You should arrive at around 5.30 or 6.00 am if you want to buy the freshest flowers at the Mahallati Flower market I was told. It sounded a bit extreme to me but I thought I should make the effort.
Then a friend of mine told me if I wanted to witness the market come to life with lots of people around then I should definitely go later, at around 10 am. Fresh flowers or people? For my first time I definitely wanted to see the market alive so fortunately for me, no waking up with the roosters.
Flower markets always remind me of my father and his love for plants. He would spend hours tirelessly tending to our garden.
Thanks to his efforts we had a beautiful garden, not only with flower beds but also with fruit trees that provided shade and became a seasonal treat. Plums, oranges and grapes complemented our table at different times of the year. The white and red plums were always bountiful which allowed us to share it with our neighbors.
When I was a child, I had the impression this lush garden was huge. Years later, when the new owner graciously welcomed me into my old house, I was shocked at how small it looked. It was also more exposed. No more fruit trees or flower beds, only the grape vines stubbornly clinging on while still providing a welcoming shade.
I prefer to remember how it was. To keep the memories of my father busy at work, often in the sun, permanently tanned, growing and lovingly caring for his plants.
In Tehran I don’t have a garden. I just have a small terrace which I try my best to brighten with an array of different flower pots. It is hard to maintain sometimes, as I travel a lot. But I do my best. The time I spend watering, cutting and cleaning everyday always helps me to relax just as it did for my father.
So I was very excited to explore the Mahallati Flower Market. There was a lot to choose from and I just wish I had a lot more space at home.
Going around, I noticed how it was starting to pick up, customers were everywhere, browsing. Some, overwhelmed by all the choice, seemed to be reflecting, while others were trying to make up their minds. Then there were those who seemed to know exactly what they wanted and were in and out fairly quickly.
I also encountered people who had made more prickly choices. Some being careful not to hurt themselves and others playing a very dangerous game between self balance and bodily harm.
In my eagerness to explore the market, I also avoided getting hurt a few times. There are constantly carts going around the market, carrying either plants or supplies and they pretty much own the pathway. I often got saved by people who would gently push or pull me out of the way. If you ever visit the market, you should definitely watch out for them.
Suddenly I saw him. He looked a bit lost walking about, hesitating here and there like he was trying to find his way home. I wanted to ask him who his father was. I looked around but everyone seemed amused and unconcerned so I let him continue. I’m sure he found his way eventually.
Before I went to buy flowers myself, I turned a corner and saw the supplies and decoration pathway. A myriad of shops offering everything and anything you can think of to get creative with your flowers arrangements. So much choice, it is really hard to get focused and choose. Small businesses often come here for supplies.
I started browsing for cut flowers. It was impossible to leave without taking some flowers home, so I entered a small shop. Here a few customers were already discussing prices. In spite of the late hour some flowers still looked fine.
I asked for the price and when he told me it was 0,27 euro or 0,35 USD if you prefer, I could not believe it. He even told me he could make me a discount if I took several bunches.
After my purchases I still encountered beauties like these and again wished I had the space to take them home with me.
In spite of the heat, the atmosphere in the market was light and I could hear the laughter among the merchants. It was one of those days when you feel at peace with the world and feel grateful you can enjoy the moment.
Carrying my flowers and still with my camera out, I was just leaving the market when I spotted him. His clothes and hands were dirty from handling the flowers. Yet at the same time there was a dignity and delicacy to his work, trying to create something beautiful to attract customers. It was the perfect ending to my first visit to the Mahallati flower market.
I’m sure I will return many times. If you happen to live in Tehran or are just passing by and have some extra time to kill, why not come and see it for yourself. The Mahallati flower market is situated on the Kosar boulevard and is open everyday from 5.00 am to 1.00 pm.