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The Accidental Tourist - CBSE Class 9 English Moments Lesson 9 Summary and Explanation Notes

By Ruchika Gupta

 

The Accidental Tourist Class 9 English Lesson 9 Moments, Explanation, Notes and Summary

The Accidental Tourist - Class 9 English Moments lesson summary, detailed explanation notes of the lesson along with meanings of the difficult words.  Also, the Summary is followed by detailed explanation of the lesson. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson have also been covered.

CBSE Class 9 Moments Lesson 9 - The Accidental Tourist

By Bill Bryson

 

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Introduction

This is a humorous story where the writer talks of the incidences where he acts clumsy. He tries to behave in a sophisticated manner but is unable to do so and ends up spilling drinks, smearing his face with ink and creating a mess on the dining table.

 

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Lesson and Explanation

OF all the things I am not very good at, living in the real world is perhaps the most outstanding. I am constantly filled with wonder at the number of things that other people do without any evident difficulty that are pretty much beyond me. I cannot tell you the number of times that I have gone looking for the lavatory in a cinema, for instance, and ended up standing in an alley on the wrong side of a self locking door. My particular specialty now is returning to hotel desks two or three times a day and asking what my room number is. I am, in short, easily confused.

Lavatory: a room or building containing a toilet
Alley: a narrow passageway between or behind buildings

The author says that he is not good at doing many works at one time. He is amazed at people who do multitasking without facing any difficulty. Many times, he gets confused when he searches for the toilet in a cinema and lands up in a lane, from where he cannot enter the hall. When he checks in a hotel, he forgets his room number and goes to the reception many times just to confirm it.

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I was thinking about this the last time we went en famille on a big trip. It was at Easter, and we were flying to England for a week. When we arrived at Logan Airport in Boston and were checking in, I suddenly remembered that I had recently joined British Airways’ frequent flyer programme. I also remembered that I had put the card in the carry-on bag that was hanging around my neck. And here’s where the trouble started.

en famille: French, meaning with one’s family
Easter: a festival in Christianity religion

The last time when he went on a family trip to England at Easter time, they reached the Logan airport in Boston. He had recently subscribed to the Frequent Flyer programme of the British Airways and had to get the card punched to avail the points. The card was in the bag that hung around his neck. As he had to take the card out, something happened.

The zip on the bag was jammed. So I pulled on it and yanked at it, with grunts and frowns and increasing consternation. I kept this up for some minutes but it wouldn’t budge, so I pulled harder and harder, with more grunts. Well, you can guess what happened. Abruptly the zip gave way. The side of the bag flew open and everything within — newspaper cuttings and other loose papers, a 14- ounce tin of pipe tobacco, magazines, passport, English money, film — was extravagantly ejected over an area about the size of a tennis court.

Yanked: pulled with a jerk
Consternation: anxiety, distress
Budge: move
Gave way: opened suddenly
Extravagantly: elaborately
Ejected: removed

The bag’s zip would not open and he pulled it with force. Suddenly, the bag opened with a jerk and as he had used a lot of force, all the articles flew out of the bag and were strewn across the floor. They were thrown over a large area as big as the size of a tennis court.

I watched dumbstruck as a hundred carefully sorted documents came raining down in a fluttery cascade, coins bounced to a variety of noisy oblivions and the now-lidless tin of tobacco rolled crazily across the concourse disgorging its contents as it went.

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Dumbstruck: shocked
Fluttery: resembling flapping of wings by birds
Cascade: like the step by step waterfall
Oblivions: being forgotten
Concourse: the open central area in a large public building (here, in the airport)
Disgorging: discharging

He was shocked to see all his important documents fly out of the bag. The coins rolled on the floor. The lid of the tobacco box came off and the box rolled on the floor and the tobacco spilled on the floor.

“My tobacco!” I cried in horror, thinking what I would have to pay for that much tobacco in England now that another Budget had come and gone, and then changed the cry to “My finger! My finger!” as I discovered that I had gashed my finger on the zip and was shedding blood in a lavish manner. (I am not very good around flowing blood generally, but when it’s my own— well, I think hysterics are fully justified.) Confused and unable to help, my hair went into panic mode.

Gashed: cut
Lavish: in large quantity

As it was an expensive article, he screamed that his tobacco was getting ruined. The next moment, he saw that he had a cut on his finger and it was bleeding. His screams changed to “my finger”. He again got confused and panicked.

It was at this point that my wife looked at me with an expression of wonder — not anger or exasperation, but just simple wonder — and said, “I can’t believe you do this for a living.”

