Questions and Answers of The Ghat of the Only World

In this post, we will answer the questions of an important chapter named The Ghat of the Only World in simple words. If you want to learn more study notes about the chapter, click HERE. First let’s learn its summary

Summary of The Ghat of The Only World

In this write-up, Amitav Ghosh pays glowing tribute to Agha Shahid Ali, a teacher and poet. Shahid was an expatriate from Kashmir. He moved to Pennysylvania in 1975 and after that, he lived mainly in America. His brother was already there and they were later joined by their two sisters. Shahid’s parents continued to live in Srinagar and it was his custom to spend the summer months with them every year. He was an intermittent but first-hand witness to the mounting violence that seized the region from the late 1980s onwards. Shahid regarded his time at Pennysylvania state as the happiest time of his life. He grew as a reader, a poet and a lover.

Later Shahid moved to Arizona to take a degree in creative writing. This, in turn, was followed by a series of jobs in colleges and universities: Hamilton College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and finally, the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where he was appointed as a professor in 1999. He was on leave from Utah, for a brief stint at New York University, when he had his first blackout in February 2000. The writer, Amitav Ghosh had known Shahid’s work long before he met him. They had several conversations on the phone during 1998 and 1999 and even met a couple of times. He became intimate with Shahid when he moved to Brooklyn in 2000. By this time, Shahid’s condition was already serious, yet his illness did not hamper their friendship or Shahid’s interest—love for music, poetry, good conversation and friends.

They had many common friends as well as common likings. Both loved rogan josh, Roshanara Begum and Kishore Kumar. He took great pleasure in the music of Begum Akhtar, the great ghazal singer. They were indifferent to cricket but attached to Bombay films. Shahid was gregarious by nature. There was never an evening when there wasn’t a party in his living room. Shahid had a sorcerer’s ability to transmute the mundane into the magical. He was a poet who had achieved greatness. He knew that he was dying. Even the most trivial exchanges with him had a special charge and urgency. Shahid was a lover of good food. He would issue directions to the person in the kitchen regarding the ingredients to be added to rogan josh at various stages. He had a special passion for the food of his region, one variant of it in particular: ‘Kashmiri food in the Pandit Style’. He also loved Bengali food though he had never been to Calcutta.

Shahid was a great repartee. The author recalls his witty exchanges with a security guard at Barcelona airport. Shahid worked poetry into his answer. Later he composed the poem ‘Barcelona Airport’ recalling this incident. The author had quoted from his collection ‘The Country Without a Post Office’ in 1998 in an article that touched briefly on Kashmir. Shahid had a prophetic vision. He had a recurrent dream that all the Pandits had vanished from the valley of Kashmir and their food had become extinct. This was a nightmare that haunted him. Shahid spoke to the author about his approaching death for the first time on 25 April 2001. Shahid wanted the author to write something about him after his death. The author recalls an incident of 21 May when he went along with his brother Iqbal and sister Hena to fetch him from the hospital. By that time he had been through several unsuccessful operations. But he had not lost his glee. On 7 May 2000, the author was with Shahid when he taught his last class at Manhattan’s Baruch College. On 5 May 2001, Shahid had an important scan. The doctors gave him a year or less. They had stopped all medicines and even chemotherapy.

Shahid wanted to go back to Kashmir to die but had to change his mind. He was contented to be laid to rest in Northampton, in Amherst town. The author saw Shahid for the last time on 27 October at his brother’s house in Amherst. He died peacefully, in his sleep, at 2 a.m. on 8 December. The author feels his presence even in his own living room. He feels amazed that so brief a friendship has resulted in so vast a void.

Important Questions and Answers

Q.No.1 What were the common things between Ghosh and Shahid?

Ans The common things between Ghosh and Shahid were that they both loved the music especially the music of Kishore Kumar, Roshanara, and Begum Akhter. Both shared the love of Rogan Josh. They both had a natural indifference to cricket and equal attachment to old Bombay films. Above all, they had a common roster of friends in India and abroad.

