Why this blog is called "Gallimaufry".

gal-uh-MAW-free\, noun.

Originally meaning "a hash of various kinds of meats," "gallimaufry" comes from French galimafrée; in Old French, from the word galer, "to rejoice, to make merry"; in old English: gala + mafrer: "to eat much," and from Medieval Dutch maffelen: "to open one's mouth wide."

It's also a dish made by hashing up odds and ends of food; a heterogeneous mixture; a hodge-podge; a ragout; a confused jumble; a ridiculous medley; a promiscuous (!) assemblage of persons.

Those of you who know me, will, I’m sure, understand how well some of these phrases (barring the "promiscuous" bit!) fit me.

More importantly, this blog is an ode to my love for Shimla. I hope to show you this little town through my eyes. If you don't see too many people in it, forgive me, because I'm a little chary of turning this into a human zoo.

Stop by for a spell, look at my pictures, ask me questions about Shimla, if you wish. I shall try and answer them as best as I can. Let's be friends for a while....

17 May 2007

I like weather rather than climate!

Remarked Steinbeck.
It is impossible to live in Shimla and not to mention - or rather, gloat over - its salubrious air. Shimla's British residents were, predictably, fascinated by its weather.
"Like meat, we keep better here [in the hills].", said Emily Eden.

Lord Curzon took the cake. In a speech to the Simla Municipal Committee, in April 1899, he proclaimed that "Simla is in a peculiar sense not merely the official residence of the Viceroy during the hot weather, but his country home. For here he divests himself if not of the cares of office—this is I fear never possible in India—at least of some of the trappings of State; and amid your beautiful mountains he may almost succeed in mistaking himself for an Anglo-Indian Horace retiring from the noise and smoke of Rome to the peace of the Tiburine hills."!

The weather was bound to affect its inhabitants. There was an atmosphere of revelry. The puruit of relaxation was a serious business. Social calls, amateur theatricals at Gaiety Theatre, picnics at Annandale, viceregal dinners, fetes champetre, races and racing balls, occupied residents full time. Shimla was variously defined as the "home of the heaven-born," "the abode of the little tin gods," "a place so overladen with officialdom that it left little room for people seeking a simple summer of leisure". One disgusted soul called it "an English watering-hole gone mad"!

The last word on Shimla must go to an unknown British bureaucrat who remarked that "Delightful as it was, it was not India."

14 May 2007

Gods have nesting instincts too?

Exploring the neighbourhood throws up interesting sights! Here's Shiva, nesting, as it were. It almost felt as though his divine consort, Parvati, had left him to hatch some divine eggs!

He, who is one of the triumvirate of Hindu divinities, namely, Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh. The three represent one aspect each of the Divine: Brahma is the creator, Vishnu preserves & Mahesh, or Shiva, as he is popularly called, is responsible for destruction which, in turn, represents change. In his avataar as Rudra, Shiva is considered to be the destroyer of evil and sorrow. As Shankara, he is the doer of good. Interestingly, his name "Shiva" also means kind, friendly, gracious, or auspicious. Seems apposite, in a sense.

Back home, in Maharshtra, he is known as Khandoba in Jejuri.
And when you mention the word "Jejuri", you cannot go forth without mentioning at least one of Arun Kolatkar's poems from his book titled "Jejuri":

what is god
and what is stone
the dividing line
if it exists
is very thin
at jejuri
and every other stone
is god or his cousin

there is no crop
other than god
and god is harvested here
around the year
and round the clock
out of the bad earth
and the hard rock

that giant hunk of rock
the size of a bedroom
is khandoba's wife turned to stone
the crack that runs across
is the scar from his broadsword
he struck her down with
once in a fit of rage

scratch a rock
and a legend springs

10 May 2007

God Scatters Beauty

God scatters beauty as he scatters flowers
O'er the wide earth, and tells us all are ours.
A hundred lights in every temple burn,
And at each shrine I bend my knee in turn.

Walter Savage Landor

This little temple of unknown age and provenance, is located at the head of the Annandale Valley. Noone ever goes there and noone has ever been seen praying there. But it has a dozens of little coloured threads hanging over its doorway, probably tied there by hopefuls asking the deity for favours.

S likes the place so much she hopes to get married there! More power to her wishes. May Shiva help her find her soulmate...

9 May 2007

I'm in love! I'm all shook up!

Mm.. mm.. oh, oh, yeah, yeah!

Wait. This is no tomfoolery.
Here's what happened. It was a fine Sunday afternoon. The venerable seniors & self were on a ramble along the path you see above.
And this cottage - St. Ninian's - loomed up on the way. I did the only thing I could - I fell in love with it.

Open Letter to My Significant Other, courtesy Thomas Lovell Beddoes:
If there were dreams to sell,
What would you buy?
Some cost a passing bell;
Some a light sigh,
That shakes from Life's fresh crown
Only a rose-leaf down.
If there were dreams to sell,
Merry and sad to tell,
And the crier rang the bell,
What would you buy?
A cottage lone and still,
With bowers nigh,
Shadowy, my woes to still,
Until I die.
Such pearl from Life's fresh crown
Fain would I shake me down.
Were dreams to have at will,
This would best heal my ill,
This would I buy.

And further, dear Vineet, per Wordsworth,
On favoured ground, thy gift, where I might dwell
In neighbourhood with One to me most dear,
That undivided we from year to year
Might work in our high Calling--a bright hope
To which our fancies, mingling, gave free scope
Till checked by some necessities severe.

Just a thought, you know.
Related Posts with Thumbnails