Vinod Gambtoo’s IELTS Speaking Conjecture, Part 5

  1. Describe a time when a family member asked for your help.
  • When it was
  • Who asked you for help
  • How you helped him/her
  • How you felt about it
  • Family means a lot; it means putting your arms around each other and being there forever
  • Whether you call it a clan, call it a network, call it a family, call it a mini world of yours or call it a tribe, whoever you are, you need one, and that’s what is the meaning of family
  • Today, I would like to talk about one incident where my niece rushed to seek my assistance around a year ago
  • She’s studying at the University of Toronto and was about to finish her undergrad degree in the Finance concentration
  • She had to complete her thesis to graduate and was stuck in the middle while writing her thesis paper
  • As I also did my master degree in business administration with the Finance concentration, she thought that I could  be the right person to seek some academic assistance, and hence, she called me up for the same
  • Initially, as usual, our Indian way, she wanted me to help extensively on her paper because, you know, sometimes we take academic integrity for granted and generally, in most cases, we don’t find it wrong in taking assistance in writing university assignments
  • I learned her subject and went through her paper; I mean whatever she had completed then
  • First, she wanted me to write, synthesize, and edit her some parts of the paper for which I blatantly (=openly) refused because it was academic dishonesty
  • But I lent my helping hand to her in a different manner. I guided her about what to be included, what to be researched, what all citations could be helping to her and whatnot
  • On the contrary, I suggested her not to be the one who steals information or indulges in plagiarism (=piracy, falsification) or wants someone to write her paper. Instead, I offered her academic guidance to complete her paper
  • She soon realized where I came from and agreed with my point
  • I felt jubilant (=elated, glad) when she called me after some time about her final grades
  • She got 88% in her final thesis paper
  • She called to thank me for my guidance. And I said, “You yet to have your finest hour.” There could not be a better moment in our lives than to help family members and see them doing the best. That was special news for everyone in our family

Follow-up questions:

  • What can children help their parents with?

I think this could be a big ask from children. Generally, they’re very young to know what parents feel like or what they want. I guess if they remain straight in their academic careers or maybe in their extracurricular activities, parents will be pleased with that discipline. Mostly, parents don’t expect children to return whatever they’ve have given to them, such as time, care, or money. But they really want that their efforts must not go in vain. If children simply understand this ask and align them with this philosophy, parents won’t ask anything more. And why not? Parents make them feel like they can fly (metaphorical expression).

  • What are the benefits of children helping their parents?

It shows a sense of responsibility and respect for elders. Children hardly know the fact that how much pain is taken by their parents day and night over the years. Most responsible parents keep worrying about their future and in all their prayers, they’re put on the high priority. And when children reciprocate (=repay, barter, retaliate) with their responsible attitude, it’s like a dream come true for them. They breathe a sigh of relief, and all their worries, all of a sudden, disappear. It makes their life comfortable, which they deserve for all good reasons. 

  • Should parents reward their children when they help others?

Yes, absolutely. I personally believe that every good act must be incentivized (= encourage, motivate) in different ways. When parents endorse their good deeds such as helping others, they are further motivated to repeat the same over and over again. This process inculcates (=impart, instill, indoctrinate) good values and respect for other humans. That’s needed because when they grow, their success depends upon various factors, and one of them is to help others selflessly.

  • Do parents help their children because they need their help when they are old?

I don’t think so. In most cases, I have seen parents are selfless, and they don’t do good things for their children expecting any reciprocity (=exchange, cooperation, mutuality). They just help them out of pure love and affection. This is the life, in fact, I say. At least, I’ve not seen any such parents who raise their children for any benefit. It’s their blood, after all. I’m sure such selfless love of parents will always exist as long as we survive on this earth. That’s infinite love.

