The gardens of the Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, India

You must be asking yourself if I could really fall asleep at night observing the dome of the Taj Mahal. Of course I slept. But I always set the alarm. In this way, Marsha would wake up in the bed next to mine with a cheerful, “Good Morning,” and she was not berating me for waking her up at 5.00am!

Within fifteen minutes we would be walking down the corridors of the Oberoi to drink a cup of coffee in one of the lounges that viewed the Taj Mahal, as it stood in the early morning mist, and then we would go out into the hotel’ s courtyard. A driver was waiting for us, dressed à l’indienne, sporting a red turban, blue jacket, buttoned up to the neck, and tight, white trousers. We jumped into the golf cart and it meandered noiselessly through the hotel gardens, past the gates, and up a truly terrible road, making a large turn round the walls of the Oberoi.

When it stopped, we got out, observing that the location was surrounded by derelict shacks amongst the trees, a lot of garbage, lounging cows, and the first of the morning Indians on their way to visit the mausoleum. We joined the Indian women, beautiful in their brightly-coloured saris, and I wondered why we couldn’t go to the Taj Mahal on foot, through the hotel gardens and into those of the monument, so that we could bypass the hideousness of that road. 

What I hadn’t yet understood, but which my eyes would soon become accustomed to, was that in India there was always a harmonious progression. You would come out of one dream and enter the next, as if that was the normal order of things.  Everything in its most superlative form…

An excerpt from the book: INDIA and my Persian garden

The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, India

The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, India

Barbara Athanassiadis