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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1 June 2005

Smokey The Bear

It is a truth universally acknowledged that smoking at work isn't just a "break type" thing you do, it's where you make your strongest bonds, it's where relationships can be broken, it's where gossip happens and it's where your boss suddenly becomes your equal when he asks you for a light.

And since it is anto tobacco day and all and I must do my bit to commemorate it (no, I'm not giving up smoking), I think an entire post on the art form should do the trick. (And yes, it is an art form. I'll tell you why also, if you hang around for a bit)

Why smoking is cool

1) It's fat free

2) You can flirt with other smokers. Example: "Um, hi, do you have a light?" Click. Fwush. "Oh thanks. Hey, that's such a cool lighter! Zippo?"

3) There is an entire book that can be written about the way people exhale. Do you do it in short puffs? Do you let the smoke langurously escape your mouth in one steady stream? Do you do a Puff the Magic Dragon thing and exhale through your nose? Do you blow smoke rings? (If you do, please teach me, I really, really want to learn) Do you do the 'french curtain'? (Exhale through nose, inhale through mouth till it looks like a white smoke sheet between the two) And of course, there's the sexy sexy way Ethan Hawke did it in Reality Bites where he dangled a cigarette out of one corner of his mouth, inhaling and exhaling without taking it out. Mmm. Ethan Hawke. Mmmm.

4) Then of course you can tell a lot about the person by the brand they smoke. In college, my friends and I were often called elitist by the Goldflake smoking crowd. We smoked Benson and Hedges Lights, one some days the sweet Godang Garam, clove cigarettes, which after you finished smoking them, left your lips tasting pepperminty when you licked them. I smoked Mores for a while, long thin brown mentholated cigarettes and felt like Simone De Bouviear or someone when I waved them around. Now of course, it's my faithful Silk Cuts--cheap, filtered, mild and small.

5) I have spoken about the post-coital cigarette before, but let me remind you again. Brilliant.

6) They make things taste so much better! Like coffee, or alcohol. Or even when you've just eaten a heavy meal. NOTHING is better than a cigarette after you've eaten.

And you non-smoking types can rant and rave and fume all you like, but all I have to say to you is: simmer down. Relax. Smoke a cigarette :)


  1. My last ex was a total smoker and it used to drive me up the wall. The first thing he did every morning - before he even got out of bed - was light up. Blergh. As you can imagine, add that to morning breath and there was no chance of daybreak nookie. Ever.

    Talking about smoking at work makes me think of that episode of Friends, where Rachel forces herself to start smoking because her boss kept discussing work stuff with her colleagues during ciggy breaks.

    And I suspect Ethan Hawke can dangle a mouldy salami from his lips and you'd still go mmm.

  2. Heard about the peeking cloud?

    You take a puff and blow it out a little so there's a cloud in front of your mouth. Then it disappears back into your mouth.

    And by the way, hi.

  3. "'s where you make your strongest bonds..."

    Dang, NOW I know why I've never been able to sustain a single workplace relationship *seethes and simmers for awhile and then goes up in a cloud of smoke*

  4. workplace bonding.... when I *officially* quit smoking, I suddenly dropped out of the loop for office gossip, and I didn't know WHY! Then I figured I was missing out on all the bitch-bond sessions. It took me months to kill the urge to light up with co-workers so I could go downstairs and hang out while they smoked and NOT smoke myself. I do cheat with a sly cigarette once in a while, but not at work.

    This comment is so long that maybe my blog just moved to yours :-)

  5. Jay: See, the trick to that is, brush your teeth and THEN smoke your first ciggie! Always ready for morning nookie then, and also you get the post-coital smoke, yay! :) And about the Friends thing, the friend who "inspired" this post, said the exact same thing!

    Pleo: NO anti-smoking links on THIS blog, thankyouverymuch!

    Hi, thetis: Great idea! I'm going to try that as soon as I master the smoke rings :)

    jabberwock: Awww.. but hey, if you're interested in forging those bonds, I'm always happy to initiate people into the world of nicotine. And I didn't know people said 'Dang' anymore! :)

    motheater: Yes, you do tend to get sorta out of the loop when you're not doing balcony-bonding (or in your case, outside VT bonding). But if it makes you feel any better, not many people in MY department smoke, so to hear the inside gossip, I have to stay inside only :(

  6. I believe smoking is the best timepass (NOT timepass) apart from a number of other things. And ofcourse, addictive due to the above apart from getting used to nicotine for your lungs. People start smoking not because they like it, but because its supposed to have the "cool" tag associated. What brand do you smoke these days?

