Chapter 9 – The Accidental Tourist
Think About It
1. Bill Bryson says, “I am, in short, easily confused.” What examples has he given to justify this?
The examples Bill Bryson gave to justify his statement that he was easily confused are that many times he went looking for the lavatory in a cinema but ended up standing in an alley on the wrong side of a self-locking door. He also said that his specialty was returning to hotel desks two or three times a day and asking what his room number was. This is why he said that he was easily confused.
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2. What happens when the zip on his carry-on bag gives way?
When the zip on his carry-on bag gave way, everything within – newspaper cuttings and other loose papers, a 14- ounce tin of pipe tobacco, magazines, passport, English money and film fell and scattered on the ground.
3. Why is his finger bleeding? What is his wife’s reaction?
He had gashed his finger when he was trying to pull the zip forcefully due to which it started bleeding.
His wife looked at him with an expression of wonder and said, “I can’t believe you do this for a living”.
4. How does Bill Bryson end up in a “crash position” in the aircraft?
Once on an aeroplane, Bryson leaned over to tie his shoelaces. At the same moment, someone in the seat in front of him threw his seat back into full recline. At that time Bryson was pinned helplessly in the crash position. He had to claw the leg of the man sitting next to him in order to get himself freed.
5. Why are his teeth and gums navy blue?
Once while travelling on a plane, Bryson was writing some important notes in his notebook sucking thoughtfully on the end of his pen. He fell into conversation with an attractive young lady in the next seat and could not notice the leakage in the pen. When he visited the lavatory he found that his mouth, chin, tongue, teeth and gums were all coloured with navy blue ink.
6. Bill Bryson “ached to be suave”. Is he successful in his mission? List his ‘unsuave’ ways.
No, Bill Bryson was not successful in his mission of being suave. He would love just once in his life to rise from a dinner table without looking as if he had 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 he had at various times sat on chewing gum, ice cream, cough syrup and motor oil.
7. Why do you think Bill Bryson’s wife says to the children, “Take the lids off the food for Daddy”?
Bill Bryson’s wife was very well aware of her husband’s travelling habits. She asked the children to take the lids off the food for Bill because she knew that if Bill had tried to do that himself, then he might have taken it off in such a manner that the lid would be flying away to some part of the plane and the food might spill all over the place.
8. What is the significance of the title?
The title ‘The Accidental Tourist’ is significant because it signifies characteristics of a man, Bill Bryson, who travels a lot but cannot manage to ever have a safe and accident free journey. Every time he gets into a trouble unknowingly. The story depicts many humorous travel experiences of Bill Bryson – like being pinned in a crashed position, spilling drink on a co-passenger, colouring his gums and teeth blue. He always forgot his room number and went to the hotel desk again and again to enquire about it. Through the various experiences that he mentions in the story one comes to the conclusion that he is an accident prone person not only while travelling but also in life in general. Thus, the title of the story is absolutely perfect and apt.
The Accidental Tourist Extra Questions and Answers Class 9 English Moments
The Accidental Tourist Extra Questions and Answers Short Answer Type
Bill Bryson says “I am, in short, easily confused.” What examples has he given to justify this?
He gives the example of returning to his hotel desk two or three times a day, asking what his room number was. He also talks about looking for a lavatory and ending up standing in an alley on the wrong side of a self¬locking door.
What happens when the zip on his carry-on bag gives way?
The side of the bag flew open and everything inside it, like newspaper cuttings, other loose papers, a 14-ounce tin of pipe tobacco, magazines, passport, English money, film, etc, were scattered all over the place. He also injured his finger, which bled profusely.
What causes his finger to bleed? How does his wife react?
His finger was cut on the zip when he was trying to open it. His wife looked at him with an expression of wonder and commented that she couldn’t believe that he did that for a living.
How does Bill Bryson end up in a ‘crash position’ in the aeroplane?
This happened when he bent down to tie his shoelaces while seated in the plane, and the person in the seat ahead of him threw back his seat back in a full recline. As a result, Bill Bryson found himself doubled over and pinned helplessly in the ‘crash position’.
