I stood there at peace, staring at the wonderment of this massive structure and homage to love, resplendent in white marble with the bright orange sun rising and shining its rays on the east side of the Taj Mahal. Derek had walked down to the west mosque.
I was deep in thought, thinking the same thoughts I did the night before when I looked at this very same building. I thought of life – our time here on this planet and the one chance, or for some of us, a couple chances, to truly live. I also thought of love – how against seemingly impossible odds amidst the infinite possibilities of everyone and anyone we could and would ever meet, that there is one person that does or will mean more to us than anyone and everyone we’ve ever met, or will meet.
I thought of these things as I spied a monkey sitting on the bench just a few short yards to my left. I thought of Hanuman. I turned to take pictures, happy for the opportunity, noticing another monkey a few steps beyond to the left. I wondered, what should I say? A simple ‘hi’ or ‘hello’? Or something a little more involved? Why was I more nervous introducing myself to a monkey, when I could without any hesitation walk up to any stranger to start a conversation? Maybe he didn’t speak English, which could be a real problem. I didn’t speak (or understand) Hindi or Marathi or any of the other thousands of languages spoken among the peoples of my motherland, not to mention the monkeys.
Just then, out of nowhere, I felt a thud to my left shoulder, wheeling me almost off my feet. Regaining my balance as I made sure to grab a firm hold of my camera, my eyes refocused to find another monkey holding ground screeching at me, crouched and baring his teeth, from behind. It apparently did not approve of me taken pics of its brethren. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by four monkeys (maybe five?), screeching at me, with the Indian masses at that time seeming to be so far far away. All of a sudden, my feet felt both heavy and light. I was about to get attacked by a band of monkeys at the Taj! Slowly I stepped back, one foot behind the other, my fists clenched ready for come what may, ready for any one or all of them to jump at me. With no help in sight, it was just me against a band of monkeys.
Luckily, they never did.
And I retreated as they watched me in defeat, my tail between my legs; theirs held high.
My heart racing amidst the heat, I found my way down the section in front of and to the west of the Taj, catching up with Derek.
Within earshot of him and anyone else around, I exclaimed, “Y’all won’t believe this shit that just happened!!!!”