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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3 May 2007

I think we're alone now

So the other day Virginia (a psuedonym inspired by a) a large Old Monk and Coke and b) her rolling tobacco) and I were chilling at Zenzi, talking of this and that, when this guy came up to our table with two hot pink shots, which perfectly matched my newly pedicured toes, now in the shade of Delicate Dygiene. Virginia and I met in February, at the Kitab festival. Actually, at one of the Kitab fest's uber posh after parties, at the Good Earth Store, with loads of free booze, and I was standing by one of the candlelit pillars, and she was standing next to me and in that instant I got my period, and you know how you can feel it suddenly descend? And you know how you get that odd look of concentration on your face as you try to figure out whether this is a false alarm or the real thing? And you know how this sometimes happens when you're wearing your friend's very lovely off shoulder dress? And how you have to quickly think back to recall whether or not you're wearing a thong? Anyway, Virginia was standing next to me, and in the same way, I imagine, men bond about erections or some such, women bond about their period. So I asked her whether she had anything, and she didn't, and then she recommended using tissue paper, which I did, and that led to us exchanging our worse Caught-Out-In-Public stories (I was 12, meeting my 19-year-old "boyfriend" at Pat-a-Cake, a bakery in Khan Market, where all my pubescent friends and I used to tryst, and I was wearing this really short tennis skirt, and drinking a glass of Coke and I got up to say goodbye, and I noticed him giving me a funny look. But he looked kinda funny, anyway, so I put it down to that. And I wandered around Khan Market and when I went home I noticed the entire back of my skirt was scarlet. I died. But, to be fair, then, I had only been getting my period for a couple of months, not like now, after 13 years, when I am able to tell). And then we exchanged All Men Are Assholes stories, and this was fun, and so, after Kitab ended, we wound up staying friends.

Anyway, so we're at Zenzi--and I have some friends in Bombay, who I meet only once every month--and this guy comes up with these shots. We regard them and him, and I am seized with a desire to giggle, because really he looks so absurd with his pot belly and straggly beard and an earnest expression on his face. "Is my request," he says, "These are for you." We nod, and try to go back to our conversation, only he takes this not rejection of the shots as an invitation to talk. "I am Anil from Bangalore," he says, "And you are?" Virginia rolls her eyes. Really, she is so much better at this than I am. "I'm Virginia from Bandra," she says. I'm really beginning to giggle at this point so I get out, "eM from Delhi." We're hoping the fact that neither of us is from Bangalore will make him go away, but mentioning Delhi was a bad idea, because instantly he turns to me and goes, "How long you have lived there?" "Erm.. 25 years?" "I also am from Delhi, I have lived in IIT Gate, Saket, blah di blah blah."

Virginia's starting to get cross at this point. "Look, could you leave us alone?" The Burly Boys at the next table look up, eyes alive at a chance to defend some hot honour. AnilfromBangalore decides Virginia is the woman for him (I am much too giggly) and turns devoted eyes to her. "Would you--you two--like to come back to the Marriott with me?" he asks, "For a quickie..drink." My mouth is hanging half open, but Virginia who is using all her body language signals to tell him to fuck off, shakes her head. "How about coffee then? Just half an hour?" "Look, we're in the middle of a serious conversation here!" she says and he raises his hands and leaves. Burly Boys settle down.

He's baa-ack, though, in the next five minutes. "Could I have a cigarette you have rolled with your own hands?" "Take this one," she says, thrusting her half smoked cigarette at him. "I am not doing this for f-f-fucking lust," he says, turning to her, "If you want to be friends, it's okay. If you don't want to come to the Marriott, it's okay." "Yes, I know," she says, "Because we're not coming." I decide to intervene at this point. "Um, Anil?" He half-turns to me. "Firstly you should know we're both in serious, committed relationships. Secondly, if you want to make friends in Bombay, this is not the right way to go about it." He is hurt now, and I feel bad. But he leaves.

Only to return fifteen minutes later. "Can I buy your drinks? It's just a request." "If you buy our drinks, will you leave us alone?" asks Virginia. I don't think he gets it though, because he says, "It's just a request" again. "It's this f-f-fucking city, I have no friends," he gets out. Aw. I feel a sort of fellow feeling with all other migrants. "We're sorry for being rude," I say, "But really, you don't have to buy our drinks, just please leave us alone."

"I am buying your drinks," he says, and takes off to the bar, coming back in a bit to get another cigarette and then a light. One of the Burly Boys gets up and intercepts him, putting one hand on his shoulder and blocking him off from us. Virginia sneaks a quick peek. "He's paying the entire bill with a thousand rupee note," she tells me. "At Zenzi? Wishful thinking," I say.