Why do the writer’s teeth and gums turn navy blue?
This happens when the writer was penning down important thoughts in his notebook during a flight. He had been sucking thoughtfully on the end of his pen while doing so. He had not realised that in the process, his teeth and gums had turned navy blue because of the ink.
Bill Bryson ‘ached to be suave’. Is he successful in his mission?
No, he is not suave in spite of his best efforts, because he always looks as though he has been through an earthquake when he rises from a dinner table. He can never get inside a car without having at least 14 inches of his coat hanging outside the door. He can never wear light coloured trousers without having chewing gum, ice cream, cough syrup, or motor oil stains on them.
Why do you think Bill Bryson’s wife says to the children, ‘Take the lids off the food for Daddy’?
She says this because her husband is so accident-prone that she expects the food to go all over the place or some such accident to happen if he is allowed to open the lid himself. This is because of his earlier accidental incidents that always happen whenever he tries to perform simple actions, especially during flights.
What is the significance of the title?
The title suggests that the writer is a tourist, not by choice, but by accident. It is a pun on the word accident, as he has several accidents while travelling. In fact, this effectively captures the various misadventures that he has while travelling with his family. It also suggests that the anecdotes and events described are humorous and should be taken in a lighter vein.
Why does the writer say ‘living in the real world’ is challenging for him?
He says this because he has had several experiences of doing something wrong in instances where normal people have no problems. For instance, things like remembering his room number in an hotel, or finding the lavatory at a movie theatre.
Why did the writer feel the need to open his carry-on bag at Logan Airport?
He wanted to open the bag to take out his frequent flyer card, which he had kept inside it.
Of all the things that spilled out of his carry-on bag, what was the writer most disturbed about? Why?
He was most disturbed about the loss of his tobacco tin, because he was worried it might be very expensive to buy in England.
How did the writer free himself from the crash position?
He did so by clawing at the leg of the man sitting next to him.
How did the writer affect the lady sitting next to him during one of his flights?
He kept knocking soft drinks into the lady’s lap, even though he tried to be careful after the flight attendant had cleaned her up the first time he had done so.
How did the lady next to the writer on the plane react?
She looked at the writer with a stupefied expression of disbelief, and exclaimed an oath that started with ‘oh’ and ended with ‘sake’, and had words in between that he had not heard a nun utter before.
What, according to the writer, was his worst experience on a plane?
The worst experience according to him was the time his mouth and teeth turned navy blue. He had been sucking on the end of his pen while writing down his thoughts. He then spoke to an attractive lady sitting next to him, before he realised that his teeth, chin and gums had turned a striking shade of blue.
What does the writer do to curb his accidental tendencies when he is flying alone?
He doesn’t eat or drink, or lean over to tie his shoelaces. He also never puts his pen anywhere near his mouth.
Why does the writer not get his frequent flyer miles?
He does not get his miles because he couldn’t find his frequent flyer card in time. Also, he forgets to ask for the miles when he checks in, or the airline does not record them, or the check-in clerk informs him that he is . not entitled to them.
Give an example to show that the writer is a frequent flyer?
The fact that the writer says that he usually flies 100,000 miles a year in about 23 different airlines, reveals that he is a frequent flyer.
Give an example of when the writer was not given miles because he was not entitled to them.
On a flight to Australia, which could have got him a large number of air miles, he was told by the airport clerk that he was not entitled to them.
Why were the miles not credited to the writer?
They were not credited to him because the ticket was in the name of B. Bryson, while the card was in the name of W. Bryson. Even though the writer tried to tell her that ‘Bill’ was the short form of ‘William’, she refused to oblige him.
How do we know that the writer is a positive man?
We know this from the fact that though he did not get a free passage to Bali due to the insufficient airmiles on his card, he was quite philosophical about it. He remarks that it is probably a good thing, because he could not have remained hungry on the long flight from America to Bali.
What is the meaning of ‘venerable’? What is the writer trying to say by using the phrase ‘close and venerable relationship between Bill and William’?
Venerable means honourable or respectful. By using this phrase, the writer is saying that both Bill and William are closely related; they are in fact different forms of the same name.