2. Describe one of your family members you spend the most time with.

  • Who she/he is
  • What usually you do together
  • What kind of a person she/he is?
  • Why you spend most of the time with her/him
  • Family means a lot; it means putting your arms around each other and being there forever
  • We love spending time with friends and family in general, and it depends upon the occasion or the mood of the person. Today, I would like to talk about someone who is very special to me in life. It’s none else but my 6-year old daughter, Natasha
  • The moment you see her, she is full of life. She’s sunlight. Words will fall short to describe her because she’s a marvelous kid
  • My whole day goes by working hard like a donkey at the office. So, when I arrive home, I’m dead tired, and hardly have any energy left for me to talk or do any other activity
  • But this little angel comes to me, giggling, yapping, dancing, and, all of sudden, that work fatigue disappears instantaneously
  • She’s a sweet talker and inquisitive (=analytical, nosy) by nature. At times, she’s full of remarkable and bizarre (=strange) questions for me
  • Some of her questions bring me back to my childhood. She is such a sweet child of mine!
  • I’ve inculcated a reading habit in her because kids hardly have a reading habit in our country, and it’s hard for kids to form a habit, which is not in vogue. It’s like you’re moving against the wind. So, I ensure to bring at least 3 new books on different subjects for her in two weeks. They are from stories to fictional novels to sci-fi books
  • Both of us read books together; I mean I read my favorite book while she is by me reading her own book
  • At times, I read books aloud on purpose so that she follows the suite. And when she does, I’ve an opportunity to correct her pronunciation if she makes a mistake. I ensure that she delivers the right pronunciation with appropriate stress and intonation
  • It’s important for children when they grow up. They have to deliver different types of speeches in their academics and career. Or, maybe, sometimes they need to do a presentation during their assignments at the school. This skill instills confidence in our children. Therefore, I leave no stone unturned to train her at her early stage of life. Because once she’s grown up, it will be hard for her to develop this essential skill
  • While having quality time with her, I see my shades in her. It reminds me of my childhood memories where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky

Follow-up questions:

  • How many generations usually live together in India?

In the past, it was usual to see at least a couple of generations live together in my country. But things have changed now. People are no longer interested to live in a joint family, and they rather prefer a nuclear family for many reasons. I don’t see it as a negative development because people didn’t pay a lot of attention to the significant aspect of life, which is privacy. In a nutshell, what was the custom is no more in practice.

  • Is it important to visit family members?

Yes, it is. It’s the small world that we own. Plus, it makes sense to check on every family member now and then. Together with the family, it develops everlasting bonding, and it works wondrously during your bad time. For example, people realized the value of family members during the lockdown that was imposed during the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone realized that nothing else mattered than the love of family.

  • What are the values of family in your country?

Bharat is a land of joyful giving. Our civilization teaches us to be peaceful, tolerant, and respectful of elders, Mother Nature, and all animals. This overall package of kindness runs through the veins of all Indians. You will find people who would be concerned about feeding even ants. I haven’t seen such a kind and giving culture anywhere in the world. This sums it all, and it comes in the DNA of every Indian. However, we must not forget the fact that some people in my country deviate from these values for short-term benefits, and that’s a plague (=curse, ravage) for society.

  • Why is family bonding necessary for happiness in life?

Well, family bonding offers you strength during any type of crisis. How can we live on this earth without family bonding? We will become a stone without love and care. Material things could certainly give us some pleasure for a while, but in the long run, it’s the family that stands by in our good and bad times. With the support and love of the family, several colossal (=enormous, gigantic, huge) difficulties become tiny, and that passes easily.  

  • Do you think the support from a friend is different from the support of a family member?

It’s arbitrary (=subjective), I guess. In many cases, we have witnessed that friends have come forward to help people than their family members. The opposite is also true. Hence, I can’t tell for sure what works and whatnot.

  • Who should be more responsible for educating children in a family?

I believe it’s the responsibility of the parents. Unfortunately, in my country, we’ve seen that only mothers are burdened to raise children and look after their school workload. It’s unacceptable. Both men and women have a different temperament and a learning curve, so the blending of both could be rather helpful for children. But the societal asking or modern-day settings deprive of the attention of either of the parents. I totally abhor (=despise, detest, hate) this culture, but I can only wail (=grieve, sob, weep) and do nothing about it.

  • Do you think there are differences between how men and women care for children?

