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Himalaya

Day 34: Shimla

Shimla, India 
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On the same stage as Kipling and Baden Powell. Another Englishman hams it up at the lovely Gaiety Theatre.
Michael Palin - HimalayaI have been asked to give a short address before the play begins.

'What is your name again, please?' asks the young captain who's been asked to introduce me. 'Palin,...Palin.' He tries it out a few times before giving me an apologetic smile.

'I'm the entertainments officer. I do bingo, mainly.'

At 7.30 precisely he pushes aside the decaying velvet curtain, tells a few nervous jokes and then I hear my moment of glory approach.

'Ladies and Gentlemen, may I ask you to give a very warm welcome for our special celebrity guest, Mr Michael Plain!'

This sort of sets the tone for the evening. Despite the best efforts of Mrs Neelam Dewan, both as director and leading actress, some of the colonels and majors in the cast do have recollection problems, and I understand now why the two prompters are given such prominent mention in the programme and why, when they come on stage at the end, Mrs Punam Gupta and Mrs Vijaylaksmi Sood receive thunderous applause and garlands of flowers.

Afterwards we all repair to the Green Room and tell each other how wonderful we were and the Commanding Officer, Lt-General Singh, a Sikh in a handsome rose-pink turban insists that we return to his house for a drink. It's a short walk from the hotel and Roger is much impressed that the guards on the gate snap to attention and present arms as we enter. It's after midnight when we leave, and they totally ignore us.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 34: Shimla
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Shimla
  • Book page no: 77

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