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 March 2008

Venerable local insitution #2

Bindra Studio.

There is something so heart-breakingly brave about shops like Bindra Studio. They stand like lone sentinels in the cold, impersonal world of digital photography. If you happen to visit Shimla & even if getting yourself photographed is not on your list of things to do, pop over to this 104-year old establishment. Take a peek at those lovely black-and-white pictures. They will take you right back into the world balls and fancy-dresses. The world when a young girl's successs in Shimla was measured by how crowded her dance programme was.

And no, a "dance programme" was not a recital she gave on the stage of Gaiety Theatre. It was a a little gilt-edged card. On one side the the dances and tunes to be played that evening were listed. On the opposite side, you could note the names of the people who proposed to partner them. The tiny pencil attached to this "programme" with a silken cord was a device that made and broke many a reputation!

The pictures in Bindra Studio will remind you of that era gone by when the world seemed simple and uncomplicated, indeed it was only a whirl of dances, a medley of songs from musicals such as The Quaker Girl, The Little Michus & The Dollar Princess.... A world of funny hats & polka-dotted dresses. Of secret assignations in the Gaiety's Green Room. Of martinet domestics in buttoned boots. Of jhampanis & abdaars & khansamahs & masalchis & bhistis.

What a time it must have been.

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