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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11 November 2006
In which my deformities are brought into light (and the reason why this blog doesn't have any pictures of me)
(You know where this post has been.)
On an anon blog, the rule of thumb, the rule of forefinger actually, is never to post anything that can be too easily traced back to you. Nevertheless, seeing as this picture is all blurry and hard to make out features from, I think it might be safe to let it go out there. Yup, that's me. Age two, I think, up in the Himalayas, wearing a sweater that belonged to my mum, looking cross at having to pose for one more picture. The reason this picture is important, the reason it's being posted at all, is because I think this was the last decent picture ever taken of me.
I was a rather good looking child, even if I do say so myself, she said completely modestly. Well, not good looking, so much as photogenic. I'm telling you, whenever I'm overcome with a nostalgia trip, I'm all wonderstruck with my beauty. I mean really, the smile, the hair, the eyes? I should've been a child model, at least when I could, so that I would have some money to spend in my old age. Once (and this is a high point so pay close attention), I was even the kid in the Life Insurance ad. Sure, they pixellated my face, and sure, you could barely make out it was me. But still. I was the face of Life Insurance, dude, were you? were you? I didn't think so.
Anyway. Then I grew older and my face got bonier, and my teeth came out, and I just wasn't good looking anymore. I had too many teeth and too small a face, but still, I photographed okay. I wasn't the Vision of Splendour I used to be, but I was okay. And then things just spiralled downwards from there.
See, I hate my nose. Absolutely hate it. In profile, I look like a duck. Really, no kidding. It's sort of bumpy at the edges and flattens out over the tip and any picture you take of me sideways makes me look like a cross between a rat and a duck. Oh, and a hermaphrodite. I make sure most people take only full frontal pictures, and even those are touch and go. Sometimes, my eyes disappear if I'm laughing. In others, I look vaguely constipated. The worse ones are where I look like a boy, because I'm not wearing any earrings, and the picture taker has only taken neck up. Oh, and let's not even go near passport pictures. One of my eyes is smaller than the other, so if I'm smiling I look something like a serial killer. The kind with a twitch.
From all this, you must have gathered that I'm not terribly photogenic. The picture I like most of myself hangs in my old room, where I'm doing this model thing at 19 and scooping my hair away from my face. People have seen this picture. People have laughed at this picture. People have said I look like a Malayali porn star in this picture. So when even my sexy pictures fail, you know, I'm really a lot better looking in real life. I have to be. There's no way someone could be that unattractive. Sometimes, the rare times when the camera decides to take pity on me, I get photographs where I can actually look at me and not flinch and those pictures are safely in a vault somewhere in Geneva. Even my own mother prefers to hang up pictures of me as a baby, all Unicef-y, rather than put out the more recent ones. I offered her the sexy one? The one I like so much? And she looked at it and looked at me and said, "I think this would look better in your room! Go hang it up there!" And I did just that.
Anyhoo. Maybe there was something about being a kid that just made me a better subject. Even now, it's so much easier to take a nice picture of a child, even a really ugly child, than it is to take of a good looking grown up. We dissect our smiles, do our picture faces, stop sitting in profile, make sure our hair is not sticking up at strange angles and when we finally get the picture, we're always disappointed. Surely that's not me, we say, surely that's not how the world sees me? Do I really look like that?
No, actually, you don't.