The big Bengali calendar that hangs right at the entrance isn't just a decorative item in Badol's house: it determines, if not his movements between Keshapat and Calcutta which are quotidian, the quantities and partly, varieties of flowers he'll carry to the city, as their demand largely depends on rituals that are performed by the Hindus in accordance with ancient myths and cycles partly determined by the moon. His life of flower cultivator and commuting seller could be, in fact, easily reconstructed on the basis of this calendar. What the calendar doesn't and cannot show is the crazy daily rhythm sustained by Badol in order to combine the two, cultivation and trade, with the highest efficiency. Everyday, including Sundays, he wakes up at 2am in order to catch the 3.20am train at the nearest train station, Panskura. The six kilometres that separate his village from the latter are covered with a bicycle on whose back he will have loaded different quantities of flowers – which along with the scarce lighting of the road, makes his pace quite slow. The train often arrives with significant delays, especially in the rainy season; once they're on, however, the trip mostly proceeds smoothly and they even manage to take a nap for an hour. 07_BAD_2-2_RHY_PIC_01.jpg
In normal cases, the arrival in Howrah occurs at 5am. Without debating much, Badol gets the flowers down the wagon and orders someone to carry a bulk out of the station, up to the flower market on the opposite side of the river – when he's got a second, he'll carry that on his own, balancing it with mastery on the head. All in all, this transfer takes half-an-hour: he can start to sell even before 6am, which is quite crucial for the business, not only for it entails the possibility to sell out within the limited available time, but also because of a few regular customers who always come early but obviously wouldn't wait for him. Whatever income he's done, by around 9.30 or maximum 10am, before the heath goes up and the market gets more and more crowded, Badol is generally on his way back: across the river, this time carrying nothing but a small bag with his bottle of water, a cutter and jute threads as well as the propylene sheets that just four hours before had wrapped some hundred kilogrammes of flowers; into the station and hop, on the train. 07_BAD_2-2_RHY_PIC_05.jpg
The return trip from Calcutta may be Badol's jolliest part of the day: in this little more than one and a half hour, he meets his friends – all cultivators with the same routine –, discusses the market's trends and politics or chats about the news. The merry and relaxed atmosphere on the train, supported by the light snacks they share with each other, seems capable to make them forget their tiredness. As they themselves jokingly comment, 'our home is the train! We get on and sleep, get off, come back and eat, and depart again'. Indeed, once in Panskura, everyone grabs his bicycle or motorcycle and heads home individually. When Badol arrives, at 1pm, he takes shower and rests in the house, listening to his wife's updates on the morning's events, until lunch is ready. 07_BAD_2-2_RHY_PIC_08.jpg
A one-hour nap is all Badol allows himself: by 3pm, he's again outside to take care, with the help of his wife and a few hired workers, of the flowers that he grows on separate – partly his own, partly leased – plots of land. There is in fact no time to lose, as by 5/5.30pm, the darkness makes it difficult to work. Bunches of flowers cut for the next day are brought home on bicycle or by hand and dumped just in front of the verandah. Until 8pm, he'll be separating the flowers according to variety and quality and preparing respective bunches. After dinner, which is served between 9 and 10, Badol goes to bed, aware that in the next three-four hours, he will have to gather energies for the next round to Calcutta-and-back. 07_BAD_2-2_RHY_PIC_11.jpg
There are very few reasons for which Badol would break his routine: either in case of interruptions of the train communications due to heavy rains, or when rural Bengal's most prominent cycle, that of paddy, requires intense labour on the fields. In the sewing and harvesting periods, which occur respectively twice a year, he'd sell his flowers at the local haat instead of travelling all the way to Calcutta (whereby he would never renounce to sell in the city when important puja occur). Then, his daily routine adapts to the cycles of day and night; indeed, for Badol, these days might represent somewhat of holidays. rnIf one fact is absolutely clear – that the 'market', with his various sections, temporalities, functions and importance for urban life, will never stop to attract people (labourers, improvised sellers, professional traders) from outside and to be defined by a characteristic fluctuation –, the question around how and when, for whom, this very fluctuation does or not support social cohesion among those who pour into it remains the probably most fascinating for social scientists. At Calcutta's flower market, whereas the hawkers on the one hand have had to organise themselves in order to claim a right to (some of) its outer space and the established shop owners in its interior, on the other, entertain their own lobby, the group of cultivators-cum-sellers which Badol belongs to isn't particularly interested in forging the market's politics. They'd stay for three-four hours, pay a small bribe and quit, called back home by other duties. Their different, viz. higher, social state as compared to the hawkers' is evident not only for them, but for every policeman too: maybe, that's why they don't bother much. Definitely, it's what for them makes the train, and not the market, a habitat worth mentioning. 07_BAD_2-2_RHY_PIC_14.jpg