Notes for the Teacher

Units 8–11

8. Reach for the Top

  • This unit has two biographical pieces that depict persistent endeavours to reach the top. Part II of this unit is taken from a newspaper. The language is very current and idiomatic. An exercise of matching words and phrases to their meanings has been given as a pre-reading activity to facilitate students’ understanding and appreciation of this part of the text.
  • In this unit students are asked to imagine that they have to give a speech. They may wish to read the texts of well-known speeches such as Nehru’s ‘Tryst with Destiny’. A speech is a formal use of spoken language. It must be prepared meticulously.
  • The language is formal but should be made powerful by the use of balance (“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." — Kennedy), imagery (“The light has gone out of our lives" — Nehru) and other such rhetorical devices. It can be enriched by the use of examples and anecdotes.
  • The Writing task of composing an article for a school magazine can be prepared for by looking at other examples of such articles in newspapers. This task makes a beginning in helping students to write for the print media. Encourage them to work within a given word limit (such as 500 words, or 1000 words), and to use everyday, contemporary language.
  • Help students to write a description of Santosh Yadav’s character by drawing their attention to her background, likes and dislikes, her humanity and her contribution to society.

9. The Bond of Love

  • This unit is about a strong attachment between a human being and a wild animal that becomes a pet. Encourage the students to locate the incidents that show this in the story, and to give examples from their own experience.
  • The exercise of referring to an index for obtaining specific information on a given topic aims to strengthen students’ reference skills. Try to add some examples of your own from other areas of the curriculum where consulting an index is useful.
  • The passage to be dictated is a scrambled story. After the dictation, allow the students to go through their writing carefully to rearrange the incidents logically.
  • The writing activities are designed to help students to build up an argument.

10. Kathmandu

  • ‘Kathmandu’ is excerpted from Heaven Lake, a travelogue in which Vikram Seth gives an account of what he saw, thought and felt when he travelled from China to Tibet, from Heaven Lake to the Himalayas.
  • The map reading activity and the activity on locating the possible routes (by road, rail or air) from Kathmandu to different places in India are designed to link the lesson to the outside world. Students may wish to consult brochures or travel guides, visit a travel agency or call them on the telephone, speak to people who have been to Nepal, and so on. This is a ‘communicative’ and ‘authentic’ task.
  • To prepare for the second Speaking task, students can listen to cricket/football commentaries or eyewitness accounts of the Independence Day/Republic Day parade in class or at home on radio or T.V. Encourage them to observe the use of the language and follow the narration. Have a discussion in the class on the features of the commentary (its language, its liveliness, etc.)
  • A diary can be an opportunity to write freely about our life and the things that happen to us — funny, sad, happy, embarrassing or fearful. We also make notes on places we visit or our encounters with people.
  • The Writing task suggests that diary entries can form the basis of a travelogue, and asks students to imagine a journey to Kathmandu. It may be supplemented by an actual travelogue-writing task given after a long holiday, or after a class trip out of the town.

11. If I were You

  • This one-act play is to be read aloud in class by assigning roles to students. Draw the students’ attention to the stage setting, stage directions, description of the characters, their movements, gestures and tonal variations, since these combine to bring out the effect of the play.
  • The play has many examples of wit and irony. Two examples are given in an exercise. You can add a few more for the students to have a clear understanding.
  • The dictionary task in this unit is to help children locate the right meaning from a dictionary for a word they come across while reading. The task draws students’ attention to ‘signposts’ such as parts of speech that help match use to meaning. Encourage the students to look at more entries in the dictionary and observe the meanings of words that occur as different parts of speech (adjective, noun, verb).

8. Reach for the Top

Part I

Santosh Yadav

Before You Read

  • Think for a while and make a list of three to five persons you idolise, or admire very much for their achievements. Your idols may be from any sphere of life — sports, medicine, media, or art and culture.
  • Your teacher will then discuss your choices with you to find out who the top five idols of your class are.

1. The only woman in the world who has scaled Mt Everest twice was born in a society where the birth of a son was regarded as a blessing, and a daughter, though not considered a curse, was not generally welcome. When her mother was expecting Santosh, a travelling ‘holy man’, giving her his blessing, assumed that she wanted a son. But, to everyone’s surprise, the unborn child’s grandmother, who was standing close by, told him that they did not want a son. The ‘holy man’ was also surprised! Nevertheless, he gave the requested blessing ... and as destiny would have it, the blessing seemed to work. Santosh was born the sixth child in a family with five sons, a sister to five brothers. She was born in the small village of Joniyawas of Rewari District in Haryana.

