Micro cosmos of India
23.01.2008 - 24.01.2008 10 °C
Arrived in Agra in the late morning of January 22nd. We were greated by a truly unappealing city. Dirt everywhere, noisy, dense traffic, open sewers overflowing with stinking, blackish sludge. Smell was worse than any other Indian city so far (and that's saying a lot).
By way of contrast, of course, Agra is home to the world famed monument to love that is the Taj Mahal. And it does live up to the hype: pure, white and ehtereal, like a shining vision. Ordered, symmetrical and clean, it defies the horror of Agra city. It really is a masterful design, set in beatific ornamental gardens. A refuge of peace in a city of filth.
Moreover, Agra also posseses a suprisingly beautiful Mughal fort, begun in 1565, by the grandfather of Shah Jahan, who was later to construct the Taj.
And so it is that Agra, at least to me, represents a kind of condensed micro cosmos of the constant paradox that is India. Within it it contains the mundanely ordinary, right alongside the revoltingly, disgustingly ugly, contrasted again by the serenely, sublimely beautiful. What can you really do about such a place, such a country, except love it and, simoultaneously, hate it a little bit - and in any case, simply surrender to it and let it take you over? And that is what we do...