27 March 2008

Wow wow wow part 2

My initial reaction seemed to need a post of its own, so as to convey the acuteness of the feeling. It isn't often anymore that I have an awe-gasm when I see something supposedly "amazing." I had one when I saw the Potala Palace in Lhasa. Choquequirao, Peru qualified. I think I had two at Yosemite. And today I had one when first I saw the Taj, which we've all seen a million times, and those million times prepare you for the real thing NOT AT ALL.

I think it's appropriate that many tourists have their photo taken with their arm raised and fingers pinched above the Taj, so they will appear to be dangling it like an ornament. It *is* an ornament! But is it really an ornament of love? Mumtaz was dead, Mr. Jahan, and it could only have served your own ego to build such a thing, and it is only poetic justice that you were imprisoned at the end of your life, only able to gaze at it from afar (and not do much else). What I realized when being blinded by this miracle of marble--honestly, I couldn't look straight at it--was that it might be India's last great monument. Wasn't it built at the zenith of Mughal civilization, the last great Indian suzerainty? Didn't the Mughal empire start to fall apart shortly thereafter, only to be conquered by the British, who stuck arguably fetching statues of Victoria everywhere? Doesn't it always happen this way?

But forget all that Jared Diamond nonsense. The thing is spectacular in ways I can't describe after a beer, and it was worth paying $18 to get in--oh wait, they made a mistake and only charged me $6. Still worth it! And they give foreign tourists a free bottle of water so we don't dehydrate and die in the vast gardens out front--good thing, because I passed more than one Indian (I counted three, actually) taking a piss in them. Real nice, guys! India's most important monument and one of the most famous in the world--your own national heritage of which you should be proud--and you piss all over it! I think they worked there on the restoration team. I yelled at two of them and even tried to embarrass one. Didn't work. So I just told the police and assume nothing will be done. Sigh.

So the Taj. How to describe. Google "Taj Mahal" and see for yourself. See how lazy I am getting with this blog thing? Didn't my posts used to employ extravagant verbosity and literary flair--at moments? OK, it's like a giant wedding cake with lots of yummy frosting and highly detailed colored icing piped on by a pro (and a Muslim pro at that). I sat on a bench for two hours staring at it, eating it in my imagination. Then I left and ate real food, Indian food, which in India they call Indian food. Seriously!

Oh yeah, I also saw Agra Fort.

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