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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 20: 14 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysA fish bites and we all rush to the stern, where for a moment a gedri of Moby Dick-ish proportions breaks the surface and skids and spatters along the water allowing us just enough of its time to create tremendous excitement before flicking off the line almost disdainfully and returning to the depths.

With breakfast before seven and very little to do for the next twelve hours, time passes slowly. I finish Stanley and His Women and wade into a thick Spanish novel called Fortunata and Jacinta. But mostly I sleep. The sun becomes so strong that most parts of the boat are too hot to stand on, and simply moving around is highly energy-consuming. There are regular false fish alarms. At these times the Al Shama resembles a Second World War aerodrome, with combatants suddenly scrambling into action, only to reach the stern, bearing cameras and tape recorders, to find that yet another has got away.

After yesterday's dose of Springsteen on the Walkman, today I offer the crew Oistrakh's Brahms Violin Concerto. Anwar listens for quite a while before pronouncing it, 'Great disco!'. Anwar tries a little bit more English on me each day. He's learnt it at school. Hassan his colleague knows only two words, 'Mi-kel' and 'Jack-son'. Whenever he sees me he grins manically and shouts, 'Mi-kel! Mi-kel Jack-son!'.

I, in turn, press on with my Gujarati. I'm pretty handy with 'Thank you' (mehrbani), 'Good morning' (salaam aligam) and today, after a very good lunch, I embarked on 'Congratulations' (Mubarakhi) and the less problematical Thik-Thak ('Hey man! Everything's OK').
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 20
  • Date: 14 October
  • Country/sea: Persian Gulf
  • Place: Gulf of Oman
  • Book page no: 76

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