The night before we had viewed the Taj Mahal in the moonlight; now seeing it bright sunshine. Riding in style.
India! It was our last ‘big’ trip together, so it is a very special memory. We went to see the Taj Mahal.Staying first in Delhi and then travelling to Agra to the Taj Mahal and then to Jaipur, the ‘Pink City’, visiting en route the deserted Moghul city of Fatehpur Sikri built in the 16th Century and deserted after only seventeen years as the wells ran dry.Mabel wrote for the Blackwell Methodist Church magazine: “Old Dehli comprises seven cities, the oldest part dating back to the 15th Century, with its palaces, mosques and forts. New Dehli City was built by the British – sometimes described as ‘Lutyens’ Dehli (Sir Edward Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker were the chief architects) – with wide, tree-lined roads and also beautiful buildings. A seething mass of people, traffic, animals, beggars (particularly children bead sellers), snake charmers, dust and smells. A mixture of races and cultures. We went to see Gandhi’s memorial and was pleased to see this shrine because as a child I used to hear from a retired Methodist missionary minister the tales about India and his friend Gandhi. “When we drove from New Dehli to Agra, we passed through villages rather dirty and very dusty, the craftsmen working in lean-to shacks, the pigs foraging the wells with bullocks working the wheel. The fields were well cultivated with sometimes modern equipment, otherwise with bullock and camel power. There were small factories and the workers appeared to walk long distances to their work.”In Agra the beautiful Taj Mahal is a breath-taking sight whether seen by moonlight or by day. Constructed of marble, it is a wonderful warm colour at night but a brilliant shining white by day.” It was truly unforgettable to see this beautiful white shining marble palace basking in the dying rays of the sinking sun. Mabel and I were so immersed in what we were seeing that we got lost and were quite anxious as we tried to find our party in the darkening light. In our anxiety to rejoin our group we kept bumping into gesticulating groups of Indians, appearing to us to be threatening as they pushed their way towards us seeking to make us buy something or wanting to take us somewhere. We felt our situation getting more desperate by the minute as we wandered in the now gloomy darkness but eventually we recognised a couple from our party and followed them back to the group! The next day, all was peaceful: enhancing the beauty of this lovely Palace built by Emperor Shah Jahan and completed in 1684 in the memory of his beloved wife: a symbol of his eternal love.To my great sadness, Mabel died in 2000, after fifty years of married life shared together in great happiness. I shall never be able to understand how life’s richest blessing could be mine: that Mabel Smith would choose to share her life with me and be the love of my life, beloved mother of my children and adoring and loving grandmother of my five lovely grandchildren. Having survived nearly seven years of the Second World War when so very many brave friends who deserved so much to live but did not survive yet had so very much to give in fullfilment of their lives, that I should have a rich and full life with a loving and beautiful partner by my side. When I next see Mabel she will be standing with her back to me as she often did when waiting for me to come out of a meeting. She is standing looking round with great consuming interest at all that is going, and when she turns and sees me approach I know her face will light up and her lovely smile will melt my heart with love for this wonderful girl.
Joe Brown Born 1921; began newspaper career 1936 with Peeblesshire Advertiser published by the Neidpath Press, Peebles: served with the local Territorial Battalion 8th Royal Scots (May 1939-43) and 7th/9th (Highlanders) Battalion The Royal Scots (1943-46). Post-War: executive posts with The Scotsman Publications, Coventry Newspapers and Birmingham Post & Mail; CBE for services to British Newspapers. Honorary Callant of the Royal Burgh of Peebles Callants’ Club. Warden of Neidpath 1983. BA(Hons). Publications: History of Peebles: 1850-1990 (J. L. Brown and I. C. Lawson) Mainstream 1990. Websites: www.lawlerbrown.com [Second World War Memoirs]