Bombay in Bloom
Candace Rose Rardon is an American writer, photographer, and artist who recently returned to the United States after years of living and traveling in Europe and Asia. She sketches as she travels, and these sketches, combined with the stories behind them, charmingly capture those fleeting, layered moments that are the stepping stones of travel. Wanderlust will be presenting her on-the-road sketches and stories from her sketchbook of serendipities–in the months to come.
It’s my last morning in Mumbai and it would be all too easy to sleep in before catching my train to Delhi at 11 a.m. But not so today. I have plans to visit the city’s Dadar flower market, which I’ve heard gets started as early as 4 a.m., and so my alarm goes off at 5.
While I slowly wake up to the world, a local train brings me to Dadar station. Sidewalk flower-sellers, already assembling garlands and bouquets from their purchases that morning, point the way to the market like bright breadcrumbs on a forest trail. I pick up the pace, beginning to fear I’ve missed all the action.
But my fears go unfounded. The moment I step into the market, I am swept into its swift and steady current, one that leads me from the entrance to a stand run by Surin and Suresh—who have been in the business for 20 years and tell me the Hindi names for many of the flowers—and finally to the covered portion of the market.
Here, beneath a rippled tin roof, I lose myself in a maze of 600 stalls, each counter overflowing with round woven baskets, each basket overflowing with blossoms. With orange and yellow marigolds, with bright fuchsia aster flowers, with tightly packaged dozens of little pink roses.
And it’s here that it hits me, what exactly I’m finding so intoxicating about this place. The intense fragrance of jasmine and rose blossoms no doubt has something to do with it, but it’s this, too: These are the colors of India.
In the saffron-colored marigolds, I see the turmeric and masala spice powders which give flavor to so many of the country’s dishes. In the dark red roses, whose petals are plucked off and strung together to form temple garlands, I see the vermillion bindi that adorn the forehead of so many Indian women. And in the piles of fragrant tulsi (or holy basil) leaves, I see acre after acre of the country’s vibrant green rice paddies. Every flower holds beauty in what it is, but also in what it represents.
There is magic here in the flower market, and I’m grateful to have seen Bombay in bloom before leaving the city.
After all, magic is worth getting up for, no matter how early.
Discover the country’s vibrant colors on a GeoEx luxury India journey.