Ram Jivan, a Flower Seller from Gazipur, Delhi

In conversation with Ramjivan, a flower seller
Ramjivan has been into this business since last 25-30 yrs. This business is his family business, which was passed onto him by his father himself. He is a daily wage earner here, by selling his flowers and related wares.

1.How long have you been in this business?
My grandfather used to work in Mehrauli flower market then my father continued this business. During his time government shifted the entire market to Gazipur, then I was 6 year old and I used to come here to help my father after my school. After finishing my school I joined this traditional business as my father had earlier done.

2.Is the profession passed on from your family? If not, then is this your daily bread and butter profession?
Surely. My family has been in this business for the past 30 yrs continuing from my grandfather to my father and now me. Hope so, it is also taken up by my son to, no pressure although. If not this, then he has full freedom to pursue whatsoever ho likes. And yes, the earnings from flower selling, fends my family of five.

3.So, how does a typical day start for you?
Trucks come at 3 am here then we all start our business before that me and my father freshen up the flowers by sprinkling water on them. Then people start coming for their orders which they placed a day before and new customers. All day we sell these flowers but as soon as possible we try to sell all our flowers because flowers starts to wilt so to make them look fresh we have to spread water again and again so that customers find them attractive and fresh.

4.What all flowers do you sell? Do you also sell other flower related wares, like garlands etc.?
We sell all common flowers in India as well as from other countries also like genda, lotus, galgota, palash, lily, roses, brahma kamal, chameli (jasmine), gurhal, ornamental flower, mogra, tulips, kaner, surajmukhi( sunflower). Yes we sell wares which we make from roses and genda for marriages and pooja.

5.Do you weave them yourselves and how?
Yes we do and sometime we hire more people to make them if we get big orders like for marriage stuff. We use cotton threads to weave the garlands.

6.What are the changes in the use of traditional methods for making and weaving garlands?
We sell gajras and garlands here too. Earlier we used to use pseudo stem of soft plants or banana to make natural thread and weave the flowers. Nowadays, we suffice with the cotton threads, dipped in colored water, to weave the garlands and gajras.

7.Where do the flowers come from? The problems in procuring them?
They come from different states as well as from different countries like Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, west Bengal, Calcutta, China, Japan, Malaysia, and Norway. We face many problems like if we get delivery of flowers late then firstly some flowers are like brahma kamal, this flower stays fresh for one day only and it wilts away by night, you see it blooms just for a day in the entire year. Secondly, Water flowers like water lily and lotus flower remain fresh in water only so they start to wilt before they even reach here. Because of these problems we face loss in our business.

8.What is the basic requirement for starting a flower business like this?
Knowledge of flowers and their upkeep is a must for a person wishing to go into this business.

9.Few years back the flower market shifted from Mehrauli to Gazipur, far end of East Delhi. Are you comfortable here? What all problems do you face in shifting?
Of course we are not comfortable here. In Ghazipur market government does not provide us basic facilities like proper shade from the rain, no storage, no refrigerator facility and no proper houses. We have to travel so far to come here.

10.The govt. has provided infrastructure for the market. Are these of help to you?
Government hardly provides us any facilities we don’t have proper shades from rains, no proper storage and no proper houses here. Whatever sheds it has provided do not stand the wrath of heavy rain.

11.Do you put up your shop somewhere else too?
No because we hardly get time from here and all the flowers started wilt at the end of the day plus government centralized us here.

12.How much is normal for you to make in a day? In what seasons do the demand soar up?
It depends on the orders or customers. Marriage season and festivals are the best time to increase our earnings.

13.Is the income from flower selling enough for you to fend for yourself and your family?
In marriage seasons we earn enough for myself and for my family but off season we barely earn for one time meal, sometimes. Off season we hardly get enough money for three meals.

14.Are there any other jobs you pursue for extra income?
I work as a rickshaw puller, on a rented rickshaw, in off seasons, to make some extra money.

15.Do you see after the business yourselves or have you employed people?
When the orders are big and require more hands, I ask my relatives to join me. In other days, I am enough for the day.

16.Is the flower business, just one person’s job or creates jobs for others too?
It depends on your level of business like if you are big flower seller then he employ more people to help them to take care. We are small flower seller so I just employed more people in the on season because we get many orders for the flowers.

17.Who all buy your flowers here? Who are the buyers?
All the customers like small flowers sellers, marriage hall managers, party organizers.

18.Do you sell flowers in bulk or single pieces?
We sell flowers in bulk as well as single pieces but mostly in bulks. Mostly customers buy flowers for parties or marriages and for poojas.

19.Do you grow the flowers yourselves too?
No we just import them from different states and from different countries.

20.What all goes into preserving and preventing the flowers from wilting in a days’s work?
The flowers come sprinkled in bits of ice in the containers. Thereafter we keep them in shade and sprinkle water to prevent them from wilting and keep them fresh.

21.Are you planning to expand your business further? Like passing them onto to your family members for its continuation.
I am a middle aged man and my sons from now itself have dreams of taking paths onto serviced jobs. They are not willing to continue in this business of mine. So,any plans to further expand do not matter at all.