Petals, Toil and Business at Dadar’s Phulgalli

Aromatherapy

In this congregated mass of humanity there is colour so vibrant and aromas so powerful that it would match that of any perfumery in the world. Eyes drown in the colour and your nose in the fragrance of a million flowers all stacked in baskets in multitude. A kaleidoscope for your senses. Dadar Phulgalli [flower-lane] takes your traditional Bombay smells of sweat, toil, paint, iron and turns them into the smell of marigolds.. Wipe your brow and you find petals in addition to sweat

Bombay’s entire economy is pinned around one ability- the ability to move its mammoth population from their suburban homes to their work places in the city. This is down to Bombay’s local train system with a miraculous efficiency, it is believed that it carries 6.1 million people a day. Where millions pass, commerce generally follows. I would describe it as a mobile mall. Each station has its bazaar and each bazaar its speciality. You just hop on to a train and simply sample the delights along the way, quite like a giant amusement park filled with 15 million people and a billion opportunities to explore. Dadar station in the geometric heart of Bombay’s main island is one such station. It is an all round super railway hub and one of the busiest train stations in the world. If they ever made the ‘Indian’ Vanilla Sky and they wanted the Tom Cruise Bollywood equivalent running through the Indian equivalent of Times Square, they would probably have him run through a desolate dadar station, the scene could be made even more freaky if they showed an empty Virar fast rush by.

Dadar market is where you can get anything from green veggies to a two hundred rupee sonata ghadi [watch] to fake live strong bands [in any colour] to a pethani saree. In one such galli [lane] is Dadar’s phul/phool [flower] market. Roses, chrysanthiums, marigolds, jasmine, gladiolas, asters, lilies, gerberas, carnations are a few things that line its narrow walls.

Pink

Flowers are big business in India.


The cut-flower market has opened new vistas for floriculturists. Flowers
from Pune and Bangalore are sent to Hyderabad's Jambagh market , which is a
transit hub. Cut-flower exports are expected to double this fiscal from an
estimated $20 million last year

- Hindu Business Line

A boost in agribusiness is a positive economic boost to rural India.
Another positive I found in flower retail which is sometimes overlooked is there is an equal participation among men and women in the entire process. With a few exceptions women for various social reasons do not actively participate in the process of commerce in India. This plays out to be an active barrier against their economic and social empowerment. Also it leads to wastage in an untapped segment of our human resources, a bright one at that. Women add ethics and other values to economies. I’m sorry I’m drifting into economics here.

Dadar Phulgalli, Mumbai, INDIA

Dadar Phulgalli, Mumbai, INDIA

Dadar Phulgalli, Mumbai, INDIA

I did buy some flowers,10 stems of orchids for 20 rupees [value]. The challenge for the day being getting them home to Bandra by train in a second class compartment. Today being Saturday I could easily find a space to stand and get them home without any scratches. I tell you this because they are happily smiling at me with their purple dog like faces from the glass vase on my dining table.




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27 comments:

eskay said...

Great pix, Akshay. Keep it up!

Patrix said...

This is a great photo essay. I love the way you capture day-to-day places in Mumbai. Had also liked your Khotachi Wadi photo essay since my ancestors hail from that area.

Mridula said...

The second picture from top is smashing! Loved your post, I enjoy flowers so much.

aparna said...

10 stems of orchids for 20 bucks is quite a steal

Akshay said...

eskay - thanks you're one of the guys on the OM Malik Broadband wiki right ? read the hindu article you commented about, provided some great prospective on the India broadband numbers.

patrix - that's a great compliment. I think I linked one of you're posts in the Khotachiwadi photo essay.

mridula - thank you, I do frequent you're blog quiet often I love some of the travel writing on you're blog.

aparna - I forgot to mention it's a whole sale market. There alive and lively btw.

Sunil said...

superb....

Another positive I found in flower retail which is sometimes overlooked is there is an equal participation among men and women in the entire process. With a few exceptions women for various social reasons do not actively participate in the process of commerce in India.


Very perceptive, and bang on.

This is still a fledgling business in India....but should be worth 10 times its present value in a few years. It should result in a lot of women bettering their lives.

Snehal said...

Wow! .. beautiful pics.
Ur pictures are so alive that I can actually smell the fragrance of the "shewanti" flowers!

Viewer said...

10 stems of Orchids for just 20 bucks ....... U really got it dirt cheap ...... BTW cool shots

Enigma said...

Awesome pics :)
Also your writeup is 2 good.

