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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 28: 22 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysThe suburbs of Bombay slip by, presenting a Caribbean or West African aspect, with a cover of bamboo and palm trees amongst which are tethered cows and goats on small scrubby patches of land beside stained concrete shacks. These give way to battered shanty housing of great ugliness in the midst of which are people walking hand in hand, talking, smiling, sharing loads and generally behaving most cheerfully.

The train is progressing comfortably but unspectacularly, at 50 or 60 miles an hour. The lines are busy, with much more freight being moved than in Britain. Our meals are ordered ahead, so we have to decide on tonight's supper at 4.30 and tomorrow's breakfast about an hour later. Details are phoned through to the relevant stations, so if the train is late so is supper and breakfast.

My compartment is First-Class non-air conditioned. First-Class air-conditioned are apparently very cold and have windows tinted so thickly that you can hardly see out. There is a 'Western-Style Latrine' at one end of the carriage which has a sit-down lavatory and a push-button water dispenser that fires straight over the basin and into the trousers. As we begin an eye-catching climb out of the humid, tropical plain into the cool red hills of the Western Ghats, I'm allowed to ride in the cab. The locomotive, a diesel-electric, was made in Newton-le-Willows thirty-one years ago. Though it would have been long retired in England, it heaves and shudders powerfully up the gradients and through the tunnels. Sweeping views of softly sunlit, wooded slopes below.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 28
  • Date: 22 October
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Bombay
  • Book page no: 100

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