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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29 November 2005

Monday meetings

After a long day of doing mostly nothing, I trotted out of office to go meet an artist in a gallery not so far away from work. Actually, just down the road. I wasn't terribly excited about the assignment, it was one of those last minute things that happen and art is not something I'm majorly into, unless it's either a) someone famous, b) photography or even c) installation. Other stuff I like, I admire, but I'd rather not do the story.

The guy I had spoken to on the phone sounded all bubbly and excited when I called him though. "Oh you're coming? Oh, marvellous!" And when I got there, this tall firang guy greeted me, again excitedly, saying, "eM? It's so nice to meet you!"

There were a couple of other people in the gallery as well, two girls and a guy, all huddled over a laptop. I had noticed them in my initial room scan, but I didn't really pay much attention to them. Firnang Guy and I walked around the gallery, looking at stuff, me asking questions, him answering them. Doing an interview is really pretty easy once you know the basics. The journalism Old School teaches the five w's and h (who, what, where, which, why and how), but I prefer to start off with a few easy questions, talk a bit about their past, do follow up questions and then move on to what next. The key is to get good quotes. With that your story is made in the shade and you can do all your little artistic touches in the middle. And you make friends with them, which is super important, because then they keep talking and talking and telling you more and more stuff. I'm getting pretty good at making friends with my interviewees, so much so that now, no matter who I'm interviewing I wind up staying an hour or more at least. Sometimes with big talkers, close to three hours, by which time my hand is exhausted from writing so much and I'm wondering how I can condense 15 pages of notes into 500 words.

Anyway, interview over, Firang Guy promised to burn some pictures for me off his laptop and I waited. The other dude, who I noticed had a very neatly trimmed french beard started looking at the pictures Firang Guy was loading. He had a nice voice, Mr. French Beard, very soft spoken, yet deep and with an interesting accent that I couldn't place. "Do you know X at your paper?" he asked me, and I shook my head, "Well, I've seen his byline but I don't know who he is." "We were in the same batch," he told me then, with the same measured smile he had given me earlier.

"Are you an artist too?" I asked, still debating on whether I thought he was attractive or not. His voice was already causing pelvic pinwheels, and little sparks were shooting out of my fingertips. "The yellow one over there, on the right," he said and I went and looked. He had used a flame colour, one of my absolute favourites, but more than that, I squinted at the name on the bottom right side, because we hadn't been introduced. Right, so now Mr. French Beard could be Googled at will.

I returned and Firang Guy goes, "This guy's a writer too." "Oh, yeah?" I said, inwardly going, woo-hoo! "What do you write?" He sorta blushed and waved Firang Guy away, "I don't really think you could call us writers."
"He raps," said Firang Guy and I smiled, "That's pretty cool."

Oh, and then he smiled at me and my stomach collapsed and appeared at my toes somewhere. He had this glorious slow smile, that began at the corners of his lips and spread widely and generously across his face. One of the few people in the world that can smile like that with their lips closed.

I'm probably never going to see this guy again, but still I dwell on our fifteen minute conversation. He made me feel... warm. Not lust filled, not attraction, okay, perhaps attraction, but of a different kind. Like being in school. I can't think beyond hand-holding, waist arming. It's been so long since I felt like this, this puppy dog, carnation, helium balloon, candy floss kind of feeling, that it's hard to shake. I want to put smileys on everything, I even walked out of the gallery smiling to myself.

And for that, I'll always be grateful to the stranger in the art gallery. Hallelujah, I can still feel!


  1. awww that was adorable. "this puppy dog, carnation, helium balloon, candy floss kind of feeling" - so aptly described.

  2. Damn! Wish I could have a Monday worth writing about! Mondays should be morphed into Fridays is what I feel most of the time. And to think that I'm not even employed yet!...Sigh...

