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....

2 July 2008

A most peculiar plant

is Arisaema Jacquemontii.

Arisaema is a genus of about 150 species in the flowering plant family Araceae, native to eastern and central Africa, Asia and eastern North America.

(Source: Polunin. O. and Stainton. A. Flowers of the Himalayas. Oxford University Press, 1984)

I have found this plant growing in abundance in dappled and deep shade in Shimla. It usually has two leaves with five to seven leaflets (when adult) in a 'radiate disposition' (To me, it looks a little like a Japanese Umbrella).

The flower part is pale jade-green, paler at the base and faintly striped white. The tip of the leaf is elongated, upturned and coiled. This plant flowers in June and July every year and is taken as an indication of the onset of monsoon by locals.

A local flower maven proclaims this to be a rare plant; but I notice that it grows in mad profusion by the roadside in my area. He goes on to add that “these cause an extremely unpleasant sensation similar to needles being stuck into the mouth and tongue if they are eaten; but they are easily neutralized by thoroughly drying or cooking the plant or by steeping it in water”. My question to you is why would someone do this? Stick this ugly plant into their mouth?!

The Boy Friday says this plant is called “sarp” (snake) in his part of the country and is used for curing skin ruptures. The Yarrows maali calls it a “Cobra Lily”.

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