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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31 October 2007

The Wedding Chronicles Part Three

I'm back in Bombay now, wondering how ten days could've gone so fast and wondering how to sum up the last three days into one little blog post. There's still fading mehendi on my palms, that sickly orange colour that looks like a skin disease. My future mother-in-law (and I feel for that poor, unsuspecting woman, I really do) clearly will not love me. But, as a faithful chronicler of my life and times, I suppose I should do this properly. I'm not in an excellent mood though, today, my brand new budding relationship ended, quite fittingly, on the last day of the wedding festivities, right before the bidayi, where everyone wept and said goodbye to Leela. So this week, I'm wallowing in self pity, trying not to think too much.

Volt came down for the wedding though, and he was my date for all of the events, which was nice and when we look at the photos twenty years from now and sigh over how young and pretty we once were, I'm sure it'll be a happy memory. For the most part, it was happy. The mehendi was at Leela's house which was where we had to do our item number, which I chickened out of at the last minute, because the steps looked so damn coordinated and I was sure I'd fall and trip over myself. Plus my mehendi was still wet, and I really, really had to pee, which was hard, because it involved yanking my churidar down without touching it with anything except my thumbs. I'm sorry--was that too much information? Tough. I've never seen such a happy looking couple though, Leela and Ishan were supremely chilled out, hugging people, dancing, and looking at ease with the whole concept of getting married. God, married. Imagine Leela being someone's wife.

The next day was the sangeet at Ishan's aunt's house, which is this ENORMOUS white bungalow near Connaught Place, which all of us duly marvelled at. It takes so much work to make a wedding, I realise now, it's not just all pretty clothes and flowers, there were valet guys and a DJ and caterers and stuff, and I clearly need to start saving now for a wedding I'll have when I'm 45. The sangeet was the night everyone got completely out of their mind hammered. There was so much alcohol and the most vile shots I've ever drunk in my life, some strange pink concotion that everyone was throwing back into their throats with great gusto, and which made me retch thrice, so the next time someone handed me a shot, I pretended to drink it and then replaced it back on the bar counter. Luckily, by this time, everyone was so drunk that no one noticed. And there was much dancing. Around one in the morning, Leela came up to me, and said, "By the way, the chooda ceremony is at my house at nine tomorrow morning, and you have to be there." "Nine?" I said, laughing sardonically. "If I have to be awake, you have to be awake," she said, in somewhat puzzling logic and sashayed away leaving me yelling after her, "But you're the BRIDE. No one's marrying ME." By the time I finally got home at four am and murmured to my mother that I had to be woken at eight, I had pretty much forgotten all about the chooda.

That is, until eight am, when my mother came in going, "Wake up, wake up! You're going to be late!" I was so late, I didn't even have time to look for an appropriate outfit, so I put on a skirt and a tank top, expecting there to be an intimate ceremony, with just her family and friends. Um... again, I was proved wrong. My first sign of this was a tent where brunch was being laid out outside her house and by the time I got to her terrace, the priestess was in full flow with a bunch of people I had never seen before. My other partners in crime gave me wan smiles from where they sat on the diwan, looking demure despite being rollicking the night before, and you wouldn't have been able to tell any of us were ferociously hungover, except we must have consumed about five bottles of water between us. The brunch was excellent though, and we all ate like pigs. There was all sorts of chaat laid out, so I began with the gol gappas and made my way through aloo tikki and channa kulcha. I was so full that sadly I had to forgo the papri chaat and the aloo puri, both of which looked very tempting. But the wedding was at six and everyone had to leave and get ready (read: nap). I went to hang out with Volt before the wedding, and wound up falling asleep till four when I rushed home, rushed into my sari (which was still much too long by the time I got to the wedding and I kept tripping over it) and made it to the wedding by the skin of my teeth. I was so sure I had missed the actual ceremony because Leela and Ishan were having photos taken, something I associate with the end of the wedding and Bani looked at me and mouthed, "Didi's going to KILL you." So, I was pleasantly surprised when they made their way to the little mandap and sat down to be properly married.

It's been so long since I've cried, I think I might've forgotten how. I felt like crying at many points, when they walked around the fire, when we tossed rose petals on them and cheered, when I watched my friend, who looked so incredibly lovely, turn her head and smile at something. And despite the fact that she's been living abroad for many years and that the two of them have been dating for ages, marriage changes something, it made her look so young and yet so grown up. But she was remarkably composed, only breaking down at the very end when she hugged us all tight, and whispered, "Bye." Humour is my defence mechanism and so I babbled on through everything, even while all the other young girls around me got teary eyed, even when Volt and I broke up, I smiled as broadly as I could, I laughed when she clanged her bangles over my head (legend has it that when one of the dangly things, the name of which I have forgotten, falls on your head, you'll be the next bride) and I knew she was trying extra hard to get one to dislodge over me. But it didn't. Oh well.

I didn't want to worry Leela on her wedding day, so I didn't say anything about the break up or why I had been AWOL for the last couple of hours before I finally rejoined her table. "What's wrong?" she asked, and I shrugged, hoping that through my own unhappiness she could see how much I loved her and how much I wanted her to be happy.

Weddings are a funny time, really, especially if you're at a certain age. They're a time of contemplation, of what-do-I-want-next, of oh-will-this-ever-happen-to-me. They're a time of beginnings, sure, but they're also a time of endings.

When you read this, Leela and Ishan, post your honeymoon and when you return to London, know that my heart brims over with all sorts of congratulations and good wishes that would sound completely cliche if I vocalised them.

Just look at us being all grown up.


  1. Am getting married in a couple of months and I am a little scared.. no...apprehensive.. no..tensed.. no..actually a lil bit of all. Reading the post made me all of the above but also more eager. Thanks.

