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

Sign up for my newsletter: The Internet Personified

30 March 2009

Moving on

(As promised, one of the many columns I write. This one is from the Mumbai Mirror--well, it USED to appear in the Mirror anyway, then they downsized and it got cut. Sigh. I thought it was appropriate, because in the next month or so, gentle readers, I am going to be taking the next big step and moving in with JC. Yup, we're going to be co-signing a lease and everything. We do practically live together anyway, when he is in town, so it's not THAT much of a leap, but I'm really looking forward to it.)

The problem these days, why so many, many people are single, is that no one takes relationships seriously anymore. I think popular media is to blame for this, the other day I saw a fun rom-com flick called What Happens In Vegas where two people get married when they’re drunk (duh) and then want to get divorced (duh) but (plot point!) they collectively win 3 million dollars on a slot machine and so have to stay married for six months in order to collect the money as ordered by a marriage minded judge. Of course, they begin by hating each other and then fall in love and blah blah blah and the entire movie is a pretty good showcase of how you should totally get shit faced and marry someone you just met even if you have nothing in common.

I know someone, in fact, I know many someones who believe in the fact that marriage doesn’t have to last forever. That if you don’t like it, you can leave. To which I’m all “Whaaaaaaaaat?” Really? I’m not advocating marriage here, far from it, but I believe that if you get into a commitment you should pretty much be prepared to stay in it forever. Divorce has made bad marriages too easy. And not the other way round.

Anyway, so the other day, I was thinking of the vast number of people I know preparing to move in together. Like couples. Isn’t this a big deal? Did I miss the memo that makes this about as casual as anything else? I shy away from Next Big Steps, they make me nervous, they make me wary of doing something I might not want to do and then, oh dear, nothing ever remains the same after that. Living with someone suggests to me a quasi-marriage, where you buy groceries together and entertain together and have cats. (Okay, so I already have a cat, but still.) While the whole thing is thrillingly domestic and as much fun as playing ‘House-House’ used to be, surely, like a marriage, it wears off?

Don’t get me wrong though. I would personally have to live with someone before I married them. It’s a nice, little test run to prove to yourself that you can in fact put up with someone even if you have to keep picking up their dirty underwear, or you’re okay with them seeing you first thing in the morning with dragon breath and Diana Ross hair. But somewhere along the line, I know I’ll be thinking that this should end in marriage. In a proper legal commitment. I will be doing my damndest to get my live-in relationship to work, and I’m not going to regard it as cavalierly as people around me seem to be doing.

There is a thrill to domesticity though, especially illicit domesticity. I guess it’s the whole forbidden fruit thing. We’d never have the social sanction of an actual married couple, but we’re still buying mangoes and getting the maid to dust the TV and having friends over for brunch. It’s just that we don’t have rings on our fingers, that it might have to be hidden from various extended family members and possibly, from the neighbours or the landlord. But there would still be a double bed and holidays planned together. I can’t blame people for wanting to do this ‘test run’ marriage when every word I write tempts me more and more to go out and do it myself.

But, I stand steadfastly on this. It is not casual anymore. It should last forever. Sharing a space with someone should be regarded as sacred as signing a piece of paper declaring you Mr and Mrs. I know that even my relationships with my flatmates has been sealed with this sort of sanctity. We have a good relationship, my housemates and I, because we know the code. In short, we know how to make a good live-in relationship work. Okay, yes, it is different because we have separate bedrooms and mostly, separate lives. But when someone sees you at your worst (which is more important than seeing you at your best) and still wants to go on living with you, then you have to respect that in them. My flatmates know what snacks to order for the house for instance, the ones that I love, I know how they like their coffee. When we cook, we cook for everyone. When we have our significant others over, we respect their space as well. And we think twice (and ask permission!) before we invite someone over that the others don’t like. Maybe it sounds a little anal to you. But (touch wood) so far, I’ve had excellent luck with my roomies.

