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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 25: 19 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysWake to the sound of crackling cooking oil. Ali Mamoun is making puris (deep fried fluffy pancakes) as a farewell meal. My stomach has now recovered sufficiently to make me feel hungry for the first time in 48 hours, but there's precious little time to eat. The captain shouts and points into the teeth of a welcome easterly wind.

'Bombay!'

The engines, which have been idle most of the night, are re-started. Anwar is very excited. 'Indies . . . Indies!' he keeps shouting to me.

The grey mist is lifting and revealing a long tall unexpectedly modern skyline, which surprises me - I'd expected Bombay to be low-rise and cluttered. I can now make out my destination - the Gate of India, a triumphal arch erected for the visit of George V in 1910. But first we have to go on, southwards to the Hay Bunder, the dhow port, passing a lot of ill-kept and rusty-hulled freighters and the navy base containing the largest war ship I've seen so far, the 16,000-ton ex-British aircraft carrier Vikrant (née Hercules). At about ten o'clock we are opposite the port, but as the dhow cannot go alongside until customs and immigration have come aboard, the crew prepare to weigh anchor. This procedure, like raising the sail, involves all hands - old men and boys, side by side, releasing the anchor and lowering it into the murky water. Scavenging crows board the ship, followed by three well-built customs men in dark glasses.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 25
  • Date: 19 October
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Bombay
  • Book page no: 85

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