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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 26: 20 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysThe key to India's remarkable success as the world's largest democracy, is, he says, tolerance. There are sixteen different religions in India and all respect each other. There are, on one Indian banknote, fourteen different languages, all of which are protected.

On my way back to the hotel I find the road blocked by chanting crowds who are milling around slow-moving trucks carrying effigies of the goddess Kali and making a lot of noise; banging cymbals, dancing and singing. They have crimson powder all over them and the Indian photographer who is with me says that their wild stares are probably the result of a certain amount of ganja. 'Join in!' he urges, and leaving me to be swept along towards the Gate of India he rushes off to get some shots. I don't know what's happening, except that I'm the only white man there and I'm being carried along in the crush toward the great arch and the sea. At about the spot where I landed yesterday they begin to submerge their goddesses, tossing in garlands, offerings in small clay pots and, very often, themselves. Some of the more intense disappear beneath the muddy waters for a minute or more, to reappear jubilantly soaked. There is an edge of hysteria which I'm glad to escape from unscathed.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 26
  • Date: 20 October
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Bombay
  • Book page no: 92

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