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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15 December 2010

(almost) officially a grown up


Okay, so I had a birthday. And older readers will know, my birthday almost always = major holiday blues. Starting from the first person who RSVP’s ‘no’ my mood just gets blacker and blacker. Soon I’m in Nobody Loves Me Land (and it is a sad land, where the national anthem is ‘All By Myself’) with a trip down Whinerville.

Birthday girl doing an impression of that chick from The Ring

Luckily, this year, I had just moved to a new (old) city, and so I had no such expectations from the Great Day. My parents had already bought me my birthday present in October (the camera) and so I wasn’t expecting anything new, my friends had told me they’d come for the birthday party, but in all likelihood they’d have other shit to do (since it is December, when EVERYONE is born. Blame Holi) and so I was thinking quiet-ish party, maybe something the next evening and then dinner at my mum’s on Monday (my actual date of birth). As it turns out, the best birthdays are those from which you have no, or very little, expectations. My friend Bulbul, flew down from Calcutta a little early to be there for the actual party, and while the first few comers were a slow trickle, pretty soon it turned out to be one of the most successful parties I have ever thrown. And I don’t say this lightly either.

Antique Chinese chest, which promptly bled all over anyone who sat on it.

My house is pretty small, if possible, even smaller than my Bandra flat, two rooms, yes, but one room is pure bedroom and does not encourage hanging out. So most of the party was in my teeny tiny study/living room. With some spillage into the hall/kitchen/dining room. My grand plan was to have a fire on the roof, but the fire was a big fat failure (next time, kerosene and more wood!) described by some as ‘pathetic’, others as ‘really retro, like homeless people have’. At one point, I turned around and announced that the new theme of my party was Recession, and so, it was all very in tune with the theme. But oh my god, even with people huddled into their overcoats, trying to get as close to this pathetic fire as possible, there were people! LOADS of people. And all of them looked like they were having a good time. Lots of smiles, people mingling, lots of drinking and throwing their heads back and laughing, and it just made me feel… good. This is the way a house must be warmed, this is the way a birthday must be celebrated, this is the way I should be welcomed back into a city that I once loved and am learning to love again. Also, it was really nice to see so many, many people from my past. I felt loved and cared for, even if I might have over invited just a tad, so I couldn’t really stay with one group. I got lots of compliments on my lovely house, and many people asked if they could come again. Isn’t that awesome?

View from the window, and a bamboo plant MIRACULOUSLY still alive

The next day was the eve of my birthday, and another friend, who shares the same birthday as me, was bringing it in. Excellent, I thought, this means I won’t be alone at home reading a book (as was Plan A—you see how low my expectations were from this birthday) and so, with Bulbul in tow, we went to her (much better organised) do, and drank a lot, and at midnight (this is the sweetest thing) they made me cut the cake with her. Her friends went out of their way to make me feel included and special and loved, and over all, despite the vodka shots and the consequent puking the same night, I felt great. This is an excellent beginning to my 29th year, I said to myself, weakly, right before heaving into the toilet bowl again.

Retro postcards picked up from a small shop in London

And the next day, the actual birthday? By this time I was rather birthday-ed out. Sunday had also been the day of Nayantara’s brunch in Chhatarpur, where, even if I was feeling a little weak, I managed to stay and have a good time till the end, and Chhatarpur back home and then out again is a long day even when you’re not hungover. And this was hangover part 2, but I treated myself to a lazy day in, and then coffee at the excellent Ravi Bajaj cafe (it’s really good coffee) and then dinner at the mother’s house, accompanied by tarot card reading and talking and generally being pampered.

It was a really, really good birthday, but oh, how tired I am, and this week continues being a hectic social whirl. Last night, another birthday party, tonight a dinner, tomorrow a book thing and then the grand ol’ wedding of two friends (to each other thankfully, so only one set of functions) and then you know, the Christmas-New Year’s rush and at this rate, I will only rest in January. That is, until the Jaipur Lit Fest. Phew!

You're always welcome.

And this is just my social life. Today I have committed to write two articles, one story and one other thing that has slipped my mind at the moment, but which I’m sure will come back and haunt me one hour before my deadline.

So far, old age shows no signs of slowing me down, except for the tiredness occasionally, but I fully intend to get a WHOLE night’s sleep soon. Possibly. Before I’m dead.


  1. Yup Holi is to be blamed, in name of washing and resting I know what couples do in afternoon

    I too celebrated my birthday this year in not only a new city but a new country that too at a time when everyone had left the place because of long holidays!!

    If I can be a bit sure, I too know Nayantara

  2. Wow! A very busy birthday week! :) Happy Birthday eM! Have a fab year.

  3. Wow!! That's a great birthday! :D Happy Birthday! :) xx

  4. What a great bday week! Have a great year ahead! :)

  5. awesome!!! happy birthday!....and from description, happy it was!!!

  6. Happy Birthday!

    P.S. Do come out with another novel in the coming year. I'd be very happy with a sequel to Listmaniac. : )

  7. Good looking photo. As scary and impressive as possible.

  8. Happy belated birthday! Have a wonderful year agead!

  9. interesting pic of you! you couldnt have been scarier if you'de tried...hahaha

  10. It seems at least one more person has the Birthday Blues just like me:-)But I am so glad you actually had a blast!!So did I,this year because my expectations were at an all time low.

  11. tht ws @ very nice post ...n felt very much like me


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