Often, our impression about a person or a place revolves around one or two traits, albeit their multifarious personality. Like this restaurant I remember for its sizzling brownie in spite of their delicious multi-cuisine menu. When I returned to them on my latest visit, I realized it wasn’t the dessert alone, but the act of pouring the chocolate sauce onto the pipping hot plate by the butler, that made a world of a difference to the experience of ordering a brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with toasted nuts strewn around in a sizzling chocolate sauce there. It took the absence of that butler for me to realize the real reason behind my love for this item on their menu. Not similarly, but still, the marbled domed structure of the Taj Mahal in the backdrop of a full moon and/or bathing in sunlight is one of the first impressions that has etched itself in the minds of Indians and foreigners alike about Agra, and India. Then there is this romantic angle of undying love of a King for his dead Queen. This could be one of the reasons why couples flock to the Taj to click themselves on a bench in front of it. On one such occasion in 1992 when Princess Diana sat alone on that same white bench in its backdrop, the rest of the world speculated if all is well inside this British royal family.
Putting together the innumerable ways together, this monument is presented before the world as a synecdoche for India, like the Eiffel Tower has come to represent Paris, Statue of Liberty, New York, a yellow snake around the neck picture as Singapore, and an eagle perched on the hand as part of a desert safari in Dubai. Once a colleague of mine thought I was being a traitor to my southern upbringing when I chose to drink a cup of tea over a cup of filter coffee.
Even the broadest of minds on a few occasions fall into the trap of a single image-idea representation of person and place like my colleague did then, which has become a inside joke among us since.