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....

14 August 2009

I found that essence rare...

There's a little road which runs along the bigger one which leads up to Viceregal Lodge. This road winds gently up to Squire Hall and then an even littler path takes you to the Summer Hill Post Office. It was on this little path that my friend G and I made an astonishing discovery.

Tucked into the retaining wall was this small plant. Its height could not have been more than 30 centimetres. The plant had long, stalkless, tuber type flowers. The flowers looked peculiar because while their petals were white crescent shapes, the sepal was pale green in colour. The length was, by my educated guess, around 20 to 24 milimetres. There were three leaves about 6 to 8 centimetres long. We were unable to identify the flower. This is where the good people at Flowers Of India came to our aid. They identified it as Habenaria Intermedia, of the orchidaceae family. In plain English this means this is a type of orchid!

Further reading lead me to the research conducted by R. S. Chauhan and others. The most disturbing aspect pointed out by these scholars is that Habenaria intermedia is rapidly disappearing due to indiscriminate digging for its edible tubers. The scientists report that this species forms an important constituent of the Indian traditional schools of medicine for preparing a rejuvenating tonic much popular with Indians - "chyawanprash". Apparently, a destructive and indiscriminate system of harvvesting this delicate plant is resulting in its gradual disappearance. A minor catastrophe.

This Robert Frost poem describes our day so well....

Once on the kind of day called "weather breeder",
When the heat slowly hazes and the sun,
By its own power seems to be undone,

I was half boring through, half climbing through
A swamp of cedar. Choked with the oil of cedar

And scurf of plants, and weary and over-heated,

And sorry I ever left the road I knew,

I paused and rested on a sort of hook

That had me by the coat as good as seated

And since there was no other way to look
Looked up toward heaven, and there against the blue
Stood over me a resurrected tree,
A tree that had been down and raised again -

A barkless spectre. He had halted too,
As if for fear of treading upon me.

I saw the strange position of his hands -
Up at his shoulders, dragging yellow strands

Of wire with something in it from men to men.

"You here?" I said. "Where aren't you nowadays

And what's the news you carry - if you know?

And tell me where you're off for - Montreal?"
"Me? I'm not off anywhere at all.
Sometimes I wander out of beaten ways
Half looking for the orchid Calypso".


Bibliophile said...

That's a weird and lovely orchid. Thanks for sharing it.

Gallimaufry said...

Thanks, Bibliophile for sropping by. Orchids really *are* beautiful in a weird way, aren't they?

Anonymous said...

Sad to hear that such a lovely flower is disappearing.

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