Having a best friend with a penchant for corniness means eventually getting sucked into the secret yet predictable plans he has to surprise his significant other for their anniversary. The plan this time was to fill their room with 730 red roses! Yes. One for each day of the two years they had been together. Those of you going “Awwww…that’s so sweet” should know that I was expected to lend him the humongous amount of money required for the task. If you still think it was “sweet”, I have no response, only a story of the ludicrous plan succeeding.
Obviously, this plan could not be achieved at the local florist (as my friend had originally planned) because it would set us back by at least eight to ten thousand rupees, if not more. I decided that KR Market would be the perfect place to go. I wasn’t going to tell my friend how much we were about to save just yet. In spite of being a local, he wasn’t aware that KR Market never sleeps. As we drove there at 2 am (much to his bewilderment), I educated him on the way.
The Bangalore Pete area (pronounce pay-tay) provides a boundless range of goods and services which average people don’t even know are on sale or assume to be contraband.
The oldest part of town, this area was developed by Kempe Gowda (the founder of the city) in 1537 as a trading post. By day it has outlets selling all sort of non-perishable commodities, but just before midnight, vegetables and herbs of every variety arrive on the scene to be auctioned in bulk. The empty roads post midnight meant we covered 12 kms in 15 minutes and I didn’t have to stretch my tale any further. As we pulled into Avenue Road under the BGS flyover, the rest of the story took care of itself. For 500 metres in each direction, fresh flowers populated the streets at their unblemished best. The aroma of the blooms made us forget we were in the most odorous part of the city. The calming effect of this sea of flowers had everyone conducting peaceful negotiations unlike a conventional market and handling the produce with practiced care.
Various sections of footpaths were designated to particular types of flower – the aromatic Indian flowers at the main junction while the different decorative flowers took up the rest of the spaces. Some flower dealers occupied huge spaces while many other were farmers from villages outside the city, speaking in Kannada with a distinctive rural twang. Women sat fortified by flowers knotting together garlands and chatting while crunching Areca nuts. We snapped out of our wandering when a man carrying a huge bunch of wild flowers knocked us off balance with his load. On to the task at hand we made our way to the roses.
Roses occupied an important and spacious section, displayed in large tubs with close to 300 in each. We asked the price of each rose and got the most perplexed look from the man. “We sell in bunches of 20 minimum”, he said in an almost apologetic manner. “Ninety for the buds and 60 for ones that have bloomed. ”My friend bear hugged me with uncontrollable joy. Turning to the man he enquired once more: “20 roses for Rs 60, confirm eh?” Then quickly calculated (perhaps the only thing he’s good at) and asked for 37 bunches. In all his excitement, he forgot to bargain further, but the man volunteered to give us a couple of bucks off on each bunch and got a bear hug in return. There was no place left inside the car, so the dealer helped us tie a few bunches on the roof and advised us to drive slow.
As my friend planned to return someday to get a good bargain on his wedding flowers, I savoured the cool clean air. No doubt his ‘surprise’ met with great success and earned him ample brownie points.
How to Get There
Where: KR Market, Kalasipalyam
Timings: 2 am-5 am on all days
Cost: Rs 20-Rs 150 per bunch based on type of flower
Best months to visit: October-November (maximum variety available)