Beauty and the Beast

Sometimes you arrive at a world-famous site only to find that the reality does not quite live up to the reputation. The Taj Mahal is not one of those places. It is every bit as spectacular in person as you would hope, and in fact beyond that. The subtle nuances of the stone work and the sheer scope of the design are simply astonishing. Clearly the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan loved and grieved his favorite wife Taj, for whom he built this magnificent tomb after she bore him 14 children and then died. He was buried here too, many years later. This is a monument of both bold and sublime beauty, and is alone worth the long trip to India.

Meanwhile back in Delhi, the contrast between the have’s and have-not’s is equally astonishing. Why on earth is that sickly beast standing in the middle of a crowded sidewalk? Is that our next dinner? But no, it’s a calf, sacred to the majority population of Hindu faith. Not that it matters. The animal has no flesh you could make a meal of. I think maybe someone needs to put the poor thing out of its misery.

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