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Exasperation: irritation

His wife looked at him wondering at his strange behaviour. She said that his weird behaviour was unbelievable.

But I’m afraid it’s so. I always have catastrophes when I travel. Once on an aeroplane, I leaned over to tie a shoelace just at the moment someone in the seat ahead of me threw his seat back into full recline, and found myself pinned helplessly in the crash position. It was only by clawing the leg of the man sitting next to me that I managed to get myself freed.

Catastrophes: tragedy, disaster
Clawing: grasping

The author always commits disasters while travelling. Once on a flight, he leaned forward to tie his shoelace when the person on the seat ahead of him put it in full recline, thus, banging the author’s head with the back of his seat. He had to grab the leg of the passenger sitting next to him to come out of the fix.

On another occasion, I knocked a soft drink onto the lap of a sweet little lady sitting beside me. The flight attendant came and cleaned her up, and brought me a replacement drink, and instantly I knocked it onto the woman again. To this day, I don’t know how I did it. I just remember reaching out for the new drink and watching helplessly as my arm, like some cheap prop in one of those 1950s horror movies with a name like The Undead Limb, violently swept the drink from its perch and onto her lap.

Prop: a portable object used on the set of a play or a movie
Perch: place

On another air trip he threw a drink on the lady sitting next to him. The flight attendant helped her clean up and got him another drink. He threw the second glass on her too. He was confused how it happened. He remembered that he watched helplessly as his arm acted just like the prop used in old horror movies. Just like they moved unimaginably, his arm reached for the glass and swept it off without him instructing it to do so.

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The lady looked at me with the stupefied expression you would expect to receive from someone whom you have repeatedly drenched, and uttered an oath that started with “Oh”, finished with “sake” and in between had some words that I have never heard uttered in public before, certainly not by a nun.

Stupefied: astonished, shocked

The co - passenger was shocked at his behaviour. She cursed him.

This, however, was not my worst experience on a plane flight. My worst experience was when I was writing important thoughts in a notebook (‘buy socks’, ‘clutch drinks carefully’, etc.), sucking thoughtfully on the end of my pen as you do, and fell into conversation with an attractive young lady in the next seat. I amused her for perhaps 20 minutes with a scattering of urbane bons mots, then retired to the lavatory where I discovered that the pen had leaked and that my mouth, chin, tongue, teeth and gums were now a striking, scrub-resistant navy blue, and would remain so for several days.

Urbane: sophisticated
bons mots: witty remarks

He had worst experiences than these. The worst one was when on a flight, he was making a ‘to - do list’ and was sucking the end of his pen while thinking and also talking to a woman seated beside him; after twenty minutes, when he went to the toilet, he saw that the ink had leaked from his pen and his mouth, teeth, gums and chin were blue in colour. They would remain stained for a couple of days.

 

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So you will understand, I trust, when I tell you how much I ache to be suave. I would love, just once in my life, to rise from a dinner table without looking as if I have just experienced an extremely localised seismic event, get in a car and close the door without leaving 14 inches of coat outside, wear light-coloured trousers without discovering at the end of the day that I have at various times sat on chewing gum, ice cream, cough syrup and motor oil. But it is not to be.

Suave: polite, sophisticated
seismic event: an earthquake

He wants to be sophisticated. He wants to leave the dining table neat and clean and not make it appear untidy like he always does. He wants that when he sits in the car, he should not leave the sleeve of his coat stuck in the door. He should not stain his light coloured trouser with things like gum, ice cream, cough syrup and motor oil. But he is unable to be like that.

Now on planes when the food is delivered, my wife says: “Take the lids off the food for Daddy” or “Put your hoods up, children. Daddy's about to cut his meat”. Of course, this is only when I am flying with my family. When I am on my own, I don’t eat, drink or lean over to tie my shoelaces, and never put a pen anywhere near my mouth. I just sit very, very quietly, sometimes on my hands to keep them from flying out unexpectedly and causing liquid mischief. It’s not much fun, but it does at least cut down on the laundry bills.

Now when they are served meals on an air trip, his wife asks the children to cover their heads with the hood to save themselves from the mess that he will create while eating. When he travels alone, he does not eat, drink or bend to tie his shoelaces. He does not even get th pen near his mouth. He sits very quietly and keeps his hands under him to prevent them from moving here and there. He does not enjoy sitting like that but it helps him by saving the laundry expenditure.

I never did get my frequent flyer miles, by the way. I never do. I couldn't find the card in time. This has become a real frustration for me. Everyone I know — everyone— is forever flying off to Bali first class with their air miles. I never get to collect anything. I must fly 100,000 miles a year, yet I have accumulated only about 212 air miles divided between twenty-three airlines.

