I first encountered the Indian Ocean on the shores of Makran. I thought I was at land's end, Asia's edge. The ocean hadn't entered my thoughts except as non plus ultra, an ending void. The map said Baluchistan, and I had come to find the Baluch. But I soon found Africans and Zikris, palm-frond huts and Omani passports, old soldiers (or mercenaries) from an overseas foreign legion and smugglers of whiskey, opium, and pharmaceuticals. Now China has built a port there; then, less than twenty years ago, they were still making dhows, subtle smuggling ships. Yet it was far from romantic. It was a rough and hard place where traders and fishers eked a marginal existence from the watery edge of a dust-powder desert. Karachi was thirty-six hours by bus then truck. But Pakistan was an abstract and suspect idea; locals talked more of Muscat. A year or two later, in the Tihama of Yemen, I watched as boatloads of Africans (refugees? job hunters? all men at any rate) ran ashore through the surf. My Arab colleagues, all from the highlands, said they arrived every day, and spoke ill of them. A while after that, in Muscat, I listened with curiosity to Arabic laced with Urdu (or was it Hindi, or Gujarati? They were just nouns, Wanderwörter: terms that travel). In Iran, it was different sounds of the ocean I heard when urban friends gave me tapes of bandarī, the music of the ports.