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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10 November 2005

The paradigms of power

Two things have inspired this post.

One is, of course, this post, which you've probably already seen. I'm most flattered that someone would go to all that trouble to respond to essentially my nitpicking. And pretty funny too :)

The second is the conversation I had with Priya the other day. I was telling her essentially in person about the six reasons I'm still single, that I posted about the other day blah di blah blah. And she goes, "Um.. dude, it's not any of those reasons." I was mid-flow by this time going on about how there was no one perfect and I was going to turn into an ice maiden type person and so I was a little taken aback, "It's not?" I asked in tones guaranteed to freeze a polar bear. "No, actually I think you should've said just two reasons: one, everytime someone likes you you stop liking them and two, you're so scared of commitment you lose interest as soon as the chase ends."

"Wibble," is all I managed for a bit and then there was long silence while she finished pottering around the flat doing whatever it was she was doing and I continued to lie on my bed, Jane Austen in hand.

It's true though. I admit it now. Ladies and gentlemen, I am a power junkie.

Power games are always delicate, always with fine lines and not very visible rules. You could do one thing wrong and have the whole house of cards topple down on you despite months of careful planning. Actually I should've said weeks. I don't have the attention span to let the "you blink first" game go on for that long. It's all very dicey, he calls twice and then you call, you message once in drunken state and agonise about it forever.

Not everyone loves the thrill of the games. Actually, I don't love it either, but I am strangely addicted to the knot in my stomach, to the rushing every two second to my cell phone, to the eyebrows raised in a crowded bar as you teeter slowly towards him so that someone can pass from behind you. It's ridiculous and old fashioned and I know I should just like make interest known if I have any. But the thing is, I WAS doing that, I was being one hundred per cent honest and laying out all my cards and it just wasn't working. Not once. The rejectors piled up and the more I confessed, compulsively, that I liked them a whole lot, the more they rejected me and the more I confessed and so on. Like a vicious circle.

But what Priya said had a grain of truth in it. There were some boys who responded to my eager "Let's do this again soon" with equal enthusiasms. And then *ping* something vanished in my head coz really, if they liked me, there had to be something wrong with them. Like ol' Groucho Marx said about not belonging to any club that would have him as a member. Instantly my defences would shoot up and you know my list of reasons? That's just like an excuse to get rid of them.

Commitment phobe? I don't think so. In my very heart of hearts, I want to be cuddled and loved and hand held. But then also, battling with that is sheer repulsion at the idea of a steady Saturday night date. At never feeling the thrill of the chase again. Of becoming all boring and all.

So power games versus stability. I'm masochist enough to subconciously choose the former, but oh, how I wish I could be in the latter.


  1. Its sad that you see it as a dichotomy which is mutually exclusive: the power thrills vs. cuddle-etc. The ideal deal will have these two alternating at sublime frequncies. keeping you guessing enough, playing enough, panting enough, and sighing enough.

    Keep looking.

  2. Wow!! You're complicated!

    However....ol' Groucho also said
    "Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot!"

    He also said
    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."


  3. Hi there! Maybe with time the masochist in you will give way to the 'stability-seeker'.

    I started thinking what I did when I was younger...and I think it is ok to be a 'power-seeker' if that's what you find yourself doing. The catch is - you gotta be comfortable with. I used to feel pretty low at times...quite glad to have left that phase behind! :) Have a nice day.

  4. Hey, which is this guy who asks for commitment? Wanna lynxh him for putting the rest of us in jeopardy.

    Agree about the taste of the chase tho. That is probably what keep the likes of me (probably you as well) going. Not a bad deal unless you're lonely on a Saturday night--that hurts bad. Keep going back to these words:

    "Love is only a few tears;
    It’s loneliness that we truly fear."

    :-) Pity I'm too far away to hit on you. *grin **ducks

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

  6. My first comment vanished. :)

    It takes courage to be honest about oneself and you have done a great job. Congratulations.

    I hate mind games, power games...

  7. Hmm.. Looks like honest stuff...
    enjoy the game while it lasts.. :)

  8. *appears again but with paper bag over head*

    I think any relationship, whatever its nature, where one gives more importance to self-gratification rather than the other person's interests is unlikely to have much depth.

    If you find yourself naturally caring for someone more than yourself (for the right reasons, of course), then you can be pretty sure there could be something substantial between you too. Power struggles would then seem like trifles and perhaps even vanish into oblivion.

    *scurries back into bushes*

  9. Stability's overrated. Think of all the dandy grandpas and chich ooh la la grandmas you know who have a lifetime of conquests behind them. What stories!

  10. You might like these lines from Annie Hall. Woody Allen starts off...
    Two elderly women are at a Catskill Mountain resort. And one of 'em says: 'Boy, the food in this place is really terrible.' The other one says: 'Yeah, I know. And such small portions.' Well, that's essentially how I feel about life. Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly.

