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Feb 7th: The Taj Mahal

pinch me I must be dreaming

sunny 72 °F

IMG_4714.jpg

Do you realize that I actually walked through the Taj Mahal this morning? My reactions to the whole experience have been all over the map. First I was stunned by the vastness of the manicured grounds. Then of course, the Taj Mahal itself took my breath away as I walked closer and closer. When you can actually touch the white marble inlayed with many colors of semi-precious stones you can’t believe it. OMG! It is as beautiful as they say.

As you may be aware, the Taj Mahal is a 500 year old mausoleum built by an emperor to honor his beloved deceased wife. When you hear the story, you hear that the Taj is a testament to the incredible love that he felt for her. Per Pardeen, no such love exists in the world today. And when you are walking through there you have to think, “wow, that guy must have been mad with grief”. Well, just wait a minute. Do a little digging and you find that she was just one of his wives, which is not uncommon, but she died giving birth to their 14th child! Dude, could you not see that childbirth hurts? You get your guts torn up 14 times and see if you survive. Ladies, if they tell you they want to build something to commemorate their love for you – run.

All that said, I did graduate to the “shit, I am actually here” emotion and I guess I haven’t “come down” yet. But the Taj is not the only 500-year-old giant edifice around here. The other one is a huge fort, “The Red Fort” located two miles away from the Taj. We toured it this afternoon. It is important because a lot went on there, and it is important for its scale and its architecture. It was built in stages and two of the builders were 1) a great emperor named Akbar and 2) his grandson, Shah Jahan, who is the guy who built the Taj Mahal. Interestingly, Shah Jahan died at the fort when his son imprisoned him there. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s like a soap opera! The fort is interesting, but the two hour history lecture that went along with it left me glassy-eyed. I’m sorry, I am not a history buff. A quick overview of the high points will suffice, thank you. Besides, we have shopping to do.

Well that turned out to be a bust. Our driver delivered us to a place that makes marble inlaid tables, etc. We learned how it was done and then they escorted us into the showroom (of course). “No pressure, no pressure” they say over and over while they’re following you around the store pointing out stuff that they think you should have. I made the mistake of admiring a marble bowl (for a mere $1700) and was immediately adopted by one of the “no pressure” sales clerks. I never really shook him, he was with me the whole time. Three of the ladies bought something, I was not one of them.

The next stop was a store that sells leather goods. Leather is a big industry here so this would be the place to get a good deal. IF they had anything worth buying, that is. At the beginning of the week I exchanged $20 into rupees for small essentials, trinkets, etc. I must still have $10 worth left.

Posted by Follow Carol 07:54 Archived in India

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