Travel with Mona, visit the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal–A Story of Eternal Love

Often described as one of the wonders of the world, the stunning 17th Century ivory-white marble Taj Mahal was a mausoleum built between 1632 and 1643 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth, as a proof of his eternal love. The Taj Mahal is located on the right bank of the river Yamuna in the Indian city of Agra. 

Docking in Mumbai

We boarded the Princess Cruise ship in Civitavecchia–two hours away from Rome– and cruised the Mediterranean Sea to Naples where we spent a day, and then stopped in Santorini, Greece, before entering the Suez Canal and reaching Akaba on the Red Sea. Following six days at sea, we docked in Dubai and Oman, and then crossed the Indian Ocean, and arrived in Mumbai, India, where we took a bus tour of the city.

Old Indian-architecture in Mumbai
Modern residential building in Mumbai

Our Hindu guide explained that Mumbai hosted the wealthiest billionaires and the poorest of the poor. He also described the habitants as being the most tolerant on Earth, respecting all religions and granting citizens equal rights. In 2012 when we visited India, high ranking government officials included Hindu, Muslims, Catholics,…When we saw cows ambling on the sidewalk and monkeys jumping between trees, our guide explained that no one in India would ever hurt an animal.

The top floors of this high-rise are the penthouse of the wealthiest man in Mumbai.
A typically crowded street in Mumbai

Traveling to Agra

The next day we boarded an Air India plane and flew to New Delhi. We left our five-star hotel at four in the morning and walked for twenty minutes to reach the train station. In the early morning the streets were almost as crowded as during the day, with homeless roaming around, early workers carrying piles of newspapers on their bicycles, or vegetables on their wooden carts. After a three-hour train ride we arrived in Agra and took a bus that dropped us at the entrance of the Taj Mahal. A heavy fog–which apparently is a daily occurrence–veiled the famous mausoleum, but slowly faded as the sun rose higher.

The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”. The Taj Mahal is constructed with impeccable symmetry. Minarets flank the domed tomb, and a central pool reflects the main building.

Notice the different colors at different times of the day. The gardens—an earthly representation of paradise—are divided into quadrants, and twin red sandstone buildings (an east-facing mosque and a west-facing guesthouse) give the mausoleum complex a balanced harmony. 
I am standing on the terrace at the entrance of the mausoleum. Notice we had to remove our shoes. The acoustics inside the main dome cause the single note of a flute to reverberate five times.
The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan, as the actual graves are located at a much lower level.The sarcophagi are enclosed in an eight-sided chamber ornamented with pietra dura (an inlay with semi-precious stones) and a marble lattice screen. 

The shopping in India is amazing. Vendors boasting their merchandise– jewelry, silk scarves, incrusted boxes, and others, waited for us at the door of our buses , ready to accept any bargain.

After a fabulous day in Agra, we returned to New Delhi and visited a Maharaja castle, and then flew to Cochin, in the South of India where we caught up with our ship and continued our cruise to Thailand and Singapore–more stories for another time.

No Requiem by @KatyWalters07 #Poetry

No Requiem Three Fisher Girls. Tynemouth (1881) Finslow Homer from the public Domain.

No Requiem

ln wind and hail,
She ground the fish scale,
A tumble of hair, blanketed,
Pale face, no sign of lace,
A dark dirty gown,
An ashen frown,
That did not deter,
Her beauty.
Tendrils of ebony hair
Escape a blanket stale,
With fish blood,
Tumbling with guts into a pail.

At the end of her day,
She will away,
To candle and mirror,
Powder and colour,
Masking.
The death of a myriad fish,
Some rich man’s dish.

ln the grey dawn of her morn,
She will again grind away,
Her youth.

1800s and early 1900s, 1000s of girls employed as fish gutters, followed the fishing fleets. The work was long and hard, the girls gutted the fish and the “guts were taken out with a very sharp gutting knife. Their fingers were wrapped in “clooties” – bandaged cloths to prevent any knife nicks – but they endured painful sore hands.

No Requiem Copyright Katy Walters
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Look for WINDOW TO LOVE

Window To Love Katy Walters

Sam peered through the window; where was Tammy? She’d promised to be with Sam in less than an hour. After a life-threatening car accident, Samantha used a wheelchair to get around and depended on her close friend Tammy.
As Sam waited, she espied a beautiful and rather large dog bound across the garden lawn to her window. The owner was nowhere in sight. Perhaps the dog was a stray?
Sam knew peered through the window once more and to her relief, saw the dog trotting happily at the side of a reasonably handsome, reasonably aged man. But to Sam’s dismay, the dog seeing her, stopped and pulled at the lead to cross the lawn. As Sam lifted the curtain slightly for a better look, the man turned and waved. Sam shot back behind the curtain. Blast. She didn’t want him knocking on her door. After all, she was home alone and injured. Not a good position to be in with a strange man, She didn’t return the wave back and dropped the curtain abruptly.
Little did Sam realize this was just the beginning of a stream of giddy and sometimes frightening adventures with this reasonably good-looking man and his handsome dog.