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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25 March 2006

You must understand though the touch of your hand makes my pulse react, that it's only the thrill of boy meeting girl, opposites attract

If there's one term I hate more than anything else it's "go with the flow." (Okay, there are others as well, "grow up", "calm down", "it's not you, it's me" etc etc). Going with the flow is not part of my essential personality makeup, and I see no reason why it should be, either. And if you notice, more men than women use this term, because it's the kind of term that lets you have a bird in the hand and two in the bush, if you know what I mean. It's a cop-out term, what you give the other person just when you've kissed/made-out/had sex for the first time, and they're watching you, slightly guarded because they know what's happening next, but still allowing themselves slowly to uncurl in your arms and they say, sort of like it doesn't matter at all, "Um.. so where is this going?" and you extract your arms from where they were, move your hand away from running it through the other person's hair and you sigh and light a cigarette and start to look for your shoes and say, "Let's go with the flow, okay?"

And so it is. (and so it ih-iss. Good song, by the way). They call you a couple of times, perhaps you even hang out again. But they don't uncurl around you any longer, except once, when the two of you are out, and you're drinking and you're making them laugh so hard, they stop and look at you with love-filled eyes. And you can hear them thinking about you, about the two of you and how perfect it would be and you let them come to you and be kissed and make gentle jokes about them and run your fingers over their knuckles and they (since they are so comfortable) try asking you again about it and you clear your throat and lay down what you had known all this while. "I'm really, um, not looking for a relationship." And you see the shutters going down on their face, the walls are up by the time the words are out of your mouth and they smile, crookedly, and say, "Ya, that's cool." And hang around a little longer then say they have a headache and leave. And you don't call them the next day, and they don't call you and this goes on for some time and in about a week, perhaps less, you know it's over.

Relationships. High school was simpler. Dating was simpler. You asked someone out ("Will you be my girlfriend?" Or boyfriend, if you were progressive) and they said yes and you were dating. The last time I was in a relationship began in second year college (oh, so far away! Why have you forsaken me, dating gods?) and then K asked me out, a day after we kissed for the first time. None of this, where are we going bullshit. Grarh. Well, okay, ya, there was a bit of where are we going, but not tremendous and I remember being enough in control then, less scared I think, to tell him straight out that I hated people who played games with me, and if he was going to then he should just go and look somewhere else.

Now we have at last count: a) a fling b) a scene c) dating d) seeing someone and e) a Relationship. What's the difference? I'm damned if I know. I know a fling, that's easy, when you're just fucking around, no strings attached, no emotional involvement, no expecatations of a regular Saturday night date. This is all very well if the person you're with is not the kind of person you'd hang out with in your pjs and watch DVDs with, but just very attractive and with not much to say for themselves. You know, the hot and silent variety. Like soup. But not like biryani.

But if you have a pj-wearing, how-was-your-day-asking type fling, then you're in trouble. Usually, from my experience, these are the emancipated, sensitive men, raised to believe the same things you were and so they don't want to be fuck-ups any more than you want them to be. So they'll be all straight with you in the beginning and say, "Yeah, I'm not looking for a relationship." and you're like, "Okay" but in your head you're thinking, dude, you're so wrong, because we are clearly perfect for each other. So you think you're dating, they don't really know what they're doing and by the end of it, when you have the "talk", it's back to square one.

Why do guys hate labels so much? I love labels, everything I have or do or think, has a label. Life used to be about black and white and all these sneaky shades of grey have suddenly appeared. Pearl grey? Satin grey? Grey like your grandmother's hair? WTF?


  1. Like soup. But not like biryani.

    That's simple and insightful! How are you still single?

    Using an RSS feeder just might make the first comment-ator. It just might.

  2. I can't relate at all to the substance of this post, but I still appreciate the writing. You have it down so smooth now, it goes with the flow (uh-oh) and you throw in the occasional nugget, a line that stays in the mind.



  3. Hey this is just the post i needed at this time of my life. We're so in the same boat gurl!
    i dunno if i want to go with the flow, but do you define everything in the first kiss and mar your chances?
    clueless i am!
    good post!

  4. i think the whole dating/fling/sex or-whtever scene is way too over-rated a hype.. all of it essentially comes down to the dynamics of ur needs.. if u can hv a saturday night date evryday of the week then those pj wearing dvd sessions will be as much in existence as the dodo .. and i for one wld be quite content to light my stick and get on with the flow..

  5. Lady, lady. THIS is why I'm still single.

    We guys don't like the labelling, true. Because when you put the stuff in a specific box, you try to stop it from fitting in any other box. Which is tough.
    Maybe it's about space. About NOT being with you EVERY Saturday night. And leaving open the option of being with you three week-nights in a row, pjs and all.

