15 Sept. It is after 16 (almost 17) years that I visited Agra. Last time it was for educational tour (as Mass Communication students! Remember visiting the then Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda on 26th February 1997. He was gracious to us; we had a high-tea with him at his residence. And then we had some question
answer session with him. I had asked him when would Mr Sitaram Kesari (Congress President) remove him from his PM’s chair. I had used a very complicated sentence to sound like a journalist! Mr Gowda had repeated a few times, ‘I am a poor farmer of humble origin; … I never wanted to be PM, …’
We also faxed a press release about it sitting in his garden in New Delhi; and the Times of India had carried it on the first page! And after a month he had lost his chair! That was our ‘wow, didn’t I ask HDD about it!’ moment!
After that we had visited NDTV, met Prannoy Roy, visited Anita Pratap of CNN at her residence, met the India today guy (whose name I forget now – you know it’s so many years!) and IGNOU, Indian Express, Door Darshan, and Agra before landing up in Kathmandu for another ten days!)
Taj Mahal was beautiful then; it was my first visit anyway! I liked it immensely. I was passionate about photography – that old hobby with Pentax K-1000 SLR camera and those rolls and rolls of Konica-100 film reels! Back in those days, it could cost a pretty penny! We had to think a dozen times before clicking a shot! But when it came to Taj, it just didn’t hurt! It was pure fun. Lots of photographic, angular, light, distance experiments! Plenty of them!
This time I started for Fatefur Sikri; but somehow changed our minds to Taj Mahal! Was that a pull!? And then, both Steven and I, wanted to visit Agra Fort where the “builder” of Taj Mahal Shah Jahan was kept under arrest and given the privilege of watching this monument of his beloved for all his captive-days. Once again, I forgot till I returned to my hotel room! Wasn’t it a pull of the Taj!?
Be that as it may!
Taj has stood the test of times for 400 years; but could it not wait for another 17 years? This time the Taj looked a bit pale, yellowish, surrendering to the polluting industries in and around Agra! Sad
But the feel was massive, yet! Its beauty, its symmetry, its brightness (or at least the way it speaks of it!), all these evoked the 1997 memories