Life-changing Experiences

It’s been a while since I shared anything here. In this age of constant connectivity, and preference for bite-sized media, blogging has somewhat fallen to the sidelines. I’m myself guilty of procrastinating going through my subscribed blogs.

However, it’s still a huge fan of having a place to share my thoughts, and know they’ll be here when I want to take a walk down memory lane.

For today though, let’s talk about Bucket Lists.

In the last few months, I experienced some things which were novel, exciting, and addictive.

To begin with, I went to my first proper concert – Coldplay in Chicago, August 17th.

I had heard of Coldplay concerts being a visual extravaganza, with the light-up wristbands. But actually being in the middle of one was something else altogether.

My second life-changing experience was viewing the Total Solar Eclipse, August 21st.

Without and with solar glasses

I regretted not taking my DSLR along, because these pictures do no justice to the experience this actually was. The precious few minutes when the sun is completely covered and the corona is all you see, are a view like no other. The ring of visible light seems to sparkle and glisten like platinum, and the awe of being able to take off the viewing glasses and look right up at it, was a high unlike too many others. It was a bucket list item that I realized needed to be on my list only after I experienced it. Not complaining though…it’s fun being able to put an item on a list, and cross it off right away!

Next, was a fabulous Labor Day weekend trip to NYC. This qas my second time there, and I still enjoyed myself just as much as the first time. I would hate to drive in that city, but I love it otherwise.

Just another cliche, yet gorgeous photo of NYC at night

I also recently took part in a dance-drama, for the first time in 15 years. I went into it quite sure that I would have crippling stage fright, and get an anxiety attack on stage, and came out of it without any of that, but with a lot of new friends and a surprising realization that I can actually emote.

Cast of the play, ‘Tasher Desh’, Tagore Festival, UIUC, 2017 (PC: Shegufta Bakht Ahsan)

Also, just to explain, the play is called ‘Tasher Desh’, written by Rabindranath Tagore. Its a satirical play based on a Kingdom of playing cards. Yes, I was the Jack of Spades. Yes, I had to draw a moustache on my face.

Me being dramatic (PC: Shegufta Bakht Ahsan)

The start of this semester, along with interesting new activities, also brought with it a crazy amount of work and ramped up from 0 to 100 from before the semester even started.

Hashtag PhD Life

So basically, 2017 has been an interesting year. It is flying by (I cannot believe it is only 3 months away from 2018!), and I feel like I need a few extra months in this year to complete everything I wanted to complete within this year.

But in case wishful thinking doesn’t work, I’ll still have enough stories to recount decades down the road.

“Oh, 2017? That was quite a year. Let me tell you about that…”

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Back to the Mountains

It was my parents’ 25th Anniversary (yep, silver jubilee and all) some time back. And we decided to spend it away from home. Once again, my parents spent ages ruminating over the options, and never deciding. So once again, I had to finally put my foot down and decide on a destination by myself.

Because we couldn’t get too many days off from work, the place had to be nearby, and had to provide some much-needed respite from the Delhi heat. So after much thought, I zeroed down upon the Queen of the Hills – Mussourie.

It was a good decision!

It was smoggy, so we didn’t get a perfect view of the mountain range around. However, the one day we decided to amble along the Mall road, it was sunny enough to give us all sunburn (we returned with red noses and foreheads).

All in all though, it was lovely. We stayed at the lovely Kasmanda Palace, which has beautiful English gardens, a restaurant deck which overlooks the valley, and old-world vintage decor inside the main building, which is fascinating to look at.

The trip was centred around admiring nature, relaxing in peaceful surroundings, and me trying out my new DSLR.

Kasmanda Palace (view from the restaurant deck)

Kasmanda Palace (view from the restaurant deck)

Slightly smoggy views in the morning unfortunately

Slightly smoggy views in the morning unfortunately (as in, it broke my heart, because I had been looking forward to some spectacular views)

The palace gardens are beautiful. Such a lot of flowers!

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Still searching for the name of these flowers. But just look at those colours!

Calla lilies

Calla lilies

SO MANY FLOWERS

Swaying Himalayan Aster (according to my extensive research)

And what’s an English garden without a birdbath…

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There’s a Magnolia tree in the garden too. And it was flowering. Win!

