Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky
A whole new world
– A whole new world, Disney’s Aladdin
You can hardly travel to India without thinking of Aladdin. That’s like going to the beach and not worrying about Jaws. Unthinkable. For me, movies like Aladdin did not want me to go out and find a knight in shining armor, but quite the opposite. Movies like that made me want to see the world for myself with my own eyes. I wanted to sit on a magic carpet and discover all the big and little wonders that the world had to offer. I wanted to hold my breath and be dazzled with amazement. And dazzled with amazement I was when I lay eyes on this beauty:
The Taj Mahal represents a sad love story, where stricken by grief the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan wanted to build a monument of love in dedication to his late wife. Knowing that no monument would do justice to the love and sadness he felt for his companion, he then wanted to build a “shadow” Taj Mahal all in black on the opposite side of the river. Although he laid the ground work, no shadow of grief was ever to be build.
If anything the Taj Mahal is a representation of what humankind is capable of. Attention to detail, compassion and passion and beyond anything the capability of expressing love. Just imagine, it took 22 years to build the Taj, the entire ground is symmetrical, every little stone has a purpose and reason to be exactly at the spot where it is. Some of the stones even glow at night. And 350 years later we still stare at the white marble in disbelief.
Don’t be fooled though, standing at a monument of love doesn’t necessarily mean you feel loved. Unless you call being yelled at by official looking Indians and being almost forced to buy some kind of souvenir love. I, for one, can only handle a certain level of this so called “attention” before I pack my things and literally want to flee.
But no visit to a big city would be complete without actually getting in touch with the people, that live in the city, right? So once we left the “Crown Palace” (because that’s what Taj Mahal means), we headed to a cafe called Sheroes’ hangout. As in She-heroes hangout, because every women is a shero! Women, having gone through acid attacks, being empowered by telling their stories in a little cafe right next to a busy street. You know, how they say some stories are better left untold? Well not this one! So come and check it out, next time you are in Agra. Food is amazing and I promise you, the stories you will hear and see will open your eyes to a whole new world, you might have not heard of otherwise.
With this I will now venture out and discover new parts of India…
Don’t you dare close your eyes
A hundred thousand things to see
Hold your breath – it gets better
I can’t go back to where I used to be
A whole new world
Every turn a surprise
With new horizons to pursue
Every moment red-letter
I’ll chase them anywhere
There’s time to spare
Let me share this whole new world with you