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....

10 September 2010

Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language.

"An empty mind is the devil's workshop", I have been repeatedly told since I was a child. Yet, it was on one of those very empty evenings that it struck me that I could invite a friend, or maybe even three friends to write a guest post. The one thing that I love about my friends, whom you shall meet by and by, gentle reader, is that they are always game for an adventure. This is Part 1 of that enterprise.
I've known Asha for longer than I care to remember. She breezed into my life and stayed back as my rock, my sounding board, and the shoulder on which I would cry on countless times.
Asha is an expert trainer and has worked with some of the world's biggest corporations. Deeply interested in issues relating to the development of self, she writes a wonderfully thought-provoking blog called Self Leadership. In her blog, she manages to raise issues that we all need to ponder on, but about which we rarely stop to think systematically.
However, here on my blog, she writes not on leadership or decisions or self-awareness, but moves to our common love, poetry. Her thoughts are placed below:

Let me start off by saying that poetry is not one of my current ‘can-dos’. Would I like to compose poetry? Yes! Have I attempted it? No! Having said that, I love reading poetry and one volume that I’ve perused a few times ia ‘Ariake’ – a collection of poems of love and longing by the women courtiers of Japan.

The foreword by Lisa Dalby summarises ‘Ariake’ as follows: “Ariake or ‘the waning moon at dawn’ was an image associated foremost with love in the ancient courts of Japan. Few societies integrated poetry into daily life as devotedly as the court of Japan’s Heian era (A.D. 794 – 1192). The most renowned poets of this era were women. They were passionate and demonstrative – a far cry from the typical portraits of passive objects of desire drawn by Westerners.”

A few samples from this rather fascinating collection!
Were you a string of beads
I would wind you about my arm,
But since you are a man
Of the actual, mortal world,
You are hard in the winding.
~ The Elder Maiden of the Otomo of Sakanoue ~
Look at this keepsake
And remember me, my love;
All the gem-bright year,
Long as its thread of shining days,
I too shall think of you.
~ Lady Kasa ~
As night succeeds night,
I seek in vain to decide
Where my pillow should go.
How did I sleep on the night
When you appeared in my dream?

~ Anonymous ~

My favourite Indian poet is Sahir Ludhianvi. A deeply passionate man, he lived and died a tortured soul. A genius with words, he demonstrated how a lot could be said with very few words. There are so many of his poems I love, and here is one of them.
Maine jo geet tere pyar ki khatir likhe
Aaj un geeton ko bazaar mein le aaya hoon
Aaj dukan mein neelam uthega unka
Tu ne jin geeton pe rakhi thi mohabbat ki asaas
Aaj chandi ki taraazu mein tulegi har cheez
Mere afkaar, meri shaayari, mera ehsaas
Jo teri zaatse mansoob the un geeton ko
Muflisi jins banaane pe uthar aayi hai
Bhookh, tere rookh-e-rangeen ke fasaano ke ivaz
Chand ashiya-e-zaroorat ki tamannai hai
Dekh is arsaagahe-mehnaton-sarmaaya mein
Mere naghme bhi mere paas nahin reh sakte
Tere jalve kisi zardaar ki meeras sahi
Tere khaake bhi mer paas nahin reh sakte
Aaj un geeton ko bazaar mein le aaya hoon
Maine jo geet tere pyar ki khatir likhe

Last but not the least is a piece from Harold Monro on ‘Solitude’. I know Geetali has done a post on ‘Solitude’ earlier. I picked this out of An Anthology of Modern Verse that was gifted by my friend Irene Hawkins. If you ever come across this post my friend, know that you are in my mind and that I miss you.
When you have tidied all things for the night,
And while your thoughts are fading to their sleep,
You’ll pause a moment in the late firelight,
Too sorrowful to weep.
The large and gentle furniture has stood
In sympathetic silence all the day
With that old kindness of domestic wood;
Nevertheless the haunted room will say:
“Some one must be away”.
The little dog rolls over half awake,
Stretches his paws, yawns, looking up at you,
Wags his tail very slightly for your sake,
That you may feel he is unhappy too.
A distant engine whistles, or the floor
Creaks, or the wandering night-wind bangs a door;
Silence is scattered like a broken glass.
The minutes prick their ears and run about,
Then one by one subside again and pass
Sedately in, monotonously out.
You bend your head and wipe away a tear.
Solitude walks one heavy step more near.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post Asha!

And a great idea Geetali - to many more such hours of empty thought which lead to such ventures :)

Ranjani Mitra said...

Dear Asha,
Your choice of verse seem to be the echo of my soul.......
Thank you Asha and Geetali-for the brilliant idea......

Asha said...

Thank you, Shankari & Ranjani. Appreciate your comments. I really enjoyed writing this piece. I found it really hard to choose from amongst all the verses I love. I managed though :-)

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