Last week, I finally read The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, a science fiction novel that, completely coincidentally, is frequently set in India. In it, the two main characters, arguing for autonomy for the colonies that live on the moon, find themselves in Agra—the city of the Taj Mahal, made the capital of the Mughal Empire by Akbar the Great—on no less than three occasions.
“Stretched out by Prof and caught breath, then said, ‘How do you feel, Prof?’
‘Okay. A bit tired. Frustrated.’
‘Ja da. Frustrated.’
‘Over not seeing the Taj Mahal, I mean. I never had opportunity as a young man—and here I’ve been within a kilometer of it twice, once for several days, now for another day…and still I haven’t seen it and never shall.’
‘Just a tomb.’
‘And Helen of Troy was just another woman. Sleep, lad.”
In honor of Professor Bernardo de la Paz, I made the Taj Mahal my final destination in India.