    Makes any sense? Of course there's also the big C-word - commitment)

  6. Confusion is not gender specific. It usually results when we dont know what we want but that we want something. The phrase "go with the flow" has a lot of interpretations and does not necessarily have to mean something specific. I guess the reason ppl dont like it these days is coz the term is abused.

    BTW..A relation very often turns out to be the biggest game one plays with ones self.

    Peace Out,
    The Beatnik Baba

  7. Dear, dear Em --

    Thanks for this post – for articulating these experiences which I can so relate to (me, such a one for decrying the notion of “universality of women’s experiences”!). I’ve been through the gamut of “we’ll take it as it comes” – in fact saying it myself, quickly preempting the other person since I have to also reassure myself that I’m cool and postmodern and can take all these uncertainties in my stride. But at the same time - I ruefully admit - believing that everything will turn out fairytale perfect between us in a matter of time.

    Ah, if only we could be “less scared” and ask for what we want. But it’s so complicated. Sometimes you don’t know what you want, if this is what you want. The stakes are much higher when you’re an adult since it’s now not just about movies and making out – “relationships” are about sharing your life and work and so much with another person. Everything has to be treated with seriousness and caution.

    Grarh! it is, you’re right.

  8. theres honesty and theres "honesty". maybe the reasons for the "I'm not looking for a relationship" have a deeper reason. its not a gender thing. its not wise to assume that everything he's feeling he is conveying. and go with the flow is soooooooooo lame a phrase!!!!!

  9. Never... ever.. have I missed THE POINT... as i did in this post.. it's like a story (lecture, wisdom, gyaan, whatever you call it...) left midway.

    Can we have the full version please!!

    Ah, me, just a regular reader of your blog, began last year and lived with you ever since:-)

  10. hmmmm labels are dreadful.. n loaded thats why one avoids them like the plague... but u r right about hanging out with ppl when it was supposed to be fling.. total bad news. :)

  11. I hate the term 'label' ... it reminds me of the times i had to file everything into neat compartments. and its so much more than that--- relationships. they just can't be pinned down... once you do it, they throw you a curve that you never did expect.

  12. ooh! this post is like soooo hot! :) :p ;) ;p

  13. Its amazing to see the difference in reaction to this post between the men and women. The men have completely missed the point and are going WTF??? And the women are all nodding their heads and saying, "yeah, i've been there!". Hell, i know i've been there...infact I am probably there right now. But jeez....why...why does it have to be so complicated??? WTF!

  14. Fantastic post. I wish I'd written it.

    But the truth of the matter is, you have as much drama/games/nonsense in your life as you want. Games and drama take two participants. There are plenty of people out there that aren't going to play games. I'm afraid most of them are perhaps quite dull.

    BTW my word verification was snoougg, which means "To cuddle in the afternoon while wearing plaid pajamas." e.g. We spent Sunday snoougging, so I didn't get any chores done during the day.

  15. Thanks eM!
    Somehow it helped me let go of my anger and helplessness and just accept things as they are. Hey, I am linking your post to mine, ok?

  16. dilettante: *hands out first commentor (tator?) badge* How am I still single? Goodness, I could do an entire POST on that. (Wait, actually, I've done several entire posts on that!)

    j.a.p: Thank you, thank you
    :) Someday, perhaps, when you and your daughter are having this conversation, you will relate. And then you'll say, "Ther used to be this outdated thing caleld a blog, very long ago, where a girl used to witter on and on about her love life and this is what she said."

    lycra: thanks! I didn't really mean a first KISS, per se, but surely, by the fourth DATE, kiss or not, the guy should know where this is going?

    jhantu: You see? You're the kind of person the world is probably kind to. Me, with my OCD-ness abotu life and love and labels, it kicks in the ass.

    raxterise: no, not just a guy thing. girls can do it too, but i write simply from the point of view of my gender!

    arthur: I'm all for space. But there has to be SOMETHING from whence the space flows, right? I mean, how can give space if there's nothing to DENY space in the first place?

    beatnik baba: Bingo! It's used WAAAAAAAAAAY too much and with various connotations, most of which are, "let's fuck around and not get serious and leave our options open".

    anon: :)

    monica: this is what i hate about being grown-up in the first place. things like a mid-afternoon shag are no longer fun, because we keep thinking about the greater ramifications. (Haven't seen you in a while, btw, call me, let's get drunk) :)

    anon2: absolutely. In the words of the very wise "Happy Bunny" (Google it) "Boys lie. And sometimes stink."

    rohit: I guess there IS no point, unless you've actually lived through a hanging-by-a-moment type experience!

    indianpepone: Heh. At least you're honest.

    jaygee: I know! And hanging with exes is WORSE, trust me.

    panu: You're a boy, right? ;)

    hot_baby: :)

    freespirit: I know! I was just thinking the exact same thing. I should do a post-post, on the reactions I've gotten to this one :)

    horsey: It's funny though, that you should say that. I was just talking to my flatmate the other day and telling her that perhaps the reason I'm attracting commitment-phobes is because *gasp* I DON'T want to be in a relationship?

    psyche: I'm so glad that my ranting got you to rant as well. The sisterhood should stick together!