He straps his laptop bag around his shoulders and comes up to us. "I am going to the Marriott," he says. "Okay!" we say. And then he leaves.

After he's FINALLY gone, I sigh. "That has never happened to me in Bombay," I tell Virginia. "Um..eM?" she says, "That was a Delhi man."

ps: No, he didn't pay for our drinks after all.


  1. Erm eM, it's happened to me plenty of times in Bombay, specially at Mondies and Leo's, the difference is that they usually leave after the first time you tell them to. And they don't say f-fucking. But it's a f-fucking pain in the arse to men come up every time they see two or more girls sitting without men. As if they f-fucking can't do without male company. makes me fume.

  2. this is exactly what made me mad as well! just coz we were sitting alone, he assumed we were up for anything. jesus.

  3. :)

    and you lost your perfectly cool chance to scream "bachao bachao" in zenzi.

    of course, u shud have let him pay for your drinks and then shouted bachao bachao, a frnd of mine was once hit upon the same way by a creep, only difference she went

    "sure I'd love a drink and so will my friends across the bar" free drinks for all, yeppie

  4. well to tell the truth (the very sad truth), i dont think either of us (any of us for that matter) would have refused a drink (pink blue or yellow) from a man who was even slightly, dare i say it, cute or perhaps had the potential of being so. Its a shame that we are prejudiced in that way (ok well let me not put the blame on the entire species - I am prejudiced).

    I do give anil full marks for learning charm from old school hollywood movies, and not from any Bollywood ones - at least he didnt come up to us empty handed, demand cigarettes, a quickie and the rest of our lives...

    But why wasnt he cute? I think I would like to know for once, what it would be like to turn down a good looking, interesting, charming man.

    wouldnt you?

    virginia. xx

  5. At Zenzi?! At Zenzi of the World's Best Bar fame? What sort of half arsed door policy do they have?

    But speaking of Zenzi, I was there a few weekends ago and it's nice. But expensive also. But I am fro *cough*Bangalore*cough* where we drink cheap and sleep early. Which is such a pain really, because we're waaay too high by 11:30PM (When bars in Bangalore close) and waaay too broke by 3AM (When bars in Bombay close).

    Anyway, what's the most original/interesting/fun pick up line that's been used? And "Hello" doesn't count.

  6. yeah Virginia, I wonder would we accept drinks from slightly cute ones?
    (but only of course if they had been poured right in front of our eyes...)
    eM remember the tequila from the south africans at soul fry?

  7. men bond about erections ! Well, thats news to me...not the erection but the bond...

  8. Two things don’t sit well here. Of course, this is influence by the fact that I have a pounding stress headache having been at work since 6:30am.

    But I do hope you were polite the first time you told him to fuck off. I find it bizarre that in any other country, I can walk up to a girl, say hello and take it from there. In India, having tried this, with a foreign-returned social-interaction hangover, I asked one girl, she turned to me, gave me the dirtiest look and said, “I’m not that kind of a girl”.


    “The kind to drink?”
    “That’s not what I mean”


    At this point I lose it and tell her to fuck off, all I was doing was making nice and asking if she wanted a drink, I didn’t ask her if I could fuck her right?????
    When the hell did, can I buy you a drink automatically become code for can I get you to fuck? (and before you say it’s been ever since men have had dicks, hang on…whatever the guy may ask, you could say no. Nice and easy. Yes, if he is being rude and hanging on like a leech during their annual bloodfest, then tell him to fuck off and tell him that means fuck off, not an answer to his question)

    It was very satisfying leaving her with her mouth hanging open.

    Two. Will everyone please pleas top making generalizations about Delhi men?! I’m a Delhi guy!! So there…bloody useless…

    And another thing (oh dear, work has me really riled up, doesn’t it?)…

    And before all the women here are up in arms, yes the guy kept bugging you two and should have taken the hint. If you can’t take a hint, you forfeit the right to approach any stranger. Persistance is one thing, rudeness another. So yeah, it was warranted. But also a caveat, next time a woman unreasonably (and I’m not saying you did) complains about not meeting men, think about the ones you could have randomly met, but didn’t

    I have a feeling there are going to be a few Amazonian spear chucked at me

  9. Wow! Pat-a-cake in Lhan Market - that really takes me back... and talking about period traumas, my silly school had white uniforms in the summer!

