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Mahatma Gandhi in Moscow

The art of diplomacy consists in the ability to view a situation, especially a conflict, through the eyes of the opponent. The best example of this ability seems to have been presented by Gandhi’s fight for India’s independence, when the gifted national leader managed to step into the shoes of the British authorities, understand their point of view, and then to offer a solution. In effect, he orchestrated the whole event.

The monument in the photo stands in the courtyard of the State Foreign Literature Library in Moscow where I have been a reader since 1997.

Wonders and Love: From Taj Mahal to Jacques Prevert

S’il n’y avait que sept merveilles du ‘monde’ sur la terre, cela ne vaudrait pas la peine d’y aller voir (J. Prevert) – If there were only seven wonders of the ‘world’ on Earth, it wouldn’t be worth going to see them. 

Il n’y a pas cinq ou six merveilles dans le monde, mais une seule: l’amour (J. Prevert). – There are no five or six wonders in the world, but the one and only: Love.

A part of this post was written on 24 August 2006; another part – on 29 November 2009. They say that Prevert who is one of my favourite poets shared a discreeet but profound love with the woman in his life. This shines forth in Prevert’s poetry, and is something I absolutely share.

The photo is, of course, that of Taj Mahal, a magnificent and inspiring mausoleum erected in memory of the beloved wife of the Mughal emperor. Here is a text from the official tourism website:


Mumtaz Mahal was the third wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It was in her memory that he built the magnificent monument of love and romance, known as the “Taj Mahal”. Mumtaz Mahal, a Muslim Persian Princess, was originally known as Arjumand Banu Begum. So enthralling was her beauty that Shah Jahan (then Prince Khurram) fell in love with her at the first sight. Their marriage was solemnized five years later and from then on, started one of the most popular love stories of the world. Although she was the third wife of Shah Jahan, but at the same time, she was also his favorite. He even bestowed her with the name Mumtaz Mahal and the highest honor of the land – the royal seal, Mehr Uzaz.

Mumtaz Mahal became an inseparable companion of her husband till her death. She even accompanied him on his military endeavors and provided him with her counsel. Infact, she was a pillar of support, love and comfort to the emperor. Mumtaz Mahal gave birth to fourteen children of Shah Jahan. It was during the birth of their 14th child only that she left for the holy abode. It is said that she obtained a promise from Shah Jahan that he will build world’s most beautiful monument in her memory. Whether this was true or not, but, Shah Jahan did build a magnificent monument as a tribute to her life. Today, it counts amongst the Seven Wonders of the World and is known as “The Taj Mahal”.

To learn more about the monument, go to Taj Mahal official website. The photo credit belongs to Prakhar.

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