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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 18: 12 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysIn the middle of the afternoon Osman, with a shy, schoolboy smile which belies his bulk, brings us, not just tea, but a selection of Huntley and Palmers assorted biscuits which would not have disgraced a Knightsbridge soirée. We are nibbling at the corner of a Garibaldi when there is a shout and everyone rushes to the stern. Momentary anxiety that Ron may have fallen through the toilet is dispelled when it turns out they've caught a fish on one of the trailing lines. It's a gedri, which we think is probably tuna. The indefatigable Ali Mamoun has it cooked and served for us by sundown, with lentils and chapatis.

Afterwards, having ascertained that the captain will not be offended as the crew are Moslems and take no alcohol, we're enjoying a nightcap of gin and tonic or in my case a glass of Glenmorangie malt whisky when the engine cuts out. The captain and the engineer disappear down below. There are sounds of protest, indignation and recrimination from the engine room. Deyji Ramji lights two incense sticks and waves them before the flag, and Kasim and Sali Mamoun, a short powerfully built older man with a peaceful face, are praying in the bows. Suddenly, I feel a little vulnerable. It's getting dark, there's no wind to fill a sail, there's no radio or radar on board and we're drifting slowly toward the Straits of Hormuz.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 18
  • Date: 12 October
  • Country/sea: Persian Gulf
  • Place: Persian Gulf
  • Book page no: 69

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