A Pinch of Snuff Class 12


BSEB Class 12 English Rainbow Book Chapter 3 A Pinch of Snuff Summary, Explanation, Question Answers from Rainbow Book  


A Pinch of Snuff BSEB Class 12 English Rainbow Book Chapter 3 A Pinch of Snuff Summary and detailed explanation of the story along with meanings of difficult words. Also, the summary is followed by an explanation of the lesson. All the exercises and Question Answers given at the back of the lesson have also been solved.



BSEB Class 12 English Rainbow Book Chapter 3 A Pinch of Snuff

By Manohar Malgaonkar


Manohar Malgaonkar

“A Pinch of Snuff” is a story taken from “Contemporary Indian Short Stories in English” by Manohar Malgaonkar. It is full of wit and adventure. The story keeps its readers engrossed through its funny narrative.


A Pinch of Snuff Summary

The story begins with the mother’s announcement about his brother visiting them for two or three days to see some Minister. Her son, the narrator, is not very pleased to hear the news and finds it hard to believe because it takes weeks or even months to get an interview with the Minister. The narrator is an Under-Secretary on probation. When he went to the platform to pick Nanukaka up, he was handed over a basket with a kitten in it and was asked to rush it outside. Much later, Nanukaka came with the Ticket Collector who had helped him with his journey. Nanukaka traveled in a second class coach on a third class ticket and he did not have to pay for the kitten’s ticket. On their way back, Nanukaka asked the Under-Secretary when he had scheduled his interview with the Minister but the narrator told him that it is not within his reach to fix an interview with the minister. That night, the narrator had to sleep in the backside verandah because his mother had arranged Nanukaka’s stay in his room. 

The narrator had taken two days’ leave from the office because of his mother’s orders. The next day, he took Nanukaka to the north Block to see the Minister but to Nanukaka’s disappointment, after two hours of rushing here and there, he merely got a chance to get himself an appointment. On their way back, a yellow car rushed past them. When Nanukaka expressed his disliking towards the guy in the yellow car, the narrator told him that he knows him as they work at the same ministry. The guy was Ratiram, son of the Party Boss in Delhi, Sohanlal Ratiram. There were rumors about Ratiram going as Trade Commissioner to the Ambassador, Hajrat Barkat Ali but it was canceled due to some reason. Upon hearing this, Nanukaka asked him to change into Jodhpuri closed collar and a turban to go see Sohanlal Ratiram whom he did not know at all. They went to Lala Sohanlal’s house and were received by his secretary to whom they told that they had visited to discuss the details about the Zamindars’ Convention. The Secretary went to see if Lalalji was free to take a sudden interview. He was actually free at that time which was clearly evident from the hookah gurgling noises coming from the next room. Nanukaka started speaking loudly and tried portraying as if he was in close alliance with Hajrat Barkat Ali. Upon hearing this, Lalaji came rushing out of the room to meet them and ask about old H.B.. Lala Sohanlal shared his concern with Nanukaka about how someone poisoned H.B.’s mind against his son and asked Nanukaka to convince him to take his son as the Trade Commissioner. Nanukaka agreed. 

Nanukaka casually took a pinch out of his snuffbox and mentioned the Welfare Minister. Lala Sohanlal expressed his disappointment in the Minister because he is at the position because of Lalaji and he still refused to consider his Lalaji’s son for his daughter’s hand in marriage. He further told Nanukaka that the Welfare Minister wants to tie knots with the Prince of Ninnore but they are yet to exchange horoscopes. After this, they came back home.

The next day, Nanukaka announced that they will be visiting the Minister. The narrator wanted to be kept out of the plan but got ignored by his Uncle. Nanukaka further expressed the need for a private car with a uniformed chauffeur to make an impression. The narrator knew one such friend who could help him with the car. Since the motor car touts can smell a rich man from a mile away, Nanukaka curated a small plan to impress the Sikka Auto Dealers. He wrote a bearer’s cheque worth a thousand rupees and kept it in an old coat of his’. He handed over the coat to the dhobi who later came running in front of everyone waving that cheque, making it look like Nanukaka had been careless enough to leave a bearer’s cheque of such a huge amount. Nanukaka even rewarded the dhobi with money. This made him look rich and wealthy enough to be able to buy that outlandish car they were eyeing on. The narrator, dressed up in wite Jodhpuri coat and an orange turban drove the care and took Nanukaka, who was looking like a royal pandit of the princely state to the Welfare Minister. 

At the minister’s residence, Nanukaka merely called for the visitors’ book as the secretary fussed about not being able to know the state of business he had come for. Nanukaka clarified that he was not there to disturb the minister but was at the location to make a formal call. He mentioned that he was there simply to fulfill a formality they follow in the old princely states. Upon getting the visitors’ book, Nanukaka specified himself as the “Hereditary Astrologer to the Maharaja of Ninnore” and gave his sister’s address of residence in Delhi. While driving away, he loudly announced to the driver to take him to Maharaja Sutkatta’s palace so that he could return all the horoscopes he was entrusted with. After this, the Welfare Minister himself came to have a word with Nanukaka at his sister’s place. The narrator is a bit worried about what would happen if the Minister found out that Nanukaka is not an astrologer from Ninnore but he was also relieved knowing that Nanukaka will handle the situation if it ever happens. However, he wants to be out of the scene if it happens anyday.

Video Explanation of A Pinch of Snuff



A Pinch of Snuff Lesson Explanation

  1. Mother’s announcement shook me. “Nanukaka is coming,” she said.
  2. “Oh, my God!” I said. “Couldn’t we send him a wire saying we are leaving – that I am transferred or something?”
  3. “No, dear,” Mother said. “He must be already on the train. Besides,” she added reassuringly, “he says he cannot stay here for more than two or three days.”

Wire- send telegram or message

Transferred- to move from one place to another

Reassuringly- in a way that removes someone’s doubts and fears

The lesson opens with the narrator’s shocking response to his mother’s statement that Nanukaka will be visiting them. He did not want Nanukaka to visit because he asked his mother if they could send him a message saying that he had been shifted to some other place due to his job. His mother rejected the idea and told him that Nanukaka must have already boarded the train by now. She further comforted him by saying that his stay will only be for a few days.


  1. ‘What is he coming to Delhi for — in this heat?”
  2. “He wants to see some Minister.”
  3. “What! That means he will be here for weeks! Ministers don’t see people for weeks…months! Oh, my God!” 
  4. “If your Nanukaka wants to see a Minister, I am sure he will manage to see him,” Mother said, “any time of the day or night.”

He further asked the purpose of Nanukaka’s visit, especially in this hot season to which his mother replied that it was due to some meeting with a Minister. This further shocked the narrator because it was hard to get an appointment with Ministers and it may take weeks or even months. However, she was quite confident that if Nanukaka had made up his mind to have a meeting with a Minister, he would find a way irrespective of any circumstance.


  1. Mother has always been very loyal to her side of the family, and, after all, Nanukaka is her brother. I, on the other hand, may have something of a complex about Ministers. I am an Under-Secretary, on probation, and as such trained to regard Ministers as being two steps higher than God; the Secretaries being just one step higher.

