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....

12 October 2010

Through the silence shines a stretching light-

Living in Shimla, one often takes this humble bush for granted. For all of Septmeber and now, when e are well into October, this pretty blue plant is dotting the road-sides, clinging to hill-sides, creating a veritable sea of blue in the woods. At first glance, I thought these were gentians. But my favourite website on flowers Flowers of India clarifies that this is not so.
These flowers actually bleong to the blue trumpet bush, also known as strobilanthes tomentosa. I've seen it grow in the woody, partially-lit slopes of the Sheogh woods, in Chaura Maidan and also near the United Service Club on Jakhoo Hill. It grows up to almost four feet in height. The leaves appeared very interesting: dark green on top and white on the underside.
The flower, as you can see in the picture, is shaped like a trumpet and stands at a 90-degree angle to its stem. It has a narrow tube which widens a little as it goes upward, finally opening into five round petals.
What a joyous aspect: little trumpets of bright blue, silently blowing the last clarion call of spring even as it is over and autumn steals upon us quietly, with a red melancholy....

The sight of these flowers brought to mind that wonderful Mary Oliver poem:

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking,
about the exceptional.

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

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