The other day, after avoiding several NGO survey takers, as I was walking down Carretas street, I identified something that wasn’t unnoticed by my nostril. It was a familiar scent that reminded me of a post from Manual de un buen vividor’s blog, where he tells that an exact point of Metro Gran Vía, specifically a tile, transported him to an old London Tube Station.
It was only when I was about to get into the store that I had to stop for a moment and check if I had suddenly materialized elsewhere as if by magic. In that part of the street, between a small portal and a shoeshop on sales, it did not smell of Madrid.
It smelled of Camden Town.
It smelled of curry, of freshly made pizza. I suddenly saw myself among Chinese food stalls, with their owners hardly talking Spanish and offering me some rice with chicken with doubtful aspect — Let’s see who rejects it after a few drinks. I saw myself among Mexican cuisine, Italian and Turkish food, kebabs and other exotic foods. I saw myself walking down Camden Market’s wet stone floor, getting lost in its rambling corridors and finding myself among souvenir stalls and vintage clothes. In the environment, a mixture of incense, leather and humidity enveloped every corner of what were once stables. Conversations in English, Italian and French merged with a group of disoriented Spaniards getting out from Cyberdog, with its techno music blaring, while Latin rhythms sounded from The Cuban.
And in the blink of an eye, I suddenly returned to Madrid. I was in Carretas Street, between the portal and the shoeshop. And when I got into the store to look for a pair of boots, I thought that, as that special scent transported me to Camden Town, it might transported that man who was crossing the street to Lisbon or Paris or India.
Because there are scents that make you travel.
Even with the mind.