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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10 October 2007

(Insert Sex And The City-esque Reference Here)

So, I've come out of the closet.

Yes, it's true, for all twelve of you who don't know my real name, now's your chance! It all began one fine sunny Friday morning, when a journalist called me from Delhi, saying she wanted to do a story on me for the Telegraph UK. I've been in blogging stories before, but mainly as an aside, you know, anon bloggers, women bloggers etc. This was going to be a profile on me. ME. Of course, faced with this immensely flattering (and somewhat puzzling) proposition, I agreed to do it. "We'll need to use your real name," she said. "Really?" said I, "My real name? Couldn't we just go with eM or The Compulsive Confessor or something?" "But when your book comes out, people will know your real name anyway," she said reasonably. I couldn't think of a convincing argument to that, and besides she said this was the Telegraph in the UK and it was unlikely many people in India would read it. (To which I now say, HAH!) Anyhoo, I spoke and she wrote and ta-dah, pretty profile duly came out on Sunday.

(For the sake of complete honesty (and really, what else can I hide here anymore?) I confess the hair was only temporary. I'm thinking of getting it bonded though, but right now it's standing out in a rebellious afro around my face. And the identity of that shoulder, heh, that goes with me to my grave. Though, not Volt. That much I can tell you.)

Moving on. I thought only I had read it and some friends who I forwarded the link to in great excitement, but Monday morning and my Facebook inbox was full of people asking whether it was "really" me. And then I saw two other links on my referrals, one from Alootechie, which is followed by some very kind comments here and one from Sepia Mutiny here. (With not so very kind comments, a choice selection of which I think I shall add here just in case you don't feel like reading the whole thing.) Bouquets and brickbats. The price of stardom one supposes, my dahlinks. Well, this whole thing should only last another ten seconds, according to the fifteen minutes of fame theory, so I might as well enjoy it while I can.

(In another puzzling quandry, I'm debating whether or not to leave this post up, now that I'm so easily Googleable. What do you think?)

Comments from Sepia Mutiny, for your reading pleasure (because everyone loves a good snark)

I'm a Sex and the City addict, but these postings just didn't do it for me. The charm of 'Bridget' and 'Sex' is that they are able to capture a town, a city, a culture. The postings left so much to be explored. Take for example, her relationship status post. Isn't the fact that this woman could only effectively inform her social network about her new relationship via facebook more important than her updating her status with a little heart? She needs to leverage her fodder, if you ask me. But that's just my two cents.

unless her book has stunning revelations about murli manohar joshi's syphilitic saffron balls, i'll take cutler's washingtonienne any day.
meenakshi's blahg is as inane as carrie's confessions to her trusty mac, and i hope that her navel doesn't wither away under all this compulsive gazing.

I don't doubt that she could write well. If you go through her archives, you might notice that too. But unfortunately (or at least so it appears to me) she writes about sex and alcohol and men and feminism not because she really has something to say, but merely because it fits with the image she's created for herself. She seems to pick a topic only because it is controversial or scandalous (and therefore, might translate into 45 comments). But because she has a good grasp of the English language, because she knows how to be funny, she initially got away with what was just repetition. Sure, she probably gets 400 hits a day. But if those readers are merely people who visit her blog for their daily cheap thrill then eM should perhaps re-think her writing strategy.

Would anyone be proud to have someone like this as their sister or daughter? Maybe some of you women would...I'm pretty sure I wouldn't. I haven't read her blog but based just on what's being described here.

Sigh. There's no going back now, I suppose, unless I delete this blog and start an entirely new one.

ps: By the way, guys at Sepia Mutiny? I'm totally kicked that you linked to me. Thank you. :)

UPDATE (More weigh-ins, leave your link in the comments if you had something to say)

Sakshi's post here on Traditional Good Indian Womanhood.

Melody's post here where she overcomes bravely her prudishness! :)


  1. OMG! that pic was of yours?I read the article on Samit's blog

  2. Well, as one of the 12 readers who didn't know, it's nice to have a name and half a face to put on one of the first blogs I started reading...

    And ignore the naysayers - it's just sour grapes, methinks

  3. Meena (yay! I can call you that here now, right?!) forget the nasty comments! Kudos on the article, it's a great thing to be profiled by any paper & it's not like it's the Sun ;)

    As for the book, know I'm waiting to read it and am sure it'll be super.


    PS: Super pic, bonded suits you I think.

  4. awwwww shucks. thanks you guys!!

