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"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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24 October 2005

See the pyramids along the Nile, watch the sunset on a tropic isle, just remember darling all the while... you belong to me


Went for my first cards party of the season the other night. Good fun. Small and I put in about a hundred rupees each and consequently lost it all. Then since my money had run out, I watched as the stakes grew higher--from 10-20, to 50-100. God, people in this city have a lot of money. There were people casually saying, "Panch sau ki chaal"and tossing in crisp new 500 notes while my poor broke soul kept going, "Nooooooo, give it to meeeeeeee!"

Are cards parties a solely North Indian concept, I wonder? I started playing, I think, in first year college, at a friends place, where bless her, she had a one rupee-two rupee table. I cleaned up that night--won some 700 bucks. The rules are pretty easy, for a straight round, you get dealt three cards--the highest is a trail, that's three of the same number. If you have an Ace trail, that's like the best ever, and everyone has to give you "goodwill" for getting such fantastic cards. Then there's the pure sequence-- a set of cards like 7, 8, 9 of the same suit, like all clubs. Then there's the impure sequence, with different suits. Right below that is colour--basically when you have all hearts or something. And then the piddly ones you shouldn't be betting on like pair (two of the same card) or highest card (like if you have an Ace or something).


Then there are the variations, which the dealer chooses. My personal favourite is "mattha" where everyone gets dealt one card which they put on their forehead without looking at it. You can see everyone else's cards though, so it's great fun when you see someone with a two of hearts on their forehead betting against someone with a King. Normally at parties, people play one round of straight before diving right in to the variations.

At larger parties, with the REALLY rich people, there are car keys tossed casually on the table. Or piles of 500 notes. Small was just telling me how she went to this party and someone won FOUR LAKHS. Fuck. There's also this fantastic urban legend, which I have helped stay alive, about how Ajay Bijli won PVR Priya through a game of cards. Can you imagine how that round would have gone? ("I see your three lakhs and raise you one movie theatre.")

Usually though, I'm sucky at bluffing. My dad's really, really good at it, I've seen him intimidate everyone else into quitting a game with a hand like four, queen, seven. But I guess that only happens when you don't care how much money you're losing. People who know me, also know that if I'm betting it means I have a really good hand and everyone backs out. Most unfair.


Cards parties always bring back so many memories. Last Diwali it was at Golfer-Ex's place, where I lost all my money and only won when he loaned me some 1,000 bucks. Of course, then I promptly gave him all my winnings. It was only fair. Then there were the times Leela and two of her friends and I used to play in her house. Those were innocent parties, where not much money was lost, but, oh, we did have a good time. Cards are not a serious business for me, but I have always loved the thrill of a gamble. When I was like six or seven, we went to some Air Force mela in Hyderabad where you had to bet on a number and then this chappie would roll a dice. Reader, I won. Much money. :)

Of course, I promptly bet it again and then lost it all, but it taught me a valuable lesson. Always know when to stop and don't be greedy. In other words, quit when you're ahead.


Have a fantastic cards season, and wish me luck for our cards party on Wednesday!

19 comments:

  1. How did it take me so long to find you? You're a fun read :)

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  2. All the best for wednesday....
    though i never went to any such organised card party but during college we used go play Flash on the back benches with the proff continuing with his babble...and that was fun...

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  3. During the last bang bang season, the first game I sat at had really nice and considerate people, who helped me win a fair bit and of course, my tiny bit of luck too held its ground. Next day I was on a table with a bunch of pros and I was hung out to dry in less than three rounds. From what I remember the first game, when wisely decided to call it quits, had stakes starting at some 2k and the chap who swept eventually won some 70K. Scary!

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  4. I've nothing relevant to the post since the only card game I've played is like uno. And bridge a couple of times.

    I did write you this mail though. Sent it to the gmail add. you've put up. Wondering if you read it.

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  5. yeah "nooooooooo, give it to meeeeeeeee"!

    cards are SERIOUS business in Punjab. vaary serious. there are raids too at times! last year there were a few raids at some ppl's homes! imagine! diwali season. tch tch.

    i personally, no gamblie for me. not in my family, so my highest stake in my once a year game is 2Rs.!

    also my great grandmom made it compulsory to gamble on diwali "or else you'll be reborn a donkey!"

    all the best!

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  6. Its not the size of the pot that matters, its the quality of the shit-talking that goes on.

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  7. ms. v: Hello! And thanks :)

    lalit: Heh. We never played in class at all.. but on the back bench we'd do the crossword behind our books :)

    codey: See, I need to meet these people now.. the kind who win 70 k. Oh, but that it was me!

    sirisha: Hey, thanks for your email! Though you should know, (and everyone else who has emailed me also) that I wait for a lot of mail to pile up and then reply to them all on one day! Time management I call it :)

    methinks: Really? Reborn a donkey? See, now I know I'm just fulfilling my karmic duty by playing :)

    horsey: Scoff if you must, bro, but if YOU ever played a game of cards you'd know how addictive they could be :)

    rat: Really? What do you gusy do to count down to Diwali then?

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  8. I remember playing teen patti when I was small. Though not with money. I lurvved it:-) Go ahead win another 700 bucks and treat us to drinks (the long promised one)...

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  9. Card games are very well known here, but mostly ppl dont play for money and if the do the put all the loss/win together in a sort of club thing over a year, then have a big night out all together or even spent it on a weekend trip for all club members.

    i used to play cards a lot when i was a teenager, though i never was any gud at bluffing at all, if strategy was more important then i was good. ;)

    your post reminded me of a lot of small incident, which i guess would be out of place here...

    maybe will post on my own blog... anyway thanks for reminding me!

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  10. oh trust me. my mail was like 10 mails put together. lol.

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  11. Wow. Now see - this is entirely new and foreign to me. Thanks for writing about this. Learned something new :)

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  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  13. i am a card addict, when it comes to the thirty day countdwon before diwali... but have to say - my best games will always be those with people i have grown up with - we know the same rules and the same variations- some variations which we may have even invented together- we know each others playing styles- we anticipate the moves- the stakes lower- monetarily and otherwise

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  14. Hey ...how did it go y'day??? how much did u win?

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  15. I found this blog by searching for "See the pyramids along the Nile" ... had it stuck in my head all day (the Dylan version). What a nice find!

    I've now read bits and bobs for the last hour or so, and thoroughly enjoying it. I'll be back for the rest later :-)

    It's amazing how you manage to write so apparently stream-of-consciousness, and capture all these linguistic quirks, but stil make sense. And the expressions you use remind me so much of my Indian friend at work. Now I know where she gets them from - must be one of your gang!

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  16. it is defo a North Indian concept- I love teenpatti- bring on Diwali season already!

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