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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27 June 2005


When I was young, but not as young as you'd think, and the Internet with a capital 'I' had come to India, my friend Deepti and I would spend long hours in chatrooms like Mirc and ICQ and Geocities and (mostly) go to the rooms marked #Delhi or #India. ICQ was something we loved, I used to remember my ICQ serial number by heart, strange, and I can't even remember my user name now.

The first time I encountered a "chat room" was at a friend's place and he was one of the first to get the internet, sorry, Internet and he said, "Hey, have you ever tried chatting?" and we (another friend and I) said, "No" and "What's chatting?" So he signed us into a chat room and said, "Now people will talk to you." But no one did and we looked at him, exasperated. "Wait," he said and typed anyone want to chat with two 14/f? We are hot! We are horny! Okay, I totally didn't know what horny meant at the time, at least, I didn't know what the connotations were if I typed in "I am horny" into a chat room, but it seemed to work, because everyone started to chat with us. Good fun.

Anyway, so by the time Deepti and I used our Mirc and ICQ, the Internet had grown up a little, most people said the net now, all cool and all and we were a little more sophisticated. Okay, so sometimes we pretended to be hot swimsuit models, but mostly we stuck with the truth. We both had a string of Internet boyfriends for a while, Jared from the US Navy, who "couldn't communicate with anyone in India after he signed on" thus ending a beautiful romance. And there was Rick from Melbourne, who was 25 and called me and had a great accent. (Speaking of accents, I once emailed Jared saying, "Yeah, great talking to you and you have a nice accent" and he wrote back going, "I don't have an accent! I'm American!" Heh.) But soon Deepti started to talk to more and more boys from Delhi and obviously they wanted to meet her.

By this time, I had outgrown my passion for internet romances. They were proving too fickle, I had so much else to do etc, but it seemed like Deepti was just getting started. Pretty soon she was meeting boys in M-Block Market all the time (McDonalds had just opened there and it was a popular, 'cool' hangout) and I was the unwilling chaperone. Also because I looked so much younger than her, boys automatically ignored me, or treated me as the sidekick, which I was getting a little tired of. There were two boys we met, I remember, best friends, 19, I think, to our 15 and very, very cool. They smoked and all. They bought us Coke (as in Coca-Cola, not cocaine), they dropped us in their beaten up Maruti 800. But I was reluctant, hanging back, because, hello, we had met them on the internet and god knows what was wrong with them. Deepti couldn't see this point though, or she chose not to, I'll never know which. She was always way more excited than I was. I was a skeptic, looking out for potential rapists, she was enthusiastic and full of raptures. Maybe it had to do with the fact that she was in an all-girls school, whereas boys were really not that big a deal for me. I mean, I had grown up with them, and they seemed, well, okay. Classmates, perhaps. People you shared lunch with. People who smelt after Games. The only people who seemed surprised to see you dressed up at dance parties and who huddled in a corner skidding their too-new sneakers.

Then Deepti met FerrariBoy and our lives changed. Hers and mine. Hers because FerrariBoy became what she had never had--a guy best friend. And mine because I developed a violent crush on him. And yeah, though FerrariBoy flirted with me, eventually he and Deepti wound up together. Dating for about oh, five or six years.

And we outgrew Internet Friends and laughed about that stage in our lives. And, now, in an age where you can never be too sure about anyone, I'm beginning to discover Internet Friends again. I have friends who I have known for years and other friends who I meet through work etc, but I also have some Net Buddies, who by virtue of the fact that we read each other's blogs say, or something, I feel close to, too.

I was thinking about that today, watching Friends Season 10 which he sent me (thanks!) and wondering how my perspective has changed. From 14/f and horny to I love you overseas even to... this. Companionship from people you've never met.

I heart the internet!


  1. sidekick... heh :-)
    I had to chaperone my much-cooler school friends to blind dates ALL the time. I SO bond!
    Ferrariboy sounds interesting. More, please :-)

  2. The line that killed me (I laughed tooooo hard) was "I don't have an accent! I'm American!" Yeah - Americans ARE like that - the world centers around them :) No offense to any american reading this - this is just a frank opinion!

