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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 33: 27 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysBreakfast is at 7.30. We are served it in the officers' mess (there is strict dining and accommodation segregation between officers and crew) beneath a photo of Marshal Tito, which emphasises his spectacles so strikingly that he looks like an optician's model. The various officers come in at various times and the food, cooked by Nino, is served by Szemy. The crew divide neatly into physical types. Either they're tall, blond and cleanshaven or short, dark and bearded. The short, dark and bearded ones are the most jolly and whereas Nino has a twinkle in his eye, and has indicated that I can come into the galley for a snack at any time, Szemy (best pronounced like the Glaswegian 'Jimmee') seems not altogether pleased about our presence. Breakfast consists of two fried eggs on a bed of greasy luncheon meat (which I wolf down), thick slices of Nino's home-baked white bread with butter and jam, washed down with strong Turkish coffee.

It's hard to conceive of what sort of life it must be for Yugoslavs ferrying goods they hardly ever see between three Asian cities they know nothing about, and two of which - Calcutta and Madras - they clearly dislike. This fifteen-day round trip will be their lot until May next year. The young radio officer has already had enough and will be transferred back home in January.

The Susak is, at 4000 tonnes, classed as a feeder ship, distributing containers, off-loaded from the big carriers, to secondary ports. It has a capacity of 330 containers and is carrying about 300 at present. Many of them seem to contain onions, and to prevent them rotting these have their doors kept open during the voyage, so a gentle shallotty aroma accompanies any walk on deck. The captain claims to have a computer print-out of all the contents of the containers, but is vague as to what their cargo might be.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 33
  • Date: 27 October
  • Country/sea: Indian Ocean
  • Place: Bay of Bengal
  • Book page no: 113

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