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....

3 August 2008


I took this picture in early summer. But was able to read about this flower only this morning when, hidden in my friend B's attic library, I chanced upon it in my vade mecum, Polunin & Stainton's Flowers of the Himalayas. Some of the information was also culled from H. Collett's formidable Flora Simlensis.

William Curtis, the author of Flora Londinensis once said about these flowers: “ How delicate are the little spots which ornament the inside of this flower”…. He forgot to add that you’d be dead meat if you ever ate these flowers by mistake. Strangely enough, the extract of this self-same flower is also used as medication in case of heart failure.
In Shimla, I have seen this plant grow up to a metre in height. Its tubular flowers, with little dark spots which Curtis mentions above, are arranged in a cluster around the stem.
The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898) found on B’s shelves says that foxglove, which the Welsh call Fairy’s glove and the Irish, Fairy-bells, is either a corruption of Folk’s glove—i.e. the glove of the good folks or fairies, or else of the Saxon fox[es]glofa, red or fox-coloured glove. (French, gants de Notre Dame).

Enfin, two things.

1. Scientific details:
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Lamiales
Family: Plantaginacae
Genus: Digitalis
Species: Digitalis Purpurea

2. Emily Dickinson:

I taste a liquor never brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee
Out of the foxglove’s door,
When butterflies renounce their drams,
I shall but drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,
And saints to windows run,
To see the little tippler
Leaning against the sun!

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