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....

16 January 2009


A burden is a heavy weight that is difficult to carry. Metaphorically it refers to anything difficult or troubling.

Shimla has a labyrinth of narrow streets. It also has many roads that are completely blocked off to vehicular traffic. It is in places such as these that the "Khans" come in handy. This group of hardy Kashmiri men has been ferrying all sorts of stuff across town for over two centuries now.

''Soulless, colourless strain, thy words are the words of wisdom.
Is not a mule, a mule, bear he a burden of gold?" asks Richard Garnett.

And then, there are some burdens which do not feel like burden at all....

14 January 2009

Shoppers' stop.

This is a great little place for souvenir-hunters: the Tibetan shop. It's located at the foot of the Mall, in Willow Banks.

They stock all sorts of things. Hand-knitted woollen socks, gloves and scarves; chakras and vajras and other assorted decorations used in Buddhist temples and places of worship; lovely hand-embroidered wall-hangings with traditional Tibetan patterns: the interlocking key, the trumpet shell, the pearl on fire, ocean waves and, of course, dragons; carpets in rich deep colours and bags of little and big sizes, from handy ones for carrying a cellphone to large ones which can hold sleeping bags and best of all, lovely silver jewellery. This is also posibly the only place in Shimla which stocks CDs of Nawang Khechog's music.
I wasn't able to persuade my gorgeous friend Rinzen to pose for a picture. His sweet-talking and wild locks force many a female buyer into spending far more than she intended! The man in the picture below is a distant cousin (and no patch on R).

Below, Mr. D (Rinzen's father) takes a prayer-break.

10 January 2009

More post-box madness!

This is the only built-into-the-wall post-box I've seen in my life. I find it most entertaining when I find people peering through the slats trying to talk to a non-existent postal employee! On its part, the Post Office tries to help by putting a little sign near the built-in post-box stating that the sales counters are inside. But to no avail!!

Red, yellow and green boxes. The yellow one is for local mail. The green for mail to be sent all over India and the red one is for mail intended only for Delhi. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Especially when seen in conjunction with the old ones I posted about on 14th December.
What is it about modern India that makes it compulsively create the most unaesthetic, ugliest public utilities?

8 January 2009

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Said Jean-Baptiste Alphonse-Karr. (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

I love this little old building, Christchurch, which stands in the heart of Shimla. If you look at the pictures below, you will notice that the passage of time hasn't changed it all that much, even as its surroundings have become more crowded, more populated and filthier.
Colonel J. T. Boileau desgined it in 1844, but it was to be consecrated only in 1857. The clock was donated by one Colonel Dumbleton in 1860 and the porch was added in 1873. Charles Allen says in his wonderful book on Kipling that his father (Kipling's, not Allen's) had designed a beautiful fresco around the chancel window, but sadly, this has long since disappeared. No doubt, destroyed by zealous coats of paint added over the years.

Someday, I would like to photograph the beautiful stained glass windows, which according to Shimla maven Raaja Bhasin, represent the virtues of Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Patience and Humility. Qualities that one hopes to cultivate assiduously in the New Year....

2 January 2009

Guide to my town.

The Rotary Club, at some unknown point in Shimla's history, put up this guide map to Shimla outside the Railway Board building. Funny-shaped thing, with a map that's absolutely not to scale, it is nevertheless consulted most avidly by visitors. Stray dogs sleep in its shade and the locals use it as a place to lean against on their trudge up from Cart Road to the Mall.

The quote on the base (painted green) exhorts Shimla's citizeny to keep their town clean.

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