06-12-03

AGRA


Classic Kodak moment. How can one resist?


 
 
 
 
Abundantly photographed, much written about...nothing I can say or show has not already been said or shown.
Following in the footsteps of John Brandi, here is a short excerpt from his "A Question of Journey" episode at the fabled Taj Mahal. 
 
Late afternoon.  Heatwaves from smooth marble. Breezeless silver sky. Egrets on cows' backs in the smoking fields across the shallow Jumna. I remove my shoes, pass through a tunnel up a stairway and onto the pink sandstone platform from which rises the Taj. Pilgrims, tourists, tour groups. Here they all converge, ooh and awe, flash their bulbs, adjust their lenses, change film cartridges and read tour books...under the broiling sun.
 
Shah Jahan built the Taj as a memorial to his young wife Mumtaz Mahal who died too young, bearing his fourteenth child, while he was away waging battle. He summoned architects, stonecutters, astronomers, mosaicists and silversmiths from Persia, Arabia, Afghanistan, the Mediterranean and all off India to build this tomb, that took 20,000 laborers two decades to complete. Legend(?) has it that he severed the hands of his architects and blinded them to prevent them from ever replicating this monument.
 
In the luxurious garden which surrounds, the splendour of the Taj rises like the simultaneous evocation of heat and snow; the very effects of light and ice one encounters in the Himalayas where, ironically, I once stood spellbound, muttering "After this, why visit any man made temple?"  
 
Until I read this very ode to the Taj I thought I would skip "another monument, another tourist attraction". I am grateful to John Brandi for changing my mind. 
 
People and things
I met Baba rickshaw-wallah on my way to lunch at Zorba the Buddha, that other sweet Agra memory. Outside of Taj Mahal, there isn't much to see or do in Agra. As soon as I hit the steets, the rickshaw wallahs are in my face...but I wave them off, preferring to walk a few minutes to Zorba. Turning right at the corner of the street, two rickshaws - both driven by older guys - are still following me. One of them, of athletic built, in ragged clothing and with long unkempt hair and scruffy beard - when he learns my destination - says he will take me for free. A bit suspicious, I look at him, "for free?" Yes, because they will serve him free chai. So I stepped in. Of course, I could not take advantage of his 'free' offer and so Baba got his tea and a few roepies too. We became friends for a few days and used his services whenever possible. Baba is a gem.

Previous night, we discovered Zorba the Buddha, a great little restaurant, run by Osho sannyasins. In sharp contrast to what we have gotten used to - man has an uncanny ability for adaptation to almost any circumstances - they run a clean operation. The menu offers salads and fresh juices - makes me think of Roxanne's back home in Larkspur. No reason to eat anywhere else when in Agra.

08:13 Gepost door pieter | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

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