The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Is This More Effective Than The United Nations?
March 1, 2007, 7:57 pm
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The Taj Mahal

So as you all know, I’m in India – and whilst my meetings have been pretty good [and with a teensy-bit of luck, they’ll turn into ‘astoundingly good’ within a few weeks] the highlight for me has been visiting the Taj Mahal.

Now there are a number of reasons why this is the case, with the main ones being …

1 My Dad went there in 1975 and in a weird sort of way, it made me feel like I was there with him – which was something I treasured.

2 It is simply the most magical, breath-taking, majestic place I have ever seen in my life.

3 It ignites a feeling of spirituality in everyone – even those with a coldest, cynical heart.

[I don’t mean ‘spirituality’ in the clichéd sense of ‘finding yourself’ – but in the way that you know you are connected to all of humanity]

As I’m not sure if people know the amazing story of the Taj Mahal … I’ll quickly detail it before getting to my point.

The Taj Mahal [The Palace Of All Palaces] was built by a Mongul emperor named Sahah Jahan – as a resting place [and demonstration to the World ] of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

The Taj Mahal took twenty-two years to complete with an estimated 20,000 workers. The building is surrounded by four 138 ft. minarets [each leaning slighting away from the centre building so that in an earthquake, they would fall away – rather than into – the centerpiece] … sits on a 315 ft. square marble platform [with the marble being brought in from almost 400 kms] … is engraved – not painted – throughout the building and is symmetrical in almost every way.

I say ‘almost’ because whilst the monument was built for his wife [with her tomb in the absolute centre of the building] Sahah Jahan wanted to be buried next to her – thus making it the only none-symmetrical element of the building.

Rumour states that the Sahah Jahan wanted to build an identical building in black for himself but his son – worried that the Emperor was bankrupting the people – put his father in a prison [which had a torturous view of his masterpiece] – till he died, 8 years later.

The bastard!

Taj Mahal

Anyway, back to my point …

The thing is, this Wonder Of The World attracts 10,000 people from all over the globe each day, and regardless of where they come from … what religion they follow … what financial situation they enjoy … they all go away with a greater/deeper appreciation of another culture – with it’s different values, beliefs and attitudes – which in its own small way, helps break down global prejudices which in its own small way, helps break down the anger and hatred that is prevalent throughout the World.

In short, the Taj Mahal may be encouraging people of the World to live happier, healthier, more considerate, understanding and integrated lives … which is needed more now than ever … which begs the question why don’t the super-wealthy/government get together and create a new Wonder Of The World … something that will have the same effect on people 1,000 years from now as the Taj Mahal had on me today?

If done in the right way, with the right intentions … I now know a building has the power to bring different cultures, nationalities and religions together … which surely can help those who visit have a greater appreciation for their life and others lives which can only be a good thing.

Of course there are lot of things that need supporting – but given we live in such ego-maniac times, I find it interesting the uber-wealthy tend to invest in charities and/or art rather than glorious and majestic architecture – especially as this probably would leave their name in history more than any other act they could do.

Then again, maybe it is impossible to build something as spectacular as the Taj Mahal without experiencing a deep sense of loss … maybe when something is created purely because of ego, you get unpopular vulgarity – like Trump Tower. 

Whatever the answer is, I cannot help but feel the World would be a better place if there were more Taj Mahal’s for people to experience or at least a law that stated everyone in the World had to go and visit the Taj Mahal at least once in their life.

In all seriousness, I cannot adequately describe the majesty of this place – it is astounding in every way – and whilst it was obviously built to generate awe in all who visited it, it is not a sad place, infact it’s the most alive building I have ever seen. [You have to go there to truly understand what I mean]

Hell, not many people can get me to get up at 5:15am after 3 hours sleep … let alone a building … and yet that’s what happened this morning because I needed to see it one more time before I flew home.

Sure it is a tourist attraction … but the Indian people treat the place with ultimate respect [petrol/diesel cars and not allowed within 1000 feet of the Taj Mahal grounds] and once you’ve negotiated past the beggars, touts and tourist guides who hang outside the Palace’s main gates, you are in a place where tranquility can be truly appreciated, embraced and understood.

Go there … I urge you … especially because on the way out you can buy one of the most tacky-yet-cool momentos on the planet … the Taj Mahal Snow Dome.  [Yes, of course I bought one … I’m pathetic and uncultured. Sue me]

29 Comments so far
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Problem is that any such building now would be used as a political tool and a money making scheme rather than a true icon of humanity.

The huge Buddha in Hong Kong is nowhere near the Taj Mahal as a place, but it is along the same lines. A monument of humanity rather than politics or money.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Monument = Peace?

It’s a mental idea but I buy it. I suppose it’s down to the building not being about specific religions and more to do with a specific human emotion/experience.

