Have you seen the Taj?

March 14, 2007

When you’re in India, that’s one of the first things that everyone asks you. Itindia-441.jpg made me feel a bit self-conscious at first, and a kind of like a big, giant tourist. I probably rolled my eyes a bit and feigned a touch of indifference, like, “Yeah. I know I’ll get there, cuz I have to check it off the list, but in the meantime I want to live like a local, go where they go, eat what they eat, do what they do.” (All the while, I was dutifully planning a day trip for when Damon arrived.)

indiadamon-137.jpgWe left Delhi at 4am in hopes of enjoying the sunrise over the tomb. We arrived a bit late to see the pink and orange tinged marble resolve to white, but no matter. The Taj really couldn’t disappoint even if it wanted to. It’s flawless. And turns out, Indians can’t resist the lure of this obscenely beautiful place either — so we were either all tourists that day, or all Indians. Maybe a bit of both.

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  1. Thank you, Kara, for those pictures. My mother never travelled off this continent and wouldn’t fly at all, but when she was dying and I asked her what she would liked to have seen that she didn’t, to my astonishment she said, “The Taj Mahal”. Somehow, this makes me feel as if she has seen it now.

    My mother would have thought very highly of you (as do I, of course) for what you have done the past month and what you do on an ongoing basis. She epitomised the true meaning of being a Christian without preaching or being holier than thou and she was probably the strongest woman I know. Think that may be why I like Joss’s work so much? 😉

  2. They were talking at one stage of limiting visitors because the Taj Mahal was being “loved” to death by all the millions of visitors and also because the pollution seemed to be affecting it. Is any of that still an issue?

    I remember seeing it as a child but we went on a day when there was an absolutely choking haze across it (and indeed across the whole city) so I mainly remember walking around coughing and eyes running!

  3. Speaking of eyes running… Gayle, I don’t think there’s a greater compliment than the one you just gave. Wow. From all I’ve heard, your mother sounds like an extraordinary woman and she raised a hell of an amazing daughter. Thank you for your story, and I hope she’s enjoying the photos. (Though I’m sure she’s been to the Taj a couple of times by now. 🙂 )

    And re: the pollution, catalyst2 — I had always heard the same, and yet I found the place spotless, unbelievably maintained, and without daily limits. Shoes are no longer allowed and you may not walk on the grass, but surprisingly, there are no prohibitions about running your hands over the marble. Perhaps they’re able to do more with the sharply increased fees. I costs foreigners 750 rupees to enter — nearly $20. Worth it, of course, but by Indian standards, it’s wholly obscene. For context, that could buy a lovely, over-indulgent dinner for ten people at an upscale Indian restaurant.

    We had prepared ourselves for the pollution, too, but it just didn’t materialize. It was a gorgeous, clear, cool morning. One thing I’ve noticed throughout India was that city buses, certain taxis, cars and motorbikes were plastered proudly with a “Propelled by Clean Fuel” banner. It seems they’re making strides in some critical areas where the U.S. still stumbles. I imagine as the temperatures climb the situation changes a bit, but my sense is that things are looking up.

    As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read this and share your thoughts with me. It has doubled the joy in this journey.

  4. Your pictures caused me to dig back into some buried memories from my “other life”(before marriage, kids, mortgage, etc.). I first discovered the Taj as a 22 year old student in March, 1969.We stayed nearby so we could experience the masterpiece at all times of day and night…pink light, white light,twilight.But the experience I remember most of all was returning that evening- there was a man silhouetted against the purple sunset playing a haunting flute-like instrument…the breeze was so gentle…a small bird came to rest on his flute. I’ll never forget that moment. Thank you for helping me to remember after almost 40 years.

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