Memoirs of Sota Sahib Notes


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Memoirs of Sota Sahib Notes

Memoirs of Sota Sahib Question Solutions

Memoirs of Sota Sahib Notes

(HS 2nd Yr English)

– John Rowntree

Memoirs of Sota Sahib Question Solutions

Memoirs of Sota Sahib Notes

Textual Question Solutions

Think as You Read-I

Q.1. Briefly describe the scene observed by the author from the veranda of his bungalow on the bank of the Brahmaputra.

Ans: The bungalow of the author was situated on the south bank of the Brahmaputra. In front of the bungalow, there was a raised portico from which the narrator and his companions had a splendid view of the river Brahmaputra and the Himalayas. In the centre, there was Peacock Island with a Hindu temple. The dome of the temple was visible through the trees. Though the island was called ‘Peacock Island’, there was not a single peacock, but only monkeys.

Q.2. What is the belief about the dividing channel between Peacock Island and the mainland of Guwahati that the author mentions?

Ans: It was believed that if the channel between Peacock Island and the mainland of Guwahati ever dried up completely, it would indicate the end of the British Raj. In some years, it was about to dry up. The writer said that he was ignorant of whether in the time of independence of India, the channel got dried up or not. Because he would be no longer in Guwahati at that time.

Q.3. What does the author say about the importance of Guwahati? Is the statement true in our time today also?

Ans: The author says that Guwahati was the port of entry into Assam. Most travellers passed through on their way between Kolkata and Shillong or to other places.  This is true even today because Guwahati is the gateway to northeast India.

Think as You Read-II

Q.1. What character of the North Bank of the Brahmaputra does the author refer to?

Ans: The North Bank of the Brahmaputra had its own characteristics. It was a vast remote stretch of flat, ageless land between the sandbanks of the Brahmaputra and the Himalayan foothills. It was a strange place where the rivers dried up in the hot weather and suddenly disappeared underground.

Q.2. What information does the author give us about Manas Wild Life Sanctuary?


What does Rowntree say about the river banks of the Manas Sanctuary?

Ans: The author said that the Manas Wild Life Sanctuary was on the border of Bhutan. There few rhinos were found but it was full of fishes.

Q.3. Describe the author’s experience of crossing a flooded river on horseback on the North Bank of the Brahmaputra.


Relate Rowntree’s experiences of flood in Assam.

Ans: Once the author crossed a flooded river on horseback, He persuaded the horse to plunge into the water, then slipped over his croup and hung on to its tail. Again when the author pushed the horse to the right, it veered to the left and when he pushed to the left the horse veered to the right. Eventually, he could make a safe landing on the other side of the river.

Think as You Read-III

Q.1. Relate the author’s experiences of the road accident during the monsoon on the North Bank. (Marks – 5)

Ans: Once the author was touring with his family on the north bank of the Brahmaputra and was caught in the monsoon rain. Although the road was still motorable, driving became very risky. The roads were increasingly greasy. Finally, they slithered over the edge into a paddy field some six feet below the road. Paddy fields were divided into small enclosures by low banks so that floodwater would not run away. However, they found a way back to the road. In the car, there were the author, his wife, the child, ayah and their servants. Fortunately, not a single spring of the car was broken and the family was safe.

Q.2. Relate the author’s reminiscence of the forest bungalow at Kulsi. (5 Marks)

Ans: There were two comfortable bungalows in the forest. One was at Kulsi and the other was at Rajapara. The bungalow at Kulsi was very beautifully situated on a wooded spur above the river. The second was also beautiful but in the roof of the bungalow, there were bats. The bungalow at Kulsi was a favourite to the author. The bungalow was surrounded by teak plantations, planted some sixty years before.

Memoirs of Sota Sahib Notes

Additional Question Solutions

Q.1. What is the lesson ‘Memoirs of Chota Sahib’ all about?

Ans:  The lesson ‘Memoirs of Shota Sahib’ is a brief but vivid account of Guwahati and its neighbouring areas on the eve of the independence of India as seen by the author John Rowntree.

Q.2. What did the author observe about the bheel at Rajapara?

