Verne writes about the land that Fogg and Passepartout have arrived to - India. Verne explains that British India, properly so called, only embraces seven hundred thousand square miles. He writes in the present tense that a considerable portion of India is still free from British authority; and there are certain ferocious rajahs in the interior that are absolutely independent.
Verne goes on to write how the means of transportation within the Indian subcontinent have changed and become more modern and reliable. Formerly one was obliged to travel in India by the old cumbrous methods of going on foot or on horseback, in palanquins or unwieldy coaches; now fast steamboats ply on the Indus and the Ganges, and a great railway, with branch lines joining the main line at many points on its route, traverses the peninsula from Bombay to Calcutta in three days. The passengers of the Mongolia went ashore at half past four p.m.; at exactly eight the train would start for Calcutta.
Mr. Fogg bid goodbye to his whist partners, left the steamer, gave his servant several errands to do and himself went to the passport office. Having transacted his business at the passport office, Phileas Fogg repaired quietly to the railway station, where he ordered dinner. After which Mr. Fogg quietly continued his dinner. Fix too had gone on shore shortly after Mr. Fogg, and his first destination was the headquarters of the Bombay police. He found that the passport had not reached the office. Fix was disappointed, and tried to obtain an order of arrest from the director of the Bombay police but was refused as the matter concerned the London office. Fix decided then to keep Fogg in sight and he was sure that the latter would remain in Bombay only. Passepartout however, had no sooner heard his master’s orders on leaving the Mongolia than he saw at once that they were to leave Bombay as they had done Suez and Paris, and that the journey would be extended at least as far as Calcutta, and perhaps beyond that place.
Passepartout went around the city. It happened to be the day of a Parsee festival. He watched the ceremonies with staring eyes and gaping mouth. His curiosity drew him farther off than he intended to go. He espied the splendid pagoda on Malabar Hill. He was ignorant that it is forbidden for Christians to enter certain Indian temples, and that even the faithful must not go in without taking off their shoes. The wise policy of the British Government severely punishes a disregard of the practices of the native religions.
Passepartout, however, went in like a simple tourist, and was soon lost in admiration of the splendid Brahmin ornamentation, which everywhere met his eyes. He suddenly found himself sprawling on the sacred flagging. He looked up to behold three enraged priests, who tore off his shoes, and began to beat him with savage exclamations. Somehow, he managed to escape. Five minutes before eight, Passepartout, hatless, shoeless, rushed breathlessly into the station.
Fix by then had seen that Mr. Fogg was really going to leave Bombay. He had resolved to follow the supposed robber to Calcutta, and further, if necessary. Passepartout did not observe the detective, but Fix heard him relate his adventures to Mr. Fogg. Fix was on the point of entering another carriage, when an idea struck him, which induced him to alter his plan. "No, I’ll stay," he muttered. "An offence has been committed on Indian soil. I’ve got my man.’’ Just then the locomotive started and the train passed out into the dark night.
Verne must have had a good knowledge of the Indian country. He writes - " Everybody knows that the great reversed triangle of land, with its base in the north and its apex in the south, which is called India, embraces fourteen hundred thousand square miles, upon which is spread unequally a population of one hundred and eighty millions of souls. The British Crown exercises a real and despotic dominion over the larger portion of this vast country, and has a governor general stationed at Calcutta, governors at Madras, Bombay, and in Bengal, and a lieutenant governor at Agra."
Verne relates the history of the British rule in India. The recounting of the antecedents of a place serves to make a credible narrative. Even though Fogg breezes through most places at a very fast pace, the author manages to present the essence of each country to us. It is all the more remarkable that Verne manages to do this is such few words. He writes - " The celebrated East India Company was all powerful from 1756, when the English first gained a foothold on the spot where now stands the city of Madras, down to the time of the great Sepoy insurrection. It gradually annexed province after province, purchasing them of the native chiefs, whom it seldom paid, and appointed the governor general and his subordinates, civil and military. But the East India Company has now passed away, leaving the British possessions in India directly under the control of the Crown. The aspect of the country, as well as the manners and distinctions of race, is daily changing."