Perhaps I should draft a Live-In Relationship Agreement for all the people out there contemplating it so nonchalantly. It would have Rules and Agendas. Love is important, yes, without some modicum of love you will get bored very easily, but this Agreement will have things like Space Time (no, not astronauts, just alone time for each person) and Veto Rules (where each of you has the right to veto three people from entering your home) and naturally, other mundane things like budgets and who changes the cat litter (or walks the dog) and Collective Purchases. There will also be a clause, much like the judge ruled in What Happens In Vegas, that you have to stick it out for a year, legally, or risk getting sued. It makes it tougher and it makes it easier for indecisive people like me, because everything will be right there. Yeah, I think I’m totally going to do that.


  1. May the Big Step land steadily on the ground.
    Nice post!

  2. Okay, the article aside, I'm just trying to absorb the fact that you're moving in with JC. It's HUGE, eM and I don't know you at all except from this blog, but for some reason I did not imagine JC and you were so into each other. And so I'm very pleasantly surprised at this news. Excited for you - as you said there's something thrilling about illicit domesticity! Go get the thrills ;)

  3. I wonder how people could ever get wrong in finding their significant other, contradicting all notions of genetics, general logic and even religion. I suppose its because people have given 'listening to the inner voice' a break. I mean, the 'violins and saxophones'thing isn't all that baseless.

    In this age of chaos and distractions, a 'test run' indeed seems to be a nice option. Pray you walk into the sunset, together together. All the best :-)

  4. I wish i had read it three months back.
    But better late than never. Sigh.

  5. Ack! Ur moving in wit JC?? *Happy for you* Oooh, And very well written.

  6. 1- there should absolutely be a prenup for living together. in fact, there should be an explicit "talk" before any such big decision involving two lives.

    2- great article. reminds me of carrie bradshaw. have you been told that before? though i prefer your humor and flowy words better in ur blog posts. they seem to work better on that medium. but don't get me wrong, i would totally read your column in the paper and snicker and nodd at all the right places. :)

    3- best with the moving in together bit. maybe you are right. not discussing JC too much on ur blog kept ur relationship jinx-free. besides, ur famous now. ur private life deserves some privacy. :)

  7. Totally!!I can't help but agree with al tht u've said eM.

    All the best,its a BIG step in life..

    Wishing you and ?JC,life's best..dun temme u wud stop blogging once all dis has hpnd.. :(


  8. Well I'm just glad thereis someone else who takes these things as seriously as I do. I do get tired of seeing every other relationship around me either split, or simply be too casual. It's that casual attitude... ticks me off!

    And congratulations on moving in with JC! Good luck too... may you both beget much happiness, lasting happiness :)

  9. I totally agree with your views in the article!!
    I oppose Divorce entirely and completely, On principal.
    Not that I am advocating Bad marriages , but like you said, I too feel , that because , now divorce is no longer looked at as a huge social stigma in many parts of the society , people tend to use it as an excuse for their laziness.
    And about the live in , CONGRATULATIONS , and also GOOD LUCK.
    I hope it works out for you , I hope you find what you are looking for.

  10. is the 'test run' really necessary? When someone does decide to get married and make a commitment to forever and for always, they do go through the worsts and the bests right? i mean how does living-in differ from a marriage other than the fact that the relationship is not made legal?

    anyway keeping all my doubts aside for now... Good luck and congrats!:)

  11. Big step, eM. Wish you all the best. Btw. that Agreement is a great idea!

  12. Amen to what Whitelighter says. Reaaaally liked this post.

  13. Guess this is the biggest decision u r discussing wid d group, that too b4 u actually jump into it.. D way u were weighing the pros n cons was bringing out the more serious and mature eM. Dont remember such a serious topic on ur blog, it has always been happy-go-lucky events in ur life tht u posted.. Never seen you saying, ‘Don’t get me wrong though.’ – you never wanted a re-affirmation nor a nod or a consent from ur audience – but this is really a big thing and understandably so.. I agree wid your views on this post and like to emulate quite a few things – particularly the test run thing.. EOD, the msg from ur post is that, It still pays not to go on a rampage when it comes to life partners – could see the Indian woman in you and ITS VERY HEARTENING.

  14. Very well put.

    I wonder though, why you are not advocating marriage? What is the difference between the commitment you are talking about and marriage? What purpose does this "trial period" serve?

