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....

23 February 2009

The statues of manifold famous dead.....

This post is for my friend KT, a Shimla-ite who now lives in Bangalore. She chides me for prettifying Shimla and says I must be fair to those who follow this blog by highlighting equally my town's ugly aspects. My only excuse for the way this blog presents Shimla is that when I love something - a place, an idea, a person, I tend to focus solely on its (their) best features. The bad parts come to me a long while afterwards... So, K, here's another perspective of your old home-town. A not-so-pretty one at that! Happy??

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 masterful Indira Gandhi, former Prime Minister, unamused by the hordes who throng the Ridge & Lakkar Bazaar daily.

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.

Babasaheb Ambedkar, the author of our Constitution at Chaura Maidan. His statue is a favourite resting place with local monkeys, as can be seen in the bottom right of the picture.


Dick Richards said...

"...funny shades of copper, or a strangely military grey."

That is truly strange my friend. Do you plan investigative reporting to uncover the truth of this oddity? I've traveled quite a bit and never seen that before. Of course, I've also pretty much ignored statuary wherever I've been. :)

Gallimaufry said...

Actually I do, Dick! The dull grey particularly mystifies, considering the average Indian's love for colour. Statues fascinate me, because they speak of the people a town reveres. In Bombay, it is mostly patriots and philanthropists of old days. Shimla loves politicians!

Dick Richards said...

I guess I've walked by a whole lot of statues without noticing them. Only four stand in memory: Eros in Piccadily, the lions in Trafalgar Square, Michelangelo's David (which maybe doesn't count here because it is in a museum), and Philadelphia's Rocky (only because Philadelphia is my home town and the statue's tale is one of silly civic controversy).

Next time I'm on the road, I'll try to be more aware. Actually, because of this, I'll probably not have to try.

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