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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 57: 20 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysWake, very hot. Something is wrong. The air-conditioning seems to be sucking in moist, humid air, and the engine note has changed. Pull the flimsy curtain back from the porthole. The long causeway of containers - six high and thirteen across - stretches ahead, but there is no sign of the surging white wake from the bows. In fact, we've almost stopped. The chief engineer, raised at dawn from another sleepless night, is not a happy man. Captain Amirapu tries to keep cheerful. Precious time drifts away.

Mid-morning. The engines are up to power again. A feeder pipe had sheared off and we've lost three or four hours.

Run early today as the weather service has forecast another storm, marked this time on the fax with an S.W. (Storm Warning), a notch up on yesterday's G.W. (Gale Warning). Once again it's from the south-west, and once again it's expected about the time Mike's Bar opens for the evening session.

At five o'clock, I take a walk on deck and can see the edge of the approaching storm, spread diagonally across the southern sky like a huge grey wing, sheltering beneath it a mass of mist and rain which will soon overhaul us.

Even in this solid great ship it's easy to feel vulnerable, as the wind brings in the storm, and the pots and pans are battened down in the galley. At a somewhat shaky dinner I talk to the chief engineer about Benazir Bhutto's election - news of which I picked up on my short-wave radio earlier. He is not happy. She is an untried politician, voted in on a wave of sympathy for her father's death. Sounds as though people supported Zia in Pakistan for the same reason many support Thatcher in Britain. He may not have been personally popular but he was tough, forever standing up to people. Not those with money however. Zia was a good businessman and the chief engineer fears that Bhutto, elected by a popular rather than establishment vote, will squander a carefully built up international reputation.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 57
  • Date: 20 November
  • Country/sea: Pacific Ocean
  • Place: Pacific Ocean
  • Book page no: 187

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