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....

23 June 2008

Re. taking things for granted.

You see the building in this picture? It is located at the foot of the Mall, opposite the Central Telegraph Office. I have passed it hundreds of times. I have stopped near it to catch my breath, after walking up the incline past Kali Bari. I’ve bought popcorn from a shop inside it. In the good old days, I have gone in to book railway tickets. Yet, it was only recently that I actually took a good look at it. Mainly thanks to a friend who said “Doesn’t this building resemble a steam engine rushing down a railway line?” Good heavens, R, if it weren’t for you, I’d have gone on taking this pretty little edifice for granted.


Last week, I went to a friend’s place. She lives in a really pretty cottage, with a gorgeous view of the mountains and a garden strewn with wild irises, and poppies and lavender and lilies and hydrangea. I asked her how she could bear to leave her home for even a trip to the local market.

“Oh, I’m tired of it,” she responded indifferently. “It was great when I first moved in, but now it’s just the same old thing. I can’t see it anymore.”

“I can’t see it anymore.” How accurate the statement. She failed to notice the mountains. She walked by the flowers without so much as a glance. She thinks of her home as a place as merely a place to lay down her head. Living in paradise, she might just as well have resided at the city dump. Nine people out of ten would have jumped at the opportunity to rent my friend’s house, yet she does not appreciate its virtues.

Human beings have a curious capacity to take things for granted. The most exquisite diamond loses its luster with familiarity. The most compatible intimate becomes boring. Miracles like the daily sunrise fail to astonish because they’re commonplace! Repetition and time dull our sense of wonder.
We endow novelty with powers and attributes that it does not really possess. When a thing becomes familiar to us, the mystery we have projected onto it is lost. We see it without the overlay of our imaginings.
The irony in this idiosyncrasy of human character is that we are disappointed by the very things that used to excite us. The once new job, a partner, or a favoured activity is now tedious. We feel let down rather than uplifted. Disappointment is a consequence of our expectation that an object or event will continue to provide us with stimulation regardless of how constant our contact. Unless we adjust our expectations accordingly, we will continue to feel deflated.
I cannot understand human beings' capacity for boredom! I believe that I am able to maintain a fresh perspective on the commonplace by living life with contrast. At times, in my leaving, there has been a return. If home has beckoned me, it was because I answered the call of the road. I think if my friend is forced to spend time away from her beautiful home, she might return to it with “new” eyes. She might see it again as she did the first time.

So, the next time you find yourself taking someone, or something, for granted, just stop. Stop for a while. Step back. Take a deep breath and remind yourself what it is about that person, or thing, that so attracted you in the first place. What was it that made you stop appreciating them. And then - if they're an animate object! - let them know you won't be taking their presence for granted.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

SO TRUE....ONE DOES TAKE THINGS/PEOPLE FOR GRANTED FOGETTING THEIR INITIAL UNIQUENESS AND ATTRACTION.
BUT ITS YOUR TAKE ON THE "STEAM ENGINE BLDG" AND ITS PHOTOGRAPH WHICH BROUGHT BACK TUCKED AWAY CHERISHED MEMORIES ...AND WITH IT AN UN-EXPRESSABLE HAPPINESS...BLESS YOU ..'THANK YOU' IS TOO LIMITED A WORD FOR THE JOY THAT YOUR POST GAVE

verisimladude said...

interesting!..figuring out boredom - more difficult than analysing fun :) its a strange reality that we consciously look for structure and perfection while unconsciously seeking change and entropy..

maybe ur friend can be cured by taking a holiday to delhi in the middle of summer every year..a flat in a colony on the dusty, smoky ring road, with a daily tour on a blueline bus thrown in :)

I liked TS Eliot's take on understanding our place (the wording may be off): We shall not cease from exploring/ and the end of our exploration/ will be to find ourselves back where we started/ and know the place for the first time...

Gallimaufry said...

Thank you, anonymous friend, for your words... Reading them today is particularly good.
Dear redoubtable verysimladude, you're going to have a fan (or professionally-crazed adehrent) in Gallimaufry if you continue to make posts in this vein!! Love Eliot.

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