Where did I get the idea that a flower market would be full not only of beautiful flowers but kindly, gentle, friendly men who would be happy to meet someone there for love of the beauty and the joy of the blossoms and the growth and the promise that flowers imply? Just where did I get that idea?
Well, now I know.
What an interesting experience. For years I have wanted to go to the wholesale flower market in Delhi where flowers are available at a fraction of what they cost in the shops and where they are fresher and more abundant than anything we can dream of here in Dehradun.
All that is true: abundance, dewy-fresh, rock-bottom cheap. But the vendors! The fellow-customers!
With the exception of a few other intrepid souls like me and Martha and Tom, and this father and his color-coordinated son, there to buy a few pretty arrangements for our own homes or the day's puja, most of the people we met were fierce working men: purposeful, determined and aggressive. This was a daily task for them and there was nothing remotely sentimental about it. Grab the glads, fix a good price and move on to the roses, the gerberas or the chrysanthemums, then get back on the road.
It was instructive and yet another reminder of how differently each person views the same thing - depending upon the lens she/he has been given and her/his proximity to life's edge.
Our lens, for the moment, is a soft focus one and the edge is a comfortable distance away. The flowers we bought lasted longer than any I have ever seen, but the questions they raised have a life all their own.