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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1 November 2010

Kiss me goodbye, I’m defying gravity

I’ve changed my mind about cities, you know. In the past, in my head, they were always female. Big old bossy aunts, best friends, the whore, the wife, and so on. But more recently, I’ve been thinking of myself as a woman in love with two men. One’s the new boyfriend, charming, sexy, gives you lots of space. One’s the old boyfriend, someone you left a while ago, but who has (like real life boyfriends NEVER do) changed drastically in the four years since you were last together and now, perhaps, offers a more permanent relationship. In my case, the new boyfriend: Bombay, and the old is, of course, Delhi.


It seems to me most of my moves are made on impulses. I have a strong instinct for survival, and when a city gets too much, when you feel like all your days are just blending into each other, then it’s time for a change. Arthur Conan Doyle said, “A change is as good as a rest.” and it’s true. It is. And so, dear, dear, beloved Bombay, I’m leaving you to go back to Delhi for a bit. I’m torn in a way I wasn’t when I left Delhi the first time. The thing is I LOVE Bombay. If your hometown is actually your hearttown, then Bombay is most definitely that. But, of late, I’ve been noticing the winds of change in Delhi. It’s vibrant and exciting, and fills me with hope, something I’ve been lacking recently. Most of my close friends are there now, in Bombay, like Dubai airport, people come and go so fast that it’s hard to keep track. Almost all of the gang I know here will be gone shortly, maybe within the year. And Delhi is about as far as Colaba, if you live in the suburbs.


This is my friend’s column on the subject. In it, he references a post I did on when JC and I ended things, how I said, “I have good friends, a city I absolutely love” and wonders how I could go back on that so easily. Easily? It was hard. It was impulse for THIS trip, yes, but for the past few months, whenever people ask me why I don’t come back to Delhi, finding an answer has been tougher and tougher. Why don’t I come back to Delhi? Rents are cheaper, writers and publishers thrive there, I miss winter, I miss culture, I miss the roads and the people, I miss my parents (can I say that? Do I sound like a child?).


So, that’s why the long silence on this blog. On the recent trip to Delhi, I made my swift decision and instantly fell into flat hunting. Relocating is tough and stressful. I found a sweet little annexe (annex-ee for Delhi brokers) in a nice neighbourhood, I informed my (delighted) friends there, informed my (not so delighted) friends here and ta-dah, all set and ready to go. The most unhappy person, I suspect, will be my cat, who was unceremoniously stuffed into his carrier and taken to the vet today (you can’t fly an animal without a vaccination certificate) and who will have to spend a day or two at my mother’s house (in my room, co habiting with the dog) while I set up our new house.


Does this have anything to do with your break up, I hear you asking. Well.. maybe. But not as much as you might imagine. It’s true I’d like a little break from the emotional fatigue I’ve been experiencing recently. I’d like a whole new place where I can just chill, without constant reminders of my doomed relationship. But it’s also something I’ve been thinking about for a while, even when I was in a relationship. You know what it’s like to be suddenly single? It’s like—okay, so I was in Jodhpur, and I hear from him, and we’re talking about security deposits and so on, and without any warning, I started to weep. Silently, holding the phone to my ear, crying with my eyes wide open. I hung up and went into the shower, shaking a little, from the force of my sobs. I do not want to be unhappy, no one wants to be unhappy. Even now, from a distance, with a few well aimed words, he can get right under my skin. I think it’s best that I put some distance between us. (How did we come to this, my one time love?)


So. Yes. Delhi, we meet again.


  1. It sucks that getting over someone has so many facets to it and it takes so trudgingly long. All the best Em. May Delhi heal wounds quicker and pave way for awesome new memories.

    And omg, your poor cat. Be very careful when you put him together with your dog. When cats attack, they go nuts (think pointy claws scratching angrily at anything and anyone they encounter). Heh. Actually, your poor dog

    Nice post, as always...

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  3. I know this for sure that, being home and secure, things heal magically. and distance helps. plus delhi is divine in the winters. that helps too. and things have changed here. when I came back to delhi I was so darn skeptical, I can't get enough of it now :)
    *realised my cousin was working on my comp, hence the acc conflict. duh :D*

  4. eM! Change is good. :)

    I've a good feeling that this is something you will definitely not regret :) All the best with the move.

    You should follow that up with a house warming party, to lift your spirits!

  5. I wish my guy cd hold the same views like u someday :-)......well me a pakka delhihite and he a total mumbaikar....though i used to like bombay when i used to visit....but then the delhi-bombay fights are fun specially when it's ur guy .....I wish someday he likes delhi or i am doomed for a LDR for yrs till we marry.......

