Let the splendor of diamond, pearl and ruby vanish.
Only let this one teardrop, this Taj Mahal,
glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time,
forever and ever.
The fanfare over the beauty of the Taj Mahal
is sometimes a bit much. Who on earth doesn’t
know it from photos, postcards, books, the Internet
already? Legend has it that when you get there
to see it the first time, you’re going to be completely
overwhelmed, to say the least-and yet, I’m not
so sure of that. Haven’t I seen famous landmarks
on TV before, but when visiting one, wasn’t it
just like getting sucked into a photograph? To me
it always felt like déjà-vu and over-familiarity
closing in on me, trivializing what I was looking
at. Would it be any different at the Taj Mahal?
I’m almost there and quickly getting pulled into
the dizzying perspective racing towards the
elegant, gleaming, seemingly weightless, marble
structure of the mausoleum, and deep into an
endless distance beyond the skyline of the slender
minarets set against the vast blue sky of India.
Intensely bright sunlight bounces about the
colossal, central dome shooting all of the light
straight back to where it came from. Flanked by
wide walkways leading towards the base of the
Taj Mahal, the long canals spectacularly mirror its
symmetry in a clear, upside-down view of grandeur.
My doubts are being instantly lifted on taking in the
vista. The color of the sky in India surpasses the
mere synthetic blue you see on photos, satisfying
my craving for reality. Frankly, this distant splendor
that I can’t put my finger on is driving me almost
crazy now, because what I’m looking at is only a
beautifully framed, neat poster of the Taj Mahal on a
wall at India Cafe on Burlington Avenue. I’m waiting
to be served. In fact, I’m thinking: What if I completely
forgot photographs; pushed all frames out of the way;
stepped into the full sunshine of India; walked up to
the Taj Mahal in real time, and looked for myself at
this one teardrop, this Taj Mahal,
glistening spotlessly bright
on the cheek of time, forever and ever?