    *melts into a pile of mush*

  5. hey hi.....nice pic:D...thought u had short hair as seen in other pics.

  6. (search for reddy)

    I think you're less anonymous in the parwez land.

  7. hows this for the title of ur book

    eM Makes Mumbai :P

  8. I don't like
    SATC - too into themselves, almost oblivious to others, more racy to my conservative mind bent
    bridget jones - little too dumb, but loved the writing style

    but yours i like the most, prob. i feel it is more grounded, may be coz it is not as superficial.

  9. great going lady...heh, when's the autograph signing do?

  10. Hey, I guess I'm another one of those 12 people who's just discovered your identity. And being profiled by The Telegraph - Wow!!
    As for Sepia Mutiny's comment, I don't think you probably need this, but really, I can say there are a lot of people reading this blog for reasons other than titillation. And I don't care why you choose to write all that you do in this blog, but I love reading it. Perhaps, some part of me would like to be where you are, doing what you are doing. And just reading about the life I would have liked to live makes me... well... I don't know, may be happy that someone is living it!

  11. Congrats on the book deal, eM! You are a competent writer and am sure your book will be fun! One piece of unsolicited advice- grow a thick skin and don't let the Sepia-post-like comments get to you...
    Take care,
    A long-time lurker

  12. eM,
    Nala said it best - its you who got a book deal not them. You go girl :-)
    Just don't do a Kaavya on us!

  13. Congrats babe! Enjoy the celebrity-hood and the attention! I'm impressed :)

  14. Glad to see you have a sense of humor about all this. All the best for the blog & the book.

  15. good on you! make some money while you can!

  16. Thanks for all the tales of sex, cigarettes and booze. You have a wonderful blog. One of those that I look forward to. For all their sepoys and mutinies I thought I should say that here. And all the best. Hope you can make the most of it :).

  17. Famous!
    I'm commenting hoping that people will flock to my blog, and I will have many new readers.

  18. echoing amardeep, i hope your book venture goes well. sepia mutiny is not all snark, but there are always good examples (syphilitic saffron balls).

    i would ignore the comments about appearance, etc, however someone did find your orkut profile...not sure what you want to do with that.

  19. Congratulations eM! Enjoy the ride and ignore the haters.

  20. congrats lil eM. you're famous.

  21. hello!
    i love your blog and the way you write. so ignore the snarky comments from the obviously old and un-fun at heart i say. congratulations on the success!

  22. Like I said, proud of you :)
    And in answer to the comment on Sepia Mutiny, yes, I *am* proud to have you in my family.

  23. I am seriously amused by all these bloggers who diss other people's blogs. It just reeks of sour grapes.

    They act as if you have some moral responsibility to provide the public with edifying reading material when clearly the fact that a publishing house, which obviously did its homework before offering you a deal, thinks you have an audience should say it all.

    Maybe some of us want to read the trivial meanderings of the mind of a 20-something and not necessarily for titallation. I mean honestly - there is actually porn avaiable on the internet.

    Congrats on the article and having the guts to 'come out' (though I thnk you were out some time before anyway).

  24. way to roll with the punches, eM. some of the comments on the sepia thread were quite unwarranted and beyond the pale, though.

    the genre is not my cuppa tea, but good luck with the book deal!

    std snideness supplier

  25. Congratulations on the book deal! :) And it's good to (finally) be able to put a name and half-a-face to a blogger. :)

  26. well done girl!
    I had started reading your blog 2-3 months back and I made it a point to start from the first post.. If the novel turns out to be like that, it would be interesting as well..

    btw, if 12 readers didn't know then how come 500 hits per day?

  27. CONGRATSS!! :-D

    Looking forward to reading your book!!

    Keep writing!!!

  28. you are really sexy and well-bestowd in form and substance. way to go woman!!

  29. Minna, I thought it was you when you slipped some comments about being in a boarding school and it's always fun to know that you guessed right. Good on the book deal.

  30. like u aptly said, the price of stardom :) and u r a star lady!!

    been a regular reader, and totally a fan.

  31. Hey, I love reading your blog. It's nice to be able to put a face and a name to it. =)

  32. hello em. although i posted a negative comment about your work on sepia mutiny, i just wanted to clarify that i have nothing against you, really. just because one person out of 23984298 doesn't like it --- well, that does not mean anything.

    congrats on your book deal. i'm always happy to see someone who manages to make a living out of what they really enjoy doing. i hope things go well for you. :)

  33. I am relatively new to your blog (ok I came across it just last night) and maybe you hv been asked this before but I just hv to ask ...don't u use eM coz its Me spelled backwards???