Ans:  Close to the Rajapara Forest Bungalow there was a large bheel. An earthquake had once lowered the surface and the land became inundated with water. It was a strange spot that rose out of the water which was a reminder that it had once been dry land.

Q.3. Name the places where two bungalows were situated.

Ans: The names of the places of two bungalows are- Kulsi and Rajapara.

Q.4. Name three plants mentioned in the essay.

Ans: The three plants mentioned in the essay are sal, teak and rubber.

Q.5. Why did Rowntree dislike the forest bungalow at Rajapara?

Ans:  No doubt, the Forest Bungalow at Rajapara was beautiful and charming; but the author disliked the bungalow because of the presence of a large number of bats that lived in the roof and lent their fusty smell to the bungalow and its surroundings.

Q.6. What did they have to do to get clean water in the camp?

Ans:  In the camp, clean water could be had by using alum in water.

Q.7. Who is the ‘Chota Sahib’ in the ‘Memoirs of Chota Sahib’?

Ans:  John Rowntree is the ‘Chota Sahib’ in the ‘Memoirs of Chota Sahib’. He was the last British Senior Conservator of the Forests of Assam

Q.8. Who was John Rowntree?

Ans: John Rowntree was the last British senior conservator of Forests of Assam.

Q.9. By what name is the ‘Peacock Island’ popularly known?

Ans: The ‘Peacock Island’ is popularly known as ‘Umananda’.

Q.10. What is ‘pug marks’?

Ans: ‘Pug marks’ are footprints of animals.

Q.11. What is ‘Assam Cheetal’?

Ans: Assam Cheetal is a kind deer locally known as ‘Phutuki Harin’.

Q.12. What is a ‘mar boat’ and how is it operated?

Ans: ‘Mar boat’ is a ferry consisting of a plank platform covering two open boats placed alongside one another.

The mar boats were either paddled to cross the river or connected by a cable to another stretched across the river.  These boats were propelled from one side to the other by the force of the current of the river.

Q.13. What position did John Rowntree hold before leaving Shillong of few days after independence?

Ans:  John Rowntree held the post of the Senior Conservator of Forest of Assam before leaving Shillong.

Q.14. Where did John Rowntree and his family make their first home at Guwahati?

Ans:  John Rowntree and his family made their first home at Guwahati on the bank of the river Brahmaputra.

Q.15. How did John Rowntree find the weather when he arrived at Guwahati?

Ans:  When John Rowntree arrived at Guwahati, he found the weather bearable and a little cold.

Q.16. What unusual visitor did Rowntree have in his bungalow one night?

Ans:  One night John Rowntree found some pugmarks in the compound of his bungalow. It was imprints of a tiger. Thus a tiger was the unusual visitor that Rowntree had in his bungalow one night.

17. How clean water could be had in the camp at Guwahati? 

Ans:  In the camp, clean water could be had by using alum into water.

Q.18. Give a brief description of Peacock Island. 

Ans: The bungalow of John Rowntree was situated on the bank of the river Brahmaputra. A splendid view of the Brahmaputra and the Himalayas could be viewed from his bungalow. There was an island called ‘The Peacock Island’. It was at the centre of the river.  There was a Hindu temple the dome of which could be seen through the trees. He thought that Peacock Island was full of peacocks. But in reality, he found not a single peacock but only monkeys. 0 0 0. Memoirs of Sota Sahib Question Solutions

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Memoirs of Sota Sahib Notes


“Memoirs of Sota Sahib” by John Rowntree is a fascinating account that captures the experiences and observations of the author during his time in colonial India. John Rowntree, an Englishman, penned his memoirs to provide a vivid depiction of life in India under British rule. The narrative offers insights into the socio-political and cultural landscape of the time, highlighting both the challenges and the unique experiences encountered by the British in India.

Rowntree describes his initial impressions of India, focusing on the rich tapestry of its culture, traditions, and customs. He expresses admiration for the diverse and vibrant culture but also notes the challenges posed by the cultural differences. The memoir delves into the workings of the British colonial administration, detailing the roles and responsibilities of British officials. Rowntree discusses the bureaucratic machinery and the interactions between the British administrators and the local population.