Viewer said...

yeah ... i had gone through his site ...most probabaly I will buy from him

Jayesh said...

What about the traffic jams the phool galli causes on tulsi pipe road....? good pics though ...

Akshay said...

sunil - I know, it should bring about some good. Another area where you'd find mostly doing the selling is fish markets.
I'm convinced if you make workplaces accross wide segments of society safe for women I would see more women particating in trade and allied activities.

snehal - the smell of flowers was overpowering and strange all at the same time. Phulgalli is part of my daily commute as I walk from Dadar Station to my place of work it's a welcome feature of my mundane day.

viewer - yeah the fellow at bandra sells it for 20 a piece. I could only imagine the production cost. I'm sure if that flower is exported to Australia it would cost 200 Rs a piece. Amazing how that works doesn't it.

enigma - thank you.

jayesh - Show me a place you don't find a place where you don't find a traffic jam in Bombay. Well we have to live with them don't we - there is no point harping about them. Just avoid it in the mornings - use Prabhadevi instead.

Anonymous said...

hi. i liked your blog when i stumbled upon it looking for khotachi wadi. lovely photos. ive put a link on my blog so i get updated regularly.

Geetanjali said...

Tsk tsk, now if I had also been in a second class compartment of a Bbay local, my bunch of flowers wouldn't have looked as bed-raggled as they did...*burns in envy*

Hehehe just kidding...

That flower market really is awesome - been a while since I went there...used to have a tough time deciding what I wanted to buy, specially since it was at a fraction of the price I'd get frm my local flower vendor. Have you ever been to the whole-sale market in Pune?

Sonia Faleiro said...

Akshay, lovely photos. I've wanted to go to this flower market for so long. But apparently one is supposed to reach there at 4 a.m. Is that true? Because that's how it is with the wholesake market in Delhi.

GSB said...

Awesome pictures, especially the second one, it's stunning. I don't know what you do, but hey think about being a full time photographer. You have what it takes. I know, I've been in media for eight years.

Akshay said...

Geetanjali - love the festive diva on you're profile, you've added a tinge of spirit to my comments page.
I've never visited the the wholesale market there in Pune, would love to though. They grow most of flowers on Dehu Road, just imagine an entire green house of marigolds. Fields of gold.

Sonia - I think there are 3 wholesale flower markets in Mumbai. Out of the three - phulgalli is the smallest and is open all throughout the day. The one you're referring to is in Nerul and that's where the flower auctions take place. Part of the supply from Nerul ends up in Phul galli. It's works on the same lines as the vegetable and fruits supply in Bombay. The trains being the means of mass transport.

GSB - thank you but before I can become a full time photographer I need to refine my skills a little more.

Ubermensch said...

akshay I dont have to elaborate on the value of your snaps, Ive always regarded your photos amongst very few that do any justice to whatever thats known as india.
cheers
Uber

Anonymous said...

you don't bring me flowers anymore...

;)

Phal

Anonymous said...

Great post.. brought back memories ...(Used to be a regular shopper here while i was in B'bay)

shibudada said...

this is one of your best sets akshay.

plus, whats astounding is that this is all on a point and shoot. hi props for that

Anonymous said...

I live in the US. I love flowers but in the huge flower markets here, they somehow seem too perfect, almost artificial.

The Dadar flower market used to be a favorite haunt of mine when I lived in Bombay a few years ago. Every other Sunday morning, I used to take the local to Dadar station just to drink in all the sights and sounds of this place. Starting off from the overbridge with hawkers selling fake lizards, rat poison, plastic guns, then descending down the pathway into sensory overload - Colors, perfumes, beauty mixed with the banality of it all...

Hey Akshay, thanks for bringing it back so vividly. The pictures are fantastic. What camera do you use ?

beca didi said...

Thanks for the good memories it brings back...
may i add this comment: your young guide Kishore is actually Ashok! he leaves with his sister and parents and other families on the road side near the rickshaw repear spot. He goes to a school run by an ONG in Khar danda; if you want to check it: http://www.one-international.com

keep it up!

Akshay said...

I think you're right beca, I did mix up his name. I volunteered at one too for sometime and I'm sure the kids called you 'beca didi',

Anonymous said...

Awesome pics

Sheetal Kiran said...

Absolutely beautiful photographs!

carefreeabandon said...

"You just hop on to a train and simply sample the delights along the way, quite like a giant amusement park filled with 15 million people and a billion opportunities to explore."

Quite a lovely line, that. Must say you're a good writer, along with being a very good photographer.