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Q.No.2 What are things that Shahid loved?

Ans Shahid was the profound lover of good poetry, good music, and good food. He loved the music of Kishore Kumar, Roshanara, and Begum Akhter. He also loved old Bollywood films. He had a passion for Kashmiri food. He always loved Rogan gosh. He had a friendly nature and, therefore, loved the company of others. There was never an evening when there wasn’t a party in his living room.

Q.No.3 How does Shahid face death? Describe the hospital scene?

Ans Shahid faced his death with extraordinary courage The dreadful disease of cancer could not break the spirit and never lost courage in the face of misfortune. He thought he was to meet with his mother after-life.

Once before his death, he was in hospital and escort came to him with a wheelchair. He refused to take help of a wheelchair and preferred to walk on his own. However, when he walked a few steps he could not proceed forward. The attendant was called again.A.kind of joy came upon him, when the hospital orderly returned with the wheelchair, he gave him a smile and asked where he was from. The man said that he was from Ecuador. He clapped his hands and said at the top of his voice that he always wanted to learn Spanish in order to read Lorca.

Q.No.4 Who is James Merill?

Ans. He is a poet who radically altered Shahid’s style of writing poetry and often started experimenting with strict metrical patterns and verse forms.

Q.No.5 Pick out the elements of humour from the lesson?
Ans. Shahid was a humorous person. He loved to be happy wished to see others be happy too. Once at Barcelona Airport, a lady security guard asked him what he was doing in Spain.S had replied that he was writing poetry. When the lady asked him if he had anything that could be dangerous for the passengers, he sharply clasped his hand to his chest and cried, ”only my heart”.
Also, once in hospital escort orderly brought a wheelchair for him as he was too weak to stand but with a big smile, he waved him away.

Q.NO.6 What facilitated Ghosh to fulfil his pledge? How did it help him?
Ans Ghosh had promised Shahid that he would write about him after his death. To fulfil his pledge Ghosh started recollecting a record of every moment that he spent with Shahid. He also gathered all the information that he could about Shahid’s life. All this helped him to fulfil his pledge.

Q.No.7 How was shahid’s reputation as a teacher among his students?
Shahid was a successful teacher. He performed a series of jobs in colleges and universities. Due to his brilliant intelligence and art of teaching, he gained a great reputation among the students. They held him in deep love and respect. For some time, he taught at Manhattan’s Baruch College. When he was to leave this college, the students published a magazine and dedicated the issue to him.

Q.NO.8 What does “ the ghat of the only world” mean?
Ans ‘Ghat’ is an Urdu word also used in Hindi which means the place at a riverbank from where boats sail off with passengers to the other side. Here ‘the only world’ is a symbol of the man’s life on this earth and the ‘Ghat’ is the bank ( point of death) from where a man departs for another world. Thus it is the only death which takes a man to the other side. Ghat is simply used as a metaphor for death.
Shahid dreamt he was at the ghat of the only world – the world of the gone. He was to bid adieu to the world of the living. Having gone past pangs of life he was cradling “in supreme consolation”, that is, “I love to think that I’ll meet my mother in the afterlife if there is an afterlife.”

Q.No.9 Write down the personality profile of Aga Shahid Ali.

Shahid Ali was a multi-faceted and glamorous personality. He was born in Srinagar and had studied in Delhi. Later, he migrated to America and served in various colleges and universities. He has authored many books which include The Country Without Post Office, A Walk Through The Yellow Pages, Rooms Are Never Finished and many other books. Shahid was a fine scholar and brilliant teacher. His students loved and respected him. Shahid was a profound lover of good poetry, music, clothes, and food. He always thought of Kashmir and was hurt by the mounting violence in the valley. Though he was not a political poet his finest work relates to writing about Kashmir. Shahid outlook was ecumenical. He did not believe in the mixing of politics and religion. He never lost the courage in the face of misfortune. Even the dreadful disease of cancer could not break his spirit. He refused to take the help of the wheelchair in the hospital. He was a fighter throughout his life.
Shahid was a good dreamer. He knew that he was s going to die at any time. So, he seriously requested Ghosh to write something about him when he dies. Shahid also used to say that he will meet his mother in the after-life.


