A picture for a story

Just to explain the header picture. My better half took it, on a bridge in Agra a couple of years ago. We had spent the day at the Taj and Baby Taj. Being wowed by the guide at the breadth of architecture this city had to offer.

We thought, with two weeks in India already passed, that we had become immune to the starkness of poverty and the inexplicable guilt at our easy lives, but…

…The Taj is marvellous, a massive, swarming melee of tourists. Bricks that shine in the heat, that seem to glow against the hazy backdrop. The ultimate expression of love and devotion…who would want an engagement ring, a blood-y diamond, when a mausoleum was on offer.

The grandeur, the coiffed gardens, the sparkly fountains, the illusion of peace and tranquility…and then, you pass the queuing crowds,  you slip into your car (chauffeur driven, of course) and back into the world. The world outside the walls. You wonder have you gone back in time 500, or 5000 years? No. There are motorcycles astride the mules, tuk tuks and camels sharing the bridge. There are lives being lived beneath the shadow of the walls.

It is a wonder alright, the Taj, but one of the greatest wonders I have seen (and I’ve clocked up a few at this point), is the contrast of opulence and poverty sharing the simple shade of  bricks. It may be fitting that the worlds biggest tombstone is beside what seems the worlds most likely grave, it may be fitting but it is not fair.

And that’s what I feel those eyes are saying, those intense eyes looking out through me. How can life fall this way? How can the cards be stacked thus? How can fate choose such a hand and deem it equal. And what part in all this do we, ourselves, play?

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