Well, honestly speaking, I’ve no idea about it. Maybe I’m not that mature to understand the nuance of these critical skills. But let me guess. Yeah, I think there must be some difference. I can tell you from my own experience. My mother is soft-spoken and overly loves me, so even if I do something wrong, she is always there to cover my mistakes. She pampers me a lot. However, sometimes this pampering could land me into trouble. While my father is steadfast (=true, staunch, dedicated) disciplined and straight, and he doesn’t give me much room to play with my mistakes. He teaches me to face any challenge with a grin. Maybe, he faces the real challenges of the world, whereas my mommy is a housewife, so she has a different experience of life.

3. Describe a place where you are able to relax.

  • Where it is
  • What it is like
  • How often you go there
  • How you feel about this place
  • Being a millennial, to me, relaxation must include some parts of adventures, sound sleep, amazing scenery, and a great place to roam around
  • There could be no better place than Canada for all purposes, whether it is enjoying leisure time, or taking some time off to rejuvenate yourself, or going to mesmerizing (=fascinate, enthrall, stupefy) places with friends, or simply skiing
  • If I have to choose my beloved place for relaxation, it is always Lake O’Hara Lodge in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia near Alberta
  • I’ve several reasons to visit this marvelous beauty over and over again and never get tired of it
  • It may not be the fanciest back county accommodation, but it is overly friendly, laidback with a spectacular setting
  • This place is so much popular that regulars like me return year after year for hiking the trails or skiing. It’s located near Lake Louise
  • I savor the outdoor grandeur. Playing in or on the lake with friends or family members is real fun
  • I visit this place at least once a year. I don’t need a reason to travel there, but I make sure to visit this place during summer as it offers lots of things along with better deals of accommodation over a hearty breakfast
  • When you visit this place, you feel bliss, serenity, God’s own abode, beautiful birds and their chirping, and the purest water of the lake. It makes you feel as if you are in paradise, and it redeems you from your stress
  • It gives you an opportunity to re-energize yourself

Follow-up questions:

  • How do students relax?

Unlike elderly people who believe in a complete rest as the form of relaxation, students have altogether a different way to relax. For us, it’s simple. The thing that we like to do is a kind of relaxation. For example, I would love to lie in bed for hours and play games on the laptop is also a form of relaxation. Or going to some places with friends to have unlimited fun with delicious food and drink offers me the best relaxation because the happiness that I get by doing the things that I like is important.

  • What activities do employers organize to help employees relax?

Employers, these days, arrange an excursion near their workplace; I mean not very far from their place so that they can return comfortably without having to travel long. They book a resort that includes water splash, restaurant, gaming zone, and a countryside-felt accommodation where they can play games and have fun, and at the same time, they can feel relaxed and motivated after such a vacation.

  • Do people now have more ways to relax than in the past?

I agree with this statement precisely. With time, the significance of well-being, frolic activities, and other such facilities to please the mood of people has improved a lot over the decades. Businessmen try hard to come up with new ideas of entertainment and hospitality. It is a big industry worth billions of dollars, and every year, people take out their time from the busy schedule to enjoy. They don’t mind traveling far enough to experience something extraordinary. For example, you have resorts that are placed right in the middle of the forest or a sanctuary to see live animals. In the past, we did not have such entertaining places and even if we had them, only the rich could afford it, whereas it’s now become a commodity. I mean people with the average earnings can also think of going to such places with friends and family and enjoy. In the past, it was just a dream for them.

  • Do you think natural sceneries are more helpful than indoor activities?

I guess natural sceneries calm your nerve and offer absolute soothing feelings. It gives a sense of exotic and unforgettable experience, which indoor activities can’t… Just imagine that you are sitting on the deck of a century-old home in coastal Nova Scotia with a glass of Screech rum with 500-year-old iceberg rocks in hand. Or maybe you are sitting right in the middle of the forest of Mahabaleshwar in India and the place is surrounded by large and tall trees. Such an experience is incredible, and if we’ve decided to stay home, probably we will miss a grand opportunity to feel the earth. 

  • Do you like to visit movie theaters?

Yes, I love to watch movies in the auditorium. In fact, it’s the only place for you to enjoy the movie. These days, we have an OTT platform on which we can watch any new or old movie. But honestly speaking, watching a movie in the theater offers the maximum joy because of its setup. That dark room surrounded by a Dolby sound system with the cozy seat and never-ending widescreen gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in the plot of the movie. There’s no comparison.

