Losing His Marbles

Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Ok, so whilst my wife was giving birth to my 14th child, she died. And I was devastated. So I thought ‘what can I do to help with my grief?’ Quickly it came to me: I should employ 20,000 people, round up over 1,000 elephants and build a huge, teutonically-symmetrical white marble mausoleum, then put my dead wife’s body in it, facing Mecca.

About a decade later, just as I was feeling a bit better about things and my Crown of the Palace was pretty much complete, another of my children locked me up in a nearby fort. I remained there until my death and (he had a morsel of decency at least) was entombed next to my beloved wife.

So wrote Shah Jahan in the mid 17th century (although I may be paraphrasing).

Like a lot of these “really famous sights” we still have the privilege of seeing, the Taj Mahal does not disappoint. It is an amazingly elaborate and contrived building, and you would hope so. If I built something for nearly one billion dollars these days I would hope it was pretty shit hot.

More importantly, I would also hope that there is a family of monkeys playing in one of the royal fountains, tormenting and evading the stick-wielding and angry caretaker. Alas, whilst enjoying photographing these scenes, one large monkey decided he would like to take my water bottle, sunglasses and hat. I rapped him on the knuckles with the bottle, so he released his grip then he stood his ground. I sensed a rabies stand-off about to unfold so I stared back and puffed myself up hoping for the best. To my relief, he sloped off. Phew!


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