In an organic fashion...
For someone who embraced ikat when Indian fashion was yet to find its feet, Madhu Jain has always been looking ahead of her times – first in 1980s when only a handful of designers would rummage for raw materials in the labyrinthine bylanes of the Walled City to now when designers have no compunction of procuring imported fabrics, accessories to economise cost of their outfits.
As a precocious child, Madhu was quick to appreciate the aesthetic eyes of her father, who liked dressing up in his best bib and tucker and lived in regal style in posh Aurangzeb Road. Madhu meticulously studied everything – be it décor, lifestyle, cuisine and heritage. Years later, that would reflect on her sartorial choices.
She loves figurative work of Thai ikat and that translates into her food as well. As we meet at Zing, the Asian restaurant of The Metropolitan Hotel and Spa, she observes the large vegetarian spread aesthetically. After settling down, the food connoisseur in her comes alive as she inquires about erstwhile Siam’s Pamelo salad and raw papaya.Madhu’s dietary influence has come from Rajeshwari Devi, her mother, who hailed from a traditional Jain family of Kucha Bulaki Begum in Old Delhi. “At home, mother would cook onion and garlic-free food which was so sumptuous. At school in Delhi, I would take tiffin in which
she packed me lip smacking chana and puri.” Surprisingly, she was enlisted as a non vegetarian at Welham Girls School in Dehradun. “But, right from day one, I was adamant to stick to my vegetarian palate.”
B.D. Meattle, her father, was fond of fashionable clothes. And would gift floral French chiffon saris to her mother. “She wore it with pearls. His aesthetics could be seen in Belgian chandeliers, Persian carpets at our home.” The Walled City continues to be her favourite haunt for street food. “Jo khatir nawazi wahan hoti hai, kahin nahi hoti. At my nani’s house in Old Delhi, khumchewalas would send banana leaves filled with kulfi, kulle, a fast disappearing edible, from which sweet potatoes and other veggies would be scooped out.”