I recently had the honour of being invited to talk at the EDGEX conference in Delhi. It was my first trip to India, somewhere I have always wanted to go. There wasn’t a lot of time for sightseeing, but I did manage to sneak off a few times to visit some of the local markets. As you might expect these were spectacular, full of vibrant colours and amazing materials. I bought a few things for the girls and couldn’t resist buying a shalwar kameez and a dupatta (scarf). I wore it for my talk the next day; it’s a beautiful blue and so comfortable!
The day after the conference, the organizers kindly arranged for a bus to take us to Agra. The journey was supposed to take three hours, but actually took five. Mind you stopping to ride on an elephant didn’t help! Nonetheless the journey was fascinating watching the street life as we went along. It was shocking of course to see the poverty and the conditions that so many live in, but also there was a vibrancy about it- cows, rickshaws, street vendors everywhere and as for the driving? Chaos there didn’t seem to be any rules at all!
Everyone knows the iconic image of the Taj Mahal – with the view of the water leading up to the building, but nothing prepares you for the sheer scale and beauty of it. It’s made of very hard marble and literally shimmers in the sun. The fact that it was built as a mausoleum by the Moghul Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth giving birth to their 14th (!) child, only adds to the romance about the place. What I didn’t know is that he also planned to build a symmetrical equivalent building in black marble on the other side of the river, for him. Which would have been designed to reflect the Taj Majal. Some others think that the plan was to build a garden built of black marble. Anyway it never happened as he was overthrown by his son, things were tough in those days!
Picture can be found here