  7. ahem! no comments.
    *looks around from the corner of his eye and scampers away as fast as he can*

  8. Well, the fact that I don't smoke may be a BIG disadvantage but I intend to keep it that way for as long as I hold out.

  9. @jay: 'My last ex'... as opposed to 'my ex' ?

    As I said, cigars are uber. I've struck up quite a few conversations thanks to my zippo of late (which reminds me, I need to get the little boy refilled again). Long steady stream, mostly upwards through the center of my lips, rarely through the corner if I can't avoid puffing into someone's face the other way and I'm too lazy to actually turn my face around.

    But you have not talked about social smokers ? Do these beasts not qualify to be considered with the big boys ? What about the 'I Smoke When I Drink' crowd, of whose diverse populace, I am a member ?

  10. ever tried a bidi? surprisingly good flavor, actually.. nothing beats Skandinavik, of course (i'm a pipe smoker)

  11. In my old office, all the people I liked to hang out with smoked.

    Then I developed asthma.

    So, no. Try as I might, I can't seem to find a single redeeming thing about it.

  12. saurabh: People who smoke JUST because it's "cool" are losers! You have to first smoke and THEN appreciate how cool it is. But I smoke Wills Silk Cut, btw :)

    mandar: Did the smoke get to you? :)

    toe knee: You know, I really don't GET journos who don't smoke! How? Why? What for? :)

    Vignesh: I actually forgot about the social smokers. But I was thinking more of people like me, the dedicated guys, who get cranky with lack of nicotine. God, I suck, don't I? :)

    fingeek: Nope, never tried the bidi, but smoking a pipe sounds like fun

    the box: Aww. But you know, I do have a couple of asthmatic friends who smoke too. Does this mean you're going to shun me? :)

    Nish: As someone very wise and whose name I can't recall right now, said: it's your funeral :)

  13. Hey you know me. And i don't smoke.

  14. eM: You hit the nail on the head but with a "mature" hammer. When did you start smoking? Probably when you were a teenager (Xth, XIIth or in College). I smoked my first cig when I has just completed my XIIth boards. Anyway, at that age, everything thats different, that you can imitate, looks/feels "cool" and you realize the level of stupidity or the associated "loser" tag a little later :)

  15. Shun you? Don't be silly. You're actually the one smoker who doesn't smell. :-)

  16. Now there, We have a ban on smoking (even on screen). I feel it is stupidity on the part of of the GOI (Prasar Bharati) to pass this resolution that smoking should not be shown even on screen!! If people want to smoke, they will continue, no matter if it is displayed on screen or if it is advertised.

    The funniest part is that the GOI has ordered earlier films to either blur the smoking scenes or to put a statutory warning in such scenes. If people took such warnings seriously, do you think they would have started smoking in the first place??

  17. Take a deep drag and wait for 3 seconds and let the smoke reach your throat. Then keep your mouth to a "O" or as round as possible - not a large O or a small O, medium sized. And then push the smoke out with your tongue. Push with tongue only and dont blow air out from the throat.

    Takes time to perfect - but there you are...smoke rings.

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  20. Smokin!!! I love that instant bonding that builds when your hands are shivering in the cold and you ask a smoker nearby "Can I have a drag?" I made more friends sharing a ciggy than I ever made using Carnegie's principles!

    I can make smoke rings too! Yay!

    Nice blog em!

  21. Suku: Blurring smoking scenes/ads, displaying warnings is equivalent to saying "you can't have sex unless you use condoms". This is ridiculous.

  22. I don't mind hanging out with people who smoke as long as I don't have to french kiss them.

  23. eM: Your trick is to brush your teeth and THEN smoke? Wouldn't it be better to smoke THEN brush?

    Vignesh: I have several exes. This one happened to be the latest.

    Minty: LOL how many people do you french kiss daily? :-p

  24. Even Aamir Khan reflects our views... Check this out...'t~force~me~stop~smoking,~do~drugs:~Amir

  25. 30th comment! :)) I deserve a free smoke...

  26. u r absolutely 100% right. i've made some of my best friends over a drag. i don't know why people make such a fuss about it. but i feel sometimes if u smoke alone its even better, its like bonding with urself. u relax on ur bed and light a cig and then for 5-7 mins u and ur cig r the sole people in the world. its like time comes to a standstill. glad we share the same views. happy smoking!


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