Fig.%208.1.tif2. The girl was given the name ‘Santosh’, which means contentment. But Santosh was not always content with her place in a traditional way of life. She began living life on her own terms from the start. Where other girls wore traditional Indian dresses, Santosh preferred shorts. Looking back, she says now, “From the very beginning I was quite determined that if I chose a correct and a rational path, the others around me had to change, not me."

3. Santosh’s parents were affluent landowners who could afford to send their children to the best schools, even to the country’s capital, New Delhi, which was quite close by. But, in line with the prevailing custom in the family, Santosh had to make do with the local village school. So, she decided to fight the system in her own quiet way when the right moment arrived. And the right moment came when she turned sixteen. At sixteen, most of the girls in her village used to get married. Santosh was also under pressure from her parents to do the same.

in line with: following or in accordance with; according to

4. A marriage as early as that was the last thing on her mind. She threatened her parents that she would never marry if she did not get a proper education. She left home and got herself enrolled in a school in Delhi. When her parents refused to pay for her education, she politely informed them of her plans to earn money by working part time to pay her school fees. Her parents then agreed to pay for her education.

the last thing: the least important thing

5. Wishing always to study “a bit more" and with her father slowly getting used to her urge for more education, Santosh passed the high school examinations and went to Jaipur. She joined Maharani College and got a room in Kasturba Hostel. Santosh remembers, “Kasturba Hostel faced the Aravalli Hills. I used to watch villagers from my room, going up the hill and suddenly vanishing after a while. One day I decided to check it out myself. I found nobody except a few mountaineers. I asked if I could join them. To my pleasant surprise, they answered in the affirmative and motivated me to take to climbing."

check it out: find out (the truth)

6. Then there was no looking back for this determined young girl. She saved money and enrolled in a course at Uttarkashi’s Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. “My college semester in Jaipur was to end in April but it ended on the nineteenth of May. And I was supposed to be in Uttarkashi on the twenty-first. So, I did not go back home; instead, I headed straight for the training. I had to write a letter of apology to my father without whose permission I had got myself enrolled at Uttarkashi."

headed straight for: went towards

7. Thereafter, Santosh went on an expedition every year. Her climbing skills matured rapidly. Also, she developed a remarkable resistance to cold and the altitude. Equipped with an iron will, physical endurance and an amazing mental toughness, she proved herself repeatedly. The culmination of her hard work and sincerity came in 1992, just four years after she had shyly asked the Aravalli mountaineers if she could join them. At barely twenty years of age, Santosh Yadav scaled Mt Everest, becoming the youngest woman in the world to achieve the feat. If her climbing skills, physical fitness, and mental strength impressed her seniors, her concern for others and desire to work together with them found her a special place in the hearts of fellow climbers.


Iron will, physical endurance and mental toughness characterise Santosh Yadav.

8.During the 1992 Everest mission, Santosh Yadav provided special care to a climber who lay dying at the South Col. She was unfortunately unsuccessful in saving him. However, she managed to save another climber, Mohan Singh, who would have
met with the same fate had she not shared her oxygen with him.

9.Within twelve months, Santosh found herself a member of an Indo-Nepalese Women’s Expedition that invited her to join them. She then scaled the Everest a second time, thus setting a record as the only woman to have scaled the Everest twice, and securing for herself and India a unique place in the annals of mountaineering. In recognition
of her achievements, the Indian government bestowed upon her one of the nation’s top honours, the Padmashri.

top honours: highest awards

the enormity of the moment: a very great moment

sink in: be understood

held it aloft: held it up high

10. Describing her feelings when she was literally ‘on top of the world’, Santosh has said, “It took some time for the enormity of the moment to sink in... Then I unfurled the Indian tricolour and held it aloft on the roof of the world. The feeling is indescribable. The Indian flag was flying on top of the world. It was truly a spiritual moment. I felt proud as an Indian."

Also a fervent environmentalist, Santosh collected and brought down 500 kilograms of garbage from the Himalayas.

fervent: having strong and sincere feelings

Thinking about the Text

I. Answer these questions in one or two sentences each. (The paragraph numbers within brackets provide clues to the answers.)

1. Why was the ‘holy man’ who gave Santosh’s mother his blessings surprised? (1)

2. Give an example to show that even as a young girl Santosh was not ready to accept anything unreasonable. (2)

3. Why was Santosh sent to the local school? (3)

4. When did she leave home for Delhi, and why? (4)

5. Why did Santosh’s parents agree to pay for her schooling in Delhi? What mental qualities of Santosh are brought into light by this incident? (4)

II.Answer each of these questions in a short paragraph (about 30 words).

1.How did Santosh begin to climb mountains?

2.What incidents during the Everest expedition show Santosh’s concern for her team-mates?

3.What shows her concern for the environment?

4.How does she describe her feelings at the summit of the Everest?

