The Mexican Nobel Prize-winning poet Octavio Paz has a nice description of coming upon the Taj Mohal Hotel by ship for the first time in the early 1950s: "Behind the monument [India Gate], floating in the warm air, was a silhouette of the Taj Mahal Hotel, an enormous cake, a delirium of fin-de-siecle Orient fallen like a gigantic bubble, not of soap but of stone, on Bombay's lap. I rubbed my eyes: was the hotel getting closer or farther away? Seeing my surprise [W.H.] Auden explained to me that the hotel's strange appearance was due to a mistake: the builders could not read the plans that the architect had sent from Paris, and they built it backward, its front facing the city, its back turned to the sea. The mistake seemed to me a deliberate one that revealed an unconscious negation of Europe and the desire to confine the building forever in India. A symbolic gesture, much like that of Cortes burning his boats so that his men could not leave. How often have we experienced similar temptations?" (In Light of India, Harcourt Brace, 1995, p. 8).
Taj Mahal Hotel. Bombay.