Loyal- giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution

Complex- a feeling that you are not as good, as intelligent, as attractive, etc as other people

Probation- a process of testing or observing the character or abilities of a person who is new to a role or job

Under-Secretary- a subordinate official, a person who works for and has a slightly lower rank than the secretary

The narrator’s mother had been faithful to her side of the family despite all the circumstances and since Nanukaka was her brother, she would take his side too. However, the narrator felt a sense of inferiority complex from the Ministers because he was a newly appointed Under-Secretary who has been taught to worship Ministers and consider them being two steps above God and the Secretary, one step above God.


  1. I was waiting on the platform when the train came in. Nanukaka stood in the doorway of a second class carriage; a striking figure, white haired, with an impressive moustache. He still wears the old-fashioned knee-length black coat and the red silk pugree of the Deccani brahmin, and drapes a white angocha round his shoulders.

Doorway- an entrance to a place through a door

Striking- attracting attention by reason of being unusual, extreme, or prominent

Impressive- make a strong positive impression

Pugree- a light turban worn in India

Deccani brahmin- Deccani caste is a last name of many people in the South Indian subcontinent

Drapes- arrange (cloth or clothing) loosely or casually on or round something

Angocha- towel, napkin, waistcloth

The train arrived when the narrator was waiting at the platform. He could see Nanukaka standing in the entrance of the second-class carriage. He had a personality that had the tendency of being noticeable and attracting a lot of attention towards him with his white hair and exceptional mustache. He is generally in his traditional black coat of knee-length and turban made of red silk tied in the fashion of those of Deccani Bramins with which he carried a white waistcloth around his shoulders.


  1. As I went up, he handed me a basket. “Take this out, quick,” he whispered. “I’ll join you outside the station.”
  2. I asked no questions. I tucked the basket under my arm and turned, only to bump into an enormous Marwari woman who had her head covered in a burka. But my apologies were drowned by the strange sounds emanating from the basket: the protests of an outraged kitten. “Spitts…strupst …meow …meooow…meooow!”

Tucked- to put something into a safe or convenient place

Enormous- very large in size, quanity, height or extent

Marwari- a native or inhabitant of Rajasthan in India

Burka- a long, loose garment covering the whole body from head to feet, worn in public by women

Drowned- (here) got lost in 

Emanating- originate from; be produced by

Outraged- to cause someone to feel very angry, shocked, or upset

He went up the train and was handed over a basket with the instruction of carrying it out as fast as possible. Nanukaka told him that he would meet him outside the station. Without asking any further questions, the narrator carefully held the basket on his arm and as he was on his way out, he collided with a lady who seemed to be belonging to Rajasthan as she had her head covered in a burka. The narrator tried saying sorry but it got lost in the loud noises originating from the basket. The basket was carrying a kitten who was shouting in an attempt to come out.


  1. I ducked and ran, and mingled with the crowd and squeezed through the gate in the wake of a Sikh marriage party.
  2. Nanukaka was long time coming. The station yard was nearly empty and the last tonga had gone when he emerged, escorted by a fawning ticket inspector.

Ducked- lower the head or body quickly to avoid a blow or missile or so as not to be seen

Mingled- mix or cause to mix together

Station yard- the station area which lies within the specified place and/or specified distance (as prescribed by Railway Board) at either ends of the station

Tonga- a light horse-drawn two-wheeled vehicle used in India

Emerged- move out of or away from something and become visible 

Escorted- accompany (someone or something) somewhere as an escort 

Fawning- displaying exaggerated flattery or affection

He bowed down and ran into the crowd in order to avoid getting caught with the kitten only to find himself outside the station gate and became a part of a wedding party of a Sikh family. On the other hand, Nanukaka took so much time to come out that the station area was almost vacant and all the tongas had gone. He came out accompanied with a ticket officer who had applied a lot of oil.


  1. “No room in the third class, and they wouldn’t issue second class tickets without reservation,” Nanukaka explained as he came up to me. “Had to travel second on a third class ticket! But it was all arranged quite amicably. Such a nice young man, the TC. You saw how he even came right out with me, so that there should be no trouble. The kitten, of course, travelled free. How is it?”
  2. “Very quiet,” I said. Perhaps it is dead, I thought hopefully.

Reservation- an arrangement by which something such as a seat in the train is kept for you to use later

Amicably- in a friendly manner

Just as Nanukaka arrived, he explained that there were no seats in the third class coach of the train and the second class coach ticket requires it to be booked prior which is why he had to travel in second class with a third class ticket. He appreciated the Ticket Collector for making it happen and called him a ‘nice man’. He even appreciated how he accompanied him out in order to avoid any problems. Not only this, it was because of him that even the kitten’s ticket did not have to be bought. Nanukaka then asked him how the kitten was doing. The narrator replied that it’s been very silent or maybe it is dead, which he actually hoped for it to happen.


  1. We got into the car, and even before I had changed into second gear, Nanukaka asked: “When have you arranged for the minister to see me? Can’t stay here for more than two days – three at the most.”

They sat in the car and just as the narrator started driving, Nanukaka asked him about the details regarding his meeting with the Minister. He specified that he could not stay longer than two or at most, three days.


  1. It was a time for frankness. “Look uncle.” I said. “I am merely an Under-Secretary, on probation, and it is more than my job is worth to go asking for interviews with Ministers.” 
  2. “Oh!” Nanukaka said. “I had rather hoped …oh, I see. Well, never mind.” He took a pinch of snuff, brushed his fingers delicately on his angocha, and sat back, closing his eyes and puckering his eyebrows as through in deep thought. He also clucked his tongue several times in a typically Deccani way, registering pity.

Frankness- the quality of being open, honest, and direct in speech or writing

Merely- just; only

Snuff- the charred part of a candle wick

Delicately- in a very careful or finely judged manner; gently

Puckering- knitting together

Clucked- (of a person) make a short, low sound with one’s tongue to express concern or disapproval

Pity- the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others

The narrator realized it was time to be honest with his uncle and thus, he explained to Nanukaka that he was only an Under-Secretary who was still serving under probation and it was not within his reach to ask for interviews with Ministers. Nanukaka was caught by a little surprise and he went ahead to express it but shunned the idea. He then took out some snuff and rubbed his fingers on the waistcloth he was wearing. He tried to relax as he closed his eyes and wrinkled his brows – it appeared as if he was upto some really deep thinking. Not only this, he clucked his tongue a few times to express concern in a way typical Deccani Brahmins of the South do.


  1. Mother was waiting on the doorstep, her face wreathed in smiles. She went into squeals of delight over the kitten and made a lot of fuss over Nanukaka. I also found that she had installed him in my bedroom, so that I had to put a charpoy for myself in the back verandah.

Wreathed- adorned

Squeals- a long, high-pitched cry or noise

Fuss- a display of unnecessary or excessive excitement, activity or interest

Charpoy- a bed used especially in India consisting of a frame strung with tapes or light rope

Mother kept waiting at the door to welcome her brother happily. She screamed in happiness upon seeing the kitten and expressed her excitement to see Nanukaka. The narrator found out later that she made arrangements for Nanukaka to live in the narrator’s bedroom because of which the narrator had to sleep on a charpoy in the backside verandah of the house.


  1. At mother’s insistence, I had taken two days’ leave from the office, and in the afternoon, I drove Nanukaka to the north Block. He went in to see the Minister and I waited in the car park. It was two hours before he returned mumbling colourful Marathi swearwords. I didn’t dare ask him what had happened, and drove without saying a word. He cooled down in a little while, though, and said:
  2. “Two hours, I spent, being transferred from one chaprasi to another, tramping through the corridors, and in the end, succeeded in getting a Deputy-Secretary to give me an appointment – three days from now! Shameful! Shameful! And there was another series of Marathi expletives. In a linguistic emergency my uncle always turned to his mother tongue.