5.Santosh Yadav got into the record books both times she scaled
Mt Everest. What were the reasons for this?

III.Complete the following statements.

1. From her room in Kasturba Hostel, Santosh used to..............

2. When she finished college, Santosh had to write a letter of apology to her father because................

3. During the Everest expedition, her seniors in the team admired her........................while ................ endeared her to fellow climbers.

IV. Pick out words from the text that mean the same as the following words or expressions. (Look in the paragraphs indicated.)

1.took to be true without proof (1):..........................

2.based on reason; sensible; reasonable (2):..................

3.the usual way of doing things (3):..........................

4.a strong desire arising from within (5):......................

5.the power to endure, without falling ill (7):................

Part II

Maria Sharapova

Before You Read

  • A Russian girl, Maria Sharapova, reached the summit of women’s tennis when she was barely eighteen. As you read about her, see if you can draw a comparison between her and Santosh Yadav.
  • Match the following.


  • As you read, look for the answers to these questions.

–Why was Maria sent to the United States?

–Why didn’t her mother go with her?

–What are her hobbies? What does she like?

–What motivates her to keep going?

1. THERE is something disarming about Maria Sharapova, something at odds with her ready smile and glamorous attire. And that something in her lifted her on Monday, 22 August 2005 to the world number one position in women’s tennis. All this happened in almost no time. Poised beyond her years, the Siberian born teenager took just four years as a professional to reach the pinnacle.


Maria Sharapova won the women’s singles
at Wimbledon in 2004

2. However, the rapid ascent in a fiercely competitive world began nine years before with a level of sacrifice few children would be prepared to endure. Little Maria had not yet celebrated her tenth birthday when she was packed off to train in the United States. That trip to Florida with her father Yuri launched her on the path to success and stardom. But it also required a heart-wrenching two-year separation from her mother Yelena. The latter was compelled to stay back in Siberia because of visa restrictions. The nine-year-old girl had already learnt an important lesson in life — that tennis excellence would only come at a price.

3. “I used to be so lonely," Maria Sharapova recalls. “I missed my mother terribly. My father was working as much as he could to keep my tennis-training going. So, he couldn’t see me either.

4. “Because I was so young, I used to go to bed at
8 p.m. The other tennis pupils would come in at
11 p.m. and wake me up and order me to tidy up the room and clean it.

5. “Instead of letting that depress me, I became more quietly determined and mentally tough.
I learnt how to take care of myself. I never thought of quitting because I knew what I wanted. When you come from nothing and you have nothing, then it makes you very hungry and determined... I would have put up with much more humiliation and insults than that to steadfastly pursue my dream."

6. That toughness runs through Maria even today. It was the key to her bagging the women’s singles crown at Wimbledon in 2004 and to her meteoric rise to the world number one spot the following year.

7. While her journey from the frozen plains of Siberia to the summit of women’s tennis has touched the hearts of tennis fans, for the youngster herself there appears to be no room for sentiment. The straight looks and the answers she gives when asked about her ambition make it amply clear that she considers the sacrifices were worth it. “I am very, very competitive. I work hard at what I do. It’s my job." This is her mantra for success.

8. Though Maria Sharapova speaks with a pronounced American accent, she proudly parades her Russian nationality. Clearing all doubts, she says, “I’m Russian. It’s true that the U.S. is a big part of my life. But I have Russian citizenship. My blood is totally Russian. I will play the Olympics for Russia if they want me."

9.Like any number of teenaged sensations, Maria Sharapova lists fashion, singing and dancing as her hobbies. She loves reading the novels of Arthur Conan Doyle. Her fondness for sophisticated evening gowns appears at odds with her love of pancakes with chocolate spread and fizzy orange drinks.

10.Maria Sharapova cannot be pigeon-holed or categorised. Her talent, unwavering desire to succeed and readiness to sacrifice have lifted her to the top of the world. Few would grudge her the riches she is now reaping. This is what she has to say about her monetary gains from tennis:
“Of course, money is a motivation. Tennis is a business and a sport, but the most important thing is to become number one in the world. That’s the dream that kept me going."

Thinking about the Text

Working in small groups of 4–5 students, go back over the two passages on Santosh Yadav and Maria Sharapova and complete the table given below with relevant phrases or sentences.


Thinking about Language

Look at the following sentences. They each have two clauses, or two parts each with their own subject and verb or verb phrase. Often, one part (italicised) tells us when or why something happened.

  • I reached the market when most of the shops had closed. (Tells us when I reached.)
  • When Rahul Dravid walked back towards the pavilion, everyone stood up. (Tells us when everyone stood up.)
  • The telephone rang and Ganga picked it up. (Tells us what happened next.)
  • Gunjan has been with us ever since the school began. (Tells us for how long he has been with us.)

