Whiskey Plods Eastward ~ Again!
HERE’S A QUICK photographic rundown of my recent trip to India.
Sitting alone at my desk in dreary, chilly Baltimore, I often dream myself tramping around the crowded, filthy, sweltering streets of Mumbai. But don’t you fear, staid Whiskey aficionado – I’ll return to India this fall. With you, if you’d like.
One of the reasons I visited India – and China last year, which our long-sufferers may recall – was to help plan out the “Two Wonders of the World” tour. Right now, Karim Rahemtulla, Addison Wiggin and I are throwing that tour together. The tour will focus on the cultural, artistic – and of course -financial wonders of the two rising eastern powers.
We’ll visit the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall. And we’ll go to Mumbai and Shanghai, these eastern giants’ respective financial centers…where we’ll get the inside scoop on the potentially massive hidden profit opportunities that these world financial powerhouses hold. Of course, you’re invited on this trip…please look to future Whiskey shots for the full details on what promises to be a stupendous tour.
Let’s start with the Taj Mahal.
Why? Because the Taj Mahal is indescribable. And you must see it, hulking in front of you, for you to grasp its sheer beauty. Nonetheless, I’ll imitate the blurry reflection in the above pool by trying to describe this grand place in photos and words.
No other man-made thing, except the Great Wall, has inflamed me with such wonder. When I first gazed at the Taj, the wind slowly drew from my lungs as the heavy beauty of this wonder pressed the breath right out of me. I’m not exaggerating.
Here’s the first full look, as you walk through the outer gate into the charbagh, or rectangular garden:
Legend also claims that Shah Jahan never set foot inside the Taj Mahal and that he intended to build a black Taj even more magnificent than the white one you see above. Thinking Islamic conquest a better use of that much treasure, Shah Jahan’s third son Aurangzeb imprisoned him in Agra Fort. Aurangzeb then killed two of his brothers to take the throne of India.
Makes you wonder how 17th century artisans could create something so enormous with simple tools and scaffolding.
Calligraphic Koran verses surround the above entrance archway. In a slight optical illusion, the lettering grows in size as its gets higher, to fool you into thinking that all of the letters have the same height. You can also see the ornate flowers in the bottom right corner of the above picture. These colorful, intricate flower patterns are precious and semi-precious stones inlaid right into the white marble. Chinese jade, Tibetan turquoise, Afghan lapis, Arabic carnelian, Sri Lankan sapphire and the Ocean’s coral all form the wondrous palette of petals that creeps along the inside and outside of the Taj tomb.
Furthermore, most Mughal buildings used red sandstone, which you can see above in the Masjid. Shah Jahan opted for the Hindu building art that utilized cut and polished marble blocks. And finally, the numerous lotuses and other flowers that grow all over the building in pietra dura splendor originate in the Hindu tradition.
The Mughal mystic writings often portrayed Paradise as a walled garden, fertile and abundant. Normally the tomb marks the middle of the garden, but the Taj sits on one end of the charbagh. But, some scholars have postulated that the black Taj, destined for the opposite bank of the Yamuna, would make Mumtaz’s tomb the center of a massive garden and memorial complex. Who knows? Before the English re-made the garden in the formal English lawn style, it held a profusion of roses, daffodils and fruit trees. Above you see some crimson bouganvillea blossoms – the prickly, vengeful bane of your managing editor’s past tree-trimming career.
Now, let’s return to Agra Fort, Shah Jahan’s lonesome prison.
And, finally, one last picture to bring us back to earth:
In fact, this picture paints a pretty accurate pastiche of India. Repulsive filth within clear sight of one of the most impressive and beautiful structures in the world. Take from that what you will, but I must inform you that my friends Eric Fry and Aussie Joel over at the Rude Awakening are putting the finishing touches on a “Water Emergency Report” right now. It’ll show you how to play the non-renewable liquid that’s more important than oil…so keep reading your Whiskey to get your shot at that report.
I apologize – I will have to post the rest of my India pictures next weekend. It’s late and I’m tired. And, until then, you might ponder the majesty of the Taj – and the wonderful, profitable quandary that is India. And hopefully you’ll join Addison, Karim and myself on the tour this fall.
Good night and warm regards,
March 5, 2006
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