  3. Exactly, that's why a person should keep falling in love all over again with different people.. to get that 'happy' feelings...:) I preach polygamy :)

  4. that's rare, that feeling. and if can be googled, you can meet him again. :)

  5. You can still feel...
    *Jim Carrey-esque*
    you're alive.. you're alive!!!

  6. What did we ever do before goggle came along? I google everything and everyone. I googled you. : )

  7. heehee :D ...the air collapses around u...ur mouth quivers coz ur struggling to keep urself from grinning ...deja vu eM ..loevly post ;)

  8. Doood, buy a digital recorder, I can't imagine that you are still taking notes. The Olympus thingies that I remember from two years back cost roughly 3.5K at the most, records some 14 hours of audio and you can dump the files to your computer.

  9. Argh, what is it with artists and women (says the bitter ex-software engineer)!

    That's it, from today onwards, I will chuck all my money away, wander barefoot, and make sculptures out of besan ke laddoo. I dare you to challenge my credentials!

    As for the voice, I'm already a fan of beer, just need to take up smoking too.


  10. i like your illuminating, imaginative, illustrative, illusions... made me laugh really.

    Goggle, net, cell, CD, DVD and all other fancy gadgets, what would life be without?

  11. "Pelvic pinwheels" - Magnificent expression :)

  12. how quick do manage to write??or have you got doctor's handwriting and a compulsive doodler as well??

  13. Somehow that Ashvin Kumar image is still there at the back of my mind and I can't help giggle at the memory:))))

  14. I like your blog-spiel. Tres chic. You write very well.

  15. brown magic: thanks :)

    wishful thinker: Ideally, we should have a three day week--Tuesdays and Thursdays and sometimes, Friday afternoon. The French, lucky bastards, have a LAW that says they can't work more than a five-day week!

    docs dope: Or oxytocins!

    s: I now know his age too--only like a year older than me! But not because of Google, only because I asked his friend who I had interviewed.

    *question to general public: do I sound like a stalker yet?*

    sumanth: Better than you going, "Cable guy!" :)

    mint chutney: And what did you discover? ;)

    deepahnika: Stop myself from smiling... nah. I matched him smile for smile, I'm happy to say, but mostly coz I couldn't think of anything else to say!

    codey: Yaaaa, but my notebooks so much cheaper! And the new ones they're distributing in office have the company name on them, isn't that super cool?

    ttg: well, software engineers can be artists too. Even better, RICH artists, which would be such fun :)

    jemgal: Totally. A life without Google isn't worth imagining.

    shruti: Thanks! I was quite proud of it when I thought it, myself :)

    delhi's deviant: Oh, I manage to write super fast--a sorta combination of speed writing and code language that only I get at the end of the day :)

    ankur: Thanks, I think :)

    ab: STOP already!!! That was sooooo long ago, and this boy was REALLY cute, promise!

    Jane Sunshine: Ooh, thank you! :)

  16. it's the beard !

    though I shave.
    And glory be to gilette!

    I remember walking into an art gallery once. The "Art Place" or something at CP. MF Husseins on display. I dont get that kinda art actually. But slowly and gradually.. by forcing myself enough.. I was able to look at them 15 seconds at a time and go "mm hmmm..this one here".

    There certainly was a lack of lovely art display explainers right then.. just my luck :P

  17. oh WONDERFUL! lovely to be suddenly in love. 5 moment love. chocolately love. schoolgirl crushes.

  18. Now what we need is the lad's name so we can all google him and see exactly what's got you all candy flossed up.

  19. Must be the French beard. Plus the fact that he raps.


    ...and I thought rap was dead !!


    someone pass me the oversized pants !!

  20. it's the unplaceable accent that does it every time. best of luck, eM...

  21. It's funny - I thought this was an 'older man' thing - and he's only a year older than you? Must be the 'worldly yet charming' thing then. ;)

  22. Happens to everyone, and I don't think it changes with age.

    Billie Holiday had this song "Them There Eyes", where she says:

    "I fell in love with you
    the first time I looked into
    Them There Eyes.
    You’ve got a certain lil’ cute way of flirtin’ with
    Them there eyes
    They make me feel happy
    They make me feel blue
    No stallin’
    I’m fallin’
    Going in a big way for sweet little you"

    And she wasn't some naive little girl when she sang it either.

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