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Around the World in 80 Days Revisited

Mandvi, Kutch 20 October 2008

The Maharao of Kutch 
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Enjoying a joke with the Maharao, Mandvi, Kutch
Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 Days RevisitedThis morning we prepare for the climax of our trip, the reunion with Captain Suleyman. Digant Joshi mentioned Salaiya, which turns out to be the district across the river from the main town. So clogged is the estuary that the sea channel at low tide can be waded across, as some do, walking beside, and almost as fast as, the leisurely punted ferry. As I disembark I notice the green flag of Islam fluttering above a cemetery, reminding me that the Captain and his crew were all Indian Muslims.

Digant was right. Everyone I speak to knows Hassan Suleyman. Indeed most of them seem to be related to him. But when I find his house its location is almost too good to be true. Outside the front door, between the house and the sea, looms a huge, half-constructed dhow.

This is the moment of truth. The Captain knows I'm in town but doesn't know exactly when I'm coming to see him, and the moment when we meet can only be filmed once. Even at this late stage I have misgivings. What if it's the wrong Captain Suleyman? It's a common enough name. And if it isn't, how much will he really want to see me again?

A cat lies stretched across one of the three front-door steps, oblivious to the moment. I'm suddenly aware of how very hot it is. Then Nigel runs the camera and I step up to a pair of white wooden doors, decorated with an abstract shell-like pattern, and knock.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days Revisited
  • Chapter: Mandvi, Kutch 20 October 2008
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Mandvi
  • Book page no: 238

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