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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 28: 22 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysI notice that though every window on the train, even the small, thick side-windows of the engine, is barred, the track ahead is completely unfenced and clearly used as a public highway. Apparently oblivious to the oncoming presence of a 17-coach intercontinental express, a group of twenty, mostly women, are picnicking between the rails at Karjat Station. Goats graze suicidally on the track until we're almost on top of them, cows amble across the line and even in the middle of a tunnel our headlight picks up a man in a white dhoti coming towards us carrying his shopping.

As the engine works harder and the air swirling into the cab becomes fresher and cooler I think of my father taking this train sixty years ago, for he visited the regatta at Poona when he worked in India as an engineer. A silver mug celebrating his part in a coxless fours' victory and inscribed 'Royal Connaught Boat Club, Poona 1929' stood on our mantelpiece throughout my childhood, and, now as daylight fades, I find myself crossing the river where it was won. But Poona is now spelt Pune and it's an awful anti-climax, grey and industrial and no sign of flanelled fools.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

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

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