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 2006

Tick tock, tick tock, goes my biological clock

Last night at Buzz, where I wasn't particularly buzzed, I ran into Rhea. This was unusual in many ways, primarily, because I hadn't seen Rhea since the night of our graduation dinner from college, after which we all went to We 2 and got wasted, and even that night, I don't remember hanging out with her too much. We had been close---as close as it's possible for two people to be, who don't have very much in common, but who still belong to the same circle of friends, and I heard she got married last year, but that was all. She was from a traditional family, and her wedding was inevitable.

She was wearing a short summer dress, which I noticed, because I was freezing, really, even though I was in a leather jacket, with a scarf around my neck and three rums nestling happily in my stomach and she threw her arms around me and we rocked back and forth for a bit. "All your drinks are on me!" she said, smiling widely, and I said, "Why?" and she said, "Because it's my anniversary! I've been married for a year!"

And then, of course, I met her husband, who looked a little bemused at her affection for this random, wild haired stranger and then I went and sat down at my table and promptly felt like I was going to burst into tears.

"I could've picked that option," I told my friend.

He looked puzzled. Men always look puzzled, dude, they totally don't get it.

"Haan, but it'll happen, no? Even all my friends are getting married."

"But you don't understand," I wailed, "I could have picked that route! I could have been married straight out of college and all this looking for love business would have never happened."

Any Indian woman, okay, fine, most Indian women know that once you hit a certain age, your parents gently (if they're the liberal sort) or not so gently (if they expect for you to have babies immediately) start enquiring of you when you're planning to start dating again. Or whether you'd like for them to introduce you to someone nice. Or how they're going to get old someday and there was this really nice boy, and he read and stuff, and so good-looking and oh, did they mention he was also an investment banker? And what's the harm in meeting him anyhow? "The harm," I told my mother the last time she brought it up, "Is that if I wound up marrying a man my mother found for me, I would kill myself instantly. And blame it all on you."
Luckily, she hasn't brought it up since.

But still. I have a good job, nice friends, supportive family, upwardly mobile career path (quickly touch wood! Quickly!) and I suppose it's only natural to want to fill the one space in my life I haven't really got much control over. Here I am, rapidly approaching mid twenties, and I haven't got a clue where my love life is headed. And I know for a fact I'm not the only one with the same problem.

If you're unfortunate enough to find yourself single at 24 or 25 or 26 (somehow it seems to hit men much later, only in their 30s) without even a prospect of someone you would consider dating, the world starts to look slightly alarming. According to my ideal life plan, which I drew out when I was about 22 or 23, I'd meet someone by 25, date him for a couple of years, maybe live with him for like a year and see how that went and then by 28 or 29 we'd get married, so the kids could start coming along by 30. So I wouldn't be too old to deal with a teenager later. Of course, this plan was also made fresh after the Breakup with the boy I thought I was destinied to be with (and now seriously I LAUGH at myself then. Ha ha. See me laughing? See? I can totally see the humour in this situation! TOTALLY.) Now I've made a few modifications, which include getting the kids anyhow (or kid, whatever) by the time I'm thirty with or without a man, because I really don't want to be dying or something, with no one to stand and weep around my bedstead. I used to want a Reader's Digest family, where we made happy co-decisions and I could have had that too, if only I had conformed.

The truth is, while oestensibly, I'm not a conformist, I think somewhere in my secret soul I am. I like the idea of the happy family, father, mother, three kids (seeing as I grew up an only child, I've always loved the idea of large families. Most of my friends have siblings. And so do most of the boys I date, in fact, sometimes my favourite part about dating them is sitting around and being included in their huge, eventful households. Not that that happens anymore, of course, because now meeting the parents is a completely different ballgame). I like the idea of romance, and white roses and champagne and walks on the beach. Sigh. I even sound corny to me.

