Days fade quietly to night as thoughts only now begin to fall on what it is we've experienced. We wake with morning lacking ambitions, no longer craving to wear shoes thin, but simply to revel in a dreamer's life that has become our own. Four feet drag along taking in the sunny hills of Rishikesh, but hearts and minds rest elsewhere and a complete experience here is not to be. With all but one slice of the pizza gone, who can stuff it down? It's how you feel at the end of things; a calming acceptance of the inevitable and oh, what a fight it was! Not of fear, not of failure, nor of success - but questions to be understood when bags unpack and clothes lay folded. An adventure stands to be ended and what was once life, passion, awe, morning, night - slowly ages, becoming sepia projections of fireside tales. I've got some slides of my India trip from 20 years ago, have a beer and I'll fill you in. Facts, thrilling and mundane, slide haphazardly into the pit of memory to be jumbled and forgotten, remembered and created, told straight then fictionalized. "My fish was 13 inches no 2 feet no a whopper that pulled down the ship on that stormy sea, lucky I made it." Impossible stories for the habitually dormant. Still at the end, knowing what is to become of your reality, even seeing ghosts of it emerge as you frolick in graves, you find yourself not regretting times passing but admiring how it did.
The Taj Mahal.
It's funny how certain images defy ignorance and permeate the collective subconscious. Though you've most likely never seen the pyramids or studied Egyptology, you know they stand, where they stand, who built them, etc. They're a memory you have without ever experiencing them. They're built for the stuff of legends and like all legends uncovered they may just disappoint (they don't, but they could).
I've known of the Taj Mahal as far as I can remember. I don't know why. My father wasn't telling me stories of fanciful India, he was busy trying to remember the story he began to tell me, that he's already told me 20 times, that if I hadn't the patience I'd sit him on my lap and tell him the story of his youth. No, I knew of the Taj Mahal before I knew there actually was an India. Why? I don't know, I just did. And, having known about it for so long, knowing vaguely of "love's greatest triumph", I reluctantly train'd to Agra from Varanasi expecting the nastiness of disappointment.
It was dawn and I hadn't slept. The sky was clear as the sun rose promising 3 hours of perfect photos. If I was to be shattered than through my camera I'd make it seem that legends live.
When I stood before it, after paying that outrageous foreigner entrance fee, I found myself not as a hero maintaining a child's belief in Santa Clause but irrelevant and unable to capture the reality of the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal isn't just seen, it is felt. I was awestruck, like some teeny bopper tongue tied and tearing when Johnny Cool Guitar gives her a kiss. Nothing I can do here, no photo, no anecdote, will ever have you understand the presence of the Taj Mahal. The only advice I give you is to go. Sorry, but there's no other way to understand.