LAHORE - At a busy shopping mall, flower vendors squat outside their shops asking people going past the road to step inside. They are clearly on tenterhooks because each day they fail to sell up the allocated share. Some of them fan themselves and pin their hopes on the road where cars zoom along hoping that one of them would stop. Some of them sprinkle water on flowers to keep them fresh and glistening.

Those who do stop haggle while others even turn away empty-handed owing to what they say are unreasonably high prices.

For these vendors, it never rains but it pours. They beef about power outages and a slump in demand of flowers even on the joyous festival of Eid.

Power outages matter, they say but not so much as what appears to be surviving in an age of terror when the fear of an explosive device going up in the marketplace hangs over people’s minds.

One of the florists at Ghazi Chowk said that the situation has deteriorated because of power crisis but it has worsened because there is virtually no business activity. He said that he would still stay put come what may because his father had been doing the same.

The Eid-factor has had no positive impact in so far as bringing up the scale of sale is concerned, says one vendor, who also rubbished the allegation that they rip the customers off during these days.

Flowers may be indispensable at certain occasion such as marriage, festivals such as birthdays but it is normally at shrines and religious festivals such as Urs that any ceremony is thought of as incomplete without their scent breathing a new life to the occasion. At Eid too, they make for incredible gifts and hence the reason why unscrupulous florists can cash in on it.

A survey of various shops across the city revealed that some of the more anxious florists were charging a minimum of Rs 50 extra on every bouquet. Glade, roses, tuberoses and lilies are among popular flowers that brings good business. A common bouquet of tuberose costs Rs300, however a survey of different markets revealed that it was being sold for Rs 400. One of the florists came up with the excuse that since the rent has gone up; he cannot help but raise the price a little bit.

Some others complained that they have been forced to charge extra because of the suppliers from whom they buy up the stock have raised the price. Complaints that the oil and gas prices are already tremendously high and going higher still make sense but that does not give the vendors any excuse to take advantage of Eid.