And for those of you who haven’t seen magnolia flowers before (just like I hadn’t before this trip), here’s how they look off the tree…

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Surprisingly, more than the flowers, I was enchanted by a huge Maple tree. I even got a leaf home, as a souvenir and memorabilia of our time here.

This maple tree had me captivated

This maple tree had me captivated

We took a half day trip outside Mussourie. We first went to Landour, which is famous for being the place where Ruskin Bond lives. I was very excited about going there. I imagined bumping into him somewhere, and discussing how much I liked his books.

Imagine my disappointment when the driver suddenly drove past a red building, with ‘Doma’s Inn’ written on it (surrounded by distinctly Tibetan paintings) and pointed out what looked like a side door, and said, “That’s where Ruskin Bond lives”.

And that was it. Before I could protest and ask the driver to stop, we had flown down the narrow road, leaving Bond’s house behind. The disappointment of not even being able to see Bond’s house properly, let alone him, was so much that I didn’t take any pictures in Landour at all. Oh well. I guess I’ll have to plan a stay at Doma’s Inn soon.

After Landour, we moved on to Dhanaulti. This wasn’t the first time we were going that way. My parents and I remember Dhanaulti as the place-we-were-on-our-way-to-but-our-car-broke-down (this happened at least 10 years back). So, though we knew about Dhanaulti and should have already visited it, had it not been for a very bad road 10 years back, this was the first time we actually went there.

The roads are a lot better now, I was told many times by my parents, who have a better recollection of what had happened the last time we were on that road than I did.

The place to visit in Dhanaulti, is the Eco Park. It’s supposed to be a peaceful place, but now has a variety of ‘adventure sports’ (kids hanging from harnesses and zipping down a line) and swings (in the shape of animals). I understand that children must be kept occupied in such a place where there is nothing to do, but it affects the serenity of the place. A lot.

It was only when we walked quite a distance into the forest, did we actually experience the stillness of the forest; the only sound was the incessant buzzing of cicadas (which are found in abundance here), and the occasional trilling whistle of some bird.

Deodar trees at the Dhanaulti Eco Park. Towering above us, I could tell why they were regarded as sacred by Indian sages. And below our feet, their needle-like leaves covered the forest floor

Deodar trees at the Dhanaulti Eco Park. Towering above us, I could tell why they were regarded as sacred by Indian sages. And below our feet, their needle-like leaves covered the forest floor

The fun part was when I had a long whistled conversation with a bird in the forest. When it whistled, I whistled back, and it replied back in turn. I was hoping it would show itself, because I could make out by the increasing volume of it’s whistle that it was coming closer, curious to find out whether I was some new bird who just did NOT know how to speak bird.

Sadly, it didn’t reveal itself. I only saw one bird which allowed me to photograph it…

This tiny little guy was the only one who posed long enough for me to get a photograph

This tiny little guy was the only one who posed long enough for me to get a photograph

Side note : I love ‘conversing’ with birds. And if you want to try, you just need to know how to whistle. When you hear a bird chirping, whistle back. In most cases, the bird will whistle back and keep replying every time you whistle. I did this with another bird in Mussourie too

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So, back to Dhanaulti Eco Park…

Gorgeous flowers were in abundance. And interesting insects to boot

Gorgeous flowers were in abundance. And interesting insects to boot

The Eco Park was lovely, and if we would have had more time, I would have loved to just sit on one of the many log seats in the forest, and enjoy the surroundings.

Yes, I’ve grown old.

Back from Dhanaulti, we enjoyed some time on the Mall road, went up to Gun Hill (so called because there used to be a canon on that hill, which was fired every hour of the day to tell the time. It was stopped because the canon ball once crashed through someone’s roof. I surmise the person wasn’t very happy about that) by cable car. Because of the smog, the view wasn’t as great as it should have been, but we did catch a bird’s eye view of our hotel!

See the red turrets? That's the Kasmanda Palace, the hotel where we were staying

See the bright red roof and turrets? That’s the Kasmanda Palace, the hotel where we were staying

A special mention to the night view of Mussourie. Spectacular!

Mussorie at night. Glittering and bright.

Mussourie at night was as gorgeous as ever. Glittering and bright.

There’s still so much to explore in Mussourie. And so many other seasons to see it in. Now I kind of get why people go there multiple times. And as Ruskin Bond puts it…

“It is always the same with mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them. There is no escape.”
― Ruskin Bond (Rain in the Mountains : Notes from the Himalayas)

(All photographs belong to me. Please ask before sharing them anywhere.)