I know I still can. I can cave and call my grandmother and say, "Oh remember that engineer/doctor/based in the United States you wanted me to meet? Well, I know I'm officially on the shelf now, seeing as I am no longer a young and nubile nineteen, but I'd love to meet with them. Noooooooo, I don't smoke. Nooooooo, I don't drink either. And yes! I'd love to come and learn how to cook from you, seeing as the only thing I can make is coffee and cheese Maggi." (It's superlative coffee, really. Words cannot describe it. Any man would be lucky to have me and my coffee. And my cheese Maggi.) The thing is, while I made my choices, many years ago, my choices also made me. And really, I know while I'd love to celebrate my anniversary at Buzz, surrounded by people who wish me well, and introduce my poor single friends to my husband (look at him, isn't he fine?) it would mean having to go home and then do another year with him and not whisk off whenever I wanted to, and have to at some point sleep with him, and by virtue of being a doctor/engineer/person with a green card, he would think it was okay to grow a paunch and burp loudly after dinner and not ask me why I needed all those sleeping pills in the first place.

I'd make a pretty corpse though, if never a pretty bride.


  1. hey, u'd make a lovely bride! my US bred cousin is 27 (awesome career, pretty girl, everything everything) n whenever she comes to india she gets bombared with the same stale questions and honestly, i don't see the deal.. as if u could go to a super market and get a groom for yourself. it's much better to wait for the right person and to 'walk into love' rather than 'fall in love' with the wrong guy and end up screwing ur life. so, u dont worry girl, u have a hot intelligent astrologically compatible guy waiting out there :):)

  2. Hey Corpse Bride, not all US based engineers/doctors are paunchy old buggers who burp loudly after lunch.
    As for meeting the right guy, there's a reason that many of the cliches have become cliche - they're true. Love happens when you least expect it and it will all be for the best eventually.

  3. "I'd make a pretty corpse though, if never a pretty bride. "

    Oh you should see the Corpse Bride..You might just be able to be both..:)

    And I protest for discriminating against paunchy old people. What makes you think they burp any differently?..heh

  4. Pretty corpses are better than pretty brides.

  5. Reminds me of Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny. She'd do a magnificient dialogue delivery to a tapping foot.

  6. as I was reading this, I thought 'hey when did the voice in my head get its own blog'
    ok so here is the plan. There are so many of us 24- 26 something Indian 'liberated' women who feel EXACTLY the same way right ? so we should start our own country/commune type thing.....on an island. and only men that we approve of can visit, serve their purpose and be sent off whenever we are sick of them, to be recalled whenever it suits us.
    We can spend our time watching tv and then reading TWOP after our shows end. It will be awesome, I promise.OOH and we will transplant our favourite pubs from different indian cities to the island too. AAAAh Utopia...

  7. To Cookie dough: Have you read Y:The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan? You don't want to do the country/commune thing.

  8. "Now I've made a few modifications, which include getting the kids anyhow (or kid, whatever) by the time I'm thirty with or without a man, because I really don't want to be dying or something, with no one to stand and weep around my bedstead."

    A pretty sad thing to say considering that a nicely printed copy of a cache of this webpage can end up being that kid's birthday gift 15 years from now. That would be very mean of me, of course. But with people like me, one never knows. I have already saved a copy.

    Some people are better left out of the gene pool. That includes me, of course. Consider this option too.

  9. I think your blog is addictive!!! i look up everyday to see if you have something up!!! Please post everyday! its part of my morning ritual! :-)
    Keep the wonderful thoughts coming! You so think lik me! :-( 23 something- investment banker - lotsa money - broken relationship and desperate family members and a heart that doesnt feel like getting married!

  10. Amazing post and right on the money!

    I feel what you have written, pretty much all the time off late!, Yup, 27, single, and done with the only relationship that could have been, but thankfully isn't, I am yet not ready to give in!!

