Dressed in a simple cotton saree with a huge bindi on her forehead carrying a round cane basket of flowers going for a door delivery of flower garlands Kumudavalli is all there to enchant you.
She is soft spoken but there is a kind of strength in her walk. As she crosses signals and busy roads, she is sure that her basket of flowers will be empty by the end of the day. Sometimes you would also see her chewing her favorite beeda but that too not very often. Every evening 6.30 to 7.00 she would start from her home walk all the way to Mylapore to deliver flowers.
Flowers are her life. They have helped her make a livelihood. Her son is now working in a big company and daughter duly married with kids. She is happy but says that she has to come and sell the flowers to keep herself busy.
You can get all types of flowers from her. But she is very fond of Tulasi. Whenever I ask her why she gets me so much Tulasi, she says “Put it near the feet of Lord Vishnu, he loves Tulasi.”
Kumudavalli has no marketing, no social media. All she has is word of mouth and an amazing customer service. When she first met me, we were staying at the rented house. One evening she came and told me that the house owner ( who were not staying there) used to get flowers from her for last 20 years and she would be happy coming to that home again and give me flowers. I was more than happy and said yes to her. One more trait of Kumudavalli’s flower business was that the flower packet was never more than Rs.10. If I ask her more flowers for some occasion, she would ask me money only at the end of the month. Her flowers were always fresh and she would know what goes on what day. For example during Ganesh Chaturthi days she would bring red flowers and suitable flowers to Lord Ganesha.
On Saturdays, which is called as a Lord Vishnu’s day in Tamil Nadu, she would bring suitable flowers to Lord Vishnu and loads of Tulasi.
Along with all the matching flowers she would put a gajra of either mogra, chameli, jai or jui,kunda and the likes. Here there is a tradition of giving flowers to any lady who comes home at any point of time in a day.
It is due to Kumudavalli’s flower packet that I have never missed giving flowers to any Sumangali ( Married Woman) coming home. One gajra will always be there at home no matter what.
She was the one who gave us amazing garlands for my Sister In Law’s engagement. These garlands were specially made with Rajnigandha’s flowers, with roses in between tied tightly with the thread made of banana stem. They are sure as heavy, but create such a beautiful memory of that event through their fragrance.
As the days of Shravan approach I usually tell her to include some bilvam in the flower packet.The bilva patram would be neat ( 3 leaves as a piece without any holes) and she would deliver it without any fuss. The price of the flower pack would be little higher like Rs.12 but her customer service is impeccable.
She knew that there is small kid at our home, as she came everyday, she would tie a gajra for my dear little K even when she had a boy cut. 🙂
I call all lady flower vendors Kumudavalli ( Kumuda – Flower Valli – Creeper). I feel that is the best name for all the ladies who deliver flowers to households. Kumudavalli coming to Shrilekha’s home does not know how to count. She is an old lady but looks stunning with two sided nose pin and a nice cotton saree. She usually tells Shrilekha to count and give how many flowers she has given in that month. 🙂 I always feel that she has a deep belief on the customer and the trade that neither of them would cheat her.
Above all, for all Kumudavallis there is the Lord who knows all the accounting 🙂 HE would never do anything wrong for these ladies who are working hard twinning flowers and threads for HIM.