Its early morning 4, O’ clock. The Baba Kharagsingh Marg leading up to Gole Dak Khana is choked with trucks and tempos, and a couple of SUVs and Marutis. All concentrated in a few hundred metres’ space directly
Bajaj’s antique scooters try to make their way into cramped “parking space” next to the few auto-rickshaws on the edge of the pavement next to the good ol’ Coffee House.
There is a damp fragrance of freshly cut foliage that one is unaccustomed to in a large metropolitan like Delhi on a regular day, in one’s regular routine. There is also at the same time a feverish pace with which people move about us, cars and trucks move in and out – now full – now empty – and now full again.
The trucks, tired, stand resting their behinds on the pavement side. Eager to be unloaded. The mass of people around all gain momentum with their own pace. The laborers finish their 3 inch white plastic cups of chai bottoms up. The driver jumps out of his high seat and yells out directions to his navigator as his hands and legs rebel and try to get as far away from him as possible. One by one the big boxes from the truck is transported on the labourers’ back like children on the bent backs of a grandparent to the large open space that will soon be engulfed by colours and textures and fragrances one did not know existed. Its 4:45 am on a chilly February morning and the sun is still under the velvet blue-grey blanket and the boxes are opened to reveal gerberas and roses, lilies and hydrangeas, tulips and orchids and each of several different colours!
At 5 even the sun can no longer resist but peep at the glory of the blossoms. With the increased visibility we feel certain we are standing in the garden of Eden itself. We are enveloped by colours and fragrances. We see the most colourful, most beautiful fresh cut flowers brought right to this place – the heart of Delhi from different parts of India and even the world. This one is one of the most famous flower market in Delhi NCR (National Capitol Region).
A florist from North Delhi started this market about 15 years ago. He gave farmers a place to sell their flowers directly to the customer, cutting out the need for middlemen in this process, who would otherwise mark up the price of the flowers – way above the production cost and give a paltry margin to the producer. This helped the farmers directly and the flowers which were not sold were taken by the organiser, to be sold through the day at his shop.
At 5:45 am the sun is out in its wintry morning glory with a slight mist draped over him to show us around the famed flower market of New Delhi… leaving us in a fix… the flowers were so tempting, so alluring… we were left wondering whether to start clicking photos or go on and buy these flowers. The flowers were way cheaper than the neighbourhood market, especially given the significance of the date – 14th of February!
As we start bending over and clicking the colours, patterns, shapes and sizes of the beautiful flowers one cannot but zoom out of the tight frame and notice the contrast the brown face of the man selling the flowers. The tired lines on his face. The faded colours of his son’s clothes who assists him. Zoom out a bit more and the frame would capture on the corners the little children who pick up the discarded flowers to try and sell to the disinterested customers who amble by under the mid-day sun at the nearby Janpath market or even better – the cars that drive by with their air-conditioners on and their windows up. Anyone who has been to Delhi before the attempted “beautification” for the CWG would find great charm in the unique contrast one sees in this flower market.
One would also be surprised at the number of things available in this market. There were not only flowers of various kinds, but also artificial ones, again of many kinds! – and much cheaper than the ones in Lajpat. And you’d find everything under the sun that one might require for gardening etc. This perhaps adds to the crowded, chaotic air of the place.
Here we must add a rider. You have to find your way out of this labyrinthine market yourself. saving my camera from people around, not to hit anyone, not to step on flowers around you, looking for a fine shot, looking around to catch the moment in which I can depict the whole environment…. its tough but its not impossible…
This is one of the essence of Delhi’s market atmosphere, a person coming to Delhi to see how these kinds of systems work, must visit this place, how unorganized an organized sector can be and how organized an unorganized sector can be… happy tripping… 🙂