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 February 2010

Oh, the brave Music of a distant Drum!

The concept of drums is as old as mankind. A drum also called a membranophone, is an instrument that creates sound when a person strikes a stretched membrane with their hands or some type of object, usually a rounded stick.
Drums consist of a hollowed-out piece (the body), a membrane stretched over the end of the drum, and occasionally (but not necessarily) tuning keys or pegs which tighten or loosen the membrane to achieve different tones. It is this membrane and its vibration which reates the sound when struck.
Drums first appeared as far back as 6000 BC. Mesopotamian excavations unearthed small cylindrical drums dated 3000 BC. Several wall markings found in caves in Peru show drums used in various aspects of societal life. The American Indians used gourd and wooden constructed drums for their rituals and ceremonies. Drums have always been used for more than merely creating music.
In India, percussion instruments too have a long history. We have both the two-faced drums such as the dhol, the dholak, the pakhawaj or the mirdangam as well as the single-faced ones like the tabla or the drums in the pictures which accompany this post.
I found these drums in temples in different places - in Mahu Nag, in Janog, in Cheekad, in Mamleshwar. The texture of the skin contrasted enchantingly with the colours of the temples walls in the background: ochre, cinnamon and sienna standing in stark contrast to the turquoise that is so favoured for temple colouring all over Himachal!

And as I end this post, I'm reminded of that great poet Jon Bon Jovi's lines!!

Bang a drum for the sinners
Bang a drum for the sins
Bang a drum for the losers
Bang a drum for those who win
Bang a dum bang it loudly
Or as soft as you need
Bang a drum for yourself
And a drum for me.

O sweet woods, the delight of solitariness!

I love walking in the Sheogh woods, and try to go there at least once every month, if only to observe its changing hues. The moist, half-open darkness beckons, as if to share something deep and secret, the muffled cry of a torn heart, or the whisper of a slowly awakening joy.
I go there to escape the sharp nudgings of ambition. The harsh calls of thought are stilled in the sweet damp woods. Feasting on the fresh air, it is a memorable experience to lose myself a little while in the dappled shades and the speckled sunshine. The mild light chequers and partitions the view of the woods ahead and the dales deep beyond.
Nature does not let me fret and fume.

Where sunshine flecks the green,
Through towering woods my way
Goes winding all day.
Scant are the flowers that bloom
Beneath the bosky screen
And cage of golden gloom.
Few are the birds that call
Shrill-voiced and seldom seen.
Where silence masters all,
And light my footsteps fall,
The whispering runnels only
With blazing noon confer;
And comes no breeze to stir
The tangled thickets lonely.

~ Siegfried Sassoon ~

15 February 2010

The cow is of the bovine ilk; One end is moo, the other, milk.

The living language is like a cowpath: it is the creation of the cows themselves, who, having created it, follow it or depart from it according to their whims or their needs. From daily use, the path undergoes change. A cow is under no obligation to stay in the narrow path she helped make, following the contour of the land, but she often profits by staying with it and she would be handicapped if she didn't know where it was or where it led to.

~ E.B. (Elwyn Brooks) White (1899-1985), U.S. author, editor. repr. in Writings from the New Yorker.

On a lighter note, I was reminded of this R L Stevenson poem I learnt as a child when I saw this cow:

The friendly cow all red and white,
I love her with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,

To eat with apple-tart.

She wanders lowing here and there,

And yet she cannot stray,

All in the pleasant open air,
The pleasant light of day;
And blown by all the winds that pass

And wet with all the showers

She walks among the meadow grass

And eats the meadow flowers.

8 February 2010

7 February 2010

Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the earth

I write this post not to lament rain, but to mourn its absence. Just see how dry-as-a-bone Annadale looks!

The fitful alternations of the rain,
When the chill wind, languid as with pain
Of its own heavy moisture, here and there
Drives through the gray and beamless atmosphere
~ Shelley ~
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