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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 30: 24 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysMeet two southern Indians who are staying at the hotel but working abroad, one as a bookie in South Africa, a country he thinks most highly of, and another in Singapore.

'What's so good about Singapore?' I ask him, a little peevishly.

'They work hard. Nobody cheats.' And he proceeds to warn me against the greed and duplicity of his fellow Indians.

The day passes most agreeably, reading, sleeping and generally behaving more like Fogg.

I attempt some sight-seeing later on, but don't get very far. It's Mohammed's birthday and already hellish traffic conditions are augmented by processions and truck loads of flag-waving Moslems driving about, horns blaring. Retreat back to the hotel to find a crowd outside in the street, peering over the wall. A feature film is being shot in the hotel grounds by an outfit called Prasad Art Pictures. It doesn't look like an art picture. The leading actor is on the chunky side and dressed very early seventies in a black shirt with collar turned up and white pants stretched tight across his bottom, flaring to white leather boots with Cuban heels. He's obviously a big favourite with the crowd and a ripple of excitement goes through them when he occasionally glances over towards the wall and waves. When he's not looking a security man sprints across to the spectators and whacks them viciously with a stick. The star casts his eye cursorily over a script held up in front of him by a minion, whilst another pats periodically at his perspiring face. His female co-star wears almost as much make-up as he does. She too is on the stout side, but an undeniably good-looking lady. Their hands remain entwined after the take.

Whereas many hotels have taken to providing the freshly toothwashed guest with a nice little chocky on the pillow, the Connemara provides instead a small but intriguing package with the words 'For Your Comfort'. Inside are two cotton buds and a nail file. The nail file is a bit chewy, but the cotton buds are delicious.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 30
  • Date: 24 October
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Madras
  • Book page no: 105

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