Painting with Light – Part 3

Shoes must be removed before going up the narrow marble stairs to the plaza and into the dome. The quiet intimacy of the past half-hour is rapidly dissipating as more and more people arrive.

Now the shaded areas outside the perimeter of the plaza are attracting photographers seeking the right angle to capture the color.

Examine the two last photos above. They are closeups from one of the larger pix further above. The spots of color are polished jewels set into the marble shell. In the low rays of the early morning sun, when you are in the same visual plane as those rays, they sparkle, reflecting light back to you.

The white spots in the closest shot are sparkles thrown back at the lens. To the human eye, they shimmer as you move through each reflected beam. Curved surfaces present themselves differently to the moving angle of the rising sun with the result that different parts of the building, depending on where you are standing at any moment, pick up the sparkle.

Inside the dome, especially in the height of the day, when the sun is high above the shell, they transmit their colors across the opposite surfaces like a ballroom mirror-globe. But, because photos inside the tomb are not permitted, you’ll have to go there and see that for yourself someday.

I noticed that without a single posted sign or admonishment by staff – for there appears to be none but gardeners and tourist guides – most conversations were held in a subdued, respectful voice. Alone, or as couples, or in small groups, people sat quietly absorbed in the experience.

No one dropped a single piece of litter. Consider the significance of that.

Here, in the heart of a continent covered with cow dung and garbage and junk and refuse and rubble and shacks that tremble in the lightest breeze and open sewers and the public disgrace of entire families living totally exposed to the elements on orban traffic islands, in sum what must be the world’s most pervasively polluted and outrageous insult to the environment, there is not a candy wrapper or cigarette butt.

Nor, on reflection and after expanding and studying the incidental details in the hundreds of photos taken over the course of two days within the walls of the monument, can I recall seeing a single waste bin.

That may be the most amazing thing of all about the Taj Mahal!