I’m not going to try to describe the Taj Mahal. To do so is impossible. Far better writers than me have said so. Confronted with it at dawn, and then at sunset, and again in the moonlight, Mark Twain declined to describe the monument except in an oblique way. The handful of pages he devotes to the Taj Mahal include the most candid passages he ever wrote about the limits of his skills.
Today – and almost any day – is “fly day” in Manly. Spring or Summer brings swarms of flies that would carry off small dogs were they not well tethered. They drive pedestrians to mad semaphoric wavings. The phrase “bloody flies” is the local equivalent of the American reference to inappropriate maternal affection.
What a ridiculous conceit, to research India, armed with a Google search button, a Barnes and Noble discount membership and a Public Library card. I don’t want the pale lightbulb of vicarious information; I want the fire of experience. I know that even a few weeks of that will be inadequate. After all, India is the source of the cautionary tale of the blind men invited to describe an elephant after running their hands over the part nearest at the moment. The one at the trunk said it was a firehose; men at the legs said it’s a tree; the
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