Diwali with roses

How many times have you had someone do you a good turn out of the blue? And how often have you wondered if there was a selfish motive behind the deed?

If you've never doubted the motive, lordie, you must be really naive. Or a genuinely nice person (who thinks nice of others as well). I'm neither naive nor nice and usually view good deeds and their doers with some suspicion. I am, however, trying to believe in people more. And sometimes, thankfully, there is reason to.

It was a week before Diwali this year (Nov 5). Like 2009, I wanted to invite family over for dinner. Hopefully, it's going to be a yearly tradition. For those who might not know, I moved to Melbourne in July 2008 and spent most of that year moping. I didn't celebrate any Indian festival because I was too busy missing home and crying about it.

In 2009 I decided to stop moping, move my ample arse and celebrate with the family (like this). My Aussie family joined in with great gusto. Partner wore a kurta both years, I made a rangoli, we put up candles and fairy lights and I even lit my brass lamp with some ghee and cotton wicks ("Wow, you're making ghee candles," said Partner's brother).

Rangoli I made with coloured rice
powder (pink), flour and yellow
This year I wanted to decorate with marigold flowers as they are the ‘traditional’ flowers used during festival-time in India. However, firstly the marigold here is bloody expensive for strewing on the floor and secondly, they're not the same as the ones in India. Different variety, fewer petals. So I decided on roses and thought I could pick some up from the local florist. The idea was to ask for the wilted roses they didn't sell.

When I walked into the florist (Yarraville Village Flowers, 26 Anderson St, Yarraville) and asked if they could spare some roses, the answer was negative. The florist lady told me that whatever roses didn't go in bouquets were used for funerals. Dejected, I was walking out of the store when she asked me why I needed them. So I told her I wanted to use rose petals to decorate my home for an Indian festival.

"Why don't you ask someone with roses in their gardens? Roses are in full bloom everywhere," she suggested. I told her that since I hadn't (and haven't yet) asked my neighbours over for tea, I couldn't really ask them for flowers. I thanked her again for her interest, bought some calla lilies that had been spray-painted blue (they are white) and started walking out the second time.

"I have roses in my garden," she said, "But they are yellow. If you don't mind yellow ones, I could bring you some," she offered. I was quite surprised and told her I just needed a couple of roses, but a week later. She quickly wrote my name and 'roses' on a chit and said she'd have them.

A week later I was walking back home from the railway station. The next day was Diwali and I was preoccupied about the dinner. I'd also been to my obstetrician (some unexpected bleeding) and was stressed out about it too. It was 4.30pm and I'd nearly walked by the florist when I remembered the roses. I walked in and asked for the lady. She'd left for the day. I thought "I knew it" in my head yet asked if perhaps she had left any roses.

"Ah you're the girl who'd asked for the roses," the man said, walked to the chiller/freezer and pulled out a plastic bag and handed it to me.

I'd almost forgotten about the roses and here they were, sprinkled with water so they'd stay fresh. I'd asked for "a couple of roses", there were about 15 of them in the bag. They looked like they'd come from a garden that was looked after well... And she had plucked them for a stranger who'd bought flowers from that shop only once before. I'd asked for them once and she'd remembered. She had cared. I was, and remain, very touched.

I narrated the incident to some friends. The reaction was mostly, "Ah, she wants you to be loyal to that shop." Or "She wants you to promote the shop with people." For once I am pretty sure it's neither.

The lady does not own the shop (I asked), she just works there. She helped out because... I don't know, she just did. She didn't take any money, she didn't expect anything in return, I haven't been back to buy flowers since; but she got me those roses. I will always remember it. Thank-you Trina.

PS: I tied some of the roses in a bundle and dried them. They are special.
PPS: *Such* a racist country eh?

1 comment:

Passionate Goof said...

For starters i am the exact opposite of you. Its the mean things people do that surprise me, and I even take formality quite genuinely.... Fortunately for me, whenever I have a bad fall due to that attitude i have a fall, I have really wonderful friends to show me the world is otherwise. And a really sweet lady, that one.:) Racism in Melbourne, strangely, its the locals, I have met there who believe racism exists there, more than I do. I think the definition of racism is much more stringent for them, than for me.
And honestly JB, the only racism I have observed or even experienced for that matter, in Melbourne, is from fellow Indians!

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