The Day I was Sure I’d Miss my Flight. But Then I Didn’t

I had a recent work trip to Chattisgarh (my first solo trip so far away). My flight was at 6:55 in the morning, so I decided to reach by 5:45 or so. Thanks to circumstances, I reached at 6 am.

At this point of time, I wasn’t too worried. I was told to get my boarding pass from a kiosk, where grumpy/slightly amused/skeptical people were having fun playing around with the touchscreen while it refused to cooperate.When my turn finally came, I tried changing my seat to a window seat, which did not happen, so I got a printout (after banging the fidgety screen thrice), took the flimsy, badly printed “boarding pass” and then went to check in my baggage.

Next, I somehow forgot all about getting a security check. Yeah, I actually forgot that you’re supposed to go through a security checking before a flight. No kidding.

So anyway, I nonchalantly passed through this mass of people, looking for a way to the waiting area inside. Once I reached the barricade, I finally saw the security check areas.

“Oh yeah, I have to go through security! How the hell did I forget?” I admonished myself.

I scanned the place for the queue, and walked further away, as I slowly realized that the mass of people I had walked past while looking for the waiting area, was actually the queue for security.

Bloody hell.

A snakelike line…curving 10 times minimum. I took a moment to register this fact and then stood behind the last person and calculated…I had 10 minutes to get a security check done and reach the boarding gate. Enough time, right?. So I shifted along.

When the first curve in the line was reached, I was five minutes down.

Cue mild panic attack.

By the time I reached the third curve, my ten minutes were up. My flight had started boarding and I was stuck in a serpentine line which I could not skip. Even in this situation, my insane compulsion to not break the rules (and jump the line) made me keep ambling along at a snails pace.

In my mind, I now begin constructing worst-case scenarios – I imagine having to plead with the authorities at the boarding gate, grovelling before them to let me board.

Then I imagine having to tell my parents to come back to pick me up.

Then I imagine telling my office. Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

In the middle of these imagined scenarios, I see some people citing their boarding time and moving ahead in the line. Its already five minutes over my boarding time…I reach a decision.

I surrender my love of order and correctness, and begin sprinting through the lines, ducking under the separating barriers. I mean, who the hell cares what these people will think of me? And I’m anyway almost 99.9% sure that I’ll never see any of them ever again. So I plow on.

Full blown panic attack right now.

I finally reach the beginning of the line. I somehow gasp out to the lady there that I’m REALLY late and can I please cut in. She decides to just stare at me for a moment, so I repeat my request. This time she nods, with a look of disapproval (which would have made me shrivel up and wish to be swallowed by the earth at any other time) and I sprint out into the security area.

And of course there are short queues here too. I again stand in line. The gentlemen in front of me are dressed in formals, with laptops. So they begin the labourious process of taking off their blazers, emptying their pockets, laying their laptops down into trays on the X-ray machine belt. When I can’t take the panic anymore, and on realizing that the ladies checking line is actually almost empty, I suddenly move ahead to the X-ray machine and look for a place to plonk my bag down on the belt. I put my bag down somehow, helped by one of the men in formals (I think I looked quite hassled at this point).

Now I join the line for checking. The security lady comes out of the cubicle and calls me in. I rush in, get onto the platform and put my arms up even before the she can say anything. She however takes her own sweet time. Finally, she stamps my boarding pass and I run out.

But of COURSE my bag is stuck on the belt. And the security guy is underequipped. Poor guy is sending the piled up bags onto the belt, checking the contents on the X-ray screen, and then stamping the tags too. Talk about multitasking.

My bag comes out FINALLY, and a millisecond after the guy stamps the tag, I’ve snatched it up and broken into an awkward run (slippery floors and slip-on sandals aren’t ideal running gear).

I run in the direction that I see people moving.

I stop abruptly. There’s a prayer room here ,and lots of people lounging around. Though its true that I’m already praying HARD, but this doesn’t seem like the place I should be right now. I look back, and suddenly remember that the boarding gates are downstairs!

Awkward run again. Go down the escalator. Sprint to the gate…and I see just one more guy before me. I almost go through the wrong gate, find the right one, give my boarding pass for inspection, get hand baggage tag checked, and then hurry out to the bus. Before I get on, I check the flight name again on the LED ticker on the side of bus. Check. Jump on.

