Richard Tanélian, my old friend from the 70s, found me via the internet, after 40 years of separate destinies. He brings me back the photos of my trip to India that I thought I had lost.
Here they are, they tell that in 1966, I crossed Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, which has become difficult to do these days.
I had already trained in ’64 with a Paris-Oslo-Paris hitchhiking and crossed the States in ’65 with two buddies in a Cadillac “city coupé de Ville ” (by ’65, the dashboard froze with the air conditioning in Texas). A debt collection company after seizing the Cadillac from its owner, a black singer in embarrassment, paid us the gas for the trip if we drove the car from New York to Los Angeles. Hence the free ride. We had a good time with an R’N’B band in Malibu right after the race riots. To get back to NewYork via Salt Lake city and Chicago, a French woman declares her Greyhound card stolen and I take advantage of the new card. Hence free return.
I go dancing in Harlem at the Big Ben Small Paradise with two white French women and we are applauded by an attablée of blacks (we were the only white people in the room). On the other hand, in another club, leaning against the bar, I get thrown out by a big guy with bad vibes from the other big guys around us.

In 1966, I’m 21 years old. I drive my Simca 1000 from Granville (Channel) to Lahore (Pakistan) and back. 4 months on the road. With a car that doesn’t live well on corrugated iron tracks (you have to drive at 90 to avoid feeling Parkinson’s disease). Sleeping alone on the steering wheel in the primitive black night, deep in the mountains of the tribal areas of Beluchistan where we meet armed mountain people… ” salam alekoum ” that I tell them when I go out with my unloaded antique stone gun, which I will bring back home as a souvenir. The Turkish truck that smashes my windshield with a stone throw (in Asia, a truck used to take the whole road). The horse that stars again the windscreen of its hoof when leaving Lahore. The Simca with the broken direction in the mountains of Iran not far from Isfahan: when I turn left, it turns right. Dozens of punctures to repair the inner tube, patch it and pump it like a lunatic. Waiting to be rescued in the middle of nowhere in a stone desert in Iran. Waiting two days for a truck to come by and help me restart the car. Christmas night alone without eating in the Simca in Baghdad after passing by the French Consulate where the ambassador, his wife and children open the big boxes of food coming from France by diplomatic mail while decorating a huge multicoloured tree. The ambassador will royally offer me a pack of Players Navycut cigarettes.


af 7

On arrival in Afghanistan, in the evening in Herat, I ask for a local dish in an inn, I am served a weird mashed potatoes. At the end of the dish, I’m total stoned , there was probably pot in it. When the Afghans saw that I was ripe, they take me in the backyard to smoke the hookah, 2 grams per puff per guy, first organic acid trip. The water carrier by day is the musician by night. He unwinds hypnosis with his rabab, the songs, the dances of the men, the local notable who comes to see the Westerner. Never any women visible at night. We see them by day but they are behind their blue fences.


Fevers at Elephanta off the coast of Bombay, in the island of the Hindu temple dug into the rock from top to bottom. The hallucinations that last, the snakes, the mosquitoes, I’m delirious.

One day friends along the road, we kiss each other and we swear to each other that we will write and forget each other but we still think about it 50 years later.

In Beluchistan, near Nouchki, a village of mud houses and dusty streets, a shepherd plays on a double flute sophisticated melodies on a continuous drone: how is it possible that in this asshole a deep Asia , a sheepherd practices continuous breathing and plays so beautifully far away from everyone?

On the way back, on arriving at the German border, the brick-red customs officer, dressed in bursting green, orders me to change my smooth tires, otherwise he confiscates my car. The discussion degenerates and as I have some forbidden objects in the tires on the gallery, I do it. And here I am with two new tires for the final run. I arrive in Paris after 26 hours of driving, the Simca is driving at 50 per hour, I get lost in the city and I can’t find my way back to my apartment on rue Sorbier where my Pénélope is waiting for me.

Back to Paris! My fiancée, my friends ! For a month, I walk on water. I got a halo, I saw, I conquered, I came back. Everybody’s celebrating the globetrotter who brought back Mazar Sharif, I’m playing s with great musicians and famous people. With my girlfriend, it’s the good life, we’re handsome, we’re young, we love each other and we are loved by others.

And then little by little, the city walls are getting higher and higher me, everyday life eats and chew me and I become one more city man running after having been free under a huge sky on the endless road.