

Answer: Kanhikuchi Airport

2. Who was the Governor of Assam during the inauguration of the airport in Guwahati?

Answer: Sir Akbar Hydari

3. How much was the air fare from Guwahati to Dumdum in 1949?

Answer: 55 rupees

4. In which country is the ‘Temple of the Tooth Relic’ located?

Answer: Sri Lanka

5. What type of leave did the French sailor avail when he came to the shore?

Answer: Shore leave

Answer in a few words each

1. Name the two locations that Bhupen Hazarika reminisces about in The Voyage.

Answer: Sarnath and Bodh Gaya

2. What did Hazarika consider to be his only aim?

Answer: To keep going, charaiveti, charaiveti

3. The ship set sail later than the scheduled time. How late was the ship?

Answer: One and a half days

4. Name the two places associated with Buddhism mentioned by Bhupen Hazarika in ‘The Voyage’.

Answer: Sarnath and Bodh Gaya

5. Which two Indian states associated with dances, other than Assam, are mentioned by Bhupen Hazarika in ‘The Voyage’?

Answer: Gujarat and Manipur

Answer briefly in your own words

1. Write a brief account of Hazarika’s stopover in Sri Lanka.

Answer: Hazarika’s stopover in Sri Lanka included observing the vibrant cultural life, noting similarities between the local dances and those of Assam. He attended a traditional Yakuma Natum dance, which reminded him of Assam’s deodhani dance. He also explored Colombo, witnessing the blend of local and colonial influences in the city’s cafes and streets.

2. Briefly present your view about Hazarika’s experience of visiting a Sri Lankan family home.

Answer: Hazarika’s visit to a Sri Lankan family home highlighted the cultural fusion present in the household, with a piano and English songs sung by children, reflecting the influence of Western culture. This experience underscored the pervasive impact of colonialism, making him feel as if he were in Shillong rather than a foreign land.

3. Present your views on the food and flavours mentioned by Hazarika in ‘The Voyage’.

Answer: Hazarika’s mention of Assamese foods like Khar, Tenga, and bamboo shoots illustrates his deep connection to his homeland’s culinary traditions. These foods serve as a nostalgic link to his roots, highlighting the significance of familiar tastes in maintaining cultural identity during his travels.

4. How does Bhupen Hazarika recount his feeling about being an Indian as he moves forward in his journey? Give a brief description.

Answer: As Hazarika progresses in his journey, his sense of identity evolves from regional to national. Initially feeling like an Assamese, he gradually embraces a broader Indian identity, reflecting on the unity and shared cultural heritage of the nation as he travels further from home.

Answer in detail

1. Present an overview of Bhupen Hazarika’s experience during the course of his journey abroad from your reading of ‘The Voyage’.

Answer: Bhupen Hazarika’s journey abroad was marked by a series of significant experiences and reflections. He began his voyage with meticulous preparation, securing his passport and other documents. His journey started from Guwahati and took him to various places including Dumdum, Visakhapatnam, Colombo, Marseille, and Paris. Along the way, he encountered several memorable incidents, such as nearly leaving his important documents behind, which led to the plane being halted. His stopovers included interactions with various cultures and people, and he was particularly moved by the sight of Lanka from the aeroplane. His journey also included a thirteen-day sea voyage aboard the SM Samponio, during which he observed the cultural unification transcending geographic boundaries. Hazarika’s experiences were deeply introspective, reflecting on his identity as an Indian and Assamese, and the convergence of diverse cultures he witnessed.

2. ‘Bhupen Hazarika’s representation is not merely an account of a journey; it is also a narrative about the convergence of cultures in different locations.’ Comment on the statement based on your reading of ‘The Voyage’.

Answer: Bhupen Hazarika’s account in ‘The Voyage’ transcends the mere documentation of his travels. It delves into the cultural intersections he encountered along the way. His reflections on the cultural affinities between India and Sri Lanka, and his observations of the similarities in dance forms like Yakuma Natum and deodhani, underscore the shared cultural heritage. His musings on feeling a strong Indian identity as he moved further from home highlight the cultural unity that transcends regional boundaries. Hazarika’s experiences in Colombo, witnessing the blend of English, Hindi, and Tamil influences, and his interactions with diverse individuals on his sea voyage, further illustrate the convergence of cultures. His narrative is enriched with these cultural insights, making it a profound commentary on the interconnectedness of human societies.

Extra questions and answers

1. Who prepared Bhupen Hazarika’s research curriculum for his voyage to America?

Answer: Robert Brown

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25. Explore Bhupen Hazarika’s feelings of nostalgia and national identity throughout his journey. How do these feelings evolve as he travels further from India?

Answer: Throughout his journey, Bhupen Hazarika experienced strong feelings of nostalgia and national identity. Initially, he felt a deep connection to Assam, symbolized by the flower he carried. As he traveled further, his identity expanded to encompass a broader Indian perspective. Encounters with cultural similarities in foreign lands reinforced his sense of belonging to a larger, interconnected world. This evolution from regional to national identity reflects a growing awareness of the shared human experience, highlighting the dynamic and fluid nature of cultural identity as he navigated through different environments.

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