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He never gets the frequent flyer miles because he is unable to find his card. All his acquaintances fly to Bali with these points but although he has flown in 23 airlines, he has managed only 212 air miles.

This is because either I forget to ask for the air miles when I check in, or I remember to ask for them but the airline then manages not to record them, or the check-in clerk informs me that I am not entitled to them. In January, on a flight to Australia — a flight for which I was going to get about a zillion air miles — the clerk shook her head when I presented my card and told me I was not entitled to any.

Either he forgets to ask for the air miles at check - in or the manager does not record them or he is told that he is not entitled to any points. He travelled to Australia in January and could have earned a lot of points for it but the clerk refused to give him the points.

“Why?”

“The ticket is in the name of B. Bryson and the card is in the name of W. Bryson.”

She reasoned that the card and the air ticket had different names on them.

I explained to her the close and venerable relationship between Bill and William, but she wouldn’t have it.

Venerable: respectable

The writer tried to explain that both were one person but she did not accept his argument.

So I didn’t get my air miles, and I won’t be flying to Bali first class just yet. Perhaps just as well, really. I could never go that long without eating.

He did not get the air miles and would not travel to Bali free of cost. He takes it positively and feels good because he would not have been able to remain without eating on such a long flight.

 

Summary

In “The Accidental Tourist” the writer narrates the incidences where he acts strangely. On various air trips, he spills drinks on co - passengers. Its as if his arms work on their own, move towards the tray and knock - off the glass without his directions. He would be unable to get the air miles because either he could not present his card or the clerk refused to give him the points. Once while opening his bag to get the card, he threw all the articles on the floor. Things flew here and there and there was complete chaos. Also, on another trip, the ink from his pen smeared his mouth, teeth, gums and chin. His face turned blue and would remain like that for a couple of days. Once he bend forward to tie his shoelace when the front seat went into a recline position and his head got stuck there. Whenever he ate a meal, the dining table was a complete mess and it appeared as if an earthquake had struck the place. His family was accustomed to it and when they got their meal, they would get alert to prevent being victims of the spillovers. While travelling alone, he would not eat, drink or bend forward. He would even keep his hands under him to avoid mishaps. He never managed to get the airmiles and would not travel free of cost to Bali but that was good in a way. He could not remain without food on such a long flight.

 

 

Question and Answers

1. Bill Bryson says, “I am, in short, easily confused.” What examples has he given to justify this?

A: He gets confused when he forgets his room number at a hotel and has to confirm it from the reception. When at a cinema hall, he is unable to find the toilet and lands in a lane, on the other end of a self locking door.

 

2. What happens when the zip on his carry-on bag gives way?

A. He was trying too hard to open the zip and when it opened suddenly, all the articles flew out of his bag. They were scattered over a large area as big as a tennis court. He saw all his papers flying out, the coins rolled on the floor and the lidless box of tobacco rolled as the tobacco spilled on the floor.

 

3. Why is his finger bleeding? What is his wife’s reaction?

A. His finger got stuck in the zip. It got cut and was bleeding. His wife was wondering at his strange behaviour.

 

4. How does Bill Bryson end up in a “crash position” in the aircraft?

A. Bill had bent forward to tie his shoelace. The passenger on the seat in front of him pushed his seat in a reclined position and it hit his head. Thus, he got stuck in a “crash position”.

 

5. Why are his teeth and gums navy blue?

A. Once on a flight, he was preparing a list and was sucking the end of the pen. After twenty minutes, he went to the toilet and saw that the ink had leaked and his mouth, lips, teeth, gums and chin had turned blue. They would remain so for a couple of days.

 

6. Bill Bryson “ached to be suave”. Is he successful in his mission? List his ‘unsuave’ ways.

A. He was not successful in his attempts to remain suave. His unsuave ways were as follows-
1. He would stain his light coloured trousers with ice - cream, motor oil, gum and cough syrup
2. The sleeve of his coat would get stuck in the car’s door.
3. He would leave the dining table in a mess and it would appear as if an earthquake had struck the place.

 

7. Why do you think Bill Bryson’s wife says to the children, “Take the lids off the food for Daddy”?

A. Bill’s wife asks the children to remove the lids off the food for daddy because they could do it better than him. He was clumsy and could spill the food while removing the lids.

 

8. What is the significance of the title?

A. The title “The Accidental Tourist” refers to the accidents caused by the writer while he is travelling.