  34. Congrats, Meenakshi (wow! that doesn't remind me of the Confessor at all). All the best for your book.

  35. Congratulations eM! It feels so wonderful to watch a person, whose stories you've followed quietly for years, being featured so well on the news!

    Superficial or not, I've enjoyed almost all your posts, thinking of them as one-way converations between myself and a phantom friend. I feel almost in liberty to give you a girlfriend hug!

  36. Sigh.

    You had been my very own Indian "Girl with a one tracked mind" - albeit more in your "values."


    Always enjoyed your posts. Even went to TC while I was in Delhi - and it did live up!

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. i love reading your page.
    and about the half a face, i must say u got great eyes.
    congrats for the book!

  39. HeY Miss Madhavan,
    First congrats on this real good achievement of ur. THis, by no chance, ain't a small thing. And well no wonder you'd be writing the book, and writing it well too.
    I am a lot disappointed after you gave away your identity though. I was a regular to your blog, now I have even deleted it from my Google Reader. I know I can't justify this, but well, I don't feel like reading it anymore, after you gave away your identity. I know you look cute, and actually, scandalizing, but then...

  40. oh wow! this is something. knew your name but that's it. i know you are overwhelmed by all the negative, positive, snide, mean, encouraging and what not, comments.

    just one thought from my end - i don't know how you will write the same now that your identity is out.

    wish you had a complete picture, though this one fits the image :)

  41. wow. so i finally get to see u after 2 years.. gr8
    is that u in the pic btw?
    cant wait for the book to come out :) cheers!!

  42. kudos woman!!
    am waiting fr the book :)


  43. This is so cool, congrats. All the best for the book.

  44. Good work, girl!

    I'm sure it feels great, and it should. Shot in the arm for the book, i'm sure. Will look forward to that one. Must confess in turn that I'm not a great fan of your writing but I'm happy for you, and i do admire your commitment to this ritual of yours. On the other hand I've always been a fan of sepia mutiny but I'm quite pissed off with this churlish take of theirs.

    Anyway, f* all that, and just keep doing that thing you do.

  45. From Sepia Mutiny comments:

    This is hilarious! A bunch of ABDs (notice how they drop the 'c') sitting and commenting on how her blog is so 'westernised'!
    Newsflash: She didn't compare herself to SATC, you did.
    She didn't claim to be the prototype of the Indian woman, you made her out to be one (a poor one at that).
    She never said her blog is about sex, alcohol and parties. That's just all you can see.
    She never claimed her blog to be a travelogue, you're the ones who like to read sterotyped writing about "the smell of india" or the "smoky sunset" or the "mouth-watering taste of gol-guppas that no amouont of tacos can replace."
    She never said smoking is cool, she just does it because she likes it. She never said ANYTHING about how her life is so cool, it's just how her life is.

    You're assuming anything she does is to make a statement, and simultaneously you yawn and say her blog and her antics and her life are dull, mundane and so been-there-done-that (you still seem to spend half your lives writing about it. You know what's worse than writing a boring book? Talking endlessly about it).

    You're assuming she is raised in the west because heaven forbid a middle-class girl raised in India can use English well, talk slang, watch American sitcoms, party hard and write about it, just because "your westernised cousins in Bombay are nothing like that."

    I can only assume that you guys are bored, jealous, completely out of touch with reality and carping about your own dull, book deal-less lives. And that all you want to read about is an India that is but a figment of the NRI imagination, peddled by sensationalist media and Karan Johar.

    It's not about yu. It's not about the west. It's not about projecting India to anyone. Unlike you, Minna doesn't suffer from a colonial hangover, she cares as little what the west thinks as she does what you, your parents, conservative bozos who post brain-dead comments think.

    That's her contribution to feminism. Not bra-burning, not streaking through Bombay streets in protest against dowry, not petitioning against censorship. But by being an Indian woman living life on her own terms.

  46. minna dahling
    you've come out of the closet

  47. hey eM, so disappointing that after all the hard work I did into scooping out your real identity a couple of months ago and then deciding not to tell you/make-it-more-well-known because it would make you conscious of your identity and spoil your frank writing style, you go ahead and disrobe (literally)!

    I just wanted to say that even though I don't really aspire to your kinda lifestyle, your writing is fun to read and you've got a good senseohumour, which is why I believe most women read your blog. I'm not sure about the men and I seriously doubt the titillation part.