How was the writer planning to fly to Bali?
He was planning to do so by using the air miles that he would collect for flying so frequently. They are the bonus that one is given for flying by a particular airline, where a person is awarded a free ticked to any destination after one collects a certain number of points.
What is the tone of the lesson ‘The Accidental Tourist’?
The tone is humorous and self-deprecating. The writer has made fun of his own shortcomings and clumsiness, by listing out all the accidents he has had while flying in an aircraft, as well as the embarrassing situations he has been in because of this.
Do you think the writer’s family members have trouble travelling with him? Give reasons for your answer.
I feel that the writer’s family are quite used to his clumsiness and have reconciled to the fact that he is likely to have several ‘accidents’. This is evident from the fact that his wife asks the children to take the lid off the food for the writer, because she knows even a small thing like opening the lid can have disastrous consequences if he is allowed to do it.
The Accidental Tourist Extra Questions and Answers Long Answer Type
What kind of picture do you get of the writer’s character from the lesson ‘The Accidental Tourist’?
He appears to be a positive, funny, and self-deprecating man who does not mind highlighting his shortcomings. In fact, every instance that could have embarrassed other people has been shown in a humorous light. He has found humour in the most disastrous and frustrating situations. Even when he loses the chance to go to Bali when the airline refuses to give him air miles on a technical reason, he does not lose his temper.
He does not take himself too seriously and readily accepts his clumsiness. He doesn’t try to hide any of the embarrassing accidents he has had, but honestly admits to them. His family also appears to have accepted him the way he is, and leamt to handle him along with his ‘accidents’. The writer’s most endearing quality is how comfortable he is with his own self. Even though he talks about wanting to be suave and gentlemanly like other travellers, he is not too worried when he is unable to do so, in spite of his best efforts. He thus comes across as a clumsy, accident-prone, but good natured person.
Mention two disastrous events that the writer experiences while travelling with women travellers and trying to impress them?
The first instance mentioned is when he is travelling next to a sweet young nun, and he twicp spilled his drink on her lap, thereby testing her patience greatly. In fact, she became so agitated that she used swear words, which he had not expected a nun to use. The second instance was when he was talking to his lady companion while sucking on the end of a pen. He later realised that the ink from the pen had stained his teeth, gums, and chin a bright navy blue, which had obviously made him appear ridiculous.
Discuss the title of the story. Do you think it is appropriate? Give reasons for your answer.
‘The Accidental Tourist’ is an apt title for this story. The title is a pun on the word ‘accidental’. On one level, the writer is literally accident prone, and has a problem of having the most peculiar accidents while travelling. Some of the accidents include spilling the contents of his bag all over the airport, spilling food and drinks on his fellow travellers. At another level, it refers to him being an accidental or unwilling traveller.
We know this because he mentions that even though he travels a lot every year, he prefers to travel with his family rather than alone. In their absence, he tries to avoid eating or drinking, out of fear of causing mishaps to those travelling with him.
How does the writer’s family behave during the writer’s mishaps and accidents?
The family seems to have accepted the fact that they cannot travel with the writer without facing some accident or the other. This is revealed in the part where the writer’s wife reacts with wonder and says taht she cannot believe he does it for a living. She seems neither angry nor exasperated/annoyed with his clumsiness. Instead, when he begins to eat the food served during the flight, his children help him take the lid off the food, and his wife warns the children when he is about to cut the meat.
How could the writer make his journeys advantageous inspite of the accidents? Why is he not able to benefit from them ultimately?
The writer is a frequent flyer. Hence, he could benefit from collecting frequent flier miles that the airline offers to those who travel with their airline on a regular basis. These miles add up to a free ticket to any destination of the traveller’s choice. They writer is, however, not able to take advantage of this scheme, because he either can’t find his card on time, or forgets to ask for the miles. Sometimes, the airlines don’t record the miles, and one time, the check-in clerk informed him that he was not entitled to the points. Moreover, he doesn’t stick to a single airline, and mentions having travelled with 23 airlines, thereby losing out on points from any single airline.