    Aww to ur cat i so love them <3

    Well the decision to move when things get over is I feel best....i feel i shd have done that when omy strongest relation broke because if that happens u emerge different and don't make stupid decisions which don't make u really emerge the way u wanted to....all the best for this endevour...even if ppl think ur break up resulted in this decision...let them think...its u who will decide the truth :)

    Loved the post :)

  6. A very interesting least you have another city to go to. Lovely post...

  7. i just started reading your blog a few days ago and ive managed to catch up on the last one year (a little stalkerish, I know!) but had to respond to this post since it resonates so much-im moving cities too(across continents, actually) after four long,happy years and going back home. the whole thing is so bittersweet yet just the fact that you're going home makes everything so much easier!

  8. Hey! I'm new here. Actually I discovered you on a French show dealing with the internet, along with "Two girls, one cup". Unlike my second discovery (I wish I had never heard of it, ever! :| ), I'm glad I came across your blog and am happy to get to read you. I've already read a few posts of yours and love your style and what you have to say. And guess what? I moved out this week and am dealing with the ordeals that go along with it (at least I have access to the internet... pheewww...)

  9. Aww!! ::hugs:: Good luck with the shifting and stuff! :)

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  11. Even I like Mumbai over Delhi.. I love Mumbai a lot..... Mam, recently Amitabh Bachchan has read and complimented my blog - plzz do read it... I know ull surely enjoy.. and if possible tell about this to the readers of HT - The link to the blog is -

  12. what about the people there, the reason why most of us still prefer this city for all it's rental, traffic n cramp. That freedom for a woman to venture out alone at 2am.

  13. Although i am done with my break-up move but i still feel change is extremely therapeutic.
    It brings out the newness which is fresh and hopeful.

  14. Lovely post eM,you know,the whole cities are female bit!You really have a way with words.

    Good that you're moving back to Delhi.It's your home town and there is something very comforting about one's hometown especially when one's life is in doldrums!

    But why aren't you staying with your parents while in Delhi?It'll mean no extra rent,good home food,the feeling of being a secure child(we're always kids for our parents,no matter how old we are.right?) and the general happiness.

    Another thing....umm...I added you on facebook and you very kindly accepted and I loved reading your posts and status updates.Off late though,you seem to have implemented some settings,where I can't read anything.Sorry for sounding so stalkish but your updates and every other things always made me smile.

    I understand the privacy thing but I am truly your fan and love reading all that you write.

  15. that you in TOI Crest feature pic today?

  16. Being home and with the family, helps tremendously.
    Though it keeps lurking but making our own people happy by just being with them, brings solace.

    Delhi in winters is poetic and romantic. Try sufism while you are here, various concerts and artists from across the borders make the winters even special.
    And I pray, may you swim out of it, with everything rightly in place.

  17. So will you have those creative writing classes in Delhi now?
    Please : )

  18. Winter of content, my dear.

    Godspeed..and kisses from hyderabad

  19. Good Luck with the move !
    I'm a Mumbai girl for the last 15 years even though I sort of grew up in Delhi. So I HATE to say this but its true isnt'it ? That Delhi seems to be getting better and better while Mumbai gets more trafficky and terrible. Have fun in the Capital !

  20. I'm not even in the country any longer. I won't be back for some years to come, and it feels so weird but comforting to read about India and realize that I once lived there.
    No advice from anyone will work for you as far as relationships go. It's just so empty when you wake up to an absent touch and live out an alternate life with him in your mind, one in which you aren't alone.
    Take care.

  21. Its been ages since Delhi-Mumbai debate has been going on. I was in Delhi for 10 years but am now glad to be away though have never lived in Mumbai. But I must say after coming out of India I love all Mumbaikars I meet here, much better then Delhites

  22. Can't help but wonder after reading some of your posts: are you a fan of Wicked (Broadway musical) or The Wizard Of Oz ?

  23. I'm delighted for you, and I hope this move will be a blessed one. I know all too well what it means to crave a change, crave a different place, and it's with a certain vicarious relief that I congratulate you on how neatly (and quickly, perhaps) this has fallen into place for you. Warmest. :)

  24. Great stuff Em...was at your talk y'day on E-lit (the girl in the black on the side who asked a few questions including why some people labelled us bloggers as ugly, single people!) and that inspired me to check out your blog - finally - what everyone's been talking about! I have read You are Here though and enjoyed it.

    In this post, I just adored the part where you said "when each day blends into the other you know you need change!" That's how I think all the time! I've been harping about this to friends since the last 6 months and have now finally moved myself from my comfortable rut.

    Another indicator of how alike our thoughts are, is the fact that your profile introduces you as a 20-something girl who discovered the internet etc. And the name of my blog is 20 Something! :) Would love for you to check out my page!

    Happy moving! You're lucky to have two 'boyfriends'! Not many of us can claim that.

  25. Ha ha Ha, amazing post. Kiss me and goodbye for another location yo may go now
    Hotels Link Exchange

  26. That was a lovely post, and I really enjoy your writing. I'm afraid I have nothing much more to contribute, except to say that you'll be perfectly fine. :)


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