Insistence- the fact or quality of insisting that something is the case or should be done

Mumbling- speaking or spoken in a quiet and indistinct way.

Swearwords- bad language 

Chaprasi- a junior office worker who carries messages

Tramping- marching; slogging

Expletives- bad language 

Linguistic – relating to language 

Following his mother’s instructions, the narrator took two days’ leave from his office. He took Nanukaka to the north Block in the afternoon where Nanukaka went inside to meet the Minister while he waited in the parking area. After two hours, Nanukaka came out abusing in Marathi. Since the narrator knew he was angry, he couldn’t gather the courage to ask what was wrong so he decided to let him cool down. After a while, Nanukaka complained that he spent two hours juggling between chaprasis and marching through the corridors before he could get a Deputy-Secretary to fix an appointment for him, that too after three days. He called the nuisance entirely shameful and could not stop swearing in Marathi. The narrator highlights that his uncle always resorts to his native language at moments like these, when he is angry.


  1. A garnish yellow sports car flashed past us, blaring its horn in an uninterrupted blast, and the young man at the wheel waved his hand at me.
  2. “What a rude man! Who was that?” Nunukaka asked.
  3. “Chap called Ratiram, works in the same Ministry as mine.”
  4. “I see.”

Garnish- pretty

Flashed- move or pass very quickly

Chap- a boy or a man who’s a friend, acquaintance or a friendly stranger

As they were talking, a pretty yellow car, continuously honking moved past them very quickly and the young boy who was driving the car waved at the narrator. Nanukaka thought that was rude of him and asked who he was. The narrator explains that he is Ratiram who works at the same Ministry as his’.


  1. “There was some talk about his going as Trade Commissioner to Hajrat Barkat Ali, you know, the Ambassador, but they say it is all off now,” I said, just to make conservation.
  2. “Why don’t you get sent out on one of these foreign assignments?” Nanukaka asked.

In order to make conversation, the narrator told Nanukaka that there was a rumor that Ratiram might be going as Trade Commissioner alongside Hajrat Barkat Ali, the Ambassador but it was not going to happen now. Nanukaka further asked him the reason why he does not get a chance to go on one such foreign assignments


  1. “To get sent on a foreign assignment is in the same category as getting an interview with a Minister, Uncle,” I said, somewhat unkindly. “It takes pull. Ratiram is the son of Sohanlal Ratiram, you know, the Party Boss in Delhi.”
  2. Nanukaka sat up with a jerk. “What was that?” what did you say? Sohanlal Ratiram’s son! How extraordinary! Well, well!” he leaned back in his seat and stared at me for a long time. “Now let me see. You’ve got a close-collar Jodhpur coat, haven’t you? Good! And can you tie a turban? No? Well, I’ll have to put it on you, although I am no expert. This tie-and-collar business is no good these days. Let’s go home. After you have changed, we will go and see him.”
  3. “See whom?”
  4. “Why, Lala Sohanlal, of course!”
  5. “Do you know him at all?”
  6. “Of course not,” Nanukaka said.

The narrator explains to Nanukaka that being sent on foreign business is as difficult as getting to have an appointment with the Minister. He bluntly said that it requires connections like Ratiram has, being the son of Sohanlal Ratiram – the Party Boss in Delhi. Nanukaka was taken by surprise when he heard about Ratiram being the son of Sohanlal. He sat back for a while in an inclined position as he kept looking at the narrator.

After a while, he asked if the narrator had a Jodhpuri coat with a closed collar and if he could tie a turban himself. Even if he could not, Nanukaka took it upon himself to tie it for him despite not being perfect at it. He thinks that a dress of closed collar Jodhpuri coats with turban go a long way over the tie and collar trending these days. He told the narrator to change his clothes as soon as they reached home so that they could have a meeting. Upon asking, the narrator got to know that Nanukaka is planning to pay a visit to Lala Sohanlal. Because of this confidence, the narrator thought that his uncle might be close with Lala Sohanlal but to his surprise, Nanukaka did not know him at all.


  1. I changed into Jodhpur coat and Uncle Nanukaka tied a huge orange turban round my head. “Act as though you were my, er, a sort of A.D.C.,” he cautioned me as we started for Lala Sohanlal’s house.

A.D.C. – aide-de-camp – a military officer acting as a confidential assistant to a senior officer

Cautioned- warn or advise against (doing something)

He changed into the Jodhpuri coat and his uncle wrapped a big orange turban around his head while he advised him to act as his assistant or in his words, his ‘A.D.C.’. They then left for Lala Sohanlal’s house to see him.


  1. A secretary in spotless white clothes received us and showed us into a cool white room before he asked our business, very politely.
  2. “Just dropped in,” Nanukaka said casually. “I had come to Delhi for the Zamindars’ Convention, a rather unofficial gathering you know, since we zamindars are not, not exactly, popular, these days … V.P. has also sent a cable, he wants to see me, but he is not coming from Washington until tomorrow. I thought I might as well see Lalaji and tell him what arrangements we, the zamindars, have made for the agricultural vote…”

Convention- a meeting of people for a common purpose

Zamindars- a landowner, especially one who leases his land to tenant farmers

Cable- send a message to someone by cablegram

Upon reaching, they were welcomed by a Secretary wearing clean white clothes who guided them to a white room where he respectfully asked them the purpose of their visit. Nanukaka said in a relaxed manner that he had just randomly come to visit Lalaji before the not so officially planned Zamindars’ Convention which he had mainly come to Delhi for. It was because Zamindars are not really famous these days. He casually mentioned that the Vice President also conveyed his intentions of visiting him once he is back from Washington the following day. He further explained that he wanted to discuss the convention and the arrangements they have made with Lalaji.


  1. Nanukaka sort of trailed off and I could see that he was not really making an impression on the secretary who was just being polite, and playing it safe. “I’ll have to see whether Lalaji is free,” the secretary said. “He seldom sees, er, visitors without a previous appointment.”
  2. Lalaji must have been free, because from the adjoining room we could just hear the unhurried gurgle of the hookah, and then we could hear the haughty secretary talking to him.

Trailed off- used to say that someone’s voice becomes softer and softer and then stops

Seldom- not often, rarely

Adjoining- (of a building, room or piece of land) next to or joined with

Unhurried- moving, acting, or taking place without haste or urgency

Gurgle- make a bubbling sound like that made by water running out of a bottle

Haughty- arrogantly superior and disdainful (proud)

After explaining the purpose of their visit, Nanukaka spoke softer and softer till he stopped talking which really did not convince the secretary who was just being polite by offering to see if Lalaji is free at the moment. However, he mentioned that Lalaji rarely sees anyone without prior appointment. Both of them could sense that Lala Sohanlal is unoccupied as they could hear the bubbling sounds coming out of consuming a hookah from the next room. They could even hear the voice of the arrogant secretary privately speaking to him


  1. “What day is it, today?” Nanukaka asked me.
  2. I thought he was speaking in an unusually loud voice. “Tuesday,” I told him.
  3. “Ooh, only Tuesday, and to think that on Sunday I was in Beirut. Amazing, isn’t it?
  4. I swallowed hard. “Amazing,” I agreed.
  5. “And if I had listened to Hajrat, I’d still be abroad. Old H.B. was just dying to drag me to the Foreign Minister.”
  6. The steady gurgling of hookah in the next room had suddenly stopped.