    The other important joke for me is one that's usually attributed to Groucho Marx but I think it appears originally in Freud's Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious - and it goes like this. I'm paraphrasing. I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member. That's the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women.

  11. TTG: Just read your blog....your approach on eM has all the finesse and pliancy of a blunt saw. As anticipated eMs mate has diagnosed her malady as 'totco syndrome' (thrill of the chase only)...and the word of the day is CHASE...yeah...thatz all over your blog...come on..the attempt here is like watching a 15 year old fumble with a bra strap for the first time...the obvious attempt at proving self confidence [...considering the fact that SuperMan(me)....], make a case that you DESERVE one date (...proving you have put her on a pedestral already (why?));.....proof that you never went to a established college ("...a Gypsy full of AK-47-wale bodyguards"...its 'gun totting'..not WALE (????))

    sorry but as a girl in a similar place as eM i want her to get something she do i put this delicatly....are not there yet Tarunpal...ok, now go ahead and flame me..

  12. Power is always an issue in relationships. Not only do humans (including -- surprise, surprise, women - albeit to a lesser extent) always need some sense of control or personal mastery to stay mentally healthy, our image of masculinity has consistently demanded some sort of visible dominance over other people. So the cultural pressure on men -- some would say their biological imperative, too -- to be The Boss or The Winner is intense.

    When it comes to business, sports and to some extent raising children, maintaining overt dominance or authority is usually necessary, even crucial. But when it comes to adult, long-term relationships, efforts to always maintain the upper hand are likely to backfire.

    I do think men AND women should be more Love oriented in their long-term sexual partnerships. I also think we - the humans - need to develop confidence in ourselves without resorting to the tempting but soul-destroying expedient of merely asserting Power.

  13. I heart comment moderation! I feel so all-powerful :)

    tejaswi: True. But I find after a point relationships hit a comfort level which completely eliminates the thrill of the chase.

    monolith: complicated is what my sex does best :)

    ttg: Hmmmmmm ;)

    sunrayz: But stability is so borrrrring, she said plaintively. :)

    heretic: saturday nights are the loneliest times aren't they? :(

    anurag, sumanth: thank you :)

    sirisha: ah yes, but when you like someone more than yourself it AUTOMATICALLY gives them power over you. Whether or not they choose to use it is also in their power. So technically, it still exists.

    tm: says the girl with a boyfriend! Hmph, what do you smug together people know anyway? :)

    ramani: brilliant! Thanks so much for that :)

    adiago: Ya, true. My last relationship had all that. And at the end of the day, no love.

    docs dope: :) always, baby, always

    anon: re-hmmmm :)

    chameleon: you hit the nail on the head. ultimately power games boil down to underconfidence and low self esteem.

  14. I hate playing games too .. but it seems tt everyone plays them .. cos everyone has a heart to protect .. whuever remembers the first time your heart broke would be reminded of the pain,tears and feeling that u just can't go on .. for those few moments.. and U just recoil back into a sense of security by playing games..not ideal .. but what can I say's all about self preservation..
    its a real interesting blog btw

  15. I side with the stability enforcement group here. Maybe you just see that too negatively??

    Anyhow its you putting the spice into that and still feel the knotted stomach.

    Do you feel you got to move on if he agrees hes yours or are you somehow scared of an emotional tie up more than anything else??
    and a probable dependency on that, which surely does not go along well with an i m on top mentality??


  16. well? hurry up and tell us all about the first date with the intrepid admirer! (been following both blogs... incurably nosey and optimistic about lurrrve)

  17. What the hell is an established school?

  18. In response to eM's response to mine -

    Not necessarily. See, when I say love the fellow more than yourself, I don't mean drop everything you're doing and run hither and thither to satisfy his slightest whim. Maintain your self-respect I say, and protect your heart and interests too. Nothing is worth the trouble if it comes at the expense of all that. Remember always that a relationship is about two people and will suffer if things constantly revolve around one.

    I'd imagine a person you liked for the right reasons would feel the same way. It's hard though of course, to qualify what exactly "right reasons" are, given the subjective nature of love. A man's ability to skillfully elude ketchup for instance, would probably not figure very highly on my priority list. However polished his table-manners may be, a man is worth little if he's the first thing on his mind. Bottom line - The passion in relationships between people who are essentially self-centred could fizzle out before you could say, 'I wanna hold the remote!'.

    Which brings me to power struggles. Well they're always there to some extent and can actually be fun in balanced relationships, when insecurity issues aren't overwhelming.

    *chink chink* thus falleth my two cents.

    Anyway I didn't pull all of that out of a book. It all happened to me at some point or the other. Man, 22 and I feel like a friggin granma already.



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