As we crossed a not-so-busy stretch of 100 ft Road in Indiranagar and opened the gates leading to a garage and a main door on the right, we wondered how the person behind such beautiful handcrafted knitted goodies would be like. We were pleasantly surprised to be welcomed in by the soft-spoken Madhu Mehra in to her cozy home making us feel immediately relaxed and at ease. Madhu knits on a daily basis and creates some amazing products including neck warmers, feet warmers, caps and more under the name she who knits on Facebook.
Madhu’s quick response to why she does this was, “Elders should always have something to keep their mind occupied. If I wasn’t doing this, I would have gone crazy when I lost my husband in 2013.” She continued, “Depression can creep up on you when you are living alone, especially when your kids are gone, having to focus on their priorities and life. I have lived in this house for 41 years and when I lost both my husband and mother-in-law within weeks of each other, it was knitting that helped me by keeping me busy. In addition, I have been lucky because both my younger daughter Smriti and her husband Matt live with me, so I have never had to be alone.”
“Besides, knitting is very good for the fingers when you are arthritic.” Madhu added.
Having moved to Bangalore in 1973 after her marriage, and spending the first three years at home, Madhu Mehra, an MSc in Physics, went on to work at a nationalized bank for the next 30 years and bringing up her two daughters, Sucheta and Smriti. “I don’t even know when and how I learnt knitting…” she said, adding, “I learnt knitting using coconut broomsticks when I was a little girl, may be 9 or 10 years old!” laughing with a sparkle in her eye.
She would give out knitted gifts to all her friends’ children and when she quit working after a knee surgery, her older daughter, Sucheta suggested she start knitting again. Madhu thought why not and her younger daughter, Smriti and husband Matt, started her page, she who knits, on Facebook in 2010. She said, “I am grateful because I have never had to go to any one to sell my knitted items, everyone approached me directly. The past two years I have been part of A Hundred Hands.” A Hundred Hands is a nonprofit trust whose mission is to help those directly involved in the creation of handmade art, crafts and homemade foods, to earn a fair and sustainable livelihood from their work. Madhu is a regular at their exhibition and is usually a sell out within the first couple of days of the 4 to 5-day exhibition!
“I have always loved old hindi music from the 40s and 50s… I would love to learn to sing, even if it is just for myself so I can hum along my favourite tunes.” Madhu reveals.
“While this is not my bread and butter, I want people to value handwork and craft. Hopefully someday I will have the energy and inclination to teach the art as well.” said Madhu and went on to speak to us about the patience and planning one needs in order to teach because she believes, and rightly so, it is a serious responsibility if one takes up teaching anything.
Madhu’s clients are all youngsters. Most of them are surprised to find that an older person makes the products since they are so stylish. “Can’t older people make stylish things?” Madhu asked us laughing out loud with that now familiar glint in her eye. She further added, “Of course I am blessed because both my daughter Smriti and son in law Matt who live with me, help a great deal, be it with designing the logo for she who knits, picking colour combinations or doing photo shoots with their friends as models!” which makes she who knits a truly family supported and run business.
Although she claims to have been a quiet and studious types growing up, we did get to hear about fun, mischievous stories from her childhood. Originally from Amritsar, Madhu and her siblings unknowingly burnt down their father’s wooden godown with electrical goods, while playing dollhouse inside.
Madhu shared an endearing story from her childhood of how she drank the most expensive coke ever! Here it is in Madhu’s words…
“It was my cousin’s wedding and I must have been about 7 years old. It was a tradition to give out gold sovereigns as a gift and these were kept at home. I really wanted to drink a coca cola which cost about 4 annas those days. Along with another little cousin of mine I took a gold sovereign and gave it to the shopkeeper in exchange for a couple of coca colas. That was one of the most mischievous things I did growing up, but otherwise I was always the studious and well-mannered one, always taking care of my younger siblings after school.”
We asked her to share something that would help all our Samsara Living members… “Don’t lay stress on your kids. Avoid hoping that your children will look after you. If you hope and it doesn’t work out, it will hurt you. Instead, be independent… don’t depend on anyone, especially for your daily living. You should be financially and emotionally dependent on yourself first. And remember to always have something to fall back on.” were Madhu’s pragmatic and to the point words which we know will not only benefit our senior members but would be relevant for people across age group and gender.
To know more about Mrs.Madhu Mehra and her work, visit her page on Facebook
or say hi to her right here on Samsara Living