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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6 July 2007
So, because I had nothing to do on the plane ride, I wrote a list of things I now know about Bombay. Yes, I'm jobless like that. Yes, my opinion and yours may differ. Yes, it's okay when that happens. No, it's NOT okay to leave nasty troll comments saying so. Be polite, she said firmly.
Lessee, I now know that Fort is not in fact, a fort, like I expected. The first time I was to meet someone there--I think it was Sameer--he said, "Meet me at Fort." "Okay," said I, "What fort?" "Um.. Fort," he said. "Yeeeees," I said, "But what do I tell the cabbie?" "You tell him FORT," he said. "Is it an Old Fort, or a Red Fort or a Tuglaqabad fort?" I asked patiently. "It's. Just. Fort." he said, not quite so patiently. Still, I was sure he was wrong and I was right, until I got there, and the cabbie said, "Fort." and I looked around and there were only buildings! Where, oh noble citizens of Bombay, is the fort?
I also now know how to say 'wine shop' instead of thekha. I did try to say thekha, in fact, I still say thekha when I'm talking to people from Delhi, but try as I might I could not get the aforementioned noble citizens to accept anything other than wine shop for the place we get booze. Nor could I get the auto guys to accept it. So, with a sigh, I resign myself to wine shop. 'Boss' though, is something I still can't wrap my tongue around. I've tried--the whole when-in-Rome thing--but it just doesn't happen. Maybe another six months.
I've learnt whole new things about seasons. There are two. Rainy and not rainy. Rainy is nice, it's sort of the Bombay equivalent of the beginnings of Delhi winter, very romantic and Hindi music inspiring. Non-rainy is not fun. I've also learnt how much hair serum it takes in both these seasons to keep my hair from becoming an uncontrollable mass of frizz around my face. Oh, it still frizzes. But imagine if I didn't use any serum at all?
I've had some Points Of High Achievement. These include:
a) Jumping onto a train while it was in motion. I'm so excited about this one, although whoever I tell look at me askance and mutter things about people killed while doing the exact same thing. It's just that I've always been so chicken about these things. I'm the kid who had to wait for the swing to slow down before I got off it, glancing enviously at the children next to me, who swung it till their legs were nearly perpendicular and then insouciantly leaped. Ergo, big achievement.
b) Eaten almost an entire cow. This may not seem like something to be proud of to you, but I've always had a picky appetite and in Bombay, I find I'm always hungry. Ravenous, even. This is a good thing, because I begin to look less like a Somalian refugee and more like an active healthy human being. Also, it's just really nice to go to a restaurant and ask straight out for beef without being arrested.
c) Made friends with bartenders and DJs. Specifically the ones at Zenzi and Hard Rock. I was at Zenzi, week before last, soaked completely and I asked the bartender to make me a really, really large drink and he did. Almost filled the glass half full with rum and then looked at me saying, "I'm not taking responsibility for the consequences." And the DJ at Hard Rock plays Wonderwall for me as I walk in and wave at him, because this one time, he refused to play it and I was all oh-I-just-moved-here and he said he'd play it every time I was there. Nice, nice.
There are other intangible things I've learnt too. When I was in Delhi this time, my friends had to actually caution me about stuff--don't drive too late, don't get out of the car to go to the ATM and so on. And I realised, my defences were totally down. I can now walk down a road without looking over my shoulder, I can travel late at night without being obsessed by the thought that I'll be raped or killed, I am more confident and this is so awesome. Although, when I do move back to Delhi, this might be a problem. Still, it's nice to not live in fear.
I've learnt how to make new friends. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is. I was terrified when I left Delhi that I would be at a loss for people, kindred spirits, that I would be alone and lonely and friendless, because the older you get, the harder it is to like new people. But, reader, I have. And I continue to. Living in a new space jolts you out of your comfort zones and, I think, is really a test of your character.
So, not bad for six months, eh? There's other stuff I know as well, for instance, where to get cheap underwear, and how to tell whether you're on Marine Drive or Worli Sea Face (don't laugh, I confused the two for four months out of the six I've been here) and sources for stories and a good set of doctors and many other little things like that. It's been an up-and-downish six months too, the good things balancing the bad things. But you know what? Not for a moment do I regret it.