Swallowed hard- to use the muscles of your throat, as if moving something from your mouth into your stomach, because you are nervous or frightened 

Steady- regular, even, and continuous in development, frequency, or intensity 

Suddenly, Nanukaka asked the narrator what day it was and the narrator told him it was Tuesday. The narrator felt that his uncle was speaking in a weirdly loud tone. Nanukaka continued speaking in a loud tone as he expressed his surprise of it just being Tuesday when only last Sunday he was in Beirut. The narrator started feeling nervous and simply agreed. He further mentioned how he would still be abroad if he listened to Hajrat and how old H.B. was trying to persuade him to meet the Foreign Minister. Upon hearing this, the continuous hookah noises stopped immediately.


  1. “What did you say?” Nanukaka asked, although I hadn’t even opened my mouth. “Why didn’t I stay back? You know how it was with H.B. the last time, when he was in Geneva. Got me involved in the cotton talks. Besides, from Bombay, S.K. had been sending me cable after cable …”
  2. That was the moment Lala Sohanlal Ratiram came waddling out of the inner room with the secretary at his heels, and from then on everything was smothered in the saccharine courtesy of the seasoned political campaigner. As soon as the introductions were over, the secretary was sent bustling off to order coffee and sweetmeats and pan.

Waddling- strolling; walk with short steps and a clumsy swaying motion

At his heels- following someone very closely

Smothered- to conceal, suppress or hide

Saccharine- excessively sweet or sentimental

Courtesy- the showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behavior towards others 

Bustling- moving about in an energetic and busy manner

Sweetmeats- an items of confectionery or sweet food

Pan- an Indian after-dinner treat that consists of a betel leaf filled with chopped betel

Upon seeing that the act is making an impact, Nanukaka continued and asked the narrator what did he say even when the narrator had not uttered a single word – Nanukaka pretended that he had been asked the reason why he did not stay longer. He further explained how H.B. acted during his stay in Geneva last time when they got all lost in the cotton talks and the reason why he could not stay there any longer was because S.K. was asking him to come back by sending multiple cable messages from Bombay.

After hearing all this, Lalaji came out hurriedly from the room with the secretary following him closely. Following this point, everything went on smoothly and they were given a very polite and warm treatment by the seasoned political manager. They introduced each other and the secretary was asked to bring coffee, some sweets and paan.


  1. They sparred guardedly about zamindars and votes and the weather for a few minutes before coming to brass tacks. “I hear you know Hajrat Barkat Ali, well,” Sohanlal said with an ingratiating grin.

Sparred- talked, argued

Guardedly- in a careful way that does not show feelings or give much information

Brass tacks- hidden course

Ingratiating- flattering

Grin- smile broadly

They discussed casually about votes related to zamindars and also the weather before coming to the real point. After a while, Lalaji showed interest in Nanukaka’s association with Hajrat Barkat Ali with a broad smile.


  1. “Oh, old H.B.! how did you know I know H.B.? Actually, we were at school together, always regarded me as a sort of elder brother. Rather touching, really: even today, he seldom takes a big decision without consulting me. When the P.M. offered him the Embassy, who do you think had to make up H.B.’s mind for him?
  2. “You?”
  3. “That’s right, me. Good old H.B.”

Touching- arousing feelings of sympathy or gratitude

Nanukaka acted clueless after very carefully dropping hints earlier about him knowing Hajrat Barkat Ali and went ahead to ask how Lalaji knew about his association with H.B.. He told Lala Sohanlal that they went to school together and were on such good terms that H.B. treated him as his elder brother. Nanukaka finds it very heart-warming and he further shares that H.B. regards him so highly that he rarely ever takes any big decision without considering his opinion. He even asked who, according to Lalaji, convinced H.B. to take up P.M’s offer on the Embassy. Lalaji asked if it was Nanukaka who did it and Nanukaka confirmed.


  1. “Ha, ha, ha, ha,” laughed Sohanlal, now showing all his pan-stained teeth. “In that case it is a lucky day that you have come to my humble house. Very lucky, because my son — he is in the Balances Ministry here – he was going as Trade Commissioner to Hajrat Barkat Ali. But you know how there are wheels within wheels. Someone seems to have poisoned the Ambassador’s mind about my son; about some transaction concerning evacuee-property. Actually, it was a perfectly legitimate … ?”

Humble- of low social, administrative or political rank

Wheels within wheels- used to indicate that a situation is complicated and affected by secret or indirect influences

Poisoned- to exert a baneful (harmful or destructive) influence on

Evacuee-property- property of someone who has moved away from his home because of dangerous situation 

Legitimate- lawful, fair

Upon hearing the stories of closeness of Nanukaka and H.B., Lala Sohanlal expressed his amusement while exposing his teeth that were marked with paan stains. Lalaji called the day “very lucky” as Nanukaka had set his foot upon his ordinary home and went ahead to introduce his son who works at the Balances Ministry. He narrated to Nanukaka how his son was about to go as Trade Commissioner to H.B. but somehow an indirect source secretly influenced the Ambassador’s mind into believing that his son is involved in Evacuee-property which was actually lawful.


  1. Nanukaka waved away any further explanation. ‘That should be quite simple,” he announced. “I’ll write and tell H.B. to do it. No, no. Don’t thank me at all. After all, we, er, we men in the public eye, must do things for one another, ha, ha. One good turn deserves another.”
  2. Nanukaka opened his silver snuffbox and took a pinch. Then, flicking on his angocha, he casually mentioned the name of the Welfare Minister.
  3. The fixed grin on Sohanlal’s face vanished. “Is he a friend of yours?” Nanukaka admitted. “No, not exactly.”
  4. “I am so glad,” Sohanlal said, relieved. “So glad. That man; such ingratitude! I gave him a ticket, helped him in every way, and what do I get in return?”
  5. It turned out that the Minister and Lala Sohanlal, once the best of friends, were now at daggers drawn, since last year, when the Minister had refused to consider a proposal for his daughter to many Lalaji’s son.

In the public eye- the state of being known or of interest to people in general

Snuffbox- a small ornamental box for holding snuff

Flicking- tapping

Vanished- disappear suddenly and completely

Ingratitude- a discreditable lack of gratitude

At daggers drawn- at odds, quarreling

Nanukaka interrupted Lalaji’s story and comforted him saying that it is no big deal – he could convince him easily by writing to H.B. He told Lala Sohanlal that there was no need to thank him either, as men looking after official matters must keep on doing favors for each other because one good turn is worthy of another. Nanukaka took out his snuffbox made of silver and took just a pinch of it and tapped his fingers on the waistcloth as he randomly dropped the Welfare Minister’s name. The name took Sohanlal’s continuous smile away and that’s when Nanukaka asked if he knew him. Sohanlal mentioned that he was not exactly a friend of his and he was happy about that because he displayed lack of gratitude even after it was Lalaji who got him a ticket. The story behind Lalaji’s frustration towards the Welfare Minister, who was once his great friend, is that the Minister had rejected the thought about Lalaji’s son and his daughter’s marriage.