I avoid all gaze, because I’m late and I’m so ABSOLUTELY sure that everyone is judging me. And also because eye contact with strangers is not my thing.

As my panting subsides, my heart thumps little slower, I send up silent thanks in prayer.

So, in conclusion, I ended up being one of the first people on the plane. Yeah. And certain people who had been in the security check line right in front of me (before I forged ahead like Grawp [if you do not know who’s Grawp, you’ll make me very sad]) ALSO got on soon after.

Oh well. I got on.

I made a call to my parents with an amazingly level voice, not revealing the near heart attack I just had. I however forgot to exchange seats with the person who had the window seat because of my recent excited exertions. And the guy actually slept through the whole flight! Window seats are wasted if you don’t enjoy them right?

But I did get a complementary meal which was apparently booked on my ticket (I was on one of those pay-per-meal flights) which I didn’t know about.  So I had THAT going for me.

I’ll be reaching airports 3 hours before any flight from now on. Such excitement is not my thing.

Serendipity in a Valley : Marchula, Jim Corbett National Park

Last year was a great year for trips and I had a chance to visit a number of beautiful places, a few for work and a few simply for holidaying (no prizes for guessing which of the ones I’m going to talk about right now).

On the long Diwali weekend, I planned a short getaway to a resort in Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand. Notice the phrase ‘I planned’ here; it’s the result of my parents not reaching a decision about our destination, and what made me take over the reigns was when their discussions began taking ginormous proportions of “Why-don’t-you-take-a-few-more-days-off-and-we’ll-just-go-to-Honolulu (for example)”.

So anyway, I jumped in, heart and soul, and after much exploration (World Wide Web FTW!), I decided on Jim Corbett National Park. I found us a gorgeous resort. Victory!

It was a nice long drive, and as we began early morning, the roads were nice and empty.So empty in fact, that one stretch of road in between green fields was so foggy that we couldn’t see more than 5 feet in front of us.

We didn’t book any safari beforehand (note : if you really do want to go for a safari, this is not a good option) and decided to leave it to chance.

So the place…I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

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Towering trees in the valley, surrounded by mountains all around. With a river running in front

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Because a clear, clean mountain river is the perfect place to while away some peaceful time

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Majestically tall trees, dwarfing us.

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Walk a little farther down, and more delicious sights await. This one from a bridge

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Gorgeous evenings

Though we didn’t go for the main safari, there is one forest we visited, called Sitavani. It isn’t frequented by too many furry inhabitants, so you can go inside with your own vehicles, once you get a permit. Inside, it’s quiet, calm, the air so pure that it’s enough to make you give up your worries and smile.

The forest is also home to numerous enormous termite mounds!

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Just one of the many termite mounds in Sitavani

If you make it through the small, winding forest path and reach the end, you’ll see the Sita temple (protected by the Archaeological Survey of India).

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Artsy photograph of the temple to Goddess Sita, after whom the forest is named

After coming back home from this trip, I suffered withdrawal symptoms for quite a while. Who wouldn’t? Mountains, sandy beaches, trekking and leisurely walks…I need a longer time back there. Where every corner takes you somewhere new, and nature surprises you in all ways possible.

Oh well. Till the next trip then!

Of Long-due and Sudden Trips, a Pocketful of Sand and Ligaments

Such a lot has happened since I last posted the list of my favourite feel-good songs. And when I say ‘a lot’ I mean it in the absolute sense; no exaggerations.

In the first week of February, I visited Kolkata after a gap of 7 years, even though it’s my parents’ first love as far as cities are concerned by virtue of being the city they spent their childhood in. It was a wonderful trip as I had my cousin sister’s wedding to attend and then, after a long time, six of us cousins got together at the same place. It was a lot of laughing, new friends, joking, teasing, reminiscing, tears and emotions running high. I had been looking forward to this trip since a long time, and it lived up to the expectations that I had from it (might need a separate blog post for it).

Kolkata

Victoria Memorial, Kolkata

While in Kolkata, my friends from university called me to tell me that they had given my name for a university fest to be held in Kerala. While the message was delivered to me over a abysmal cellphone network, which meant I heard only two words out of seven in a sentence, I got to know all the details only once I got back to Uni.

