Our new driver took me to the City Market today in the old chaotic filthy part of Bangalore, where ponies pull wooden carts filled with construction materials and vegetable sellers proudly display their wares, and hundreds of people spend their days stringing tuberose, magnolia, chrysanthemum and rose blossoms into hefty garlands.
These fragrant ropes will find their way to temples, and be draped around the necks of statues, strung across the front of smoky tuk-tuks (also known as “auto rickshaws”), and settle onto every available surface in our temporary apartment. They will last for only a couple of days; so the flower people are ensured work, since flower garlands are everywhere :
Our driver, Bhaskar, explained that the jasmine flowers women wear in their hair is a Bangalore tradition. I bought a string and he pinned them into to my braid. Immediately I was enveloped in a magical force field of jasmine that moved with me as I walked. It became clear that this was a tradition that had sprung from simple necessity: in a country that can sideswipe you at any moment with a powerful waft of, “What the hell is that…” it makes perfect sense to enlist sweet jasmine to go to battle against the elements, and remind you of the beauty of life :
It also occurred to me that the scarf women wear draped across their neck isn’t just an elegant statement of modesty, it provides a handy rag to hold over your mouth and nose on a moments notice. Accident? I don’t think so :
Street fashion always sprouts from some functional need, like the rolled up right pant leg, hoodie, and messenger bag sported by half the population of San Francisco. Function inevitably becomes fashion – even in San Francisco, the anti-fashion capitol of the world.