  17. There's this thing I tried when I was completely off commitment... I let the men I was interested in make their moves, and let them eventually ask the questions about where we were going. And then I said, look, I don't know about commitment, but I'm enjoying this, where do you want it to go.

    Those who wanted flings had them (and we all had fun). One decided he didn't want to be a fling and stuck around till I got bored with the flings and finally persuaded me to marry him. And I only regret once a day at most. :-D

  18. It took me till this post to figure out what this em phenomenon is about. JAPda puts so well... but unlike him going further I can somhowe figure out what you are talking about... even relate to, from the other side.... or maybe not..... excuse my blahs

  19. It was as if Horsey hooked up a machine to my brain and stole my comment. *shakes my fists at Horsey*

    I also think it's a matter of "be careful what you wish for." If you want a guy who has a bad-boy streak in him then you can't complain when he acts like a bad-boy.

  20. You surely could write a thesis on flings, relationships, committments, dating etc etc... :)

    Yea, couldn't agree with you more on the no-strings attached school/college dating. I am in college & still possibly in that no-strings attached phase. Not to rub it but... The committment stage is still miles away! And I am glad or what!!!:)

    PS: Just a newbie to blogging, came across your blog... Now an absolute fan of your writing stlye. :)

  21. I'm not in the mood to read all the comments, so I don't know if someones already said this. FUCK the greys! As you can see, the mood is pretty black. Loved this post!

  22. i hate when i can totally relate to a post.
    it leaves me with too much to comment on.
    and then i decide to write none of it.
    great post!

  23. Ek baat to pakki hai bhai!
    Aap apni baat bahut imaandari se kehti hain aur usme sachaai hona bhi lazmi hai.Lekin hairani ki baat to yeh hai ki aapki imandaari aur aage wale ki imaandari mein aantar hota hai, jabki aap soochti hain ki woh bhi utna hi sacha hai.
    One has to be equal to share.If that is not the case, any relationship is more of a trade and not a sharing experience.And yes, we guys are not without the labels.Look deeply and all the labels are turned upside down; to fox others.
    cheer up.

  24. Jeez! High School was simpler. But I fucked up there worse than anyone else I know. Just bcoz I was too stupid to realize when someone was in love with me. Btw, that is the only girl who's ever fallen in love with me. So not knowing abt that till a week b4 she got engaged rates as the biggest fuckup in my life - right up there with blacking out on graduation day ;-)

    And the dating gods are unkinder still to guys. Attractive women can meet new guys really really easily - though whether these guys are nice is sthng rather open to question. But for a single male in a city where he didn't go to school/college etc etc it is next to impossible to meet women other than at work or at singles bars - which are real pick up places and to be avoided unless all u r looking for is a one night stand. But I am this close to giving up the whole idea of finding my soulmate and settling for a series of one night stands! Just bcoz falling in love has been nothing short of disastrous all these years.

  25. I can totally relate to what you have to say! It's not so much about "knowing" where you stand but about "wanting" to know!

    The 'C' word, like annother said, scares the boys, true. But isn't a girl even allowed to know that the guy 'wants' to make something work?!

    What's so wrong about trying understand the world - defining things, drawing shapes, and fitting them to the things you define, distinguishing between black and white?! why do we need grey at all?!

  26. I see so many ppl here hating the greys... I fail to understand why?!?!
    The world would be such a boring place to live-in if you could fit every thing into water tight compartments. There have to be certain things which can neither be categorised as 'white' or as 'black'. So there comes in grey!!!

    N yea.. Life wasn't supposed to be as simple as [black] or [white]... or was it?!?!?

  27. some one at has given your some credits...

  28. I don't think men mind labels. I think its just easier to get out of a relationship saying things like, ``i'm not the relationship type'' than ``i've found someone else''.

    ``Its not you, its me'', usually means, ``its not me, its you''.

  29. i am happy to provide some fodder to your dedicated commentors to write about. enjoy male- bashing you pretty (assumed) ladies.
    to be fair to your fraternity, pls approve my comments and let it appear. it would help people appreaciating reasons for your abrasive counter- comments.

  30. hey cool write up or down as the case may b . guyz and wimen are both confused relayshuns can exist in a vaccum .commitment excluded.extrinsic factors always decide or regulate the intrinsic ones .hey but if guys or girls were clearer wot they wanted frm say date 2 then the whole issue wont crop up .

  31. Hmmm see what you mean.... I meant someone through a e-post... it said "not looking for love".. Well I wasn't
    At the time
    But then I met him, and well it all changes doesn't it? It is easy to dump labels on stuff. You can say you are looking for whatever, but sometimes the other comes along.


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