THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST
By– Bill Bryson
ESSAY TYPE QUESTIONS
Q.1.How would you describe Bill Bryson as an accidental tourist? Give two instances from the test.
Ans. Bill Bryson was such a tourist who remained almost all the year round on an aeroplane. Many accidents take place with him. So he is called an accidental tourist. The two incidents from the text are mentioned below.
(i) When the zip on his carry-on bag gives way all thing fall out of a bag. The newspaper cuttings and other documents rain down in a fluttery cascade. The coins bounce here and there. The lidless tin of tobacco rolls crazily disgorging its contents. These things spread over an area about the size of a tennis court.
(ii) During one of his air flights, the author spilt the soft drink on to the lap of a sweet lady sitting beside him. The flight attendant came and cleaned her up. The attendant brought him a replacement drink and he knocked it into the woman again. The lady looked at him with the stupefied expression.
Q2. Bring out the humour in the story “The Accidental Tourist”.
Ans: “The Accidental Tourist” is a humorous account of the different accidents caused by an ever confused and clumsy person. Bill Bryson, the writer who recounts the mishaps, shares his experiences in a light-hearted manner. While explaining how he littered the contents of his carry-on bag in his attempt to find his flyer miles card, he refers to the contents as ‘a hundred carefully sorted documents’. When he gashes his finger on the zip, he justifies his hysterics on seeing his own blood. He’s getting himself pinned in a crash position while tying shoelaces is yet another funny encounter. His worst experience was when he covered his mouth, chin, tongue, teeth and gums navy blue by sucking thoughtfully on the end of his pen. He looked like a clown with his ink-stained mouth. Further, the list of ‘important thoughts’ that he mentions were actually reminders to buy socks and to clutch drinks carefully. His wife’s instruction to his children to open lids off food for him adds to the tongue-in-cheek flavour of the story. His failure to get flyer miles because his name on the card did not match his name on the ticket is yet another comical episode.
To top everything, his reason for not flying to Bali as he cannot remain without food for that long is very amusing indeed.
Q3. What is the significance of the title? (Textual)
Ans: The title is significant as it points directly to the many accidents caused by Bryson during his tours. He admits that he always has catastrophes when he travels. He ends up spilling drinks on co-passengers and lets lids or food pieces fly while having meals; He cannot even unzip his bag, put his flyer card at an easily reachable place, and wield his pen without covering his mouth in ink or tie his shoelaces properly. All his efforts to be suave fail and every tour end on a note of comical disaster. Still, he continues to travel almost 100,000 miles a year. When he is on a tour with his family, his wife and children do his little tasks to avoid accidents. When touring alone, he just sits still lest he causes some unexpected mess. He is an accidental tourist who can make even a nun swear by drenching her twice; accidentally of course.
Q4. How did Bill Bryson offend his lady co-passenger in a flight?
Ans: Once, Bryson knocked off a soft drink onto the lap of a sweet little lady sitting beside him. However, the flight attendant quickly cleaned her up and brought another drink for him. But he was careless and clumsy as ever and instantly knocked off the replacement as well on the poor woman. He wondered how he had done this but could never figure out. He felt as if his limbs disobeyed him and behaved like those he sees in horror films. The lady who had been drenched twice got so offended that she gave Bryson a stunned expression and uttered some curse. She was a nun and Bryson had never heard a nun using such a language in a public place. Bryson’s gawky behaviour made even a nun lose her patience.
Q5. What was Bryson’s worst experience while flying? Why?
Ans: Once on a flight, Bryson had been writing something when he began to suck on the end of his pen. Without realising that his pen was leaking and smearing his mouth, teeth, gums, tongue and chin, he entered into a conversation with an attractive lady in the next seat. He tried to amuse her for almost twenty minutes by telling jokes and felt that he had perhaps impressed her. However, when he retired to the lavatory, he discovered that the ink over his face was a striking navy blue and scrub-resistant. It was going to remain like that for several days. This experience not only wrecked his image in the eyes of that attractive woman but he also had to live with his funny face for some days. Certainly, no other experience could have been worse than this.
Q6. What ordeal did Bryson have to face at Logan Airport in Boston?
Ans: Bryson always wanted to travel in a smart and seamless way as many others did but simply could not, thanks mainly to his clumsy, furtive and fumbling behaviour.
For example, he got into a very awkward and embarrassing situation at Logan Airport in Boston. It all began when he expressed his desire to redeem his frequent flyer points at the British Airways ticket counter, for which he needed his card.
The thought of redeeming the points was matched in its suddenness by the thought that he had packed the card in his carry-on bag. That is when the real drama, real trouble and real embarrassment began for him.
To his ill-luck, the zip on the bag was jammed. No amount of pulling and yanking at it with grunts and frown would budge it. Harder pulls with more grunts caused the zip to give way and the side of the bag flew open and out came newspaper cuttings, loose papers, magazines, passport, a 14-ounce tin of pipe tobacco, English money and film. All these things were strewn over an area the size of a tennis court, even as Bryson watched helpless and dumbstruck.
The lidless tobacco tin rolled crazily across the concourse spilling its contents as it went. Even as Bryson was regretting and assessing his loss, he was shocked to discover that the zip fiasco had caused one of his fingers to bleed. The lavish flow of blood from the wound proved to be the last straw in Bryson’s ordeal at the Logan Airport, Boston. He became hysterical, confused and panicky.
