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 July 2009


Last July, I made a post about this most peculiar plant. I had seen it grow around Chaura Maidan and in parts of Chotta Shimla which haven't been overrun by people, cars or buildings. This year, it grows in greater profusion all along the road that leads up to the Viceregal Lodge and the path which leads from the Viceregal Lodge down to Curzon House.

Much to the amusement of some morning walkers, I went down on my knees to measure the plants. The smallest is about 30 centimetres high, whereas the tallest grows up to 65 centimetres.
It emits a smell not unlike that putrefying flesh, which is most unattractive. I was, therefore, mystified to find insects trying to crawl into the cavernous mouth of an Arisaema flower. A Botany maven then informed that certain types of insects are actually attracted to this foul scent and will go into the flower looking for easy pickings on the dead flesh of some animals. Arisaema cleverly imitates this stench, and once the unsuspecting insect walks into its flower, it (the insect) gets stuck in the slightly sticky substance inside the flower.

The ones seen last year were light green all over, whereas this year, two ore interesting types seem to have sprung up. One is of the palest green with dark green stripes. The other, has violet, almost brown stripes. I find this a bit like describing the colour of a zebra: is it white with black stripes? Or black with white ones?! A learned Botany type tells me that some scientists classify these as three variations of the one species, whereas others say these are three distinct species! At any rate, they all belong to the magnoliophyta (flowering plant) division, and to the liliopsida class.

Arisaema amurense

Arisaema cillatum

A little later last year, I was also fortunate enough to be to photograph the fruit of Jack-in-the-pulpit. I little knew that this cluster of shiny berries was a part of the same plant I'd condemned as being rather unsightly earlier! The fruit is smooth, shiny green and about a centimetre in diametre. It begins to turn bright red before the plant goes dormant in winter.

The dangerous aspect of Arisaema cannot be emphasised enough. The presence of calcium oxalate crystals can cause of the mouth and digestive system, and on rare occasions, the swelling of the mouth and throat may be severe enough to affect breathing.


Anonymous said...

And of course 'Woh Kaun Thi'. Though which parts of Shimla are shown I do not know.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for posting under the wrong article my earlier comment. However I guess the same plant is in Yarrows also.

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