  1. “He wants a prince!” Sohanlal snorted. “What is a prince, these days! Faugh! Confidential, I can tell you that the Minister has burnt his boats; I’d be surprised if he is given a ticket for the next elections; very surprised. He turns my son down, and wants a prince! Baah! And what is even more funny, I am told that so far they haven’t even exchanged horoscopes; even the astrologers on both sides haven’t come together to decide whether it would be an auspicious match!”
  2. “Disgraceful!” Nanukaka snorted. “Disgraceful! What prince did you say?”
  3. “Some twopenny state called Ninnore.” 

Snorted- make a sudden explosive sound through one’s nose, especially to express indignation 

Faugh- express disgust

Confidential- intended to be kept secret

Burnt his boats- destroy all possible ways of going back to that situation

Auspicious- favorable, promising

Disgraceful- shockingly unacceptable

Twopenny- costing or worth two pence

Lala Sohanlal expressed his disgust and mentioned that the Minister wants a prince for her daughter in this era. Continuing in anger, he leaked out private information in front of Nanukaka that the Welfare Minister has destroyed all possible ways of getting a ticket for the next elections. He is very annoyed over the fact that they turned his son down for a prince with whom they have not even exchanged their horoscopes with. They haven’t even made the astrologers from both parties meet to decide if the match is promising or not. 

Nanukaka thinks that the whole act was shocking and unacceptable. Hence, he asked Lala which prince they are after – to which Lala replied that it was some two-penny called Ninnore.


  1. We left the house soon after that, Nanukaka having again promised that he would write to “Old H.B.” that very day. As we drove away, both Lalaji and his superior secretary were bowing to him from the porch.

Bowing- to bend your head or body forward, especially as a way of showing someone respect

Porch- a covered shelter projecting in front of the entrance of a building

After the conversation about how Lalaji’s son was rejected by the Minister for her daughter, Nanukaka and the narrator left his house while promising to write to the old H.B. to convince him. Lalaji and his senior secretary bowed (as a mark of respect) while standing at the porch as both of them left for their home in the car.


  1. Nanukaka was strangely silent that evening and went to bed soon after dinner, but in the morning, he was chirpy again.
  2. “We are going to the Minister’s house, this morning,” he announced.
  3. “Not me, please, Uncle,” I appealed.
  4. He inhaled some snuff before he spoke, and by that time he seemed to have forgotten what I had said. “This car of yours; too old, too small. We’ll need something much more impressive. You noticed how that secretary treated us coldly at first. If we had gone in a bigger car, he would have been quite different.”
  5. “What about a taxi?”
  6. “No; not a taxi. A private car, driven by a liveried chauffeur; the bigger the better.”

Chirpy- cheery, happy

Appealed- make a serious, urgent, heartfelt request

Liveried- uniformed

Chauffeur- a person employed to drive a private or hired car

Upon coming home, the narrator noticed that his uncle was unusually and surprisingly quiet. He even slept right after dinner but when he woke up, he was all cheerful again as he announced that they will be paying the Minister a visit. The narrator made a heartfelt request not to join him that day which got entirely ignored by Nanukaka as he got busy inhaling the snuff. Afterwards, Nanukaka specified that the car he is driving is very old and small. Had they visited Lala Sohanlal in a better car, they would have been treated with respect from the beginning. The narrator suggested they go in a taxi but his uncle refused. Nanukaka ordered that they must go in a private car driven by a uniformed driver because – ‘the bigger, the better’ which means that a private car driven by a driver would earn them attention and respect.


  1. I remembered that an acquaintance of mine has been trying to sell for some months an enormous, stately, outlandish car that would have only been built for a court procession. I told Nanukaka about it.
  2. “That’s it! We’ll take it out for a ‘brief’ trial, he suggested breezily.
  3. “I am sure we could,” I said, “if we looked like genuine buyers. But do we? These motor- car touts can smell a rich man a mile off.”
  4. “You leave that to me,” Nanukaka said. “You just leave the details to me.”

Acquaintance- a person one knows slightly, but who is not a close friend

Stately- impressive or grand in size, appearance, or manner 

Outlandish- extremely strange and unusual 

Breezily- lively and somewhat carefree

Tout- (here) a person who is trying to sell, typically by a direct or persistent approach

Suddenly, the narrator recalled that a contact of his was trying to sell an exclusive, grand and lavish car that looked as if it had been built only to take it to important places like court processions. Nanukaka liked the idea and casually suggested that they may take that car for a trial run. The narrator agreed but he thought it was only possible if they looked like actual buyers because the middlemen could find out whether a man could buy it or not. Nanukaka took the responsibility to take care of it and asked him not to worry about this.


  1. “And what about this liveried chauffeur?” I asked.
  2. “You, of course,” Nanukaka said blandly.
  3. He took out his cheque-book and wrote a cheque for a thousand rupees. He folded it neatly and put it into the inner pocket of an old coat of his. “Now call your dhobi,” he told me.
  4. I called the dhobi, and Uncle gave him the coat and took him outside and had a talk with him. Then we drove over to the Sikka Auto Dealers and Nanukaka asked if he could try out the car we had in mind. 

Blandly- unexcitingly

Dhobi- a washerman or washerwoman

The narrator then asked where they could find a uniformed driver from. Nanukaka plainly responded by writing a cheque for a thousand rupees which he folded neatly and put into the inner pocket of his old coat. He told the narrator to call for the washerman. When the dhobi came, Nanukaka handed over his coat to him and took him out to have a word with him. After this, they went to Sikka Auto Dealers where Uncle asked them if they could test-drive the car they had planned for.


  1. We had barely got talking to the manager when the dhobi rushed into shop, holding Nanukaka’s old coat in one hand and brandishing the cheque with the other. “Oh, there you are!” he panted. “Look what you had left in this coat of yours!”
  2. Nanukaka held out the cheque at the arm’s length, and clucked his tongue several times. “How careless of me!” he said. “I am always doing this sort of thing. Bearer cheque too; anyone could have cashed it. Here, my good man,” he said to the dhobi, “here is a reward for you. There is nothing like honesty,” and he gave him a two- rupee note and a pat on the back.

Barely- only just

Brandishing- waving so that others can see it 

Panted- breathe with short, quick breaths, typically from exertion or excitement

Bearer cheque- the one in which the payment is made to the person bearing or carrying the cheque. These cheques are transferable by delivery, that is, if you are carrying the cheque to the bank, you can be issued the payment to.

They had just started talking to the manager when the dhobi came running into the store, carrying Nanukaka’s old coat and waving the cheque. Since he came running, he was in short of breath when he highlighted that Nanukaka had left the cheque in his coat. Nanukaka acted as if it happened by mistake and held the cheque while he expressed disappointment in himself for being so careless for leaving it in the coat and forgetting about it. He exclaimed that it was a bearer’s cheque and anyone could have easily gotten it encashed. He appreciated dhobi’s honesty and rewarded him with a two-rupee note as he patted him on his back to indicate praise for his honesty.


  1. After this demonstration of wealth, it was quite easy about the car. I drove, wearing my white Jodhpur coat and the orange turban, and Nanukaka sat regally at the back, looking every inch what he was supposed to be: a hereditary pundit from a princely state.
  2. We drove to the Minister’s house, and the servants and the secretary fussed around Nanukaka who refused to state his business but merely called for the visitors’ book.

