Lessons From The Taj Mahal Glocal #8

Thinking Global, Acting Local “The Taj Rule™’  Glocal #8

The Taj Mahal has been considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I felt my breath get short as my eyes continued on a journey down the reflecting pool to see white marble structure I had only read about my entire life.

The Taj Mahal is widely measured as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and stands as a symbol of eternal love. It is situated on the right bank of river Yamuna. Words fall short in trying to describe the feeling that is experienced with the beauty of the architecture. The building is actually a mausoleum built by Shah Jahan who was grief-stricken after the death of Mumtaz Mahal, his third wife. She died delivering their 14th child at the age of 39. The building was started in 1632 and was completed in 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen.

The Taj Mahal is the biggest attraction in India drawing between 2 million and 4 million visitors annually. I took this global experience and started thinking about the “building of love.” The Taj Mahal is a tribute to Sha Jahan’s wife and to God. The main structure of the Taj is square but has unique beveled corners so there are no sharp edges. I pondered the concept of beveling the edges to soften the concept of this building of love. I then started to compare the idea of rounding out the edges of any relationship to come from a higher level of communication based on love using the Taj Mahal concept as a guide. The idea can be used with local groups, communities, business and individuals. It is a global concept that can be applied locally to make a difference in our ever changing world. Simply stated it is “softening speech or communication” to work through issues in a loving manner with NO sharp edges.

The structure of the dome is designed as a replica of God’s throne in paradise, where the huge pearl dome stands supported by four corner pillars. The entrance gate of the Taj bears inscription of chapter 89 of the Quran. It is called “Al Fajra” or day break. The entire structure is decorated with designs of flowers. The cenotaphs are adorned with stone inlay called “pietra dura.” There are over 35 different types of precious and semi-precious stone from all over the world that have been used for the inlay work which enhances the message of love. Think about how the work to create this tribute of love took almost twenty-two years to complete. The idea of such a love is hard to process and has not been duplicated in a similar concept anywhere in the world.

Sixty-four gardens of sixteen flowerbeds with 400 plants each line the entry through the Charbagh garden which is a symbolic representation of “a garden of Paradise.” This beautiful entry frames the most outstanding construction of a building with perfect symmetry in the world.

No trip to India would be complete without having experienced the beauty of the Taj Mahal.

Take a journey of the slide show and think about those softened edges on the world’s most renowned building representing love. Think about easy it will be to take this global concept and apply it to local relationships and groups by simply “softening edges” in communication and sharing. Could we be “building relationships” with love and respect when “The Taj Rule™” is applied in our behavior? Simply rounding out the rough sharp edges can make a difference in actions when applying this “glocal rule.”

It has been said that discovering the secrets of the Taj is like discovering the different moods of a woman. The evening sheds a different look with the reflections of the fiery inlayed stones sparkling in the setting sun.

This timeless wonder of the Taj Mahal can now be a practical global concept that can make a difference in local experiences by applying “TheTaj Rule™ “ Building communities and relationships with love and softening the delivery of communication by taking away the “sharp” tones of criticism, judgment and condemnation. I will be listening for the giggles as readers process this concept and then apply it at a meeting. Thinking Global and Acting Local….. going glocal with “The Taj Rule™.”

There is still time to “Get in the game“. Win a travel voucher and great prizes to one of the seven wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon where you can stay and play in Williams, Arizona This is an exciting opportunity to experience a town that embraces its visitors and wants to create a memorable experience that you will want to write about.  Thinking global and acting local.

What is with your orange? Glocal #7


Welcome to Day one on the voyage for “Connecting The Dots Around The World.”

“How can this be?” you may be asking as today is actually the 52nd day of travel on the MV Explorer.  Mental transformation proceeds on different paths with each individual and it has taken me this much time to process the information and share it in a way that makes sense and will have a positive impact as we “Think Global and Act Local”  going “Glocal.” To prepare for a mid-voyage review I took a step back to review where we came from and compare where we are, setting the first day stage:

“Anxious whispers filled the room in the student union as voyagers anticipated the key note address for the Spring 2011 voyage of Semester At Sea. The thought of 104 days on the open seas, engaging with people in communities all over the world was daunting.  How would I know what messages to listen to? How would I decipher all the visual and audio stimulation I which I would experience and use it as a learning tool?  How will I know if I “Get It?”  What will I feel?  Will the dots connect?  Will the puzzle pieces fit?  These are questions swimming through the minds of many on the ship so the importance of the initial message was one that would set the tone and expectations for the passage.”

C.Y. Tung,  one of the visionaries behind Semester At Sea said, “Ships can carry more than cargo. They can carry ideas.”

