My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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26 March 2005

There ought to be clowns..

Yesterday Devyani and I toddled on by to a friend's birthday party. Ragini, the friend in question, is someone I have known for years--her mum was friends with my aunt in Hyderbad and when she moved to Delhi, became friends with my mom. (I believe sharing friends is something that siblings do.) Anyway, so I've seen Ragini growing up, she's always been someone I feel intensely fond and protective of, being three years younger than me and an incredibly sweet person.

When she was in class four or five I think and I was lording it in my newly acquired teens I told her wisely, "Don't worry, by the time you're in the seventh, you'll have a boyfriend. I guarantee it." She looked at me a little sceptically--having a boyfriend wasn't something she was particularly worrying about and I suppose at nine or ten, you don't really care. We spent hours making crank calls and fudge and revelling in that only-Indian pecularity--the family friend. Someone whose parents you called 'Aunty' and 'Uncle'. Someone who wasn't "really" family, but who had been around for long enough to know yours. Someone who was always invited to birthday parties and otherwise boring gatherings. Even now, when we go to her house for dinner, Ragini and I quickly say we're going outside to take a walk and bond, sneak into the park and smoke a forbidden cigarette.We share clothes sometimes--actually more accurately, I borrow hers, because she has the best wardrobe ever! We talk about boys and our lives, and I enjoy the role I have with her, the older, wiser advice giver, with the whole 'woman of the world' aura that I like to exude.

Ragini used to be a plump little girl, pretty enough, but without any remarkable features. I will never forgive her for growing up so much hotter than I could ever be--seriously, she's tall, slender, with very long straight hair and since she's grown into her face--everything looks proportional and all. I give up being hit on when she's around, because even though she's pretty much blissfully unaware of it--she is the object of much male attention. And the other problem is that she's so nice!

Anyway, so Devyani and I went for her birthday party and after weeks and months and years of beign nearly the youngest or being treated as the youngest at gatherings--I felt really old. Here were a bunch of 19 and 20 year olds, all with very baggy low-waisted jeans, you know the kind that you yank down just enough to show your pelvic girdle and then fasten with a belt? I own a pair myself, but mine aren't quite so baggy, or quite so pelvic-showing. All these PYTs (note the subtle way I tossed in PYT and got away with it) also had very shiny, very straight hair and like you know those horror movies where the person's face goes from young and nubile to old and shrivelled up in an instant? That's exactly what happened to me. I could feel the wrinkles--pop, pop, pop--and crows feet and old bones and hurriedly I made myself a drink. And then Devyani and I lurked in a corner drinking and talking about how we too had thought we were so old and wise when we finished third year college.

You know, I do a strange thing when I'm at parties where I don't know anyone. I sort of look around to see if I can spot me, or anyone who used to be me in the groups. I find a strange sense of recognition when I see someone, obviously not one of the most popular girls, who is clowning around or looking for approval. "That used to be me!" I think and then I want to go over and put my arms around the girl and tell her that ina few years, she will be a wonderful unique person and weirdness will gave way to 'quirky' which is really a much prettier word. I whispered this to Devyani yesterday and looking around said, "I can't find me." She scanned the room too, "I can't find me either." "Ooh," I said, an a-ha moment dawning, "Perhaps you and I were like you know unique products! And that's why we can't find us." She looked at me pityingly for a minute and then smiled, "I just don't think we're at this party." "Oh," I said, now feeling a little sad, "We weren't invited." She patted my arm and we continued to watch one really hot 19 year old boy getting jiggy with it.

Isn't it rich, isn't it queer
Losing my timing this late in my career
But where are the clowns
There ought to be clowns
Well, maybe next year.
--- Send In The Clowns from A Little Night Music


  1. eM, this post blew me away! I mean, how could you move from thought to thought so effortlessly. You have the makings of a great writer -- you can put thoughts in words, thoughts which most of us struggle even to put our fingers on.

    Excellent post! I wish I could write about my life like this too. Do you mind if I try to copy your style for one post?

    Have a good Holi.

  2. Anurag: At the risk of sounding preachy--here's what I do to keep my writing sounding natural, at work and on my blog. The basic thing to do is write like you're having a conversation with someone. That way you don't alienate anyone and can put in all your thoughts :)
    And of course you may! I'm very flattered that you should ask!

    Pleo: But why disconcerting? Being unique is nice, no?

    Happy Holi and Easter to whoever's reading this! :)

  3. hilarious post!

    btw, what does "getting jiggy" mean?

  4. "I can't find me." I absolutely love that line. I look forward to reading your novel when it's out. Perhaps I should ask for an autograph now...

  5. Conversation? Hmmm...Is there a specific reason to mention smoking/drinking in every post?

  6. Very nice! :) And you 'almost' got with the reference to PYT! :)
    Its rather disconcerting to watch the Jassi types morph into the 'hot' looking ones, but happens often enough I think.
    I think you are unable t find yourself because you are indeed unique and special, so fret not.
    And about growing old, I know what you mean. Its like the other day after a longish phone chat, my mom asks me , 'so, who was it?'... I told her that was a friend from school, and she looks at me with the expression that suggests, "You went to school, when was this???!" :)

  7. RS: "Geeting jiggy with it" is from this really old rap song.. I think it basically means dancing/letting your hair down.

    Mint Chutney: Thank you, thank you! Don't worry when novel is finally written, I will make sure you get an autographed copy :)

    Anuja: I've watched you posting unpleasant comments on other people's blogs too and you know, it's not very nice. So stop.

    Primalsoup: *smiles* My mom's still on the "Oh my little baby's all grown up" stage! So I rather envu you right now!

  8. That IS the perfect thing to do at a party one wasn't invited to! Thanking much for the idea.

  9. What got me the most about the post was the title... wonderful eM, really wonderful.

    But I have to admit, that the song at the end, had me thinking a lot about this ;)

    And I had my first ever page 3 appearance today... :D


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