Frost’s Favourites – A place

A few years ago, I was chatting with a friend. This friend was in the US at that time. That day we were discussing, amongst other things, a sunset. Apparently, there was a great sunset my friend had witnessed as he drank his evening cuppa. And in our discussions, he told me how he missed having someone to share the beauty of it with. Me being me, replied that he had shared that particular magnificence of nature with everyone who’d witnessed it along with him.

But that wasn’t it. He explained that how he wouldn’t be able to look back upon it years from now as a cherished memory. How there wouldn’t be anyone with him with whom he could reminisce about that evening. How he missed having someone alongside him. Finally, he told me he was ready to get married and would be talking to his parents about an arranged marriage. For a while after this chat, I was a little confused. The sentimentality of it was eye-roll worthy. Then it hit me that I had experienced the same thing, only as a naive fourteen-year-old. Where my friend in his twenties was ranting about it, I went through a similar emotion when I was in school!

It happened when we were on a school trip. I went to an awesome school, which took us to a great many places around the country. When I was in class nine, during the winter months, we went on a school trip to visit Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and around. Now Delhi, I hated. It was dirty, uncouth and vulgar. We saw a great many places of course, but the experience was marred by the people. I still remember random strangers on the street looking at us girls in our school uniforms and ranking us according to our “doable-ness”. Not welcoming at all! Jaipur, on the other hand, was great. The lack of unsolicited attention was welcome. And the place itself was awesome. So rich in history and marvellous. So too was Agra. We learnt a lot about Mughal history.

The Taj Mahal

On a particular winter morning, we had planned our trip to the Taj Mahal. We’d seen a glimpse of it on the train ride into Delhi. I remember looking at the outside of the place in the blurry morning and standing in queue with my classmates. Then we stepped through the doors and it took my breath away. The magnitude of the monument is not in its size but the way it makes you feel. It is a one on one experience even if you are in a crowd of thousands. Standing there, looking at the Taj Mahal I realised that I was missing something. I, many years later, realised what it was. And I had my friend to thank. My hands had felt empty. My heart had a vacuum. My soul was missing a piece, one it didn’t realise it was missing until that moment. There was a desolation born out of the unknown. At that moment, as a young girl, I did not have a name for what I was feeling. But years later I came to know.

That night after the chat with my friend was also the moment when I realised that for all my unconventional ways, I too am a sentimental fool. And a hopeless romantic. It was sometime before I had another realisation – it is always better to have my hands empty than to hold on to the wrong one.

And that is why the Taj Mahal is one of my favourite places, not because it is a wonder or the world famous tourist place. It is simply because it reaches out to you, irrespective of age. And that feeling resonates within oneself for ages… it lingers.

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