October 25, 2007

Taj Again

I remember the first time I went to Agra. It was in 1997. I had just finished some work with a foreign crew and they wanted to see the Taj. Many of them were surprised when they learnt that in spite of living just 250 kms from Taj, I’d never seen the man made marvel.

I never thought highly of the Taj. What was the big deal about some freakin’ Emperor making some freakin’ mausoleum for his wife? Were we supposed to feel good about it? Even as I took the final steps towards the door behind which rested what is now called ‘Man’s greatest erection’ on Tantra T-Shirts, I never thought my opinion would change. But I was wrong. Once I cross the threshold of the compound and enter the area in between and as I caught a glimpse of the wonder in white marble, my almost inaudible sigh said it all. It is one of the few moments that I’d remember for all my life. It was exhilarating. I saw people around me feeling the same way. I couldn’t get over the sheer beauty of it.

I have heard people say that it’s nothing so great but trust me on this one the Taj is definitely a marvel. Even now when I go to the Taj I end up feeling the same rush and am left speechless as my eye catches the first hint of the Taj. This time around I went with someone who wasn’t from India so it was nice to hit the refresh button on my Taj factoids.

I ended up looking at the Taj from a new perspective and the company was largely responsible for it. Looking at S clicking more pictures of people gawking at the Taj than the monument itself; watching A laugh at people doing strange things while posing for the rudimentary postcard shots in front of the tombstone; watching people come to Taj as if it were Sarojini Nagar, this time around it was definitely different. The last time I went to Agra I didn’t go to see the Taj. You don’t want to know why!

For someone like me who gloats about almost every thing I know, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Taj Museum. A was instrumental in my maiden visit to the Museum and what a let down the place turned out to be. For starters there is not enough light to view things on display and maybe that’s done on purpose for it’d be better to miss the things the government has put on display. In the name of the glorious past there are a few miniatures and nothing else. There are a few coins, a few swords and that’s just about it. What caught my fancy was a huge floor plan of the Taj Mahal and I couldn’t even see it properly. The staff on duty is least interested in anything and I don’t really blame them. Perhaps the people behind the excuse of a museum can come up with some nice knick-knacks that people could pick up from the museum. A poster of the original blueprint of the Taj would look fantastic in my room!

A just got back from Paris and she was lamenting about the pitiful state the places that display our heritage are in. She exclaimed that in Europe they package just about anything older than the Queen and make good with it but even though we have the Taj, we aren’t really doing anything great. S wanted to pick up some souvenirs from the Taj and I assured her that the photos she clicked were her best bet. I couldn’t help but think that the British did the right thing in looting a couple of things from us; at least they are taking care of it!

1 Responses to “Taj Again”

  • We still fondly remember our visit together - You make a Great tour guide - you should have asked Chokhi Dani to pay you as we must have sent at least 100 People (Last one a tour group from Bangalore)there since you took us there. TIVI
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