Q.1. Do you see an intersection of time and space in the story?
Ans. Imagination of people like H. G. Wells ran riot. He believed that it was possible to travel in time as we can travel in space. He thought that a machine could be invented that could carry us back into the past or the future. If we went into the past, we would find the place different from what it looks like today. Sam, for example, traveled to Galesburg which was not like as it is today but as it was in 1890s. Similarly, when Charley reached the third level, everything was as it was in 1894. The ticket booth, the men there, people with sideburns, women dressed in old-fashioned garments, the naked flames and even the currency notes were of 1894. There is indeed an intersection of time and space.
Q.2. Apparent illogicality sometimes turns out to be a futuristic projection. Discuss.
Ans. Man is endowed with the gift of imagination. He is a dreamer. Every great invention was an illogical dream to begin with. Icarus and his father flew with the help of artificial wings attached to themselves. How illogical! They could not have flown like that. Even to think of flying like birds was a sheer dream. But today we can fly at great speed. The aeroplane of today is a dreamer’s idea of the flying carpet or uran khatola of past imagination. But those illogical things are the realities of today.
Q.3. Philately helps in keeping the past alive. Discuss other ways in which this is done. What do you think of human tendency to constantly move between the past, the present and the future?
Ans. Man has always been interested in the past. He looks back and is eager to know how life was like in old times. Not only the past of mankind, but even the distant past of the earth is alluring. Scientists spend fortunes and precious years of their lives to look for fossils to reconstruct the conditions under which those extinct animals lived. Pyramids are ransacked to learn about pharaohs and their times. We preserve ancient monuments to keep the past alive. Our history books tell us about lost civilisations. Coins, pottery, artifacts, statues, temples and other things tell us about the past. These are preserved and displayed in museums. Man is seldom satisfied with the present. So, he looks ‘before and after’.
Q.4. Compare the interweaving of fantasy and reality in the stories The Third Level and The Adventure.
Ans. Narlikar in his story ‘The Adventure’ presumes that a number of worlds exist side by side. Professor Gaitonde accidently bumps into an India which is not like the India he knew. He does not even go into the past. It was an India that existed side by side the present one. But the history had taken two entirely different routes. Narlikar says that it is not a presumption. It is not what would have happened if the Marathas had won the battle of Panipat. But actually, scientifically, it is possible for a number of worlds to exist simultaneously. But, ‘The Third Level’ is a journey into the past. It is like H.G. Well’s idea of time machine. It does not believe in the existence of different worlds, but the different fourth dimension. Suppose we went into the days of Ashoka, we should find the places as they existed at that time. Such things may be possible to discover someday. The stories are improbable. They interweave fantasy and reality.
Q.5. Why did Charley think that Grand Central Station was growing like a tree, pushing out new corridors and staircases like roots?
Ans. The Grand Central Station of the New York is huge. It has two levels. Charley had been into the Grand Central hundreds of times. Every time he had a new experience. He would bump into new corridors and new staircases. He had lost his way there many times. Once he got into a tunnel a mile long and came up in the lobby of a hotel. Another time he came up in an office building. So he had begun to suspect that the Grand Central was ever pushing up new corridors and new staircases like roots of a tree. Perhaps new corridors and tunnels were trying to reach Times Square and Central Park. But his most amazing experience was when he lost his way and reached the third level. He was in a hurry to reach home one evening. He wanted to take a train on the second level. But the corridor led him to the third level which was not supposed to exist. The strangest thing was that the corridor had led him into the past. Everything, including people, on third level, was about a century old. It was that of 1894.