Two of my favorite places in New York are the Union Square and 28th street flower markets. Rows upon rows of multicolor brassia, succulent, fern, indoor forests of palm and fig tree—and just once—a perfect psychopsis orchid which I’ve yet to coax back into bloom.
I’d read that the Kolkata Flower Market at the Mallick Ghat was a near twenty-four-hour spectacle, and I was itching to witness Bengali flora given the region’s lush climate. Of course, like much of India, these flowers were purposed for devotional rather than purely decorative purposes. Heaps upon heaps (upon heaps) of saffron-hued marigold garlands- intended primarily for the decoration of various Hindu shrines. White curlycue bell flowers that looked like pencil shaving rosettes strung end to end and coiled like mariner’s rope.
With much hustle, vendors tried to rid their wither-prone wares, and couriers balanced impossible mounds of garlands on their heads. Behind all the locomotion, ruins of colonial era bathhouses—occidental temples repurposed for sleeping vagrants and more than a few stray dogs.