So, merely a week after getting back from a week-long holiday in Kolkata, I was off again to Kasaragod, North Kerala for the First Convention of Departments of Social Work of Central Universities of India.

It was a glorious trip, as only one with friends can be. Lots of uncontrollable laughter, hilarious antics, jokes and madness. Once again, I met a lot of new people and made some wonderful new friends. Also, being in God’s Own Country, how can I forget the beautiful surroundings? Coconut trees, rivulets, the mighty Arabian Sea! A feast for the senses! I think a photo post will be needed for it.

Bekal Beach, Kerala

Bekal Beach, Kerala

My last day in Kerala wasn’t idyllic however.

I got a ligament injury in my knee.

So now, I’m back home, sitting with my leg in a knee immobilizer (which is pretty much like a cast and lives up to its name), wondering how I failed to notice the wondrous ways in which a knee works.

Now take a moment to thank God for knees and the wonderfully versatile ways in which they function.

More than anything, it’s one of those times when you feel like indulging in self-pity and asking that futile question – “Why me?”. But I don’t have the time to do that. I’m more busy worrying about how on earth am I supposed to make up the classes and fieldwork I will miss, not to mention the irksome attendance issue that my department has.

Pray for me, will you?

Biker Frenzy? Not me, kthanxbai.

I had to go to a community in Northwest Delhi today for my internship work (yes, I am doing a summer internship on the basis of which I have to make a dissertation), which was quite far away from my place, not to mention completely unknown to me. I reached the nearest metro station, and pretty much got fleeced by an auto driver while getting to my final destination. I did however reach the correct place and did whatever work I was supposed to. Then came the issue of going back all the way to the metro station. There wasn’t a single auto in sight (this is after all an interior area, bordering a village) and as I sweated it out in the 40 degree Delhi summer, I wondered as to how I was to go back home today.

One of my organization’s representatives (who is in charge of the programmes conducted in this particular locality) came to my rescue even before I could begin bombarding him with questions about the transportation situation, and told me that he would be going towards the metro station and would hence drop me off there. I thanked him profusely as my problem (seemingly) evaporated away. Once my initial relief stopped washing all over me, I began rationally thinking about what mode of transportation he was going to use to drop me back.

My questions were answered when he came back on a motorbike.

Oh dear lord.

Oh my.

I have never ridden a motorcycle before. Never ever sat on one.

As I genuinely considered telling my companion that maybe I should just try sprouting wings and flying off (maybe a Red Bull would help?) rather than getting on his metal steed, I mentally admonished myself and gathered all my courage together. I meekly mumbled out that I had never travelled on a motorcycle before, and he graciously said nothing more than asking me to sit down. I took 10 seconds to decide how I would sit (sideways or rider-style). Ultimately, I decided the sideways pose would be better for the moment.

I plopped myself on behind the guy and clutched hard onto the metal part at the very end of the bike. While that comforted me, I still had another free hand, which HAD to find something to hold onto. As I blindly felt around the other side of the seat for something to hold onto for dear life, I decided that decorum and decency be damned…I would clutch hold of the guy if I found nothing at all to hold on this side.

Thankfully, there’s a lovely groove below the seat which acts as a great handle you know? So I did not end up like Sheldon on Howard’s scooter

So now, the two hurdles of getting on, and something to hold on to, were crossed. Next, was making myself believe that I would fall off, that it wasn’t plausible that I would tumble off just like that. This of course was the greatest hurdle. Every time we reached a pothole or a bump, I held on even tighter (if it was even possible with my usual pressure of gripping), and every time there was some obstacle on the road, I held my breath.

But, we reached, after a supposedly uneventful ride (though for me it was more eventful than any vehicle ride EVER) and I must say my fear of motorbikes has significantly reduced and I think my friend who drove on my first motorbike ride, is the Best Biker Ever.

However (yes, another contradiction), it’s not an experience I’m willing to repeat if there are alternatives available. Because, just as Harry said, and I paraphrase here, while the Floo network is faster and supposedly easier, he’d prefer a broomstick anyday. And I’d prefer my own two feet rather than two wheels.

Back To The Mughals

Few weeks back, I went for a glorious day-long excursion to Fatehpur Sikri and Agra, in Uttar Pradesh with my friend and her cousin. Being the historical-monuments-obsessed person that I am, this was just my kind of holiday. The fact that the places we were going to had a strong Mughal connection, was perhaps the icing on the cake.