    Every once in a while you put up a post which is just great.

    Sorry abt the break up. Hope you are back to your real cheery self soon.

  2. "..and I clearly need to start saving now for a wedding I'll have when I'm 45.." you said it

    according to a reliable source (read: the groom) a 3-day pre-wedding piss-up for about 70 people in a beach resort in Goa sets you back a cool 5 big ones (and I DO mean big)....

    one shudders

  3. Who gives a shyte about some dumb wedding. What happened between you and volt. Dancing around the real topic. Coward.

  4. Just sorta got hooked up with a guy I've known for ages. Quite looking forward to being all engaged and married... and for some reason it just isnt scaring me, as once the M word did.

    Maybe it takes the right guy, but it also takes the right time. Me think you are at that time in your life where you are looking for a long term, commitment thingie. So wait and choose the next relationship you get into. (grandma advice here) Make sure it has the highest chances of being the one for keeps.

  5. and the hangy thing... that's a kalira / kaleeda. just fyip. :) i still have mine alongwith husband's sehra rolled up and kept safely somewhere.

  6. Loved the post. Made me cry...

  7. my best friend is getting married next month, so thru planning n the shopping n the excitement of it all, there is a lil sadness - mayb sadness is the wrong word, cos like u say, there is a part of you brimming over with a lot of happiness...oh, anyway, i just wanted to say i totally identified with the post..nice! :) hope you are feeling better now..

  8. My friend's getting married in a couple of days. Attended the mata ki chowki at her place today. Tomorrow is the sangeet. And I "feel" every word you've written!

  9. n here i m acting all inane n jealous coz my best buddy is in a serious seriosu relationship... nnow all her new years n buddays are being planned wt him.. which is making me so jealous n pising me offf n i m forced to put on this sensible understadnig front.. that nooooooo he is the most imp thing in his life now...anki learn to let go...
    n its so fuckin hard
    i cant imagine 4 years down the line when they start getting married.. iw ill probabnly arson their mandap

    hate growing up!!!!!!!

  10. whats wid the break-up... didnt u miss it out? Eager to know more on it

  11. I can not imagine my friends being someone's husbands or wives! Oh, the thought is so scary.

  12. write me.
    lord voltmort is gone? at least you have gol guppas.
    ppl in india love this post because it's reminding them of their own weddings or their friends' weddings.
    ppl like me marooned in cold germany (amongst a rather frigid bunch of people) love this post for the food you described and the 'shava shava'.
    i think the song you mentioned is 'baari barsi khatan diyasi, khat ke lehanda eg. pajama, mehfil mien tab rang sajda, jab naache munde da mama'

    haf punju with 11 punju cousins. i've attended sooooooooooooo many punju weddings. and thank god for that, non-punju weddings are so staid in comparison.but darn just because of the costs i'm having a non punju wedding. at 45. but of course. ;)

    who doesn't dance at a wedding!?!

  13. sorry to hear about the break up :(

    you seem fairly stoic about it although i know it must be hard. a beautiful post btw...almost got teary eyed reading it.

    "Just look at us being all grown up"...

  14. ah lovely eM! Could almost hear the music & see the colors of the wedding! I'm sure Leela & Ishan could just save a copy of these wedding posts as a sort of gift from you to them (one of my friends did just that)

    Anyway sorry to hear about you & ze volt, let's hang out, lech & make silly jokes about men OK?

  15. hi eM! as enough of ur commenters have pointed out, u did skip around the topic of the breakup..i can understand is ur thing and u dont want to share it with everybody...

    it still bothers me though...and such bad timing!! i wish i could give u a hug....

    so is this the time when we start saying things like "his loss", "he doesnt know what he's missing", "who needs a man anyway?"........or should we stick with the "sorry about the breakup" and make sad faces? orrrr.....maybe we should just stop mentioning it for a bit??


  16. agh. am not missing out any more of my friends' weddings.
    and um.. just, um. :-(

  17. just as a kleptomaniac has this obsessive desire to steal, so i feel you are obsessed to confess (cue me about the particular word if you know- may be confessomaniac). but true to ur popularity, your confessions are really exciting.

  18. volt just got scared
    delhi weddings can be scary..
    worry not my l'ill one...
    you'll be under someone else and over him in no time

  19. hey lil eM. It is I. Tough. Be under no one and wont have to be over no one. Be by yourself for at least a year lil eM. Find your centre, your equlibrium. That is impossinble with another messing with the emotional scales in your life. you're too young to be in this zone so often.

  20. Been reading your blog for a while now. .... cannot say i haven;t been entertained :-)

  21. The part about not worrying your friend about the break-up and making yourself sound so mighty and noble was anything but...

    do you re-read what you've written before you post it? so much of your blog is not as much a narrative as it is a channel to rid yourself of your insecurities by making yourself seem like some kind of hero.

    but that part about "Not wanting to bother her on her wedding day" had to take the cake (pun intended). I love how such a powerful, emotional moment was shredded over and tossed aside so that you could show the world how noble you really are.

    cheap gag if you ask me.

  22. New to your blog, but am totally addicted to it....... ;) peps me up when i am down, people can actually hear me laughing loudly

  23. @ hobo, Great comment. How do you manage to compact more insight in one single comment as compared to our eM's ten blog posts?

    Keep commenting and do post more on your blog. Some of us are kinda looking forward to new hoboisms every now and then.

    eM. your post sucks. okay, this one is slightly better than the last few ones, but one seriously wonders where your talent went. One senses a lot of raw material a real author might have made something out of. so aaaaaaaaargh! your post really sucks.

  24. Beautiful post... you remind me a lot of a friend i have - for a while, i thought you were her!

    sorry about the breakup - shit happens!


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