I cry a lot. I’m a tear machine. When I’m sad, happy, angry,
hungry. It’s a nuicance to my family. In India, I cried when I got my first glimpse of Pakistan, probably when I saw the mustard fields, in Amritsar, idk, like every other day. I’m telling you this so that you see me as an emotional artist, obviously. But also to add emphasis to the fact that, among all of this sobbing, there’s only been one time in my entire life I’ve cried because something was just so beautiful.
Most of my trip to India was in and around Panjab, but we made a day trip to the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. The Taj Mahal was the most beautiful man made thing I’ve ever seen. On our way to Agra Fort after seeing the Taj Mahal, I was pretty certain that Agra Fort would not come anywhere near as amazing as the Taj Mahal. I was really wrong. Agra Fort was beautiful and huge. Our tour guide was beautiful too, but he quickly child-zoned me when he happily told my family I could get in for cheaper because “she is looking under 15.” I received the message, we moved on.
BUT OKAY. AGRA FORT. So beautiful. We were chilling in this freaking ancient Mughal fort that actual Akbar lived in. Then our tour guide was like, it’s to bad I can’t show you Noor Jahan’s bathroom, it’s exclusive. And we were like, yeah, darn, no toilet for us LOL. Or at least I was. But the rest of my crew was like, no, we should totes pay extra to see this, and I was like aight, I’ll go with the flow. I only really started getting really interested when we started going to a part of the fort that was below everything else, where we were the only ones, and our guide started speaking in whispers. The sun was setting, and it was already breathtaking. We weren’t even at the toilet yet.
So we go inside this little area, and it’s dark. Like pitch dark, and I’m with my grandparents, so I’m trying to make sure no one falls, you know? I’m in a dark old bathroom with my grandparents and nothing is luxurious at this point. Until I start realizing that this “bathroom” is huge, and no one else is around except my family. And child-zoning man. Who had seen us all trip multiple embarassing times all up and down that fort at this point, so was basically family too. The thing is, it was pitch dark. It was called Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), because it was supposed to be decorated with a lot of mirrors. BUT IT WAS DARK. WE COULDN’T SEE ANYTHING.
However, our guide soon walked over to a corner of the bathroom, and held a lit match close to the wall, and told us all to look up. I looked up, and was confused. Remember how, when we went in the Sheesh Mahal, the sun was setting? Well, it seemed night had fallen, as I looked up and wondered why Noor Jahan was okay with a bathroom without a roof, because all I saw when the tour guide lit the match was a star-filled night sky. It took me maybe 30 seconds of staring at the twinkling stars before the tears came, because that’s how long it took me to realize we weren’t looking at the sky.
We were looking at the roof of the Sheesh Mahal.
It was covered in tiny mirrors, that were all reflecting the flickering flame that child-zoner was holding in the corner, so that each one was reflecting the flame. Each reflection looked like a twinkiling star.
I’m just so moved, to this day, by the fact that I actually thought I was looking at the sky, like actually, without a doubt. I didn’t look up and wonder, “Huh. Is that the roof or the sky?” I looked up and instantly assumed it was the sky. When we see amazing artwork, we say, “Wow, it looks so real.” YOU JUST DON’T GO UP TO THE MONA LISA AND START ASKING THE LADY WHY SHE’S SITTING SO STILL. NO OFFENSE LEO. We’re never actually fooled into believing we’re looking at, like, real, natural objects, that we just happened upon. At least, I had never been. Not until this amazing, winter’s night in Agra ❤
When we came out of the Sheesh Mahal, the sun had almost set, and there were NO TOURISTS LEFT IN THAT PART OF THE FORT. It was just me and my blood, walking around a fort built in the 11th century, where the Koh-i-Noor was taken by the Mughals, where Jodha and Akbar lived in inter-religious harmony, and, as Wikipedia describes it, is more of a walled city. I couldn’t believe we were all alone in that place, which I later learned is a UNESCO World Heritage Sight. I unthinkingly made the decision not to take any pictures, so that I could be 100% in that once in a lifetime moment, and I don’t regret it. The picture above, which my bro took, is beautiful, but I’m sure it goes without saying that that moment could have never truly been captured, you know? You have to make the decision–do you want understating photographs to look at afterwards, or do you want a fuller memory? Is this offensive? To photo-takers? I hope not. I take a lot of pics too, don’t get me wrong. I guess, for me, it’s just about finding a balance. That being said, I’m so glad my brother took a picture of the roof.
Also we had two dinners that night, it was magical.
Aight, reader, imma wrap this up. Have a great night/day.
And if you’re ever in Agra, make sure to drop by the Sheesh Mahal at sunset : )