  • Where do Indian people like to go on weekends?

I can’t say exactly about all the Indians how they enjoy their weekends. But, certainly, I can tell what people do around me. Some people pack up their things and go skiing or rafting nearby. Others go to resorts located either in the countryside or in the forest where they get scrumptious food and enjoy playing games and dancing. People like us who are in their twenties love to hand out at the local pubs and clubs, have some drinks, and dance with friends. Possibly, some people might not go anywhere and just relax at home.

  • What do old people do to relax?

I think they don’t go far enough and stay home and enjoy it. They strive to enjoy a perfect retirement. They’ve the food of their choice, and it triggers the emotions and gives them the feeling of a free-flying bird. But it may not apply to all the elderly people. Some enjoy outing more than staying home, no matter how old they are and they are as good as children in terms of their ways of enjoyment.

  • What is the importance of relaxation?

It soothes your feelings and re-energizes you. Otherwise, people will go crazy and maybe buried under the stress of their career or in money-making.

  • What are the ways people relax?

There’s a list of activities depending upon the age, natural inclination, availability of resources, and many more things. It could be from hanging out at the pubs to going places located in the countryside to going with friends and family to entertaining resorts to skiing and going places, where all different kinds of playing facilities are placed.

  • What do you do to relax yourself?

It’s typical the boy stuff. I go with my friends to the pub or sometimes go to the multiplex for a newly-released movie. Or maybe if I’m too tired or stressed out at times, I may not go out and stay home and read my novels. It all depends upon the mood, time, schedule of friends, and the money in the pocket.

  • Do you think we should take a day off from our work?

It’s a good idea, in fact, I work five days a week. I’ve seen people working for six days a week or the whole week and I feel empathy for them. A 5-day working is the best mode of working so that you can balance your personal and professional life. So those who work for six days or the whole week, I would advise them to take a day off from their work in a week.

  • Do you think people can actually relax by doing relaxation exercises?

I’m not sure but maybe. Everybody has his own way to relax. And some people might think that this way is appropriate for them.

  • Some people do nothing to relax. Do you think it is a good idea? Or do you think relaxation should include some activities or doing nothing is enough?

I believe relaxation along with the activities that you like the most makes sense. And, that’s the way it should be. You can stay in bed for twenty-four hours and activities that you enjoy the most give you a sense of relaxation and happiness.

4. Describe a goal that you achieved, which was set by yourself.

  • What it is
  • When you set it
  • How you achieved it
  • Explain how it influenced your life
  • Well, there are several goals that I had set till date; some of them have been fulfilled and others are yet to realize in the years to come gradually
  • Today, I would like to share with you one of the goals that make me feel proud of me all the time, and I guess I’ll never forget also
  • It was Grade 9, and I always struggled in Math courses. For some reason, it always discomforted me, and it was too heavy pain for me to carry
  • Somehow I managed to pass this course but almost failed in this course. It was a sad thing on my part because I became an object of mockery in my classroom. But, more than that, I was worried about how my father would react to this piece of news
  • When I came home in the evening and showed my mark card, I was expecting to face his ire
  • But he didn’t lose his temper and said, “My doll, I wanted to see you as a commercial pilot in your career but looking at your math performance, I think you better become a businesswoman in the future”
  • First, I heaved a sigh of relief as if I had dodged the bullet {idiomatic expression (=to have a narrow escape; to avoid injury, disaster, or something undesirable situation)}, but later on, I realized that I broke the dream of my beloved dad. And the best thing that I learnt was how he adjusted his dream for me. Therefore, after a few days, this sacrifice of my dad was eating me from inside day in, day out
  • So, one day I decided not to surrender to my Achilles heel (=weakness, weak link) and fought back
  • I started to learn Math course from scratch and studied as if I were going to complete my Ph.D. degree in this course
  • Guess what? In year 10, I managed to get 94% in mathematics and a topper in my classroom
  • I remember that smile and proud feeling on the face of my dad when I showed my mark card to him. I was waiting for him to say something on this feat of success
  • You know what he said, “My sunshine, with this grade, now you can fly Rafale jet fighter for our motherland.” My dad is such a darling, and he knows how to motivate me for the best. His expressions and encouragement were priceless for me
  • From this incident, I realized that nothing can stop you from chasing your goal provided you keep on persevering it passionately. You just need to decide it firmly and go after it, no matter how hard it is.