Maybe you should get Sony to do it as part of your FEEL campaign though I don’t think that would particulary get the masses visiting unless it wasn’t branded; and we know that would never happen 🙂

Love the idea, despite the lack of practicality. Well, practicality in the sense someone will do it without it their arrogant ego or political stance shining through. (If it could happen though, I do think it would be amazing, though I am betting it would only occur in Asia)

The Taj Mahal has always been one of my “must go” places but now you’ve encouraged me to try and sort it out.

Hope you’re good mate, or at least better than George.

Comment by Pete

If they funded it, but didnt make it “branded” as such. Just a plaque somewhere saying “funded by Sony”, then it could work without feeling commercial.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

If I was talking to you, I’d say that I quite like your thinking on this but as I’m not, you can piss off.

Yes I just swore and yes I am aware your Mummy may read it, but I’m tough or at least tougher than Andy, so I don’t care.

Comment by George

Hey George – pity your stomach isn’t as tough as your blog-posting capabilities. How is the tum? Are the nappies helping?

Oh and Rob, SONY can’t even make a screw without having the urge to splash their logo all over it so a building without their name in 50 foot neon lights is very, very unlikely indeed. Ha.

Talking of SONY, I’m seeing them next week so lets see what they think of your post eh?

Gotta go – plane time. Again.

Comment by Rob

To quote a well used Andrew phrase. Cock.

Safe flight, speak tomorrow, I’m off to my favourite room in the hotel. The one with a “flush” button.

Comment by George

True, but if they did…

Im very interested to know real answers instead of just PR department answers. If they want to send me one just to prove to me how good it is, I suppose I could accept 😉

George, well done for making a joke out of your predicament… must be a well needed release!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Are you taking the piss Rob?

“Well needed release”?? That’s all I’ve been doing since I landed in this country. It’s a well needed stop that I need now.

Comment by George

A little maybe, i’ve tried to be nice; even down to asking Rob if you were alright!

Couldnt resist one little minor gag before you get better..! Bet you cant wait to get home!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Don’t worry Rob, you’d have to go a long way to be nastier than my business partners and wife who seem to revel in humiliating me to as many people as possible. Yes I am looking forward to going home but I wish I’d seen more of India because all I’ve actually checked out is my hotel toilet and reception.

Comment by George

Cruel… funny, but cruel.

Better luck next time!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

You’ve just described the characteristics of every important person in my life; and that includes my mother in law.

Comment by George

Given I’ve known you 14 years, do I have this exclusive “cruel gene” or have I just been used by you for the last few years?

That has come out slightly gay hasn’t it.

Comment by Pete

Yes and yes.

Comment by George

Good and shit.

Comment by Pete

What I love about these blogs is that they show that even big people in advertising can be down to earth and just like everyone else… which is I suppose WHY they are so good at what they do.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’m glad I skipped the post and just went straight to the comments. Not feeling better then George?


Comment by Marcus Brown

Hello Marcus, no I am not better but I do appreciate your concern and lack of piss taking, best exemplified by Mr Mortimer insinuating we’re some sort of big noise in advertisingland.

It’s a nice thought but not true, at least where I am concerned 🙂

I love the Sacrum blog by the way, it’s all I’ve been able to look at in my current situation and has given me quite a few smiles; which is amazing given my current love affair with a hotel toilet seat.

Comment by George

hey rob, i’m glad you feel like saving the world with architecture. and i hate to be cynical, but the reason it will never happen is the same reason we need something unifying in the first place. we’ve all become a bunch of money-hungry, ego-driven megalomaniacs.

and if you ever discourage the über-wealthy from buying art again, i’ll have to slap you – you’re supposed to be helping make my future bright too, remember? 🙂

too bad you’re not feeling any better george.. sending some good parasite-fighting vibes your way.

Comment by lauren

PS – cool snow dome!

Comment by lauren

Lauren – please accept my humblest apologies, I will never promote anything that can encourage global harmony unless it involves buying expensive art. YOUR expensive art. Is that OK?

And can we all stop talking about George – he’s got a tummy bug that’s all ANNNNNNND he’s now better to fly home today – what about poor lil’ Billy? Whose said “GET WELL SOON” to him … apart from our Financial Director. [US Hospitals cost a fortune!]

Comment by Rob

please continue to promote global harmony, rob. just make sure the kids are still buying art, that’s all.. ha!

billy, if you don’t get well soon, i think we’re all going to cry, so please get better. (was that ok rob?)

Comment by lauren

Perfect. I am proud [and a little bit scared] of you Lauren.

Comment by Rob


Comment by lauren


That I did as you told me to – or that I’m a bit scared of you?

Comment by Rob

Glad you Sacrum relieved you while you were relieving yourself George.


Comment by Marcus Brown

That image is more disgusting than the reason George was glued to the Indian loo seat.

Hello Marcus my friend …

Comment by Robert


Comment by Marcus Brown

A little from column A, a little from column B.

good morning marcus. i’m glad it’s not morning here, otherwise that image might have put me off my breakfast.

Comment by lauren

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