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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 31: 25 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysExtraordinarily good English Sunday lunch at Roger's beautiful house on the Suffolk coast. Even as I scrape away at a meagre slice of paw-paw it's hard to believe it was another of my British Tourist Authority dreams. I've described the house to Roger and he's promised to get one like it as soon as possible. He's a pale shadow of himself this morning, having sweated through a day and night's fever, but at least he's up and about and we all go off together to film the news as it happens in two shipping offices.

It's nine o'clock when we leave the hotel and Madras is already, like its curry, hot and lively. The big film on the hoardings is Grunt - The Wrestling Movie. We pass the oldest Christian church east of Suez, St Mary's. It was built in 1680 and designed by a British gunner, who built the walls 4 feet thick and the roof a foot deep. Then we swoop down into a four-lane underpass which is being swept with a single straw brush by a lady in a green sari.

The office of the agents for the Bengal Tiger Shipping Company, Babuji Jetsea Freights, is located on the corner of Ebrahamji Street, where the countryside has come into the city. Wandering goats pick up what they can from broken sidewalks and sleeping dogs and naked children sit about. When we arrive Vikram, a young, personable Tamil who is in charge of our case, is talking to Lloyds of London to try and effect some insurance deal for us on the Yugoslav freighter the Susak. He fails. Our only hope now is a plan of Clem's which involves substituting myself, the cameraman and sound man for members of their crew who would be flown to Singapore at the BBC's expense. Vikram promises to put this to the owners.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 31
  • Date: 25 October
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Madras
  • Book page no: 107

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