Regally- relating to or suitable for a king or queen

Hereditary- (of a title, office, or right) conferred by or based on inheritance

After displaying a glimpse of their wealth, they got the car easily. The narrator drove it, wearing a white Jodhpuri coat and an orange turban while his uncle sat royally at the back. Nanukaka looked royal and wealthy like the hereditary pundit he was acting to be, from a princely state. They reached the Minister’s home but the servants were creating distress about Nanukaka not specifying the purpose of his visit as he directly asked for the visitors’ book.


  1. “I have just come to make a formal call,” he announced. “I have no wish to disturb the Minister. It is just a formality that we in the old princely states still observe. His Highness is a great stickler for these courtesies.” They brought the visitors’ book, and I watched Nanukaka in admiration as he wrote his name with flourish and added, “Hereditary Astrologer to the Maharaja of Ninnore.” At the end he gave his Delhi address: my address.

Stickler- perfectionist, hard taskmaster

Nanukaka announced that the purpose of his visit was to just make a formal announcement and not bother the Minister. He was there just to comply with a regulation that old princely states follow as the Maharaja wants everything to be perfect when it comes to formalities like these. Upon hearing this, they brought the visitor’s book and on the other hand, the narrator observed his Uncle in total appreciation while he wrote his name. Nanukaka even added “Hereditary Astrologer to the Maharaja of Ninnore” against his name with the address of his sister’s residence in Delhi.


  1. Without another word, and as though he were in a tearing hurry, he got into the car and said loudly:
  2. “Take me to the Maharaja Sutkatta’s palace. I have to return all those horoscopes entrusted to me.” As the car turned out of the gate, I glanced backwards and saw a huge dark, khaddar-clad figure peering at us from an upper-story window.

Entrusted- assign the responsibility for doing something to (someone)

Glanced- take a brief or hurried look

Khaddar-clad- someone clothed in khadi

Peering- the exchange of data directly between internet service providers, rather than via the internet

Right after, he entered the car and asked him to take him to Maharaja Sutkatta’s palace so that he could return all the horoscopes that he was in charge of. As the car went out of the gate, the narrator took a look backwards only to find a person clothed in khadi garments peeking at them through a window on one of the upper floors.


  1. We had just finished tea, and we were trying to house-break the new kitten which had just made a puddle on the floor when the car with the white triangle stopped in front of the house, and Nanukaka went out with folded hands to receive the Welfare Minister who had come to see him.

House-break- to train (a pet) to live cleanly in a house by excreting outdoors or in a specific place

Puddle- a small pool of liquid

They had just finished having their tea and as they were making attempts to house-break the kitten that had made a puddle on the floor, a car with white triangle came in front of their house. It was the Welfare Minister’s car – he had come to visit Nanukaka who escorted him with a namaste.

  1. Nanukaka left yesterday, his mission accomplished. I never found out what it was that he wanted to see the Minister about. Also, I wonder what is going to happen when the minister discovers that my uncle has never been within a hundred miles of a place called Ninnore, although I am now convinced that Nanukaka will deal with the situation without allowing a single fold of his angocha to fall of place.
  2. Only, when it happens, I want to be somewhere far out of range.

As his purpose was fulfilled, Nanukaka left the day before. The narrator could never figure out why Nanukaka wanted to visit the Minister. He even pondered what would happen if the Minister got to know that his Unlce had never even been to Ninnore but he was still confident that Nanukaka would handle any situation perfectly.

A Pinch of Snuff Question Answers

A. Answer the following questions orally:

  1. Do guests visit your house frequently? How do you respond to them?


Yes, guests visit my home quite frequently. We respond to them respectfully and in a very welcoming manner.


  1. Do you like all of them equally? How often do you entertain your guests gladly?


No, I do not like all of the guests equally. However, I still entertain them all gladly and with respect.


  1. At times you may have to welcome a guest whom you don’t like much. How do you do this? 


Indeed, there are times when I have to welcome a guest I don’t like very much. I try not to let my disliking towards them come in the way of my hospitality and I take good care of them.


B.1.1. Complete the following sentences on the basis of what you have studied :

a) …….. was coming to visit the narrator’s family.

b) The narrator was………..on probation.

c) Nanukaka was to stay for …………

d) Nanukaka was coming to Delhi to  ………………

e) ……….informed the under Secretary about Nanukaka’s visit?

f) The Under Secretary had to put a charpoy for himself in the back verandah because ……….

g) Nanukaka was related to the narrator as he was his  ………….



a) Nanukaka was coming to visit the narrator’s family.

b) The narrator was an Under-Secretary on probation.

c) Nanukaka was to stay for two or three days.

d) Nanukaka was coming to Delhi to see a Minister.

e) His mother informed the under Secretary about Nanukaka’s visit?

f) The Under Secretary had to put a charpoy for himself in the back verandah because his mother had installed Nanukaka in his bedroom.

g) Nanukaka was related to the narrator as he was his mother’s brother.


B.1. 2. Answer the following questions briefly :

1) The news that made the mother happy disturbed her son. Why were their responses so different?


The news of Nanukaka visiting made mother really happy as she is very loyal to her side of the family and after all, Nanukaka is her brother. However, on the other hand, for the narrator, it meant being on his toes for Nanukaka during his stay. Hence, it distrubed him a bit.


2) Do you have a similar experience? Has your response to the news of the arrival of any guest ever been different from that of other members of the family?


Yes, I have similar experiences. There are situations when I don’t like the news of a cousin visiting as much as my brother does. This is because they play video games together all day which means I do not get to watch television at all.


3) ‘Had to travel second on a third class ticket? But it was all arranged quite amicably?’ What ‘arrangement’ Nanukaka is referring to? How can such arrangement be ‘amicable’? 


Nanukaka ‘had to travel second on a third class ticket’ because there were no seats in the third class coach of the train and the second class coach ticket requires it to be booked prior. ‘It was all arranged amicably’ by the Ticket Collector who even escorted Nanukaka till outside in order to avoid any issues. Not only this, it was because of him that even the kitten’s ticket did not have to be bought. This arrangement by the T.C. can be referred to as ‘amicable’ because the T.C. helped Nanukaka when he was in need and he did it politely without causing Nanukaka any inconvenience.


B.2. 1. Write T for true and F for false statements :

a) It was very easy for the narrator to get sent on a foreign assignment.

b) Ratiram was the son of Sohanlal Ratiram.

c) Sohanlal Ratiram was the Party boss in Delhi.

d) Nanukaka went to Lala Sohanlal because they both were Zamindars.

e) Nanukaka visited Lala Sohanlal in the guise of an astrologer.

f) Nanukaka’s meeting with Sohanlal Ratiram was very successful.



a) It was very easy for the narrator to get sent on a foreign assignment. – False

b) Ratiram was the son of Sohanlal Ratiram. – True

c) Sohanlal Ratiram was the Party boss in Delhi. – True

d) Nanukaka went to Lala Sohanlal because they both were Zamindars. – False

e) Nanukaka visited Lala Sohanlal in the guise of an astrologer. – False

f) Nanukaka’s meeting with Sohanlal Ratiram was very successful. – True


B.2. 2. Answer the following questions briefly :

1) The Under-Secretary always obeyed Nanukaka, although he was never willing to do so. Why?


The Under-Secretary always obeyed Nanukaka even though he was never willing to do so because of his mother’s insistence. It is also the reason why he had taken two days’ leave from the office, to take care of Nanukaka during his stay.


