Beset by learned arguments concerning dirty socks, seasonal bugs and levitating algae, the Supreme Court has threatened to turf out the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) from its flagship property, the Taj Mahal. The monument to love has been under threat since the time of Lord Curzon, who toned down its Mughal garden into an English park. It has weathered industrial pollution since the early Nineties and now faces multiple threats to its integrity. It was first turned yellow by fumes, and is now turning green under the influence of river pollution.
To be fair, learned arguments should not be summarily dismissed. Marble is a porous rock, and eagerly absorbs whatever comes its way, including the chemistry of dirty socks. And the Taj complex is the happy hunting ground of numerous insect species. Visitors who see the Taj by moonlight may be observed performing an involuntary and energetic dance on the premises, to save themselves from the swarms of mosquitoes which ascend from the river. The ASI has alleged that other bugs, bred on algae in the polluted river, are stealthily wreaking havoc on the monument in the meantime. The court has wanted to know if algae have sprouted wings, which would have been truly exciting and attracted botanists from all over. Sadly, that does not seem to be the case. It’s insects that are doing the flying. For them, it’s routine. They’ve had millions of years of practice, since the Devonian period.
But why must the Supreme Court be saddled with every problem that faces India? Where are those learned folk who insist that the Taj Mahal is actually the Tejo Mahalaya? Why are they missing in action when the “teardrop on the cheek of eternity” is under threat, and its brilliant white tej is turning green? Whatabouter that, eh?