  11. Umm, tell you what? this is all after meeting that girl at her anniversary party. I bet u'll consider yourself better off when you hear of her on a daily basis!
    Certain things shud wait...
    All in good time types.. :)

  12. getting married immeiately after graduation guarantees that one doesn't have to look for love later on in life, does it?

    you know, the grass always looks greener from the other side :)

    - Bonatellis

  13. Oh Dear! I can totally empathize....20 something, single and no prospect of dating someone is a totally scary way to be...And especially when you see ex boy with a PYT in his arms...yuck!

  14. Dilettante: I haven't read it but I looked it up and it seems quite interesting, BUT I don't want things to go so far with my scenario. I like guys way too much to wish that all men were eradicated. I just don't want a world where the main goal for a 20 something woman is supposed to be a marriage…….btw you seem nice and I like your blog, so you will be one of the men who is allowed island access :D

  15. ohh the grass is alllways greener. here i am 27 and more or less happily attached for ages but nevertheless wishing i were single...
    chin up, there are great things to enjoy about being single, i bet smiley Rhea in the summery dress was secretly envying your life. and you know 25 is not really old, take it from a 27 year old.

  16. sneha: i love the idea of a man supermarket though--imagine the shelves! economy sized guys, the designer stubble guys and all available at the flash of a credit card. that'll be the day. sigh.

    sagnik: thanks! :)

    mockturtle: i know you're all not, just the ones on the arranged marriage circuit, and this i know for sure.

    artful: oh all right. their burps are filled with sunshine and melody, happy? :)

    mediocretes: says the person with bappi lahiri as his avatar. (seriously, why dude, why?)

    jingu: i love marisa tomei, so i'm totally going to take that as a compliment, even though i don't quite get it. (when in doubt, smile and wave, boys, smile and wave)

    cookie dough: i love your idea, but i think a slight modification is in order, we need to get some of the chutiyas in also, just for a bit, so we can have something to bitch about when we're all very drunk. :)

    dilettante: good book? i'm at a serious loss for decent reading material these days.

    anon: IF i have kids, and IF blogging is still around by the time this kid is 15, then by all means, you can send them a printed out cache of this post. :) in fact, i'll even go one step further and have it bound for my great grandchildren, so they can say, "look how cool our ancestor was!" and why would i want to leave myself out of the gene pool? i have great genes! (and they're levi's, even)

    banker: thanks, and there's a handy little email tool up on my sidebar, where you can put in your email address and know when it's updated. i'm afraid i can't update everyday, because THAT just gets boring, and you wouldn't want me to be boring would you? also, really, 23? i used to be 23, 23 was a NICE age. in fact, this december, i'm totally turning 23.

    menagerie: who knew there were so many single people reading this? i should absolutely start a dating service right here in the comments section--leave your email and your favourite books and where you live and love will find you :)

    shirisha: i know... i mean, when i think about it, i suppose her life couldn't be that exciting, but still, at least she has one aspect covered and the rest will come, no? funny, i didn't even ask her what she does these days.

    partly cloudy: ahhh, but do you REALLY wish you were single? and "out there" again? i bet you don't! :)

    chalo, must run, in this last month here, i'm trying to do as much bonding as possible with friends, and today i have to do lunch. sigh. already i'm homesick.

  17. eM, Come on!!Since when is mid twenties old??!!
    Isn't the key living life to the fullest without having the pre planned scenarios in our head? Even the idea of having kids by a certain age - isn't that something that society thrusts upon us?
    You should just live it up! =)

  18. very well written

    why regret your own decesion,and why try and imagine life 10 yrs hence?

  19. eM, it isn't that hard to find you a groom, theres the ToI or HT matrimonials section or or Craig's List...wouldn't that make a lovely story for the my eyes scrolled down the page, I saw h is 'biodata' and knew he was the one for me...

  20. i dont think its fucking easy to be in ur mid fuckin twenties no more.

    sex being regardless.

    everyone just fuckin expects you to have life fuckin figured out and ofcourse while ur it, being successful you are obviously dating or married.

    add to that, add the terrors of having a sligthly diviating choice of sexuality. fuck. its just not easy to fuckin exist no more. 20 or not.

