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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7 January 2006

No, no, no, noooooo, don't phunk with my heart, I wonder if I took you home, would you still be in love, baby?

My all-time favourite Google keyword referral just happened today. Two words: Goddess (Saket). It takes so little to make me happy. :)

"Aapke eyebrows bahut ajeeb se hain," (trans: Your eyebrows are very weird) said the beauty parlour lady to me today. I was at this moment, holding shut one eyelid and yanking at my forehead with the other one, but I opened my eyes at that moment and gave her a teary-eyed glare.

"Why are my eyebrows weird?" I asked her, reasonably enough.

"Oh, you know, your right eyebrow is all like misshapen."

Great. Now I'm the lady with misshapen eyebrows. Had to happen someday I suppose.

To make up for it, she told me I had nice eyes. "Now if only they were a little larger and not so slanted," she commented, while I raised my now-clean-but-still-weird eyebrows in front of the mirror.

"I can't help it," I told her, "It runs in my family."

"Ohhh." she fiddled with the thread in her mouth for some time. "You're Nepali."

"No. No. I'm South Indian."

She didn't quite know what to say to that, so she told me she liked my ring. "Oh, thank you," I said, thrilled that I could at least have nice accessories, even if Mother Nature had been a little unkind, "It's from Impulse. GK-I."

"I never go anywhere." her mouth turned downwards, or maybe that was just the thread. "Tell me, do you work or are you a student?"

"I work. I'm a journalist."

"Oh, Hindustan Times?"

"No," but I smiled, because she evidently thought only HT journos did fancy things like having their eyebrows done. The rest of us live misshapenly.

"What do you cover?"

"I write on, um, " this was getting hard to translate into Hindi, but I perservered, "Books and the people who write them and news and stuff. And what's happening in the city."

She attacked my eyebrows with new vigour. "So what is happening in the city?"

"Well, technically I'm on holiday, so I'm not really sure."

"It must be the same, though, no? Year after year? There is no city like Delhi."

I smiled, pleased to meet a true Delhi-lover but modestly said, "No, no, there's Mumbai."

"I love Mumbai," she said fiercely.

"I'm a Delhi person myself, ha-ha," I winced as the thread attacked the middle of my eyebrows, which has got to be the most painful part.

"I hate Delhi," the thread bit into my skin, "It's full of dhoke-baazis (cheats)"

"Oh, that's not true! It's a lovely city!"

She shook her head disbelievingly at me, "It's full of them. Full."

"You're not from Delhi then?"

"No," she put some powder on my face, "I'm not."

She pointed me towards a mirror to look at my face. "See," she said, pointing at my right eyebrow, "See how weird it is? It's all strange at the top."

I nodded miserably. I DID see how weird it was. I was destined to live my life as an outcast. On my gravestone it will say, "Here lies eM. She had strange eyebrows and too-small eyes." I should just retire from polite society, now. Oh no.

As I put my shoes back on, she slapped antiseptic on my face. "Owww," I said, "That stings!"

"That's because you have whiteheads," she pointed to them, gravely, shaking her head from side to side, "Nothing I can do."

"Could I put a cream on them or something?" I asked, piteously.

"No. No cream will help. You want your upper lip done as well?"

I put my hand over my upper lip and backed away, "No. I don't do my upper lip."

She looked at me sadly. She couldn't help someone who didn't want to help themselves.

"So there's nothing I can do about the whiteheads, huh?" I asked.

"Noooo," she started to put her things away and then looked up, "Drink more water."

And that's the moral of this story.


  1. "Drink more water to avoid whiteheads"
    hmmmmm one of the more useful posts(m not being sarcastic ...believe me)

  2. Oh I am mallu with mallu hair. U can imagin the rest. I neeed to get my eyebrows done so frequently. They just grow so fast. Same thing with hair, did to spend 60-90mins to tame them. Life is so easy for non mallus with non mallu hair.

  3. Your hair is not too short, it is JUST FINE. You were looking delicious. Behave.

  4. Beauty Parlor Trainers and Gym Instructors are the mos evil people in the world! :)

  5. Wait what? And when was Mumbai the bastion of civility and purity? I didn't get that memo?

  6. reminds me of the time when i went to get a haircut, and when the stylist asked me what i wanted done, i said whatever looks nice. her response to that - after a pregnant pause - was you're going bald.

  7. thanks for the gyaan.

    and i always take a friend wimme to the parlor to talk to..
    when the hairdresser lady starts with her drawl "your hair is becoming thin ____ and yada yada yada" its the only thing i can do to avoid slipping into morbid depression.

    nice post!

  8. Oh God! I get that misshapen eyebrows comment ALL the time. Even from the woman who's been doing them for months now! Grrrr! Its verrry annoying.
    Water for whiteheads? Hmmm... Carrot juice does wonders too
    And yes, I *heart* Delhi, BIG TIME!

  9. why were you taking your shoes off to get your eyebrows done? Huh? Huh? Huh? *Waggling shapely eyebrows sternly :-)*

  10. Heh. My beauty parlour lady just tells me I'm fat and have split ends.

  11. Oh fantastic! What great read! I think this is my favorite post of yours ever.

  12. > lalit: beauty parlour lady say drink more water, you DRINK more goddamn water :)

    > adagio: A cousin's gathering at TC? That sounds like fun, glad I could help.

    > thanu: do what I did, and cut it all off! And at the risk of nitpicking, hair is singular, not plural! :)

    > m.a: Okay, fine :P

    > primal: gym instructors I don't know about, but I completely agree about the beauty parlour people.

    > anangbhai: I know! Me too!

    > teleute: Now, that could nver happen to me, because they look at me with displeasure and go, "Your hair is too thick." You can never win.

    > thing: Ah, but this was a weekday, with no willing friends to come along and hold my hand and gossip.

    > vijayeta: It's nice to know I'm not the only one! We should start a misshapen eyebrows club.

    > motheater: Heh. I didn't think anyone would notice that! Because she made me lie down on a waxing table to thread, all the chairs being occupied.

    > aishwarya: Thankfully, now, my hair's too short to get split ends, but I used to get that earlier. A pox upon them all, I say.

    > wishful: Yes, yes I am! :)

    > horsey: why thank you. *bows*

  13. "want your upper lip done as well?"

    My lady said that to me as well last time. It's all part of the mind games that eyebrow threaders around the world play.

  14. I LOVE you writing - it's honest, funny and clever as hell :)


  15. I must say that I've always thought my eyebrows are my best feature.

    Well, my best feature apart from my totally great butt, anyway.

  16. This is why I just play with my tweezers when I've been drinking and feel creative...

  17. That's one reason why I never visit beauty parlours. Of course, the other is that they really don't want me entering any of those and scaring the women away. :-))

    Loved your post. Was pleasantly (and non-parochially) surprised to see the Southie origins. :-)

  18. goddamn beauty salons!! i have wasted two whole posts bitching about them. if it wasn't absolutely necessary to frequent them to look near human, i would lobby for a law to ban them! Grr!!!
    why doesn't she like delhi?

  19. heya,
    okay so i read this a little too late and that too from horsey's post but well umm ppl in parlours esp in delhi tend to be this way.. i have dodged about 3 bazillion facials now.. and i learn that i aint the only one happens.. i bet you are as pretty as they come and that your eyebrows are but perfect, i mean you can stare at any feature of yours for long and youd think its odd..


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