    Another thing I'd like to mention to those silly commenters at Sepia Mutiny, is that expecting to like a blog like yours after a few random glances at is is extremely silly. Such blogs tend to grow on you solely because you've been following them for some time.

    Your identity and complete picture(s) are very visible on certain sites, and that's how I found out that you're best friends with the twins. Another best friend of theirs is one of my best friends, who's also met you once in Delhi. Small world it is!

    Congrats on the article, but I was quite disappointed by your choice of picture. Even a book titled 'Sex and the City' would not carry a picture like that! :P

    All ze very best.

  48. Congratulations EM.. On the book deal and showing your face.. well atleast partially.. I still think I like the mystry part of your identity. So i managed to control myself from googling you...great going gurl..!!

  49. congratulations. i'm another of the 12 who had no clue as to your real identity and didnt even try to hunt - why dig for an identity someone is discreet about? do them the courtesy of leaving it alone till they want to disclose it. for your amazing writing, many thanks. for your book - all the best. i am sure it will rock.. just like your blog. as to the negative comments.. its just a bunch of losers who can't get over the fact that their less than original writing is not being rewarded with a book deal. now shall go back to lurking. one last time though - we're proud of you.

  50. well great, now 5000 other indian women are going to copy you now and post horrendous tales of their sexual escapades which mostly would be FAKED!
    By the way have you thought of a title for the book yet?

  51. Congratulations on the book deal. :)

  52. Em .. Congratulations on the book.. Just want to let u know that I'm one of the thousands waiting for ur book..

  53. my.. that sure took some guts!!! Coming out in the open and all...

    and oye, bonded hair not so great... me thinks :). Looked up orkut and saw your pics there.. and really, the way your hair is, its fine.

  54. Oh Gawd! Meenakshi Reddy....what a wonduhful name, must be a south indian, and wowee, what a great role model you are for the younger generation, they would soooo love to mimic the intricate art of blowjobbin dat you teach them!

  55. Sigh...why must trite naysayers always bring up the "what a right role model you are" argument? How many bloggers out there are trying to be role models, anhoo? She's just being unapologetically herself, and people can take from that what they will. To me, authenticity is better than borrowed morals, whether you agree with the content or not.

  56. Hey eM. I must be another of those 12 people who didnt know. I liked the anonymity so never tried to find out. But it's interesting to put a name and a face to the Compulsive Confessor

    I've been reading your blog for a few months now, though I'm commenting for the 1st time, I think. I love your blog, its fun, and it feels like I'm just having a conversation with one of my girl friends.

    Congrats on your book deal! Am very happy for you.

  57. hey eM, congrats on the book deal. I recently discovered your blog while searching for something I don't remember now. Must say, it is really engaging! Also read the scathing attacks on you and your blog and your morals...quite interesting. Its great to see you not give a fuck. I mean, people will have opinions, right? what can one do? oh before i forget, marry me please!?

  58. Meena - I suppose. Well, here's my two bits buried at the bottom of a list of many comments. Yay, its great that you write like this, and you write about all of this - it makes me feel happy to know that under the covers of a rather reserved society, we are all getting a chance to 'out' through you. So thank you for that.

    Though in reading your blog, I do wonder sometimes how much of this is you becoming the blog - and the image you've created for yourself - and how much is genuinely you. The posts where I see a bit more of your internal mechanisms always ring truer, and more readable than your more scandalous revelations... which sometimes i feel pander to the mask you have created for yourself - so maybe it'll be nice to see the Madhavan instead of eM.

    But now that you've done it, lay low. Cause if they can get the police involved to shut down Orkut sites about the Shiv Sena - entire sites, groups of people, etc etc. It won't be pleasant if they decide to make you a target for their uber-conservative pogroms, and I worry for you. Selling books is one thing, being able to continue to live a happy normal life than one where real bricks could be thrown at you - is another.

    Look forward to your book.

  59. is different. a small doubt? why the word cofessor!!

  60. A book, is that those English men are all idots? how come that yaar? how could they elevate an erotic sex story..........ooh sorry lifestyle to a literature. I pitty on then, if the book story told by U is truth. Any way its a lot for U. Keep rocking. But im scared tht this would mislead innocent girls. nay way its left to them, its not at all ur responsibility. Yaar frankly speaking I would like a character like U as my GF but not wife.

  61. Hi Meenakshi,

    I feel like a new Madhavikutty in making ! All the best !!!!

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  66. Ennadi Meenakshi sendadhu (sonnadu) ennachi???? No reply to mail at all.
    Eagerly waiting.......ganapa


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