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....

9 August 2009

Wild flowers don't care where they grow....

I just realised that I haven't posted about flowers in a while. What a crime, considering that Shimla and its surrounds are positively bursting with a mad variety at this time of the year. So here is a selection:

Cranesbill or the wild geranium.
I found this wonderful flower a-bloom in profusion in the President's estate in Mashobra. Some plants were 30 cms tall, others, about 100 cms. The flower itself was about 3 to 4 cms in diameter. According to Nimret Handa, "cranesbill" is so named because of this plant's long, beaked fruit which resembles a crane's bill. However, the fruit wasn't visible at this point (early August).

Wild strawberry

The first picture you see above is of the flower and the second, the fruit of the wild strawberry plant. The leaves were trifoliate; the flowers, five-petalled. According to Inder Singh, the gardener at the President's estate, each petal will give way to a red, succulent strawberry. Singh said that it is also known as "kiphalia" locally.
The picture of the strawberry, incidentally, was taken in June this year. Reminds me of Kipling's words: "Red jewels warm / from Nature's heart".

Jungli haldi or wild turmeric
Found this plant growing in a shady nook in Mashobra. I'm still a bit doubtful whether it is curcuma aromatica. This belongs to the ginger family and apparently contains "volatile oils" which can help to remove excessive lipids from blood, promote bile (to clear the congestion of liver) and reduce inflammation. Both Indian and Chinese traditional medicinal schools swear by it.

The hillsides of Mashobra are covered with pale pink and deep crimson knotweed. (Fallopia japonica). This is a slender, erect plant. Each flower spike grows by itself and was, in some places, up to 15 cms in height. In the US and Europe, this pretty little plant is treated as an invasive species (read weed).

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