I. Identify the two parts in the sentences below by underlining the part that gives us the information in brackets, as shown above.

1.Where other girls wore traditional Indian dresses, Santosh preferred shorts. (Contrasts her dress with that of others)

2.She left home and got herself enrolled in a school in Delhi.(Tells us what happened after the first action.)

3.She decided to fight the system when the right moment arrived.(Tells us when she was going to fight the system.)

4.Little Maria had not yet celebrated her tenth birthday when she was packed off to train in the United States. (Tells us when Maria was sent to the U.S.)

II.Now rewrite the pairs of sentences given below as one sentence.

1.Grandfather told me about the old days. All books were printed on paper then.

2.What do you do after you finish the book? Perhaps you just throw it away.

3.He gave the little girl an apple. He took the computer apart.

4.You have nothing. That makes you very determined.

5.I never thought of quitting. I knew what I wanted.


Read the passage once. Then close your books. Your teacher will dictate the story to you. Write it down with the correct punctuation and paragraphing.

The Raincoat

After four years of drought in a small town in the Northeast, the Vicar gathered everyone together for a pilgrimage to the mountain, where they would pray together and ask for the rain to return.

The priest noticed a boy in the group wearing a raincoat.

“Have you gone mad?" he asked. “It hasn’t rained in this region for five years, the heat will kill you climbing the mountain."

“I have a cold, father. If we are going to ask God for rain, can you imagine the way back from the mountain? It’s going to be such a downpour that I need to be prepared."

At that moment a great crash was heard in the sky and the first drops began to fall. A boy’s faith was enough to bring about a miracle that not even those most prepared truly believed in.

(translated by JAMES MULHOLLAND)


Imagine that you are Santosh Yadav, or Maria Sharapova. You have been invited to speak at an All India Girls’ Athletic Meet, as chief guest. Prepare a short speech to motivate the girls to think and dream big and make an effort to fulfil their dreams, not allowing difficulties or defeat to discourage them. The following words and phrases may help you.

  • self confident/ confidence/sure of yourself
  • self assured/ assurance/belief in yourself
  • morale/boost morale/raise morale
  • giving somebody a boost/fillip/lift
  • demoralising/ unsure of yourself/ insecure/lack confidence


Working in pairs, go through the table below that gives you information about the top women tennis players since 1975. Write a short article for your school magazine comparing and contrasting the players in terms of their duration at the top. Mention some qualities that you think may be responsible for their brief or long stay at the top spot.

Top-Ranked Women Players

I.The roll of honour of women who enjoyed life at the summit since everybody’s favourite player, Chris Evert, took her place in 1975.


II.Which of these words would you use to describe Santosh Yadav? Find reasons in the text to support your choices, and write a couple of paragraphs describing Santosh’s character.

contented determined resourceful polite adventurous considerate weak-willed fearful independent pessimistic patient persevering

On Killing a Tree

You must have observed people cutting down trees. But can they kill a tree? Is it easy to do so? Let’s read the poem and find out what the poet says on killing a tree.

It takes much time to kill a tree,

Not a simple jab of the knife

Will do it. It has grown

Slowly consuming the earth,

Rising out of it, feeding

Upon its crust, absorbing

Years of sunlight, air, water,

And out of its leprous hide

Sprouting leaves.

So hack and chop

But this alone wont do it.

Not so much pain will do it.

The bleeding bark will heal

And from close to the ground

Will rise curled green twigs,

Miniature boughs

Which if unchecked will expand again

To former size.


The root is to be pulled out —

Out of the anchoring earth;

It is to be roped, tied,

And pulled out — snapped out

Or pulled out entirely,

Out from the earth-cave,

And the strength of the tree exposed

The source, white and wet,

The most sensitive, hidden

For years inside the earth.

Then the matter

Of scorching and choking

In sun and air,

Browning, hardening,

Twisting, withering,

And then it is done.



jab: sudden rough blow

leprous hide: discoloured bark

hack: cut roughly by striking heavy blows

anchoring earth: Trees are held securely with the help of the roots in the earth.

snapped out: chopped out

scorching and choking: the drying up of the tree after being uprooted

Thinking about the Poem

I.1.Can a “simple jab of the knife" kill a tree? Why not?

2.How has the tree grown to its full size? List the words suggestive of its life and activity.

3. What is the meaning of “bleeding bark"? What makes it bleed?

4. The poet says “No" in the beginning of the third stanza. What does he mean by this?

5. What is the meaning of “anchoring earth" and “earth cave"?

6. What does he mean by “the strength of the tree exposed"?

7. What finally kills the tree?

Read and Enjoy


I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.


When eating fruit, think of the person who planted the tree.