  3. You have the most charming way of writing! A lot of people I know have started reading you now! :)

  4. the internet is a boon as well as a bane. everything comes with a price tag, aint it?

    btw, nice post.

  5. motheater: Well, he was tall and skinny and really, not much to write home about. But he flirted with me, and those were the younger, less-picky days. *sigh* And I'm STILL sometimes playing chaperone! You?

    gettingthere: Yes, but I suppose we think we have no accent either! :)

    the sunshine woman: Ooh, thank you! Anyone I know? :)

    mandar: I think more of the former than the latter, though :)

  6. Good God ! This post brought back such a flood of memories !! All the kewlbart19s and the sexyhyperbritgirl18s... I once got an letter (on paper) from a girl I was chatting with in Britain - and my mom, in all curiosity opened it and was shocked to read the stuff that we talked about ;) That quickly cut down the allowance for them chat sessions !!

    But this whole meeting people via blogging, seems so much more...

    And you are more welcome ! Don't forget to mention my excellent taste in music as well :)))

  7. hello eM--weird but i used to choose this nickname too for myself! try guessing how i spent my saturday evening?? Yea.. ben ctaching up with a lot of your posts. Funny, you projected a totally different Delhi from the one i saw. I guess yours is more like the 'south delhi' life?

    Mirc? sheeshh dont even remind me! I spent a year on the net when i was around 15-16... merde and the stories that came out of it too. I nearly messed up with my exams cos together with a friend of mine and i, we were bunking school, tuitions etc to go to the cybercafe! No wonder why i could connect to your blog so.

    Nice blog :)

  8. hmm.. Geek that i was, i spent my time hacking. what a waste.
    BTW, eM, note weetabix's ref to a "south delhi lifestyle".. thats what i meant by South Delhi being the equivalent of Bombay's "Town"

  9. I remember the days of a/s/l.

    My niece-in-law was actually naive info to start flirting with some guy who was 22. She and her friend told him they were 19 and gave enough details that he actually tracked her down and knocked on her front door. Luckily her father, who is 6'2" and 250 pounds of muscle, answered the door and calmly explained (read: yell and swore) that his daughter was only 15.

  10. P.S. I've been shamed by that show-off Vignesh. I have a couple mix CDs although none of them have NightSwimming...

  11. I guess this sums up everyone's experience of the net. Its just amazing how many online friends I've got over the years.

    Good post and a nice walk down the memory lane, tnx :)

  12. tony: Thanks!

    vignesh: I used to get letters too. But always very sweet ones with declarations of love :)

    cecuk: I did! Very funny, thanks :)

    weetabix: Actually, I live in East Delhi, but yeah, I get what you mean about lifestyle, etc. Most "real" South Delhi types are much too busy and important to blog, though!

    fingeek: Hacking? That used to be a problem for me also. All sorts of random people hacked my comp and then sent me messages. Gah.

    mint: Now I would NEVER give anyone my home address *adjusts halo*

    r: Totally. Ain't it great? :)

  13. Haven't a clue if it's anybody you know cos I haven't a clue who you are either!!!

  14. the sunshine woman: Well, thank the lord, SOMEONE in Delhi doesn't know who I "really" am! :)

    cecuk: Imposter? Link please?

  15. Hahaha.... deep in the bowels of the gay urban life, men are still using chatrooms for the sole purpose of meeting other guys. And if they do meet rapists and other ill-intentioned members of society, well, that's cause for celebration.

    I remember messing around in a chatroom with a mate for the very first time. Both of us were 'trainee nurses'.

  16. nope i never went thro' that phase of chatrooms.
    perhaps 'coz it was at work that i chat n itz pure blasphemy if u r caught
    chatting with arbit ppl..

    nice blog

  17. Nice Account !! but I never felt like getting into chatroom for some unknown reason!! IMO internet is safe as along as you exist virtually and stick there. the mix of real you and virtual you can be messy :)

    and any relationship extending from virtual world to real world needs reality check !!


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