  21. no no no no why is everyone so hell bent on over-populating?

    3? 3kids?? why does anyone need so many back ups?

    secondly why is it also mandatory that if you happen posses a uterus you MUST use it?

    there are enough people in the world.

    sigh. more questions why is being alone such a terrible fear/crime?

    I hate this Indian notion that mid twenties is 'spinster' age, that marriage is the only thing to do if you don't want to be a 'loser'

    its not a club. why get married just so you can say to auntie no. 1 , 2 3, and spinster pal 3, 4, 5, "Look at me I'm married here is darling hubby isn't he fine?"

    women like that bore the pants off me.

  22. "i love the idea of a man supermarket though..."

    Funny thing is, there were a couple of women here in New Zealand in the same mental space as this post, and they went ahead and started a man supermarket - well, they call it the Man Bank, but the idea is the same.

  23. m - its not always such a bunch of cliches though, is it? here, take a look:

    an insanely high number of my friends from sophia's had arranged marriages and are insanely happy because their parents found them boys they might actually have met and liked on their own, except didn't.

  24. oops not sure you got that, but really want you to read it, so will email you the link!

  25. Not a word against Bappida, eM. Not a word, I say.

  26. Meeting a friend's husband is one thing. Meeting a friend's school going kid is something else! Ask me!

  27. Mediocretes is only saying that because he's

    a) a necrophiliac
    b) a commitmentphobe.

    Not to mention an all-round asshole.

  28. If you've ever wondered why: Dead women don't whine. Or nag.

  29. i love the fact that people are using this as their own personal insult board. such fun. anyway, i'm very drunk, and spotted many hot boys tonight at tc (who i did not hit on, sadly) which makes me feel slightly better about being single, because the saddest thing about dating someone else is when you're attractd to someone new and you feel all guilty and sad. anyway moving on, since i'm drunk you'll forgive the typos.

    szerelem: the key IS living life to the fullest, but surely, you'll agree, that fullest means having a love life also?

    ir: because that is what i doooooooo. i imagine situations that happen many years later--it's my quirk, deal with it :)

    zaphod: the thing is, i'm totally not ideal wife material, so i don't know what i'd say to them. hello i'm 25 and i like to party doesn't really go down. :)

    once again: i fucking agree man. whats with this fucking age bias that people get? why can't they just fucking leave me alone?

    scritch: i'm guessing you have a lot of siblings :) but i'm totally not planning to use my OWN uterus, no no, i'm going to adopt, i have a belly ring and a tattoo and i have no desire for either of them to look gross, so adoption it is. do i still bore you?

    barry: really? i need a link so i can read about this!!

    mangs: hello! have not seen you in a bit. and thanks, btw, you're the only one speaking in favour of my grandmother.

    mediocretes: ohhhhhhhh, you're bong. that explains it. :)

    zee: oh you poor thing. thankfully none of my friends are in the childbearing phase YET, soooo i still have some time to go.

    raindrop: a necrophiliac? you mean bappi's dead? i feel so abandoned, suddenly.

  30. Well of course having a love life also....but why the need to conform to the I must be married by a certain age and have children standard unless you really fell the need to?

  31. Im nearing 30 & hav a kid. married just after graduation. me not at all happy with my married life. I started getting bored of my hubby in just 1 year. Its better 2 stay single & change partners rather than being married & having clandestine affairs. Me dont feel guilty though. just dont wanna hurt others including my kid. So I envy you & believe very strongly "ITS BETTER OFF ALONE!".

  32. hey, totally agree! there has to be something seriously(and serious with a capital S) wrong with a guy who wants his mommy to find a girl for him.
    and 24 is actually too early to start freaking out. come on!

