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 March 2010

Let me be at the place of the castle. Let the castle be within me.

The wings of fancy are powerful. They can bear you up to mid-air, and allow you to construct a stupendous castle there. But it is so much the better to chance upon one, a real one, perched as if in mid-air, when you are looking for something else!

Last week, I went looking for the stone-cut temples at Balag (this is in Shimla's Theogh sub-division) and en route espied a gorgeous building, what Wordsworth would call a "rugged pile" at Sainj. It stood there with a handsome, stony face, a strong, weather-beaten sentinel sunning itself in the pure and sweet air.
As the Brad notes in Macbeth:
This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses.

This building, which reminded me of a mighty, yet gentle giant had a sleepy air inside. Little beams of sunshine peeped through beautiful trellis-work, making pretty patterns on the walls. A calm prevailed, the air resigned to the dust of history and achievements past. Here and there, a gleam consecrated the overall gloom.

The place, or castle, or what you will is built on tranquil land. The stone and wood are strong, yet speak not so much for fire-eating dragons or cruel princes sweeping in horses with frothing mouths. Rather, the place seems to smile, if a little wistfully, as it bathes in the sunshine of bliss.

There is nothing quite as romantic as a castle-palace-fortress. Nothing quite as delicious as its slightly decrepit air, the all-embracing sweep of the mountains, the groves of fruit, the fields and farms, the enchanting climate!

This castle looks as though it is a treasure-house of memories of peaceful years, a chronicle of happier times, of lasting ease and of an almost Elysian quiet. Yet, underneath this steadfast peace, also lies a sea of physical distress, caused by age and impecunious times. Old wood stands there sublime, encasing the castle from the unfeeling armour of time, fierce winds, trampling storms, heartless sunshine. Chocolate, cinnamon, beige, auburn and sorrel streak the walls. The colours speak of welcome fortitude and patient cheer, commodities we of the modern times and urban lives would do well to learn.

[A note on the commonplace: Sainj is best approached from Shimla via Theogh. The total distance is about 40 kms. This Sainj is not to be confused with the one in Kullu district. The Ranas are remarkably easy-going people, which is why you would be disinclined to impose on their kind hospitality and their generosity in opening up their home to complete strangers. ]

1 comment:

Ranjani Mitra said...

Through your eyes, we see the beauty which would be missed by most..Thanks....

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