Why this blog is called "Gallimaufry".
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....
28 February 2009
27 February 2009
Shimla's hazy shades of winter as Paul Simon would call them.
Time, time, time, see whats become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities
I was so hard to please
But look around, leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Hang on to your hopes, my friend
Thats an easy thing to say, but if your hopes should pass away
That you can build them again
Look around, the grass is high
The fields are ripe, its the springtime of my life
Ahhh, seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Wont you stop and remember me
At any convenient time
Funny how my memory slips while looking over manuscripts
Of unpublished rhyme
Drinking my vodka and lime
But look around, leaves are brown now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Look around, leaves are brown
Theres a patch of snow on the ground...
(Paul Simon, 1966, Bookends)
25 February 2009
The owners use the word "heritage" literally: as something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth or something that has been or may be inherited by legal descent or succession! Yes, in that sense, they are right. It is a heritage property! But it is a bit tough to believe your eyes when you read that building was constructed over 130 years , for it has little to show by way of its undoubtedly rich history. If anything, someone should be prosecuted for having so completely despoiled the original in order to create this concrete horror. Looking at it is sheer visual masochism. One can only wonder what the interiors are like....
This is the frontage:
This is a view of the side that leads up to the Mall:
I'm tempted to quote Whitman when he says:
"Of the visage of things - And of piercing through to the accepted hells beneath
Of ugliness - To me there is just as much in it as there is in beauty"!!!
Aren't these two aspects seen below far more fascinating?
My apologies, anonymous reader, that I could not be of much help to you.
P.S. An unsolicited suggestion. Take a look at Chapslee Palace, if only to contrast.....
24 February 2009
मुझको इक नज़्म का वादा है, मिलेगी मुझको
डूबती नब्जों में जब दर्द को नींद आने लगे
ज़र्द-सा चेहरा लिए चाँद उफक पर पहुँचे
दिन अभी पानी में हो, रात किनारे के करीब
न अँधेरा, न उजाला हो, न ये रात न दिन
जिस्म जब ख़त्म हो और रूह को जब सांस आये
मुझसे इक नज़्म का वादा है, मिलेगी मुझको....
A humble offering from an old fan, Gulzar-saab:
The typical green-and-white signs. You see these all over town. The new ones have "No Smoking Zone" painted on them:
This sign leans drunkenly.
One of the older ones. They usedn't to be politically correct back then. So the signs were only in English. This one's a favourite:
23 February 2009
Okay, so here's my question: what is it with Shimla's love for statues? They are all over the place. They are painted in funny shades of copper, or a strangely military grey. The expressions on the faces of the statues does little credit to the originals.
I have a theory: Indians believe that nothing (no object or person) should be entirely perfect or beautiful. That privilege, one assumes, belongs only to God, or the Higher Spirit or the Man/Woman-Up-There. Thus, if person looks too comely, we apply a small black dot on their person, to ward off the evil eye. The statues whose photos you see below do that for Shimla! Can there be any other reason for so placing these monstrosities that no one can pass them without having to look at them?
Former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, noncommittal, near the CTO.
A sanctimonious Dr. Y. S. Parmar, the first Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh on the Ridge.
A strangely muscular Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, looks down disapprovingly at the doings on the Ridge.
Lala Lajpat Rai, patriot who died fighting colonial rule at Scandal Point.
14 February 2009
Herman Hesse did. It created a bridge between my friend IH, a German who lives in the UK, and me, an Indian who lives in India. A shared inexplicable heartache spans across age, distance and culture....
Just as every flower wilts and youth
yields to old age, so blossoms life at every stage
so flourishes each wisdom and each virtue
in its time, and cannot last forever.
The heart must be ready to depart
and recommence at each life's calling.
To give itself to new bonds
courageously and without mourning.
In each beginning lives a magic
that shields and helps us live.
Lightly moving room through room, we should
cling to nothing for refuge.
The cosmic spirit restrains us not
but stage through stage raises us, widens us.
Barely settled in a way of life,
feeling at home, and indolence threatens.
Only the one willing to pack and leave
can shrug off paralysing habits
Maybe even the hour of death
will send forth new realms,
the call of life will never end?
Go on, my heart, depart and heal.
Thank you, I.
11 February 2009
This is how Shimla looks this morning:
Photographs taken while sipping my morning cuppa:
I'm reminded of lines from James Russell Lowell's poem "The First Snow-Fall":
Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an Earl
And the poorest twig on the elm tree
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.
10 February 2009
I'd like to dedicate today's post to some of these wonderful people whose writing and/or photographs inspire me, offer me solace, galvanise my thinking, make me laugh and direct me to other perspectives which help to broaden my mental and sentient horizons.
- Scribbler is one of the most creative people I have met in my entire life. More than that, she is a very intelligent and compassionate person with a wonderful sense of humour. Her writing reveals a very wise head on young shoulders. I am filled with awe whenever I read anything she writes, because it is usually deeply insightful.
- Little Atoorva is my Alice in the bureaucratic wonderland. Her innocence, unspoilt by the nonsense that passes of as reality, constantly refreshes her readers. Her world is populated by beauty. By enchantment of thoughts, of ideas, of images.
- Ann lives in the wonderful town of Sydney. Her meanderings in her town help me to explore a city which I have not visited so far, but would like to, now that I have seen it through her eyes!
- I met Subrat in the course of work many, many years ago. I was (and still am) struck by his wisdom and his warmth. In today's world, where people have turned into emotional and professional cannibals, Subrat's remains a lone voice of sanity. Pity he doesn't write often enough.
- Melanie is an old soul in Jimmy Choo shoes. Her posts on her life and loves are genial and deeply astute. She is very observant and has on more than one occasion, revealed great perspicacity about life's ticklish issues.
- Mahanandi defies description. On the face of it, it's a food blog. Its author, Indira, shares recipes and photographs that would convert the most ardent anorexic into a foodie!What a great ambassador for Indian and Andhra food.
- Dick Richards is my spiritual guru. I do not remember when or where or how I stumbled upon his writing. I sometimes feel as though I am the Eklavya to his Dronacharya! I keep going back to his words and finding new lessons in each thing he says. Wise, gentle and very, very humane. A great teacher.
Thank you, each one of you. You have made my life richer. Those of you reading this blog, please take some time to visit each one of these people in cyberspace and be prepared to be amazed.
7 February 2009
Other towns and cities would do well to emulate Shimla's example.
#1: the prettiest hawaghar, on the Ridge:
#2: the quaint hawaghar on the Mall:
#3: the little hawaghar near Oakover:
#4: the ugliest hawaghar in town, near the Chota Shimla crossing:
1 February 2009
Shimla hasn't heard this word, but it lives it out. Shops open around ten a.m. and shut for lunch. They open again at three p.m. or so (depending on the owners' ability to rouse themselves from siesta) and shut in the evening at nine p.m.
Just look at the signs in the pictures. They tell you a lot about the Shimla businessman. Maybe the Ramalinga Rajus of the world need to take a leaf out of his book?
Even the newer and swankier establishments are not immune to the afternoon break!