Follow-up questions:

  • Do people need to write down goals or simply memorize them?

I guess once you have decided on anything, it is always there on your mind. It stays on your mind always. So, I don’t think people who are self-motivated will be writing down their goals. This is my assumption. I’ve no idea whether people write down their goals or not but it ain’t make any sense.

  • Do Indian people usually set goals?

Well, it has nothing to do with the nationality of a person about setting goals. We’re 8 billion people on this earth, but not all are born to become leaders. Inspiration can come from any part of the world. Therefore, maybe some Indians set their goals and maybe others not.

  • Should parents set goals for their children?

My answer is ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ both. Let’s start with my affirmative answer. What do you expect from a kid who is just 17 years old? Can we expect any maturity or seriousness toward career building? The answer is mega ‘No’. Yes, we can probably give them the best of the environment and encouragement to be someone. But what parents can foresee and envision the career of children, kids can’t do that. Therefore, we need their guidance for some years. Maybe at least up to 24 years or so.

Now, my negative part of the answer is some parents expect their kids to fulfill the unfinished goals that they couldn’t achieve during their life. This is over the top. Just from my personal example, if I didn’t want to be a general practitioner, I won’t think of it. My mom wanted to become a doctor, so she wanted me to be a doctor. That’s an unreasonable expectation from children.

  • When do young people start setting goals for themselves?

Again, it’s arbitrary (=subjective). I’ve seen some people who have no dreams or goals even if they are married and well in their thirties. At the same time, I’ve seen people who set their goals early in their life and go after them passionately. But the right age is between 17 and 19 because whatever you want to do in your life, it must be backed by your theoretical learning. I mean your education. Otherwise, it’s hard to come back to what you had planned for yourself.

In some cases, for example, if someone wants to become a tennis player, he has to be given all types of motivation, facilities, time, and other things as early as at the age of 9 or 10.

  • What are the kinds of goals that are unrealistic?

It’s a good question. Smart goals are realistic, and all other goals are just dreams which are not going to be fulfilled ever. For example, if someone at the age of 21 decides to beat the great tennis player like Roger Federer, it might be a far-fetched dream and almost impossible task to achieve it because as I said before if I had wanted to become a tennis legend, I had to start at the age of 10 or so.

  • Do young people and old people have different kinds of goals? If yes, what are they?

Certainly! As human grows old, he gets matured with every good or bitter experience. Goals change as we age. For example, a kid may want to become a football player, and somebody who is 65 years old wants to run as fast as he could. So, both put their efforts to fulfill their dreams of what they want to achieve. Both may have different approaches to reach their goals.

  • What is more fulfilling working towards a goal or achieving it?

I would say it’s a journey, and both have to be enjoyed. While moving toward our goal, we’ve some unforgettable experiences. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you also fail. Yes, there couldn’t be a better joy when we reach our destination; I mean our goal. Because when we turn back and see what it had taken to achieve our goals, it’s a marvelous journey that we have walked on. Sometimes in the process, we tend to lose our best time of enjoyment, sleep, money, friends, excitement, and among others. But everything is worth it, in the end. 

  • Do you think it is important to have realistic goals?

It does by any means or you end up disgruntled forever. Unrealistic goals put unnecessary pressure on people, and at times, it is unbearable and torture. It leaves scarred memories. That’s why it’s highly advised to set those goals which are in our boundaries. At the same time, the goal-setting must test our boundaries, otherwise, they cannot be termed as goals, too.