The reader also gets a comprehensive picture of the route that Fogg will be taking while traversing the vast Indian sub continent. This railway does not run in a direct line across India. The distance between Bombay and Calcutta, as the bird flies, is only from one thousand to eleven hundred miles; but the deflections of the road increase this distance by more than a third. The general route of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway is as follows: leaving Bombay, it passes through Salcette, crossing to the continent opposite Tannah, goes over the chain of the Western Ghauts, runs thence northeast as far as Burhampoor, skirts the nearly independent territory of Bundelcund, ascends to Allahabad, turns thence eastwardly, meeting the Ganges at Benares, then departs from the river a little, and, descending southeastward by Burdivan and the French town of Chandernagor, has its terminus at Calcutta.
Fogg is a curious man - he is very brisk about his business of getting the right ship and train so that he may complete his journey in the stipulated time. But, as far as enjoying a particular place is concerned, he is completely indifferent. As for the wonders of Bombay its famous city hall, its splendid library, its forts and docks, its bazaars, mosques, synagogues, its Armenian churches, and the noble pagoda on Malabar Hill, with its two polygonal towers he cared not a straw to see them. He would not deign to examine even the masterpieces of Elephanta, or the mysterious hypogea, concealed southeast from the docks, or those fine remains of Buddhist architecture, the Kanherian grottoes of the island of Salcette.
Fogg is not a man any one can easily fool, as we see in the following comic episode - Among the dishes served up to him at the railway station, the landlord especially recommended a certain giblet of "native rabbit," on which he prided himself. Mr. Fogg accordingly tasted the dish, but despite its spiced sauce, found it far from palatable. He rang for the landlord, and, on his appearance, said, fixing his clear eyes upon him, "Is this rabbit, sir?" "Yes, my lord," the rogue boldly replied, "rabbit from the jungles." "And this rabbit did not mew when he was killed?" "Mew, my lord! What, a rabbit mew! I swear to you--" "Be so good, landlord, as not to swear, but remember this: cats were formerly considered, in India, as sacred animals. That was a good time.’ ‘For the cats, my lord?" "Perhaps for the travelers as well!"
As for Fix, he went to the authorities in Bombay and made himself known as a London detective, told his business at Bombay, and the position of affairs relative to the supposed robber, and nervously asked if a warrant had arrived from London. The reader heaves a sigh of relief to know that the warrant has not arrived. Fix of course is most frustrated. Fix did not insist on getting permission to retain Fogg when he saw that it was not forthcoming. He resigned himself to await the arrival of the important document; but he was determined not to lose sight of the mysterious rogue as long as he stayed in Bombay. He did not doubt for a moment, any more than Passepartout, that Phileas Fogg would remain there, at least until it was time for the warrant to arrive. In the meanwhile, Passerpartout realizes that his master is not going to be stopping at Bombay. He began to ask himself if this bet that Mr. Fogg talked about was not really in good earnest, and whether his fate was not in truth forcing him, despite his love of repose, around the world in eighty days!
Having purchased the usual quota of shirts and shoes, the valet took a leisurely promenade about the streets, where crowds of people of many nationalities Europeans, Persians with pointed caps, Banyas with round turbans, Sindes with square bonnets, Parsees with black mitres, and long-robed Armenians were collected. On that day was a Parsee festival. These descendants of the sect of Zoroaster the most thrifty, civilized, intelligent, and austere of the East Indians, among whom are counted the richest native merchants of Bombay were celebrating a sort of religious carnival, with processions and shows, in the midst of which Indian dancing girls, clothed in rose colored gauze, looped up with gold and silver, danced airily, but with perfect modesty, to the sound of viols and the clanging of tambourines.
Passepartout does not realize that he is committing a grave crime when he enters a holy temple with his shoes on. The priests, for upsetting the sanctity of the praying place, attack him. But, the agile Frenchman was soon upon his feet again, and lost no time in knocking down two of his long-gowned adversaries with his fists and a vigorous application of his toes. He then, rushed out of the pagoda as fast as his legs could carry him, and escaped the third priest by mingling with the crowd in the streets. When he manages to reach his master at the station just in time for the train to leave and tells him what had transpired, all that Fogg says coldly is - "I hope that this will not happen again". Poor Passepartout, quite crestfallen, followed his master without a word.
Fix had been planning to follow Fogg to Calcutta but at the last moment he changes his mind and does not. Another plan is brewing in his head but we will learn of it only later. For now, Fogg and Passepartout are seated in a train that speeds it’s way to Calcutta.
Staff, TheBestNotes. "TheBestNotes on Around the World in Eighty Days".
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