10 First Flight

Mijbil the Otter

NCERT Exercise

Question 1: What ‘experiment’ did Maxwell think Camusfearna would be suitable for?

Answer: Maxwell wanted to have an otter as a pet. This would have been a new experiment for him as people usually keep dogs or cats as pets. Otters are wild creatures and people seldom keep them as pets. It would have been a new learning experience for Maxwell to tame and train the otter.

Question 2: Why does he go to Basra? How long does he wait there, and why?

Answer: Maxwell went to Basra to visit the Consulate General to get his mail. He had had to wait there for five days. To start with his mail didn’t reach on time. Then he tried to make a telephone call. This incident is of those days when one had to book an international call 24 hrs in advance. The telephone line was not working properly on the first day. Next day it was some public holiday so it was not working. Finally after a tortuous wait of five days his mail arrived.

Question 3: How does he get the otter? Does he like it? Pick out the words that tell you this.

Answer: One of Maxwell’s friends probably requested a local to get an otter for him. Two people came with an otter and delivered it to him. The way the author explains every small prank of otter shows that he liked the otter.

Question 4: Why was the otter named ‘Maxwell’s otter’?

Answer: The zoological name of that species Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli indicates to the fact that it was named by some scientist called Maxwell. Or the suffix ‘maxwelli’ may have been given by the author himself. That is why the otter can be simply called ‘Maxwell’s Otter’.

Question 5: What happened when Maxwell took Mijbil to the bathroom? What did it do two days after that?

Answer: Otters live near water and water is their favourite playground. Mijbil enjoyed the sight of water in the bathtub. It enjoyed the water to its fullest. Mijbil splashed water all around the bathroom. Two days later Mijbil developed confidence to go all alone to the bathroom. It jumped up the bathtub and after some effort turned on the tap as well.

Question 6: How was Mij to be transported to England?

Answer: As British airlines did not allow animals to be taken by plane so the author decided to take it by another airline to Paris and then from Paris to London. The airline’s directive said that Mij could be carried in a box which should not be bigger than 18 square inches in dimension. Author was allowed to keep the box near his feet in the plane.

Question 7: What did Mij do to the box?

Answer: The box was lined with metal sheet. Mij didn’t find it comfortable to be there so tried to escape. In its attempt to escape, Mij tore into the metal lining of the box. As a result it hurt itself and started bleeding.

Question 8: Why did Maxwell put the otter back in the box? How do you think he felt when he did this?

Answer: As there was no other way to carry Mij to London so the author had put it back into the box. He must have felt pity on the way the otter had hurt itself. Moreover, he must be worried as well.

Question 9: Why does Maxwell say the airhostess was “the very queen of her kind”?

Answer: The airhostess not only allowed the injured otter to be taken in, she also allowed Maxwell to keep the otter the way he wanted. She had been cooperative and generous to the core. That is why she is referred to as a queen, as kings and queens usually have big generous hearts.

Question 10: What happened when the box was opened?

Answer: The moment Maxwell opened the box Mij darted out of it vanished somewhere. Then it ran all over the place scaring all passengers. It created a chaos and most of the people in the plane started praying for their lives.

Question 11: What game had Mij invented?

Answer: Mij invented a game of playing ball in a unique way. One of author’s suitcase which was damaged during journey was Mijbil’s play arena. The suitcase top was having a slope. Mijbil would drop the ball from the height of the slope and would hurriedly catch it on the deeper end of the slope.

Question 12: What are ‘compulsive habits’? What does Maxwell say are the compulsive habits of (i) school children (ii) Mij?

Answer: Compulsive habits are usually strange act or behaviour which a person does without clear reason. For example a cricket player may put on his right shoe first as he believes it would bring him good luck or a kid jumping over a fence, instead of going through the passageway. Usually compulsive beahviour of children are full of childhood mischief and those of adults are of incorrigible type.

(i) As per this story, children must place their feet squarely on the centre of each paving block; must touch every seventh upright of the iron railings, or pass to the outside of every second lamp post.

(ii) Mijbil while on its way to home would jump over the boundary wall railing and run at full speed throughout its length.

Question 13: What group of animals do otters belong to?

Answer: Otters belong to a comparatively small group of animals called Mustellines, shared by the badger, mongoose, weasel, stoat, mink and others.