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....

13 February 2011

Ik suKhan aur ki phir rang-e-takallum tera... Harf-e-saadaa ko inaayat kare ejaaz ka rang

Today is 13th February, the birthday of my friend Ranjani. She and I go back a long, long time. What brought us together all those decades ago was a love of poetry. At a time, when our class-mates, giggly teenagers just like us, were devouring romances or action comics, we were poring over Urdu and Hindi poets' books and swapping favourite bits on the last pages of our school-books.

13th February is also the 100th birthday of one of the greatest poets to have walked on South Asian soil: Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Many learned people have said much about Faiz - this one being a notably learned and non-hagiographic piece.
I'm only going to quote a small poem which is a great favourite of Ranjani's (and, by corollary, mine), written by Faiz:

Nahin nigaah mein manzil to justajuu hi sahi
Nahin visaal mayassar toh, aarzuu hi sahi

Na tan mein khuun faraaham na ashq aankho.n mein
Namaaz-e-shauq to vaajib hai be-vazuu hi sahi

Kisi tarah to jame bazm maikade waalo.n
Nahin jo baada-o-saagar to haa-o-huu hi sahi

Gar intezaar kathin hai to jab talak ae dil,
Kisii ke vadaa-e-fardaa ki guftaguu hi sahi

Dayaar-e-ghair mein maharam agar nahin koii
Toh 'Faiz' Ziqr-e-watan apne ruu-ba-ruu hi sahi

I came across a translation of this classic in English. Deeply unsatisfactory, but it may give those who do not follow Urdu an idea of what the poet says:

Though our journey's end eludes sight, let the quest be;

Though union defies attainment, let the longing be.

The body lacks blood, the eyes lack tears;

Yet the prayer of desire is obligatory, without purity though it be.

Let the gathering come alive somehow, O those of the tavern;

If not goblets of wine, let light-heartedness and laughter be.

If the wait is unbearable, then in the meantime, O heart;

On someone's promise of tomorrow, let conversation be.

In this land of strangers, if there be no confidante,

then Faiz! Let the invocation of homeland with yourself be.

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