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....

30 August 2008


Legend has it that the first dahlia came from Mexico to the Botanical Gardens in Madrid towards the end of the eighteenth century. The flower was named by AbbĂ© Cavanille in honour of the Swedish scientist & environmentalist Anders Dahl. None of my favourite books on Shimla’s flowers could tell me when they first came to India, or to Shimla.

This flower is a bushy tuberous perennial plant, native of Central America, according to another source. The colours are stunningly bright, the symmetry fearful, and the sizes diverse. The smallest flowers I have seen are the “Aurora’s Kiss” & the pom-pom dahlias in my friend S’s garden, which are hardly 2 inches in diameter. The largest, seen in Manali in August 2007, can grow up to a foot in diameter and are aptly named “dinner plate blossoms”! A lot of dahlia plants grow up to 8 feet in height here in Shimla. The shortest, seen in P's garden, are less than a foot high.

Interestingly, I have observed only single-coloured dahlias in Shimla, not variegated or bi-coloured ones. You can see in the pictures the dahlias' wide colour range: from the darkest red or purple to all shades of pink, orange, yellow, white.

Kingdom: Plantae

Division: Magnoliophyta

Class: Magnoliospida

Order: Asterales

Family: Asteraceae

Genus: Dahlia

Placed below are some images of dahlias growing in Shimla:

They brought me a quilled, yellow dahlia,

Opulent, flaunting,
Round ripe gold
Of maturity
Meticulously frilled and flaming,
A fire-ball of proclamation:
Fecundity decked in staring yellow
For all the world to see.
They brought a quilled, yellow dahlia,
To me who am barren
Shall I send it to you,
You who have taken
All I once possessed?

~ Amy Lowell ~

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