2) “This tie-and-collar business is no good these days.” What did Nanukaka mean to say?


Nanukaka thinks that closed collar Jodhpuri coats with turban go a long way over the tie and collar that are trending these days. According to him, we should stick to our traditional turbans because ‘this tie-and-collar business is no good these days”.


3) How did the Under-Secretary change his appearance to accompany Nanukaka? 


The Under-Secretary changed his appearance to accompany Nanukaka. He changed into a Jodhpuri coat and a huge orange turban that was tied on his head by Uncle Nanukaka.


4) Who is a Zamindar? Do you know any Zamindar in your locality? What do the people in your locality think about him?


A  Zamindar is a landowner, especially one who leases his land to tenant farmers. Yes, there are a few zamindars near our locality and they are considered to be very rich and powerful by the people around us.


5) How did Nanukaka impress Sohanlal Ratiram?


Lala Sohanlal Raitram planned on sending his son as Trade Commissioner to Hajrat Barkat Ali, the Ambassador but the plans were called off as someone poisoned H.B.’s mind about Lalaji’s son involved in some transaction concerning evacuee-property. Nanukaka, on the other hand, knew about it which is why he mentioned how close he was with H.B.. This made Sohanlal Ratiram come waddling out of the inner room and from here on, everything was smothered in the saccharine courtesy of the seasoned political campaigner.


6) What important information did he collect at Ratiram’s place?


During his visit to Ratiram’s place, Nanukaka got to know the reason behind the rivalry between Lala Sohanlal and the Welfare Minister. The Welfare Minister had refused to consider Lalaji’s son for his daughter’s marriage and instead, wanted his daughter to marry the Prince of Ninnore whom they were yet to exchange horoscopes with. It was an important piece of information for Nanukaka as he wanted to see the Minister due to some urgent piece of work.


7) Who is a Prince? Do we have any prince now? If yes, do they enjoy the same privileges which they used to do? 


A Prince is the son of a monarch of an Indian princely state. No, we do not have a prince now. 


B.3. Answer the following questions briefly :

  1. Who was the second important person Nanukaka had planned to meet?


The second person that Nanukaka had planned to meet was the Welfare Minister.


  1. What preparation did he make to meet him?


In order to meet the Welfare Minister, Nanukaka thought it would be a great idea to go in a private car driven by a liveried chauffeur. Hence, they went to Sikka Auto Dealers to try out the car they had in mind. Moreover, the Under-Secretary dressed up in white Jodhpuri coat with and orange turban while Nanukaka sat regally like the hereditary pandit from a princely state.


  1. What new role did Nanukaka give the Under-Secretary to play?


Nanukaka asked the Under-Secretary to dress up in a white Jodhpuri along with an orange turban. Hence, he played the role of a liveried chauffeur that drove Nanukaka to the Welfare Minister.


  1. How did he manage to impress the Sikka Auto Dealers?


Since the motor car touts can smell a rich man from a mile away, Nanukaka curated a small plan to impress the Sikka Auto Dealers. He wrote a bearer’s cheque worth a thousand rupees and kept it in an old coat of his’. He handed over the coat to the dhobi who later came running in front of everyone waving that cheque, making it look like Nanukaka had been careless enough to leave a bearer’s cheque of such a huge amount. Nanukaka even rewarded the dhobi with money. This made him look rich and wealthy enough to be able to buy that outlandish car they were eyeing on. 


  1. What did he do at the minister’s residence?


At the minister’s residence, Nanukaka merely called for the visitors’ book as the secretary fussed about not being able to know the state of business he had come for. Nanukaka clarified that he was not there to disturb the minister but was at the location to make a formal call. He mentioned that he was there simply to fulfill a formality they follow in the old princely states. Upon getting the visitors’ book, Nanukaka specified himself as the “Hereditary Astrologer to the Maharaja of Ninnore” and gave his sister’s address of residence in Delhi.


  1. How did he impress the minister?


Nanukaka managed to impress the minister with the entire act that he staged. From being driven to the location in an outlandish car by a liveried chauffeur, dressing up like a hereditary pandit of the princely states and introducing himself as the “Hereditary Astrologer to the Maharaja of Ninnore’, Nanukaka surely made an impression. If this was not enough, he loudly announced to his chauffeur to take him to Maharaja Sutkatta’s palace as he needed to return all the horoscopes entrusted to him, showing that he had contacts with a lot of aristocrats.


  1. Is the Under-Secretary impressed with Nanukaka at any point? When and why? Find out the evidence from the story.


Nanukaka’s wise use of his wit and intelligence impressed the Under-Secretary in many ways. As per the knowledge of the Under-Secretary, it takes weeks or even months to get an interview with the minister but Nanukaka managed to get a Minister to visit him in two days. The Under-Secretary’s admiration of Nanukaka was quite evident in the end when he thought about what would happen if the Minister got to know that his uncle has never been within a hundred miles of Ninnore. He was convinced that Nanukaka would deal with the situation without allowing a single fold of his angocha to fall of place. 


C. 1. Long Answer Questions

  1. Nanukaka tells lots of lies. Why does he do so? Does he succeed in his pursuit?


It is true that Nanukaka told a lot of lies. However, all of them were said in order to get things done in his favor. It is believed that it takes weeks or even months to get an interview with the Minister but the act that he displayed got the Minister to come see Nanukaka himself within two days. It would never have been possible if Nanukaka hadn’t gone in an outlandish car with a liveried chauffeur, introduced himself as the “Hereditary Astrologer to the Maharaja of Ninnore” or showed off his contacts with many aristocrats. Thus, his lies helped him succeed in his pursuit.


  1. What impression does Nanukaka make on you? Do you like him? Attempt a character sketch of Nanukaka.


Nanukaka seems to have quite an impressive personality. He looks like a loving brother from the way the narrator’s mother got all excited to see him that she even asked her son, the Under-Secretary to take two days’ leave. He has a friendly nature which is evident with the way he got the Ticket Collector to help him. He is a man who likes to stick to traditions rather than following western trends which can be seen from his fondness of a closed collar Jodhpuri coat and turban. He managed to portray himself as a wealthy man in order to get the lavish car which makes him spontaneous. He succeeded in his pursuit of seeing the minister by displaying an act which shows that he is clever and witty. On the other hand, it can also be seen as a trait that can be used to deceive people as not even once, did he hesitate to tell lies to get things done in his favor. Yes, I like Nanukaka as he seems to be a man who can handle any situation that he faces and can make lemonade with the lemons that life throws at him. He has quite an impressionable persona. 


  1. Suppose you have Nanukaka as your uncle. How would you behave with him? Explain in detail.


If I had an uncle like Nanukaka, I would surely fuss around at first on the news of him visiting, just like the narrator because of all the hassle I would have to go through for him. This does not mean that I would act with hateful intent with him. I will display complete respect and fulfill all my duties whole-heartedly. I would try to learn from him as much as possible. His powers of persuasion would impress me the most. I would obey all his orders and fulfill all his wishes. I would make sure that his stay is comfortable and memorable.


  1. Nanukaka made a big promise to Sohanlal Ratiram. Did he ever fulfil his promise?


Nanukaka made a big promise to Sohanlal Ratiram to convince Hajrat Barkat Ali to take Lalaji’s son as Trade Commissioner on a foreign assignment after someone had poisoned his mind against it. Nanukaka told Lala Sohnalal that he went to school together with H.B.. and displayed that H.B. regarded him so highly. However, he did not fulfill the promise because the whole story was fabricated. Nanukaka did not know the Ambassador at all.


