Chill madi

Updated: Sep 02, 2018, 07:38 IST | Meenakshi Shedde

It is the land of tiffin, Horlicks barfi, button idlis, bullet idlis, CC bath (chow chow bath, that's upma and sheera), "chill madi" (take it easy) and more

Chill madi
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Meenakshi SheddeIt is always a pleasure to visit Bengaluru, which my cool niece Shuchi simply calls "'luru". It is the land of tiffin, Horlicks barfi, button idlis, bullet idlis, CC bath (chow chow bath, that's upma and sheera), "chill madi" (take it easy) and more.

Last week, I was in Bengaluru as my sister, Sarayu Kamat, was exhibiting her paintings at the Chitrakala Parishath in a group show. Our mum Indu had once enrolled her in an art class there when we were kids, so it is remarkable for her, a banker, to return there as, ahem, an artist. There were also cousins to catch up with, and a childhood friend Suresh's daughter's wedding.

Now, the wedding was something else. This Tamil Brahmin Iyengar family had painstakingly matched some 54-odd kundali points of the bride and groom, both professionals, before giving the green signal.

(In a different case, my friend Prakash explained, the boy's horoscope showed the possibility of a second marriage, so he was first married to a banana tree whose trunk was sliced off, before he married the girl. Eye roll.) I also learnt that you use a Kombu Thali (mangalsutra) if the couple's horoscopes match, and an Amman Thali or 'love marriage thali,' if the horoscopes don't match or no one bothered with them. The bride was radiant. The groom turned out to be a delightful charmer from Sydney, with an ultra-cool haircut — a half-shaved head, and a mini-ponytail at the back. But, he cheerfully wore all the traditional V-caste signs on his forehead, the dhoti, XL garlands, et al. Sydney Iyengar gotra, I suppose. He let a sweet pati, a granny, sit on his wedding sofa, while he sat casually on its arm, and flashed a 'yo' sign with a 1,000-watt smile when we took pictures. Clearly, the couple was so popular, that when he finally tied the 'thali' round her neck, a most un-Iyengar-like roar of applause went up — claps, woahs, and wolf whistles.

The wedding gifts, part of the puja, included two pineapples tied together with pink satin ribbon. The symbolism was too charming — first prickly, later sweet. The wedding lunch was simply heaven on a banana leaf. The traditional wedding decorations above included gods getting married: the wedding guests included an upright horse coolly playing a sitar. Just wonderful.

As a bonus, the wedding also made for a lovely reunion with childhood friends, with whom we had played lagori ("seven tiles"), badminton and cricket, for years. One of the cricket gang, Aditya, remembered getting worried, when Prakash, one of the older boys, got married, that they might lose a beloved cricket partner.

He also remembered getting awed when Sandy would bring home a bevy of pretty girls. Sandy later graciously shared tips on how to get a pretty girl's attention ("you drop a hanky and say excuse me, is this yours?"). We all laughed so much, we left the wedding floating on air.

Meenakshi Shedde is South Asia Consultant to the Berlin Film Festival, award-winning critic, curator to festivals worldwide and journalist. Reach her at

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