A pure bred Chitpawan Koknastha Brahmin, Madhavi Vaidya is a true Punekar, considering she is also the daughter of Punekars. With a father in the Indian Air Force, a large part of her school years was spent outside Pune including four years in London where she made a few life-long, cherished friends. Her daughter is now married and lives in London reinforcing her ties to the city. The family moved to Hyderabad when Madhavi was twelve and in 1970 she returned to Fergusson College, Pune. As fate would have it, she met her husband, Uday, at a common friend’s birthday party during her first few days back. Madhavi went on to complete her Masters and did a Ph.D. while Uday finished his masters in London. They eventually tied the knot in 1975 and Madhavi settled down to domestic life in Pune, where all three of her children were born.
As the daughter-in-law of a well-known industrialist and his active social worker wife, Madhavi found she did not have much to do in a well-established joint family household. She laughs and remembers thinking her home was more like a hotel with incessant cups of tea and snacks being served all day long. She continued with her studies at NCL and after the birth of her second daughter, started yoga under Guruji, BKS Iyengar, who trained her to become a teacher. She did a few training courses and taught yoga for thirty-five years. Madhavi wanted to do more and taking advantage of land owned by the family, she started an agriculture and floriculture business, growing gladioli and carnations. She imported bulbs from Holland, a novelty in Pune those days.
In 1993, Madhavi began a battle with addiction. She started playing golf. In retrospect, she feels it was one of the best things she started because golf is what helped her make friends when she first moved to the US. Ladies were an anomaly on the golf course and she went on to become the first Ladies Captain, trying to get more women addicted to the game. Pune has always been an expat hub and along with an American lady, Madhavi started the popular WIN club to help expat women adjust to life in Pune.
WIN celebrates twenty-five years in Feb 2018 and Madhavi is right in the middle of planning a reunion of all past and present members.
Life was chugging long when two things happened to derail things. Madhavi lost her mother-in-law and the family got their green cards. Uday’s brother lived and worked in Ohio and the brothers ran an IT business together. It made sense for Uday and Madhavi to relocate. The Air Force daughter’s new adventure began in 2011. It was a smooth transition and the people of Wooster welcomed the Vaidyas with open arms and a few golf swings. After enjoying Pune weather, the winters took some getting used to. While Uday began working straightaway, Madhavi set up home and began experimenting in the kitchen. The daughter-in-law who did not need to enter the kitchen, suddenly found herself cooking with a vengeance. Though she had experimented with new recipes during her time in Pune, Madhavi was mistress of her kitchen in Wooster and she enjoyed exploring her culinary skills. Uday’s heart condition made her experiment with Vegan cuisine. Madhavi began trying her own meatless, oil and dairy-free recipes, which culminated in her first cookbook, Food for the Heart. She has now come full circle marrying her interests in health and yoga by conducting cooking classes, giving seminars on healthy eating, holding yoga workshops and running a business dedicated to healthy Indian cuisine.
She may have had a nomadic childhood and is now living in the US but her years in Pune still make this grandmother of four, nostalgic. While she misses the weather, her family and her friends, she also misses simply walking around Deccan Gymkhana, popping into Vaishali, bumping into friends at Poona Club, still being recognized at the golf course and just the familiarity of almost forty years. For Madhavi, Pune still feels like home.