  1. Can a person like Nanukaka be more successful in the present society? Give reasons.


Nanukaka is polite, outspoken and confident. He never hesitated to use his wit to turn the circumstances in his own favor even if it meant making up lies. He knew how to get others to do things for his own benefit. In the present society, where everyone is selfish, a person like Nanukaka would be more successful who wouldn’t think twice before deceiving someone. He managed to get the Minister to come to his location of choice for an interview in two or three days whereas it takes many weeks or even months to get an appointment. Thus, he would be more successful in today’s world.  


  1. ‘I wonder what is going to happen when the Minister discovers that my uncle has never been within hundred miles of a place called Ninnore… Only, when it happens, I want to be somewhere far out of range.’ What light does it throw on the motive of • the writer in the story? – Does he want to glorify manipulation? Warn us of the consequences which its discovery leads to? Expose the reality we are living in?


After the first incident of manipulation at Lala Sohanlal’s house, the narrator was quite reluctant on being involved the next day to go to visit the Minister. This shows that the narrator was somehow uninterested in being involved in deceitful activities. It was all new for him. One thing he learnt after spending two days with his Uncle was that Nanukaka knew his way of making things work and turn circumstances in his favor. So when Nanukaka portrayed himself as the Hereditary pandit to the Maharaja of Ninnore, the narrator wondered what would happen if the Minister discovers that Nanukaka has never even been near a place called Ninnore. But he was confident that whatever may be the case, Nanukaka would handle the circumstances. He is not trying to glorify manipulation but he sure did see the power of it . He has very subtly attempted to warn the readers to think about the consequences of their actions. 


  1. What is ‘linguistic emergency’? Do we all face it? How does it affect our speech?


Linguistic emergency refers to situations where one is hyper and overwhelmed with the emotions of anger, happiness, sadness or excitement and tries to express it using words. We all face it during a lot of situations. It also happens when a lot is going on in our minds and we try to articulate it. It makes our speech very fast, hurried and also at times, loud.


  1. Discuss the significance of the title? How is it related to the theme of the story? 


The title “A Pinch of Snuff” is symbolic. Snuff is an addictive stuff just like tobacco. It is quite a thing among aristocrats to keep their snuff in silver boxes and keep sniffing a small quantity of it every once in a while. Nanukaka, a man who knew that “the bigger, the better”, understood that a person’s way of living and habits make a huge impression on others. He knew that snuff made him look like one of the aristocrats of the princely states. Hence, to give a dramatic pause, he used to snort a pinch of it. Since everything in Nanukaka’s personality is designed to make impressions on powerful people, this pinch of snuff is also calculated to make others understand his superior status. Hence, the title is apt.



D.1. Dictionary Use

Ex. 1. Correct the spelling of the following words:


mustachassinmentambasadorsecretry campainer
cautiond genuine  casualyleiger hearditary



Mustach- Mustache

Assinment- Assignment

Ambasador- Ambassador

Secretry- Secretary

Campainer- Campaigner

Cautiond- Cautioned

Genuine- Genuine

Casualy- Casually

Leiger- Leisure

Hearditary- Hereditary


Ex. 2. Look up a dictionary and write two meanings of each of the following words — the one in which it is used in the lesson and the other which is more common:


interviewtransferblast tradecourse
touchsurprisematch snort




As per the lesson- a meeting of people face to face, especially for consultation

Other meaning- a structured conversation where one participant asks questions, and the other provides answers



As per the lesson- send a person from one place to another

Other meaning- exchange of large files or data between systems or organizations



As per the lesson- make a loud noise, be very loud

Other meaning- blow up or break apart (something solid) with explosives



As per the lesson- the action of buying and selling goods and services

Other meaning- exchange (something) for something else, typically as a commercial transaction



As per the lesson- (of course) used to introduce an idea or action as being obvious or to be expected

Other meaning- a set of classes or a plan of study on a particular subject, usually leading to an exam



As per the lesson- arousing feelings of sympathy or gratitude

Other meaning- come into or be in contact with



As per the lesson- cause (someone) to feel mild astonishment or shock

Other meaning- an unexpected or astonishing event, fact, etc



As per the lesson- a person considered a good equivalent to another for the purpose of marriage

Other meaning- a contest in which people or teams compete against each other in a particular sport



As per the lesson- an explosive sound made by the sudden forcing of breath through one’s nose, used to express indignation, derision 

Other meaning- to express scorn, anger or surprise by a snort


D.2. Word-formation

Read the following sentences carefully:

a) Mother’s announcement shook me.

b) He seldom sees, er. visitors without a previous appointment. 


In the first sentence ‘announcement’, which is a noun, is derived from ‘announce’ which is a verb. Similarly, in the second sentence ‘appointment’ is derived from ‘appoint’. Nouns can be derived by adding different suffixes such as ‘-ment’, ‘-ion’, ‘-ance’ etc.

Use suffixes to the verbs given below to make them noun:


impressarrangetransact  explain
acquaint managedemonstratemarry



Impress- Impression

Arrange- Arrangement

Transact- Transaction

Explain- Explanation

Acquaint- Acquaintance

Manage- Management

Demonstrate- Demonstration

Marry- Marriage


D.3. word-meaning

Ex. 1. Find from the lesson words the meanings of which have been given on the left hand side. The last part of each word is given on the right hand side:


in a friendly manner and without argument:……………ably
large in size or quantity…………..mous
attracting your interes: or attention :……………king
small nail with a flat top…………….cks
correct according to law:……………mate
extremely strange and unusual:……………dish



in a friendly manner and without argument:  Comfortably

large in size or quantity  enormous

attracting your interes: or attention :  breathtaking

small nail with a flat top  tracks

correct according to law: legitimate

extremely strange and unusual:  outlandish


D. 4. Phrases

Ex.1. Read the lesson carefully and find out the sentences in which the following phrases have been used. Use these phrases in sentences of your own:


at daggers drawndrop in as soon as
turn outof course try out 



At daggers drawn -You know that two people are at daggers drawn when they make a direct statement claiming to be united

Drop in – You can just drop in without making a prior appointment

As soon as – As soon as the sun is shining, you don’t need an umbrella.

Turn out – The cake turned out to be pretty great

Of course – Of course! I will come to visit you when you move to Chennai.

Try out – I would like to try out as many cuisines as possible at the buffet tonight.



E.1. Read the following sentences carefully:

You’ve got a close-collar Jodhpur coat, haven’t you?

(It is) Amazing, isn’t it? 

In the above examples ‘haven’t you ?’ and ‘isn’t it?’ are tag-questions. 


Write tag-questions for the following sentences: 

  1. Amod was speaking in an unusually loud voice,………..
  2. That should be quite simple, …………..
  3. Nanukaka chuckled his tongue several times, ……….
  4. You will do the work, …………..
  5. Gulu is eating a mango, ………………



  1. Amod was speaking in an unusually loud voice, wasn’t he?
  2. That should be quite simple, shouldn’t it?
  3. Nanukaka chuckled his tongue several times, didn’t he?
  4. You will do the work, won’t you?
  5. Gulu is eating a mango, isn’t he?