Their lives aren't a bed of roses
Amid chaotic traffic, inconvenient flyover pillars and unfinished Metro project, Keshava walks up, bravely but carefully, to every vehicle with a long string of marigold in one hand and a bunch of roses in the other.
It’s not just Keshava. There are several like him who make a living by selling flowers on the roads in the KR Market.
While the rest of the market has slush all over, the flower market literally functions on the streets, below the over-crowded intersection of the Mysore Road flyover, trying to attract the attention of the visitors. Shanti, a flower vendor, says, “We have flowers for all occasions, like rose, jasmine, gerbera, milky white, chrysanthemum, blue daisy, marigold, aster, orchid and tulip.
“We will string the flowers in a shape of people’s liking. But, they must tell us in advance and pay some money beforehand,” the vendor said.
This market starts functioning as early as 2 am every day, when 60 to 70 florists arrive in goods vehicles from places near Bangalore such as Hoskote, Chikkatirupati and Kalkunti, with loads of fresh flowers. While some florists sell their stock to local retailers and return home, others find strategic spots to sell their ware.
When asked why they don’t operate in the KR Market building, Manju, one of the vendors, said, “The customers don’t prefer entering the market, because it’s not maintained well and lacks cleanliness. Also, we earn much more here, than inside the market.”
There is brisk business till 7:30 am, when the police arrive to clear the vendors from the road and make way for traffic.
“The police are merciless. They collect Rs 20 from each of us to allow us to continue our business. We also part with some flowers to them,” Manju says.
The flower market area, like others in K R Market, has been in a state of neglect for several years. Local residents say their simple request for better infrastructure has been repeatedly turned down by the elected representatives. They have now stopped expecting anything at all.
The Palike plans to construct 570 more shops in and around KR Market, which will be handed over to those who run their businesses on the pavement
outside the market.
Malathi, chairperson, BBMP Standing Committee (Markets)
For petty gains, politicians and officials allowed the entrance of the market to be choked. Shops that should have been run inside the building have come up on the road under the open sky. There is no space for people even to walk.
R V Gopi, president, KR Market Traders’ & Consumers’ Assn