  10. Hey eM..

    This is my first time commenting on your blog..But I am a regualar reader..I totally tottaly did I say tottaly admire you !! Don't worry I am quite straight !!

    Anyways..I think what you should have done: Made the guy pay for the drinks and dump it in the garbage can while he ws lookin...that wud have been reall fun...


  11. I have to agree with zaphod for a wee bit
    i mean if no one paid us any attention at all...what do you think would happen?
    would our confident selves basking in the external affirmation, wither away like babies who die from the lack of touch?

  12. its not the school, college or company you keep (family background) its the city, only if a guy is born in bombay will he respect a womans privacy ????

    whats with the character assasination ?

  13. Nice Post..
    Btw, guyz never ever bond on erections. We bond on hot women that we see, maybe discuss specific hot parts. Or bond on gadgets or sports / games.

  14. interesting...
    its strange to meet random people at random places (should know, I seem to draw them!), but like this one, look at what a great story you got out of it!


  15. OMG! Such candour on a blog especially when 90% of your readers know who you are in real life!

  16. "um, eM.. that was a delhi man."

    sorry, but wasn't he from bangalore?

  17. What would I do if I got so lonely in a new city? Not sure, but certainly wouldn't be entertaining requests from stranhers to buy me drinks (unless, of course a cute stranger comes my way!) And how do you make friends in a new place? As for the Delhi-Bombay-Bangalore bit, I'm not surprised the guy was from Delhi!!

  18. 1. this delhi man thing is really silly. i am a delhi man and have liveds in bombay as well... where i didnt meet many "men".. and trust me all girls who think of bombay guys as nice decent boys are either too stupid or too young.. or both. in delhi (at the risk of sounding elitist) talking crap about a woman (specific one or in general) is something a certain class does. In bombay i was shocked at how guys would discuss someone who we were with a while ago or someone i thought was a friend of theirs. i mean if i wanna fuck a woman, she'd know.. she wouldn't be under the illusion that i'm her "friend" and be spoken about like that... girls really are silly and come to conclusions on the basis of the most superficial observations.
    2. Men discuss erections?!?!?!? Err... well... boys do.. but... anyway.. i guess boys become men at some point.....

  19. Instead of "I think we're alone now" what came to my mind was Pink's "You and your hand tonight". Here's the part i love:
    I'm not here for your entertainment
    You don't really wanna mess with me tonight
    Just stop and take a second
    I was fine before you walked into my life
    Cause you know it's over
    Before it began
    Keep your drink, just gimme the money
    It's just you and your hand tonight

  20. it's hypocritical: you two sit there for attention, and when you get it you make a face.


  21. Very Carry Bradshaw! And the similarites with SnC are almost unnatural.. girl in big city, independent and single, tough exterior but an inherent romantic (almost to the pt of being cynical), same profession, working from home, cat for pet, a string of boyfriends amongst other things.. but that doesnt go to say that i dun enjoy the posts.. hoping for the introduction of the blahniks soon

  22. i don't think it's hypocritical of you to crib about this guy. he patently didn't get the point when you'd been nice to him the first time. everytime i've gone out with just agirlfriend to catch up and get some drinks, guys in this city i.e. delhi, have felt it necessary to invite themselves over to our table because i don't know it's inconceivable for them to grasp that we're out there for our own sake and not to covet their attentions. it's not that the majority of the indian male genus is not-hot-not-cold-just-not-anything-special, it's the sense of entitlement with which they approach you. especially if you're two women who're drinking AND smoking and having a good time. sometimes girls just wanna have fun with girls you guys. also i don't get men who keep coming back after being told politely that you're not interested in spending anytime with him. it's so pathetic. it happens with alarming frequency in delhi and obviously always when it's just two girls who're out together. grrr.....


  23. Lol... I had to laugh about the period detail. And I totally know that look of concentration you're talking about! Now that my body's slowly getting back to its original (pre-baby) state, I keep getting caught on unexpected dates. *Sigh*

    Nice to meet somebody else who likes 'Rose in Bloom'. Most folks haven't even heard of it.

  24. Awesome post! Loved the story..used to be abroad- ppl wd ask u want a fuck and u r ever so polite and say no instead of slamming yur knee in their groin..sorry too much angst abt this from a previous life :)

  25. commenting on what zaphod said.irrespective of the country ;guys who buy drinks mostly want to get physical with girls since this mannerism happens quite towards the end of the gig (where almost all are drunk).and if a guy is really interested he doesn't to get drunk himself or wants the girl to be drunk also. from my experience

  26. oops, that last comment was for the Apr 30th post, not this one. my bad!


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