    For a lot of people the trial period is an easy out if things don't work out. Isn't the easy out the problem with today's relationships and marriages in the first place? Nobody wants to stick it out and make things work. Breaking up a move-in relationship is a tad easier and not as messy as a divorce.

    I am not saying that this is why you are doing it. I wish you the very best and really hope there is a happily ever after for you. What confuses me, though is that the same folks who agree with your idea of a commitment that last forever are the ones who want to emulate your move-in trial period. Kinda contradictory.

    Of course this is easy for me to say given I am not the one making the big decision.

  15. Big step alright!! Good luck!! :)
    Anywyz, once you start living in, you are as good as married!!

  16. Hi,

    I think you are perfectly right about ppl taking relationships lightly - either on their own or because of factors besetting them. I mean I say this just to put things that I may not be totally aware of into perspective.

    I very much agree on your take about personal space, an implicit code, and even live-ins... But yes, it should not be a thing where you marry and divorce - at the next avbl instant. Better get to know the person in full.

    And I liked the part about "dragon breath" and living with a person at his or her worst. I mean at the end of the day, what if one cannot tolerate some of the idiosyncrasies of the person one loves most - in seeking the larger and (consistenly) happier picture for those in the relationship!

    Good one. Hope to keep coming back!

  17. Have I, or have I tried it over the ages. The Living-in (sin); not the married bit. Usually once I start living with them, I really don't see a point in continuing the torture for long. But that's me. Good luck to you. Quite a presence I see.

  18. Oh this is great news! I'm all for progress in relationships ;)
    All the very best to JC and you.

    And for the divorce part...i agree. If you get married thinking that it wont last assured, it wont!

  19. cudnt agree more ... and all the very best to both of u

  20. Nice post and what an amazing blog you have up here! I have added you to my blogroll. I hope you wouldn't mind...and yeah good luck for your big step.

  21. That was a great chance to peep into your column..practical and yes transparent as always..Have some kinda respect for the Individual you are from the first day I made a visit here..Bunch of best wishes for you and JC.

  22. try making your posts shorter
    they are a bit too long


  23. I have been in a live-in for the past 3 years, and the only thing it does is kill romance. :-) But seriously for us,it is almost like being married since everyone including the parents know and the flip side to it is that they keep visiting us :-/
    but trust me its not that big a deal.i have been in live-in s before and was under no obligation to marry or get serious with them.most often than not it was for convenience that we moved in

  24. Congrats... :)

    i would hazard another guess that perhaps...people have started to believe that their work is more important than their relationships...

    that achievement at work is more valuable than achievment of a happy family

    the concept of "work" as i understand started from the need to gather food for the family in the cave...then it came to making clothes from leaves :P and then barter happened and all the specialization stuff...

    but in the end...its all about "food for the family"

    not how big a business deal u got or what car u r driving...or how smart u r...

    but newhow thats jst me thinking :P

  25. thats wonderful news! U have fun lady!

  26. CONGRATS...!! This is huge. I wish I could do that. It is a huge step to be in a live in... my cousin bro in mumbai is in one... and trust me, its a different ball game. I was their guest for a month and it was wow. I had never seen my brother so domestic. Though, one thing that I feel should never done in a relationship is to have rules for it... coz they don't work. I agree that love has become more of a dating game, but that is for the individuals to decide...
    All the best again...!!! Have fun.

  27. wow, you might want to really, REALLY knock on that wood there. I've not had any sort of luck with roommates - I have nightmares that it might just be officially impossible to live with me.

    Just playing the devil's advocate here but - media's also kind of, sort of, maybe, responsible for the fact that you're actually writing this column and acknowledging live-in relationships.

    .. right?

    ... right???

    Why do I feel like I shouldn't have said that? lol.

    Also - I like this blog =).

  28. what was sex & dating about this post? huh?

    silly girl! got me interested for nothing

  29. Been following ure blog for a coupla years now.. has been a helluva ride.

    P.S. Best of luck with JC!

  30. I could not agree more on this one! I've struggled to explain to people about how live-in relationships can have just as much 'sanctity' in you will as signing a paper and exchanging rings would :)

  31. wow! that is an amazing post.. way to go girl!!! And I wud soooo love to read up on ur Live in Relationship Act!