To that end I embarked upon a global path with no obligations, no stress and a total open mind to absorb and engage in stimulating conversation to help connect the dots around the world. Completely void of any ties or worries, produced an environment perfect for a type of “scientific research” where were no external factors that could obscure the message. My mind was an open book ready to write the chapters after each port or life changing event.  The bar of expectations for the experience on the ship was at the very top level.  The marketing “hooks” had me ready, hook, line and sinker for somewhat of a utopia in travel and education.  The superiority of the instructors, the course selections, the student body composition, the quality of the ship itself all were framed in marketing perfection.  I drank the Kool-Aid and was ready for the ride to become “grounded at sea.”

Rosalyn Berne, Vice President of Academic Affairs for the Institute for Shipboard Education and Semester at Sea, spoke to the Spring 2011 voyage participants about embracing the newness of everything and what we were about to experience. She asked us to close our eyes and visualize…….

“Pretend you have one orange and there is one orphan child looking at you on a bench, you start to open the orange…… what are you going to do with the orange?  Now 7 orphan children appear…  again the question arises, what are you going to do with the orange… as you break off one section.. a hundred orphans show up… what will you do?”

Pregnant pause…. that was it, she was done and the next speaker was walking to the stage.

“What is up with your orange?” will be the theme and deep question to ponder throughout the voyage for me.  The sensation in my stomach after her speech was something I was not prepared for as I had no clue what I would do with my orange. Originally thoughts of sharing the orange popped into my head but once the 100 orphans came out I became uncomfortable in my thoughts as the reality of world hunger started to set in. The question then arose about my one orange and what I could do to help.  We have encountered hundreds of hungry children on this voyage so far and the answer to the questions seems to change or evolve after each port.  It will be interesting to compare ideas on how to “Connect The Dots Around The World” once the voyage is totally complete.

Going back to the orientation event, potent information was provided by Dean Dan Garvey describing the hypothesis of why some of us were on the ship.

  • Some are here to meet people and travel.
  • Some people see life as a great charm bracelet and want the charm that says “I sailed around the world.”
  • Some are just getting out of relationships and some want in a relationship.
  • Some are here because their sorority or fraternity said it was a good thing to do.
  • Some are trying to answer “WHO AM I?” and where do I fit in.

Out of nowhere we hear the clear sound of one note ringing in the auditorium.  The addition of a second note peaks our interest, then many notes just hap hazard are being played with no association.  The notes then evolve into a beautiful melody, setting the tone of “harmony” which is ultimately one of the goals for the voyage according to Dean Dan.

“Take aways” from the orientation included the fact responsibility comes along with this adventure if we accept it. We are the custodians of our stories both the successes and the regrets.

I created the Dean Dan Top Ten list from the ship orientation speech.

  1. Traveling around the world is an opportunity to be one of the most transformational times of life.
  2. It can also be an opportunity for huge regret if one misses doing things or experiences for growth in exchange for momentary instant gratification.
  3. Let the experience to light a fire to become a positive influence on the world.
  4. Become a citizen of this planet without regret.
  5. Never say, I wish I had listened, I wish I had spent a little less time at the Hilton.
  6. Adults have been coaching you since you were little, you know what to do, just do it.
  7. Make sure you have no regrets.
  8. Look forward to the unknown opportunities.
  9. Don’t be a distraction to others who want to learn.
  10. Honor everyone else who is here.

The orange messed with my mind or should I describe it as “stimulated contemplation.” The orange has been the topic of many conversations on the voyage as we individually figure out what to do with that fruit.  The door of thought was opened but no directions were given or alluded to including what could potentially happen if you turn right or left in thought so it is up to the “thinker” to figure out how all the dots connect and the ultimate outcome for the orange. The ship is filled with “serious thinkers in the form of both students and educators” which gives a good cross section of some of the most brilliant minds in the country. The voyage has turned out to be more of an “independent study” instead of a community project. Having access to the intellectual resources is making the journey an easy place to learn.  Each individual is learning or absorbing the lessons from around the world at their own pace and under their own terms.

Several insightful ideas came from posting the orange question on facebook:

  • Eat the orange and plant the seeds.
  • Take the orphans to the orange tree itself.
  • Pray, like the loaves, fishes and wine to feed the multitude.
  • Eat the orange and run.
  • Make juice.
  • Teach the orphans how to plant an orchard.

Contemplating the orange, opened thought for new ideas like, connecting the dash in life with specific purpose. Could it be the “dash” on the tombstone showing the material start and end of a life answers what you did with your orange?  Does discovering passion in your dash evolve into “Who Am I” and what did I do to make the world a better place?
Is there a right or wrong answer? Do you share the orange, give it all to one, eat the orange, plant the seeds, graft a tree, create juice or run away?  There are certainly many choices of what to do with the one orange. What is right for one individual might not be right for another.  It really does not matter what your answer is because, your dash, is your dash and you have control over what you do in life to make a difference in the world.

Connecting the dots around the world with global ideas that can be implemented at the local levels is what “Glocal” lessons are all about.

What are you going to do with your orange?

What difference can be made in individual communities?  How can others be encouraged to help with local issues?  The world is a big place and the backyard is a step away.

Going Glocal, connecting our local communities with global lessons.