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

9 April 2013

Somebody left the gate open, you know we got lost on the way

(listen to the song as you're reading this post)

At 28, I found myself back in Delhi, minus one fiancĂ© and a city I still loved. Now, nearly three years later, I look back at that person with a certain wonder. I can remember the heartbreak, the emotional exhaustion, but it seems as if it happened to someone else, in a different story entirely. That wasn't really me. 

I like to say Bombay is my spiritual home, but it was in Delhi that I began to find myself once more, Delhi that smoothed the edges, Delhi that lent itself to dates and more work than I could manage and a full-to-bustling social life, even as I complained about the city, missing Bombay with more passion than I ever missed my ex. And it was in a small annexe in Delhi, an upgraded servant's quarters, that I decided to stop waiting for The Future, and make it happen right now.

All my life, I think, I've been waiting. Some periods are just general waiting, like Godot, a train that will never come in, your goal fuzzy, but "soon" everything will be "different". Some periods were more specific: when I get married, when I have children, when I get a different job, when I move, when I make more money.  It was tied up to a great extent to the idea of family, I didn't think I wouldn't have a family, it was always there, waiting to be checked off my list, and so "one day", I would have this perfect house, with the perfect man and perfect little babies. The man and babies were a bit meh, but the house would be large and glorious and perfect for entertaining. I could never afford the kind of house I wanted alone in Bombay, so conveniently it tied in with the man--my relationship and my beautiful Perry Road flat went hand-in-hand, breaking up with one was breaking up with both. Moving to Delhi, I picked a single person's house, what more could I want than two rooms, a kitchenette and a bathroom? No matter that the rooms were small and square, that the bed filled up pretty much all the bedroom, that more than five people couldn't sit in the drawing room, it was my teeny tiny hole-in-the-wall, the one flat I've ever had that belonged entirely to me--no roommates, no sex-with-benefits (where benefits = shared rent). 

Slowly, as I began to grow into the idea of my thirties, only a year away, I also began to evaluate my life. I learned how to cook. I bought nice cheese. I didn't have that much more money, Delhi is not magic, and I was still a freelancer, but my money seemed like it was going further than it used to.  I made cocktails for friends parties, kissed several handsome men, and drank red wine. Within the year, I had moved into a new flat, one with so many rooms that I felt lost in it, but one that made me feel every inch like I had arrived. Here I am, this is the future, this is now, and there's no more waiting. I signed another two books, I took yoga, I met a man who stayed when I was ready to meet him. My life that had seemed so narrow, so shrunken, had expanded beyond belief.

Now, when I think about it, I'm not even sure I want to get married any more. I mean, it sounds nice, don't get me wrong, the idea of committing to someone with a formal contract, but on the other hand, there's so much else for me to do. I'm not missing someone in my life, I have a partner, and even though he is far away, he is here a lot of the time, and I see him if not as much as I would like to but at least more than you'd expect two people in two different cities to be able to manage. Being apart gives me time to think about life's big decisions, and at least I know it's a life without compromise. This is me in my flat, my messy flat with ashtrays and magazines and cat litter trays (three, because the damn animal is super picky and will just poop on the floor if everything is not spic and span), this could be Scary Spinster Life, the one I dreaded when I was in my teens, but I'm not a spinster and I'm not married and that is okay. I stopped waiting. That sounds like a terrible self-help book: How I Stopped Waiting And Started Living, but hey, it happened to me.

(psst: have you read my new book yet?)


  1. Though its needless to say after having polled ***** (stars) but still I want to say- Loved it !!

  2. This - right here- exactly this is what I come looking for on your blog 9 times a day and 99 times a week... and its after ages that I finally found the kind of a post that made me an ardent follower of this blog in the first place...
    I am not sure if you will take it as a compliment but i sincerely mean to give you one - when I say- that I truly believe that in the times to come- my life will somewhat shape up like yours is right now - in fact I feel right now, I am there where you were sometimes ago --- I am just on the same route as you are- sure am coming a few years later but all the stops are the same... and needless to say, I am so so so excited to embark upon this kickass journey..

  3. This is written so well - honest and frank, said how exactly you see things. These are the kind of stories one wants to know happen in life- falling, picking up oneself and making a better life than before; all the while understanding this was destiny.

  4. Absolutely spot on, eM, really. I've always had this thing about waiting for Something, that one thing which will finally make everything perfect. The realization that it doesn't exist is not disappointing, it's liberating and that's the best sort of disillusionment. One more great post. Keep musing.

  5. I think I needed to read this. Glad I did. In two days I turn thirty and I am like waiting. I know maybe in a yr or two I might end up writing a post like yours :)

    Started living is all we want :)

    I guess I am again visiting your place more :)

  6. loved the post... brilliant!!! have fun NOW!

  7. I can so totally relate to the line you've written here "but it seems as if it happened to someone else, in a different story entirely. That wasn't really me."

    The same thing happens to me when I think about my exes. Not just exes, but people who are no longer in my life. There's something so magical about time. It helps you forget it heals you. Truly!

  8. Something i can so relate to...i felt the same exactly a year ago after my not wanting anything...but in a year and thanks to the wine :P it seems all did happen for a good reason...things look so much brighter and better...i can do things i want all for is beautiful to be alone,yet have that partner in another city who isnt gng down your throat every minute...good write up girl!

  9. I'm at that horrible place right now where the person I thought would love me forever betrayed me and left me for someone else without so much as a "sorry". There have been a lot of meanderings through the by-lanes of hauz khas and khan market and drunken reveries to try and get my mind off it but it consumes me. Your post helped somewhere. I hope i can make it out of this with the same bonhomie you have.


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