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....

21 June 2008

A little village path

This poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950) is titled “Departure”. It holds a special place in my heart because I first read it at age 9 in a tattered copy of an old magazine, tucked away in a shelf of a library. Last night, while hunting for someting, I found an old notebook where I'd carefully copied this poem in schoolgirl cursive writing! You could say that this was one of the starting points of my life-long romance with poetry. The sentiment expressed by St. Vincent Millay appealed to the romantic in me, the thought of leaving it all behind, nary a care, just flying, flying away. Then I was brought up short by the end!

It was a beautiful morning, clear and crisp and a little nippy, when I went ambling through a cedar forest, past a little hamlet in a little-known part of my area. This journey was somehow enhanced because my walking companion understood the need for stillness and did not rush in to fill conversational gaps.

As we walked, the sight of this little path brought back memories of that musty old library in Mhow, being perched on a ladder that lead up to a ceiling that seemed to climb right up to the sky and that startling poem in that tattered copy of Ainslee’s Magazine.

It’s little I care what path I take,
And where it leads it’s little I care,
But out of this house, lest my heart break,
I must go, and off somewhere!

It’s little I know what’s in my heart,
What’s in my mind it’s little I know,
But there’s that in me must up and start,
And it’s little I care where my feet go!

I wish I could walk for a day and a night
And find me at dawn in a desolate place,
With never the rut of a road in sight,
Or the roof of a house, or the eyes of a face.

I wish I could walk till my blood should spout,
And drop me, never to stir again,
On a shore that is wide, for the tide is out,
And the weedy rocks are bare to the rain.

But dump or dock, where the path I take
Brings up, it’s little enough I care,
And it’s little I’d mind the fuss they’ll make,
Huddled dead in a ditch somewhere.

“Is something the matter, dear,” she said,
“That you sit at your work so silently?”
“No, mother, no—’twas a knot in my thread.
There goes the kettle—I’ll make the tea.”


Anonymous said...

hi..I'm Denzil Lobo, a 33-year-old local historian(by hobby) from Mhow..Which Library in Mhow are you referring to? When were you here? and do yoou have any pictures of Mhow? Please do reply,

Anonymous said...

My email address is:

Gallimaufry said...

Hello Denzil!
The library was that of Infantry School. (Now called something else, I think?)
The year: 1975-76.
Pictures: alas, no. Only in mind.

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