So, firstly, thank you Stuti, for making sure I went.

I’ve always been highly fascinated with royal dynasties, especially the Mughals and the ancient Egyptians. And after having read Subhadra Sen Gupta’s fascinating books (written as personal diaries) on Princess Jahanara (daughter of Emperor Shah Jahan) and Queen Jodha Bai (wife of Akbar, mother of Jahangir), my fascination with the Mughals escalated even more.

So, for me, going to any Mughal monument means getting lost in the past. For a while, I live with the ghosts of the past; hear their laughter, imagine their baithaks (meetings), the flowing ghagras, the tinkling anklets…

Forgive me…I was lost in another world.

So, anyway, we first went to Fatehpur Sikri. The word ‘fateh’ literally means victory, and the place was so named when Akbar was finally able to capture this erstwhile Sikrigarh from the Sikriwal Rajput kings. Check out the awesome history lesson from Wikipedia here.

Okay…too much history. Here are some pictures!

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Stonework inside Diwan-e-Khas

The Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri (built by Akbar after his victory over Gujrat) is one of the major attractions. Its supposed to be the tallest gate in all of Asia (according to our guide). Now, to me it seemed like the tallest gate in the WORLD. We were simply dwarfed by it. Like, literally.

Buland Darwaza

We found an interesting thing at the small entry gate of the Buland Darwaza; numerous horse shoes hammered into the wood. The story behind it is that whenever a horse would get ill, its owner would come and put its shoe on the gate here, praying for a speedy recovery. It makes sense, because in those days, horses were basically the fastest way of transport and trusty steeds during battles. So their good health was worthy of special prayers!

 

Dargah of Sufi Saint Salim Chisti

The Fatehpur Sikri complex is also very important because of the presence of the Dargah of the Saint Salim Chisti. It’s a beautiful break from the red sandstone (Akbar’s favourite building material), with its pristine white marble and intricate jaali-work (stone cut to give a lattice or lace-like effect).

Jaali work at Salim Chisti’s Dargah

After offering our prayers at Salim Chisti’s Dargah, we went to the next obvious place…Agra. Home to one of the Seven Wonders of The World – The Taj Mahal.

And it was a rainy day.

And…being the optimistic person I am, and being with two just as optimistic and crazy people, we had a blast roaming around a very wet Taj complex. Can I just say…not too many people have the chance to get to see the Taj Mahal in the rain. So, it was quite an experience on its own.

Wanna know what the Taj looks like in the rain? Like this…

 

Yep…lots of umbrellas and glistening walkways. The marble didn’t dazzle us as it does in bright sunlight, but there was a sort of…feeling. You cannot help but be awed just as you stand there, looking at something so beautiful; a beauty that all the hi-tech machines cannot replicate today, which was made entirely by hand thousands of years ago.

It is beautiful. No questions asked.

All the rumours and mysteries surrounding the Taj, of course, add to the curiosity. For example, did Shah Jahan really plan to build another Taj Mahal, this time in black marble, on the opposite bank of the stately Yamuna river? Did he really have the thumbs of his master sculptors cut off so that they could never make something as beautiful as this ever again? Does Mumtaz Mahal, the lucky lady for whom this poetry in stone was written, really lie for all eternity in the sarcophagus below, or was she actually buried right outside the Taj complex, as some experts say?

Questions are always raised as to the ‘true love’ which this monument symbolises. The love that Emperor Shah Jahan had for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. And I, at the risk of sounding very unromantic, would have to say that I too do not believe he pined away as much for Mumtaz Mahal as some romantics will have us believe. He went on with his life, but yes, he lost a companion and a friend, and the mother of most of his children. But, as Oscar Wilde put it – life…it goes on.

Nevertheless, it cannot be argued that it was a sign of the fondness he had for his Queen that he decided to build the most beautiful ode to love, which would live on for centuries to come. And it is heartbreakingly beautiful!

I got this beautiful shot once the skies had cleared up a bit. And I just love how the greyness of the sky makes the beautiful white marble stand out even more!

 

All I can say is that it was a wonderful day. The rain caused us much vexation, but it couldn’t dampen our spirits at the end. Three cheers for one-day holidays!

If you want, you can check out all the photographs I took on the trip, HERE, on my Flickr photostream.