  33. Their site is, and there is a bit of a write up about it at

  34. Ah, a bit dropped off the end: Adatewithdestiny.boss - it is the top hit on "man bank" at if that is easier.

  35. LOL...I love reading what u write..

    trust me...pretty corpse is btter than being the typical indian least in y opinion ya know!

    keep living it up! :D

  36. You are so desperate now that I would believe you if you said you are a guy. See, guys are despo 24/7. Well you are not despo-despo but some kinda yearning for a family despo.

    Welcome aboard madamossaile :) I soooo emphathize with you!

  37. You crazy woman ..ure in much better shape….You wail now..... wait till you turn almost 30 and your friends procreating like no tomorrow. And and you cant find one decent woman in this god damn country to marry cause all the good ones are used, abused and disabused. And you are a total pariah in your friends circle cause the people you want to party with dont want to party any more and the people who are partying dont want to party with you.. Sniff.... Damn I think too much now a days...Oh god I think am growing a Uterus... And I was a dick head once!!

  38. I just started recently reading this blog, and I must say I love it!

    Enjoy your life! Just think what it will be like once you are married (not as much time for friends, etc.)

    I was starting to get in this rut of getting worried about getting married (especially after guy I fell for told parents about me and they are now rushing to arrange his marriage....something about me being American doesn't sit right with them...) For some odd reason, it made me think "Wow, I wish I could have that and have my life so easily planned..." Just for the shear fact I got so worried I will never find anyone...THANK GOD that has passed.

    ...but really, if it meant to happen, it will happen. Being single isn't all bad...just hang in there :)

  39. Beautifully written...a pleasure to your humour... :)

    Jay Sun


  40. .......and I woke up Thursday morning wondering if I had faffed a heck of a lot...had I? Had I?? cos somehow late nights at TC are inevitably a happy blur the next morning....oh! and was I one of the hot boys you didn't hit on (sadly!!) ...was I? Was I??

  41. Hey kiddo, all i can say is this: "the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself."
    I know you and other shite aside, i think you like yourself, yourlife and who you are, and your friends do too, so who cares? so long as you stay yourself theres no way youre gonna be alone... and like Jerry tells me repeatedly (quoting douglas adams) "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."
    Stay you and itll find you...

  42. Since so many people have said so many things, I think I will say something too. No, I think I will just repeat what Jagger & Richards have to say--
    "You can't always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes you might find
    You get what you need"

    Beautiful song.

  43. Firstly parents in India don't typically enquire after your dating habits but quite simply about when you intend to get married. Secondly you're off the shelf also because you're no longer a virgin, haha. thirdly you are obsessed with being single and the perils of such. why eM? Why? and your plan could still work out if you only just forgot about it you know. enjoy life, enjoy the company you keep and love will sneak up on you. it always does.

    so how are you doing? i am an errant blogger indeed. dunno how anyone can maintain one consistently? teach me master. and ooooo is this post a precursor to your imminent birthday blues?

  44. "I'd make a pretty corpse though, if never a pretty bride"...what a dark thought to have in twenties...dunno what made u write that

  45. hahahaha... i think u truly captured pretty much every single woman's sentiments on the subject!

  46. :) That was well put. The age-old Great Indian Family drama. Actually, as some people mentioned, this is regardless of gender. Sometimes one just can't win :). All the best to you!

  47. what a coincidence. my life plan never worked out too. i would have been the ruler of the world with a harem of thousand.. two backups for each night. :).

    i am still working on it though!

  48. Oh man! I so abso love you eM - I wish I knew who you were!You write just what I think (and was too afraid or lazy to write maybe!)

  49. Thank you so much for this entry. It is my 26th birthdy, I have had a boyfriend of five years who I feel like is wasting my time, and trust me, having a prospect doesn't improve the situation when the prospect is going nowhere. This entry just brightened my day in a strange way. Well, at least it stopped the I'm officially a spinster cry fest that has been going on all morning. Misery loves company, and company loves misery.

    Thank you!


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