Q.NO.1 How do Shahid and the writer react to the knowledge that Shahid is going to die?

Ans.: When Shahid approached Gosh out of the blue that he would die and asked for him to compose something about him, Ghosh was shocked and astounded. He couldn’t discover words, the most effective method to react. He attempted to reassure him. “Oh, dear! I can’t see a thing… I hope this doesn’t mean that I am dying,” The dread of death was plainly obvious in Shahid’s manner of speaking and use of words. He got terrified when he felt out of the blue that he was passing on.

When his infrequent memory slips turned out to be more genuine with the progression of time, the acknowledgement of death moving closer ends up more grounded. When he was in a discussion with Amitav Ghosh, he said in a reasonable ringing voice-“When it happens, I hope you will write something for me.” The author could consider nothing to state on such a subject. He reassured him that he would get well soon. But, finally, he had to guarantee, “I’ll do the best I can”. From that very day, the essayist began tracking all of the conversations and meetings he had with Shahid. This record helped him to satisfy his promise.

Q.NO.2 Look up the dictionary for the meaning of the word ‘diaspora’. What do you understand of the Indian diaspora from this piece?

Ans.: The term diaspora originates from an ancient Greek word signifying “to scatter about.” And that is actually what the general population of a diaspora do. They dissipate from their country to places over the globe, spreading their way of life as they go. The Bible refers to the Diaspora of Jews banished from Israel by the Babylonians. But, the word is currently additionally utilized all the more for the most part to depict any extensive scattering of displaced people, dialect, or culture. With reference to the specific situation, the Indian diaspora turns out to be more conspicuous in Ghosh’s compositions.

From this content, we come to realize that various Indians have settled in various nations of the West, particularly in England and America. Agha Shahid, his brothers and two sisters, Suketu Mehta and the author shape some portion of the Indian diaspora in America. Shahid had a place with Kashmir and relocated to America in 1975. his senior sibling was at that point settled there. His two sisters are additionally gone along with them later. These individuals, however living in another land, always remembered about their underlying foundations. These Indians feel a feeling of solidarity and continue meeting each other on different. Narendra Modi as of late turned out to be extremely celebrated for giving talks to India’s diaspora over the globe.

Q.No.3 What did Amitav feel like when he was asked to write about Shahid?

Ans.: Amitav was puzzled for some time. He could consider nothing to the state. He didn’t get the words in which one guarantees a companion that one will expound on him after his passing. He endeavoured to console him.

Q.No.4 What do you know about Shahid as a poet?

Ans.: Shahid’s most commended work is The Country Without a Post Office, published in 1997. The Country Without a Post Office had established a great connection on his readers
His voice was unique – at once lyrical and fiercely disciplined, connected and yet profoundly inward. Not for him the taunt easygoing nearly composition of so much contemporary verse. His was a voice that was not afraid to talk in a bardic enrol.

Q.No.5 What makes you think that Shahid Ali and Amitav Ghosh were chance acquaintances?

Ans.: We suspect as much in light of the fact that their late friendship was a piece of fate. Everything started in 1998 when Amitav Ghosh cited a line from “The Country Without a Post Office” in an article that touched briefly on Kashmir. At the time all the author’s knowledge about Shahid was that he was from Srinagar and had studied in Delhi. Himself having hailed from Delhi University, Amitav’s time and Shahid’s briefly overlapped. The two shared companions, however, and one of them places Amitav in contact with Shahid. In 1998 and 1999 they had a few discussions on the telephone and even met two or three times however they were close to colleagues only when Shahid moved to Brooklyn the following year.