  32. sounds very nice and grown up. Could you do a tiny bit about moving out of your parents' place? Do you think I can do that without a) going to a hostel and b)living with an unknown (and most probably irritating) relative? 15 doesn't exactly give a girl lots of options, right? **sigh**

  33. All the best!!! And I really second the live in as a test run thing. :)

  34. Moving in is no cakewalk dude...we moved in together six months ago and finally my epiphany occured last week when i realised i HAD TO DRAW UP A LIST OF CHORES and specify who does what!! A bit school teacherish but after writing it in 2 neat columns and making him SIGN IT OFF (yes, I know, even though we are both 30+) things are starting to fall into place, peace seems to be returning and we dont go around blaming each other for things that don't get done (we just refer to THE LIST and the appropriate guilty party is identified, leaving one of us looks down at our toes sheepishly instead of 2 screaming banshees!). CHildish but effective. But cozy friday evenings of wine and DVD without the fear of a Mother-in-law call at 7am on Saturday Morning reminding you 'beta kal karva chauth hai, faast jaroor rakhna, tample jaroor jaana'SOOOOO make up for living in sin!!

  35. 1. Whose JC ?

    2. My thought on moving on in relationships / marriages -

    Ever noticed the way a couple monevoures in a relationship? - Before the marriage its like "Public displays of affection" rock - A little after marriage they still hold hands - 2 years down the line - well "uncle" walk aage-aage and aunty trail peeche-peeche - or the vice-versa depending upon who got bored first!

    I am not advocating being promiscuous (that is too strong a word - maybe fickle is the right one) - But the fact is meenakshi - people get bored - we all do - So what is so wrong with moving on - finding things / people we again want to connect with?

    Read the following -

    "Nothing goes wrong when
    spring ends every year,
    a predictable season begins,
    but when love fades
    you run aground suddenly,
    there is no joy nor fear;
    the plane stops mid-air
    as if the skies were folded
    and put in a pocket, as if
    the tables suddenly were turned.
    I am not guilty I touched him,
    I loved him and got bored;
    there is no lesson to be learned"

  36. well liked ur blog very much.
    this is bharat from iit kanpur and although i'm just 20 years old i can understand this as ive just witnessed a breakup...
    well ive come to a conclusion that u should first test run your relationship and dont involve yourself too much initially...cause it may hurst later on..
    well here s my blog,new to blogging so dont expect my language to be like that of salman rushdie

  37. its my first time here.. nice post....
    an interesting take on the live in relationships...
    p.s. all the best wit watever move u plannin in ur professional life.. :)

  38. Who said you need to pass the bar to draft law. Answer the call of the penal code. (I had to say something with 'pen' in it as the word verification said Pensis :D)

  39. read ur blog.........must say its very nicely explained......and yes best wishes for your future endeavours :))

  40. A simple question - why does your about me, still have you as single? Or you don't want to commit it yet ?

  41. Agree with you on 'test run' part
    glad to know that atleast someone still considers marriage sacred and believes that live-in will eventually lead to it
    mos ppl I know walk into a live-in purely for convenience
    nice blog :)

  42. keep building the columns on here, they support brilliance.

    I agree with whatever the chinese guy said.

  43. It may happen Whitelighter...

    Nice post !

    Making Indian Weblife a comfortable journey...

  44. It's my first visit to your blog, loved the post.

    Will be a regular now :)

  45. Whenever I read lines on relationships and marriages there is this one line by Scott Peck the modern love philosopher that keeps popping up in my head. He is kown to have once said that "True love is when you hate your spouse/partner and still you pretend to love him/her" ... "its at this moment that true love erupts" in short the key is to be "adjusting in realtionships" either the law makes you do that or the culture that makes divorces bad. anyways .. interesting post

  46. Hi EM, Long time reader, first time commenter :p. I LOVE what you write, especially loved this post! Now that I have come out of the (ahmm)closet, will comment often


Thanks for your feedback! It'll be published once I approve it. Inflammatory/abusive comments will not be posted. Please play nice.