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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 15: 9 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysThey offer me their tea, and when I've drunk it, they order an Indian to fetch some more. Their names are Saalem, Omarj and Achmed. In between not getting me lifts, they ask about England. Omarj is going to London in December. I nod grimly: 'So am I, I hope'. They find this very funny.

Omarj holds his crotch unselfconsciously and talks of Princess Diana who came here a year ago. All testify to her beauty.

By now there are hardly any cars coming through and none want to take us. Clem is still in the guard-house. We've been in Qatar for two and a half hours and moved fifty yards.

A truck-driver from England pulls into the dusty compound. He's taken eleven days to drive his 40-tonner overland from England. (The thought occurs to me that if I'd come with him I'd be four days ahead.) He's not happy to be here at all. He had to go into Doha, to have his cargo inspected by a 3 million pound British Aerospace machine, for which he has nothing but contempt. 'They stick this vacuum tube direct to the lift to sniff for spirits. Well I've got half a hundredweight of paintstripper aboard. It'll knock their bloody heads off!'
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 15
  • Date: 9 October
  • Country/sea: Saudi Arabia
  • Place: Abu Samra (Saudi/Qatar border)
  • Book page no: 60

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