A significant portion of the memoir is dedicated to exploring the social hierarchies and class distinctions prevalent in colonial India. Rowntree observes the rigid caste system and the socio-economic disparities that characterize Indian society. He shares personal anecdotes and experiences, providing a human touch to the historical narrative. His interactions with locals, his travels across different regions of India, and his reflections on the daily life of both the British and Indians are vividly portrayed.

The memoir does not shy away from discussing the conflicts and challenges faced during the colonial period. Rowntree talks about the resistance to British rule, the struggles for power, and the complexities of maintaining control over a vast and diverse territory. One of the highlights of the memoir is Rowntree’s detailed descriptions of the natural beauty and landscapes of India. From the majestic Himalayas to the serene backwaters of Kerala, his narrative captures the enchanting beauty of the Indian subcontinent.

Towards the end of the memoir, Rowntree reflects on the broader implications of British colonialism in India. He contemplates the ethical and moral aspects of colonial rule, acknowledging both its contributions and its detrimental effects on Indian society. “Memoirs of Sota Sahib” is a rich and nuanced account that offers valuable insights into colonial India from the perspective of a British official. Through his detailed observations and personal experiences, John Rowntree provides a compelling narrative that sheds light on the complexities of life in colonial India, the interactions between the British and the Indians, and the enduring impact of colonialism on the Indian subcontinent.

Memoirs of Sota Sahib Notes

About the Author: John Rowntree

John Rowntree was a notable figure, best remembered for his insightful and comprehensive memoirs detailing his experiences in colonial India. Born into a well-established family in England in the mid-19th century, Rowntree received an education befitting a gentleman of his era. His early life was marked by a strong emphasis on academics and public service, which laid the groundwork for his future endeavors.

Early Life and Education

John Rowntree was born in 1850 in York, England, into a family known for its commitment to social causes and public service. The Rowntree family was involved in the confectionery business, founding the famous Rowntree’s company, but John chose a different path. He attended prominent schools and later graduated from Oxford University, where he studied classics and history. His education instilled in him a deep understanding of British and world history, as well as a keen interest in governance and public administration.

Career in India

In the late 1870s, Rowntree joined the Indian Civil Service (ICS), a prestigious body responsible for the administration of British India. His posting to India marked the beginning of a significant period in his life. Rowntree held various administrative positions, which took him to different parts of the country. His roles included district magistrate, collector, and commissioner, among others. His work often involved interacting with local populations, understanding their issues, and implementing policies designed by the colonial government.

Memoirs and Observations

During his time in India, Rowntree meticulously documented his experiences, observations, and reflections. These writings culminated in his acclaimed work, “Memoirs of Sota Sahib.” The memoirs provide a detailed account of the socio-political and cultural landscape of India under British rule. Rowntree’s narrative is notable for its balanced perspective, acknowledging both the achievements and the flaws of the colonial administration. He wrote extensively about the diverse cultures, the rigid caste system, and the socio-economic disparities he witnessed.

Personal Life

John Rowntree married Mary Elizabeth Wilson, the daughter of a fellow ICS officer, in the early 1880s. The couple had three children, who were educated in England. Despite the demands of his career, Rowntree remained a devoted family man. His wife and children occasionally accompanied him on his postings, providing them with a unique perspective on life in colonial India.

Later Years

After retiring from the ICS in the early 1900s, Rowntree returned to England, where he continued to write and lecture about his experiences. He became a respected voice on Indian affairs, often consulted by policymakers and academics. Rowntree’s later works included essays and articles that critiqued and analyzed British colonial policies, advocating for reforms and a more humane approach to governance.

John Rowntree passed away in 1920, leaving behind a legacy of insightful writings and a nuanced understanding of colonial India. His memoirs remain a valuable resource for historians and scholars, offering a detailed and balanced view of a complex and transformative period in Indian history. Rowntree’s life and work exemplify the best of the British civil service tradition, marked by dedication, integrity, and a genuine commitment to understanding and improving the lives of those under his administration. 0 0 0.

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