Thursday, February 20, 2014


Taj Mahal. The first glimpse.

There are places that mesmerize you. There are some that sing to you. Others listen to you, borrow your sorrows for a while, and even heal a deep-seated wound or two. Then there's the Taj - it does all of that and then, just claims a portion of your heart, a considerable size, and simply refuses to give it back. In alluring echos, it calls your name again and again till you return one day. And return I did last month.

Legend goes that if you turn and look back, just once, while leaving through the gigantic gateway, you are bound to come back one day. It was a sultry June afternoon, the kind that sticks to your skin when the monsoons are just a taunting fortnight away. A wide-eyed teenager and all of just 14, I wasn't sure of many things back then. But I do recall a feeling of sadness, one that was beyond my years or being to fathom, that had lightly touched my shoulders while leaving the place. I also remember being so overwhelmed by what I saw that I was unusually quiet for most of the day, as if to speak would break the spell.
Only this time the magic became somewhat decipherable, but not enough for me to put it into words. Not yet. Perhaps it is something about not being able to bottle the wonder, the exquisiteness and bring it back with you; for try as much you would capturing it, inch by inch, standing there in front of it and getting awed by every single detail is something else altogether. The unparalleled Mughal architecture, the poetry in every little motif, and the strange calm in the midst of a frenzied crowd - it is nothing short of a trance when they all come together. And I am still swooning in it.

Through the Great Gate, when the sky was blue for a moment or two. The cliched, postcard Taj from the entrance. The beautifully landscaped Mughal gardens. The Taj Mahal mosque and its stunning sandstone interior. Photogenic doors with years of history locked behind them. A peek of the Taj from the mosque's entrance. The eastern view of the mausoleum. One of the four minarets framed by a misty Yamuna in the backdrop. The latticed entrance to the tomb, displaying the signature 'jali' work of Islamic architecture. Its walls plastered with breathtaking Persian plant motifs with colorful 'pietra dura' on the borders. The geometrically patterned marble of the huge dome. Calligraphy of Persian poems on the arch shoulders of the tomb. A very wintry view of the Taj as a resolute fog gives way to an early dusk. Quietly flows the Yamuna.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Renewing, restoring

I have been away for more than a month, though it feels much more longer than that. It has been ages since I've created anything or given shape to any of my countless mute ramblings. Words, other people's, are all I have these days, across which I splosh copious amounts of digital red ink. At times it feels strange, even a little cruel, to be striking out ambitions so ruthlessly, to tweak thoughts so mercilessly that someone would have spent hours constructing. But that is how the world works.

What does it take to realize that there's always, always a little corner somewhere where days recycle themselves and things start afresh? That there's still a world of splendour waiting on the earth that we haven't seen? A walk to the nearest plant nursery. A stroll amid the stoic, old tombs. The palm-sized, sun-hued hibiscus tells you that; it's velvety petals tickle you with life and joy, rubbing some of that magic on you. The inviting archway of the tombs that have been standing there forever and are currently undergoing a much-needed face-lift, say it too.
With the tropical winter breathing its last, well almost, and a very short-lived, confused spring blooming here and there, it's time to start afresh. To renew the yearly stack of hopes, to air the room full of dreams, and to get cracking before summer takes over our lives. Here's to hope. And to more blogging!

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