5. Describe a time when you missed an appointment.

  • When and where it happened
  • What the appointment was for
  • What happened when you missed it
  • And explain how you felt about the appointment
  • Oh, my dear! Sometimes missing an appointment could be as bad as missing an opportunity. It happens more often in our life, so there must be discipline to be punctual on appointments
  • I won’t go far back to refresh my memory about when I missed an appointment. In fact, it happened just last week
  • I have been preparing for the IELTS test for the last month. And I had a few doubts on my Writing Section, so I wanted Mr. Gambtoo to help me on my write-up
  • He doesn’t train these days, but somehow I convinced his secretary to arrange my appointment to help me with my Writing section
  • I was allotted 12 minutes for this appointment, and I arrived at his office slightly late by 5 minutes
  • We discussed on my queries exactly for 7 minutes, and then he let me go
  • I was first shocked at this punctuality and time management and sulked my face with disappointment because I wanted him to give me some more time, and it wasn’t enough
  • He replied, “You had your opportunity, and I’ve gotta an inventory of several jobs lined up. If I extend my time further for you, I may not justify other jobs”
  • I never thought that my procrastination (=delaying) could cost me so badly because I had to go with certain queries unanswered
  • And at the time of the exam, I struggled where I was weak, and hence I would never forget this incident in my life
  • Initially, I cursed him because 7 minutes of his time could have saved me, and I could have taken my IELTS test more confidently. I was really angry at him and shared my concern with my dad
  • My dad simply said this, “You procrastinated, so you are at fault not him. Why make a fuss on something for which you yourself are responsible”
  • Then after, I realized my mistake. Yes, it was my fault because he did try to help me but he can’t keep waiting for me only. I should have honored the appointment time, and I missed it big time

Follow-up questions:

  • Which events in your country do most people forget?

It depends upon the memory of the person. Most people forget birthdays and anniversaries of others. At times, due to this, the relationship gets impacted also. I can share with you my personal experience on this point. I forgot about the birthday of my girlfriend. And you know what? She broke up the relationship saying that I no longer loved her. So, sometimes this small thing could cost you heavily.

  • Do you think it is a good idea to use electronic devices for putting reminders?

Yes, it does help. We, humans, can forget things but not the technology. In fact, I personally believe that we must use technology as much as possible for everything because it brings you back to your destination if you’ve deviated. Technological assistance must be welcomed always.

  • Do you use them?

Yes, I use my iPhone appointment calendar, and at the workplace, we use Google calendar so that it keeps you reminding of appointments, and you miss none.

  • How memory can help you to learn a new skill?

I believe having a strong memory is an added skill itself. Most people ain’t blessed with a sharp memory, and it’s a natural process. You can’t master it by doing a course or by any other means.

With superior memory, a person can learn multiple skills. He could be good at studying, doing business, or dealing with people also.

  • How can modern technology help you keep good memories?

It doesn’t allow you to forget important events. For example, I don’t remember birthdays of anyone, but every morning, Facebook reminds me of birthdays of others. A simple little message on somebody’s achievements or on important events brings you closer to the relationship. It’s cool and caring, and that pays the dividend in the long term. I can give you an example of another remarkable technological boon. I have set a warning message for my car if it over speeds. The moment I cross the limit of 75 mph, a girl like Siri reminds me of my crazy act.

  • Is human memory important nowadays?

‘Yes’ and ‘No’ both. If it has to relate with your professional duties, there are several software and apps which keep you reminding of your pending jobs. So, in this case, average human memory can do. But apart from this, we meet people, and in business, sometimes we negotiate certain terms by flouting (=disregard, defy) our own set criteria, and we don’t write them down on some occasions. There strong human memory comes handy because you must remember what you’ve promised or ensured that somebody does not take advantage of yours if it’s not evidenced.

  • Can electronic devices such as smartphones replace human memory?

I don’t think so. We have created them, not they have created us. But, yes, they could be handy to our memory and life. They make things easier for us, and without them, it’s hard to think of life these days.

  • How often do you make appointments?

I guess, at least a couple of them in a day. But the worst part in my country is no matter how disciplined you are, people, at times, manage your time. Sometimes we have unwanted visitors and guests, and they visit us without making appointments. They don’t value the time of others, and it’s big torture that we go through almost every other day.

  • Is it important to be punctual in your country?

It is crucial in every country. However, in my country, it is a joke. Most people don’t think about others, but they think about their own conveniences only. In my country, when somebody says ‘5 minutes’, you should assume that he would do his job or return no sooner than 15 minutes for sure. It’s sad to say, but people in my country are not punctual. Exceptions are always there.

  • Is it easy to make an appointment in India?

It depends upon the person who (m) you want to meet. It comes down to how much he is busy.

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