For the first time this trip, I am cranky with a whole place/city (Agra). And it’s the first time I’ve felt really depleted. It’s okay, time/money/me winding down together. The four train days ahead are a little scary, but it’s all good…I say confidently.
This was Taj Mahal day. Chichén Itza, Mexico; Christ the Redeemer Statue, Brazil; Colosseum, Italy; Taj Mahal, India; Great Wall of China; Petra, Jordan; and Machu Picchu, Peru have all been declared, by whom I’m not quite sure, the seven wonders of the modern world. So I’ve been to most of them and must say the Taj Mahal was the least inspiring. (the Great Wall is the most impressive.)Let me explain and not just sound like the cranky old slightly-ill crone of the day.
First of course, it is truly beautiful; if there is such a thing as a heavenly structure the Taj Mahal would surely be the prototype, and there has likely never been any building/monument, natural or man-made, more thoroughly photographed. I really did feel quite silly taking more pictures…but it’s all just fake photography unless you have a selfie in front of the magnificent thing you’ve come all this way to see, yes?
I’m thinking about men today. The constant news coming out of India about the devaluation of women in this society. The brutal rapes, female infanticide, increase in honor killings, and the practice of marrying girl children off to hideous old men—all still not uncommon. For whatever reason, all of these abhorrent practices feel almost more everyday here than in the Muslim countries I’ve visited. I loath seeing an exhausted looking girl carrying a baby, yelling at a toddler, and pulling her stubborn goat along behind.
Before sharing the obligatory photos of the Taj Mahal, I have this little scene I observed while the train was stopped at a rail station. In all fairness, I don’t know that the men in the following photos were directly responsible for the plight of these girl children, but if not them, certainly their brothers and cousins were/are. I think these few pictures are illustrative of the story of girls with their babies living in a world of arrogant men.
Then I check in with HuffPost to see what the men of the US are up to…no good it seems. But I think we may want to stop a minute and take a look at whether we’re tarring too many men with the same bad behavior brush. There are some differences: accosting children versus adult women; rape versus an inappropriate pat; using power for sex as opposed to equals stepping over the line. Men need to grow up, to stop using the power they hold in the real world, whether India or the US, to poke and prod and take and threaten. No new thoughts there.
It’s just that seeing and thinking about what women go through here makes a news flash about yet one more woman being groped by yet one more celebrity/politician/male person seem…well…almost trite. No, do not think I’m making light of this…in fact as I was walking around Taj Mahal’s beauty I kept having to imagine Charlie Rose subjecting female staff to his naked self at the office, and not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Nevertheless it’s not the same as an 11-year-old girl being sold to stinky grandpa down the road.
Here’s how this all ties in with the Taj Mahal. This delicate vision in white of Muslim architecture was built by a Shah Jahan in memory of his wife who died giving birth to their 14th child. Speaking of creepy. So did the Shah insist on impregnating her 14 times? Did he rape her? Did she have a say in the matter? I’m not so impressed with all this perfection coming about because the dear old Shah couldn’t figure out that keeping his love pregnant all of the time might not be good for her…so he literally killed her with his ‘kindness’ and then built a pretty thing by which to remember her.
Anyway between Charlie Rose and Shah Jahan and the ever-present and persistent vendors, I am annoyed with men…except of course my family and friends who are male—and all of whom are much further evolved than either Charlie or the Shah obviously.