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In their passage, perfumes of travel are spread in the land of kings, of maharajas of yesteryear. These Rajasthan gypsies, nomads wearing turbans, travel from golden silhouette to golden silhouette, mirages of fortified architecture, buildings on the burning lands of an India which is sung in Qawwali.


In search of the riches that only the desert promises, of the beauties hidden on the faces of the veiled women of Udaipur, of the mystical book in Marathi on sensual and carnal pleasures, and of timeless relics, these researchers travel from the north of Jaisalmer to Agra. By passing through Pushkar, they fulfill their destiny, their personal legends as the other would have said.

And after one night and then a thousand others, from Jaipur to Jodhpur, sailing in the shadow of cities with blue walls, these travellers with burnt skin tell their stories to passers-by. These are recited like poetry, like a zindagi sung in Urdu, like a Rabindranath tale played on a sitar, whose notes fly away in the evening wind like an incense smoke.


I listened, and intoxicated by their words of alamkara-sastra, I wanted to follow their paths, to follow these scattered perfumes. I wanted to feel like Burton looking at colorful elephants, enturbednized servants, palaces decorated with hunting trophies and yellowed photos of hunted tigers we killed. I wanted to see these sandy steppes up to a flat horizon, to cross fallen caravan cities, decorated havelis, homes of spice merchants, dates, opiums and indigo.


I will go and seize my chance, the chance to taste these prodigious beauties, and lurking in an oasis on the edge of the world, I will disappear without a trace, without a cenotaph. In the midst of a few Brahmins and thirsty old zebus, Ravi Shankar at the sitar, will play my departure and Kipling will write that I knew how to see the sun rise on an unknown land, and I knew that it was enough to go ahead and take possession of it.