Q7. Laughing at one’s own follies helps reduce the gravity of situations that might otherwise cause serious trouble. Discuss in light of the story “The Accidental Tourist”.
Ans: Bill Bryson was a careless and clumsy person who could not behave in public places as per the expected code of conduct. He could spill soft drinks on co-passengers, litter the airlines counter with the contents of his carry-on bag, and create a mess while eating. In the process, he not only destroyed his belongings but also created troubles for others. However, his ability to laugh at his own follies helps reduce the gravity of situations that could have otherwise caused serious trouble. The extent to which he offends the nun on whom he spills the drink twice could have led to grave penalty if he had not laughed off at his ungraceful action. The airlines could have barred him because of the number of accidents he had caused on every flight. It was Bryson’s faculty of mocking at his errors that sailed him through all the difficulties he had landed himself in.
Q8. Bill Bryson was a clumsy traveller. Write down his worst experiences on a plane flight.
Ans. The author had faced many bad experiences but he did not consider the worst. His worst experience was when he tried to write something in a notebook. He was sucking on the end of his pen. He got involved in talking with a lady and could not notice the leakage in the pen. He kept amusing her for perhaps 20 minutes. When he visited lavatory, he found his mouth, chin, tongue, teeth and gums navy blue. He became very much confused and wanted to mend his habits. The author considered it worst as he could not open his mouth even to talk for many days. One can easily imagine how critical the condition was. He wanted to do all jobs properly. He took precautions to avoid an accident.
Q9. Even simple things like closing a zipper of a bag was a challenging task for Bill Bryson. How did the zip create troubles for the author while travelling in an aeroplane?
Ans. The zip created a lot of troubles for the author. At Logan Airport in Boston, the author wanted to take his card out of the bag. It was here where the trouble started. He found his zip jammed. He made all efforts to pull it. When he tried to pull it forcefully, it gave way and the bag flew open. All his belongings fell on the ground. He cried for his tin of pipe tobacco. He did not like to pay more money to buy tobacco in England. He diverted his attention to his finger. He started crying on seeing the blood shedding. At this, his wife looked at him with an expression of wonder and remarked, “I can’t believe you do this for a living.” All this proves that the zip created a lot of problems for the author.
Q10. ‘Confusing and ill-behaved persons become a laughing stock. Discuss the statement with reference to the story The Accidental Tourist’.
Ans. One must be well-behaved, well mannered and full of confidence to maintain one’s image in gathering. A confusing person due to lack of confidence becomes a laughing stock in many situations. As in the story, the author Bill Bryson is always desirous to project himself as a well behaved, well-mannered person, a person full of confidence but in doing so, all the time, he commits funny mistakes. He is a frequent flyer but forgets to use frequent flyer card issued by airways. He forgets to tie shoelaces, he scatters his soft drink on co-passenger. He puts the end of his pen into his mouth and begins sucking and gets his mouth, tongue, teeth and gums strained in navy blue colour. The author is very intelligent. He is a man of letters. He is a well known and renowned writer but his tendency of forgetfulness and lack of confidence bring him in the situation of embarrassment.
Q11. “I always have catastrophes when I travel.” Mention two incidents to show why Bill Bryson feels so.
Ans. The author had faced many bad experiences while travelling. Once he tried to write something in a notebook. He was sucking on the end of his pen. He got involved in talking with a lady for about 20 minutes and could not notice the leakage in the pen. When he visited lavatory, he found his mouth, chin, tongue, teeth and gums navy blue. Another incident when Bryson got into trouble because of his absent-mindedness. At Logan Airport, he was trying to open the jammed zip of the bag to take out his card. But the zip gave way and all his things scattered on the floor. He became very much confused and wanted to mend his habits.
Q12. Bill Bryson in ‘The Accidental Tourist’ feels he should become suave. Give some measures by which he can become suave and smart.
Ans. Bill Bryson was an accidental tourist. He tried to do all things properly. But he could not do so and got easily confused. Whenever he travelled by air he did one or the other mischief. His memory was not sharp. He forgot soon and returned to the hotel desk frequently just to ask his room number. He tried to take precautions while taking meal but it also proved to be a mistake. He could not avoid making mistakes. He stopped eating or drinking on a plane. He tried to mend his habits. He wanted to be civilised and polite but it did not happen. He was not capable of getting the benefits offered by different airlines. He had to face embarrassment many times. He could not find lavatory easily.
Q13. “I can’t believe you do this for a living.” Why does Bill Bryson’s wife tell him this?
Ans. The narrator got into problems while travelling with his family. He never had a peaceful journey. He shared his experience in this regard. At Logan Airport in Boston, he tried to get his card out of the bag. But he found the zip jammed. He made every effort to pull it again and again. At last, the zip gave way and all his things lay scattered on the floor. He got confused. At another time on an aeroplane, he leaned forward to lace up his shoes. As soon as he moved forward the fellow traveller threw his seat back. He described how he got his teeth navy blue. His wife knew his habits so she asked her children to take the lids off the food for daddy. She knew his particular style. So, the narrator thought of not eating or drinking while travelling with his family. So his wife tells him this.