Q.No.6 What fed and strengthened their friendship?

Ans.: Once remaining in Brooklin, in Shahid’s neighbourhood, Amitav soon found that both of them shared a great deal in common. At this point, obviously, Shahid’s condition was already serious, yet his disease did not hinder the advancement of their companionship. They had a colossal roster of common companions, in India, America, and somewhere else. They found a common love of rogan josh, Roshanara Begum, and Kishore Kumar; a shared lack of concern to cricket and an equivalent connection to old Bombay films.

Q.No.7 Do you think that Shahid’s cancer played an important role in the making of two friends?

Ans. Yes, due to Shahid’s condition even the most unimportant trades had an exceptional charge and criticalness. The unpreventable agony of discussing food and half-forgotten figures from the past with a man who knew himself to be dead was multiplied, in this instance, by the information that this man was also a writer who had achieved significance. Shahid had an alchemist’s capacity to transmute/change the unremarkable/common into the mysterious.

Q.No.8 What incident does the author quote to explain this?
Ans. Once Amitav Ghosh happened to go with Iqbal, Shahid’s brother, and Hena, his sister, on a trek to get him home from the doctor’s facility. At that point, Shahid had just experienced a few unsuccessful tasks. Presently he was back in doctor’s facility to experience a surgery that was proposed to ease the weight on his mind. His head was shaved and the state of a tumour was obvious upon his exposed scalp, its edges laid out by metal sutures/fasten. When the time had come to leave the ward a blue-formally dressed healing facility escort touched base with a wheelchair. Shahid waved him away, proclaiming that he was solid enough to leave the healing centre without anyone’s support.

Question.No.9 What impressions of Shahid do you gather from the piece?

Answer: Shahid Ali was dynamic and handsome personality and seems, by all accounts, to be a noble soul. He was born in Srinagar and had received education in Delhi. Later, he relocated to America and served in different schools and colleges. Shahid was a fine researcher and splendid educator. His students adored and regarded him.

Shahid was a significant admirer of good verse, music, garments, food and festivity. Being himself a good poet he always enjoyed the company of poets and writers. His wit, sharpness of tongue and sense of humour were also unique. He was a sharp repartee. He usually thought of Kashmir and was pained on the mounting viciousness in the valley.

Despite the fact that he was a secular and was not a political writer, his best work identifies with expounding on Kashmir. Kashmir became more or less the central theme of his writing. He never lost the mettle in the encounter of misfortunes. He was a warrior and never lost courage. Even dreadful disease of a malignant tumour couldn’t break his spirit. He declined to take the assistance of a wheelchair in the hospital and preferred to walk on foot by himself. Above all, he always liked to remain happy and wanted to see others also happy. Surely he was a gifted person.

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How many characters are in the story?

In this story, there are two characters. The names of these two characters are Amitava Ghosh and Aga Shahid Ali.

Amitava Ghosh is the author of the essay and he has written the essay about his beloved friend named Aga Shahid Ali.

What is the problem that Agha Shahid Ali facing?

Agha Shahid Ali who is a young and dynamic personality suffers from an incurable disease of a malignant brain tumour and he realizes that the death will knock his door anytime.

What request Aga Shahid Ali makes to Amitav Ghosh and why? Does Amitav accept the request?

Realizing that he is kicking the bucket soon Aga Shahid Ali requests Amitav to write something about him when he is gone.

Amitav Ghosh at first can’t figure the words in which he can react yet finally, he guarantees him that he will do his best to expound on him.

How does the author fulfil his promise?

From that very day when the author makes the promise, he starts to remember every one of the recollections of his cherished friend to fulfil his promise.

Eventually, when Again Shahid Ali dies at 52, Amitabh Gosh composes this excellent article about him which he names The Ghat of The Only World.


The Questions and Answers of The Ghat of The only World and its Summary


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