Visiting the Taj

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Coming back home was not only one of the happiest moments in my life but also the most awaited. Even though I was home something seemed different. I appreciated even the smallest of things more now than when I lived in India.
As a twelve year old when I first visited the Taj Mahal, my first reaction was “Is this it? It looks better on TV.” My reaction was quite the opposite this time. It looked really cool but was too  hot for us to be there. We were drenched in sweat like we would be  in a sauna. In addition, the claustrophobic and humid environment added to my misery. But yet the 370 year old architecture was worth every drop of sweat. It was not that the site was just another building to me but something that was so familiar and cherishable. I felt proud, I always was. It was something so memorable ever since childhood, just like my home.  Finally, my friends were able to share that feeling with me and experience my  culture. That made my visit even more enjoyable than the first. I was glad they had such a great time and were excited to visit the Taj. They’ve made every part of this trip fun-holding a black cobra from a snake charmer, waking up at 5 am for the trip, the bus ride, teaching them to eat mangoes the Indian way, etc. After the  Taj tour, we were drained of every energy but the day wasn’t over yet. Next was to the richest fort in the world. The main throne of the emperor alone was twice the amount of the cost of the Taj Mahal, which was about 24 billion dollars in present day. It was hard to fathom that richness. However, right outside the red walls were desperate beggars, young and old, mothers’ and children. It was definitely a result of British exploitation and the corrupt government today in India. It was difficult now to give to a child begging at my feet, who did a hand stand and raised up his disabled feet just for a few Rupees. As I collected some alms from the group, one member gave me some candies and another 100 Rs (an equivalent of less than 2 dollars). The boy had the biggest grin when I handed my collection. It seemed like a dream come true for him. But that wasn’t one case in India. They are millions to the point where it seems impossible to help all people in desperation. India has many beautiful sites and richness but in the other hand, it is filled with the poorest of the poor possible, who need help.  I hope those on this trip didn’t come solely for fun but for us who are privileged to appreciate the little things we have rather than complain about what we don’t have. I hope they’ve come to not only take something from India but also to give back. Most of all, I hope they’ve seen the world from a different point of view and treasure what they’ve experienced here. 

-Sam Panderla
(Sam is from India and currently studying at FPU)

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