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....

21 August 2010

Pleasures are like poppies spread, You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed...

The road which leads from Bairagarh to Satrundi and onwards to Sach Pass in Himachal's Chamba district is a truly magical one. Early morning mist renders the scenery like a scene out of a Basho haiku. Other times, it feels like an expertly-etched sumi-e painting.
The velvety grey of the sky is relieved by the chartreuse, the moss, the viridian and the beryl of the trees which line both sides and dot the hillside. The true delight for me came from the innumerable species of wild flowers which spring up in the rainy season.
I spotted a blue poppy!

Flowers of the meconopsis genus of the Papaveraceae species are often mistakenly lumped by the common name of blue Himalayan poppy. However, like the holy Roman empire which was neither holy, nor Roman, nor completely an empire, a blue Himalayan poppy is not always blue and certainly not found in the Himalayas alone.
The one that I found would probably fall in the meconopsis acculeata category, being the only one of its family to be found at such a high altitude. Legend has it that the legendary climber Mallory first spotted it in Bhutan and carried a plant back to the United Kingdom after his famous failed attempt to climb the Mount Everest. It is therefore appropriate to mention that this is the national flower of Bhutan.

The genus comprises of 45 to 50 known species and almost all are native to the Himalayan region. Some may occur in lower but nonetheless montane altitudes. They are found from central Nepal to the Tibetan plateau, from China to Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
The flowers were about 5 to 7 centimetres across, with four almost rounded petals. I found the golden yellow stamen-filaments to be a wonderful contrast to the pale blue petals. The petals were paper thin, water seemed to run off them speedily, which was just as well, considering how heavily it rains in the Pangi region. The leaves (not visible in these photographs) grow in a sort of rosette, and are widely-spaced and pinnate in shape. The stem of this herbaceous perennial has bristly hair. The blue poppy was found growing in well-drained, but sunny spots and rocky crevices.
This wonderful, show-stopper of a flower is commonly known as Vanita (वनिता) in Hindi and as gul-e-neelam ( गुल-ए-नीलम) in Urdu. So rare has it become that I feel it was a divine blessing to have been able to see it with my own eyes.

1 comment:

Ann said...

didn't know there were such things. Beautiful.

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