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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7 June 2005

On being handicapped

You know the old saying about how you can never know what someone else is experiencing until you walk around in their shoes? (To Kill A Mockingbird if I'm not mistaken) Well, I am truly experiencing what it must be like for people who are permanently handicapped, for whom this isn't just a two-week thing that you endure, it's their lifetimes.

The worst part is having to think about all your actions. Even going to the bathroom becomes a production. You can't be lazy about it and dawdle till your bladder's ready to burst, because you can't do the 100 metre bathroom sprint. And don't even get me started on taking a bath. I sit on a chair, a plastic bag around my cast, which is elevated on the pot, thankfully within distance. Since I can't let the cast touch the floor, it becomes another deal to switch from the leather cast `foot' that I'm wearing (it's a sort of shoe, big enough to fit around a cast, with velcro straps. Not high fashion, but, hey, it works) to the green plastic bag, all the while doing a flamingo type thing with my other foot. Because my toe is fractured, the plaster raises that and so I can only walk on my heel. Walking up stairs takes me, oh, twenty minutes. Answering the door, about seven. And I'm not bothering to answer the landline. My cellphone is travelling everywhere with me.

But it struck me yesterday how handicap unfriendly this country is. There are no wheelchair or slope options, everything has stairs. And most stairs don't even have a railing, so you hold on to the wall for support. And forget about using a public loo, I'm talking non-five star, coz most five-stars have a handicap option. Squatting is incredibly hard to do on one foot, with no railing. I even realise how terrible the roads are in parking lots--try hobbling and avoiding potholes at the same time.

Mine is a fairly minor injury. I even have a fair amount of mobility (I haven't had the balls to drive yet, but I'm sure soon I will risk it). But, with the sudden startling insight I have recieved, I begin to look at things as stuff I can do and stuff I can't. And of course, stuff that people who have a permanent disability can't. I think I'm going to do something about it. The next time I'm somewhere with stairs and no slope or railings, I will speak to whoever's in charge. I mean why shouldn't I and my fellow cast-ridden bretheren have a good time, right?

Oh and by the way, I hurt it when I tried to balance on a rotating barrell, slipped backwards, feet in the air. For a story, I promise, I'm not a barrell fetishist.


  1. and wait till you start getting questions. some of the folks will not even wait for your answer but provide one themselves - "what happened?? did you fall down from the stairs?" ... and there's always a few conspiracy theorists who'll try to discover "what actually happened"
    take care and get well soon.

  2. Me, I'll be satisfied with finding out where the mechanical bull comes in.

    I'm not sure how you can drive - that big shoe is going to hit both the accelerator AND the brake at the same time.

  3. Awwwww.... don't worry! u'll be fine soon. u r a brave girl, aren't u? :)

  4. A speedy recovery to you eM! Also, I'm going to go out on a limb before you post your story and say that nothing good can come out of a rotating barrell.

  5. oh my god..i totally understand.. i broke my right foot - the fourth meta tarsel on the 4th of feb and had 2 casts put one after the other for a period of 2 months. it was miserable. suddenly u start noticing every place in terms of distances and if there is a ramp there or is there will u jump that naali etc
    this city is extremely handicap unfriendly. there are really no ramps.
    hope u get well soon. it'll be such a great feeling the day they remove your cast.

  6. hey, wishing you a speedy recovery.
    (had i been amongst the 1st 3 commenters, i'd have waxed abt how i know exactly what you're going thru, but never mind)

  7. ouuuch..twisting an ankle is bad enough..can't imagine what your foot must be like :S
    oh well! get well soon
    ps- in case youre wondering..i just happened to chance upon your blog..nice!

  8. I bring you herbal remedies! (brings out some Chinese concoction with ginseng and - I'm not making this shit up - beetles)

  9. arrgh! I know how it feels girl! I spent my ENTIRE precious spring break lying on the couch after having fractured my ankle from ice skating! Though it actually turned out to be fun since I discovered blogging, exhausted movies and broke several sleeping records, so it might just be a blessing in disguise....Make the best there is :)

  10. There, there girl. Things will, eventually look up. Till then, lots of ice cream and truck loads of warm wishes from all us bloggers... :))

  11. ouch. hey, get well soon. thanks to my blasted knee i know exactly what a pain climbing up and down stairs can be when one leg is immobilised.
    but milk the sympathy u're getting for all it's worth...take tons of rest (it's the ultimate cure), and get well soon.

  12. so you hurt your chest falling off a mechanical bull and your toe falling off a rotating barrel? thats a fark-worthy story..

  13. eM, you still have it good. I keenly feel the lack of facilities for the handicapped. And I haven't even fractured anything.

    Try and enjoy the pampering (whatever's available), get well soon, there's a good little girl. And do be careful in the bath, wouldn't be very funny if you slipped there and ... ouch!


  14. Aw.. you guys are so sweet! I have been home all day, without net connection, playing Sims 2 like a madwoman (but I'm getting really good at it!)

    Sagnik: Since I've been lurking at home, so far no questions. Only, everytime friends come by to say hello, they start to laugh. Hmph. So much for sympathy, huh?

    Jay: Ah, mechanical bulls. Good fun. :) Email me if you want to know the "inside" story! And it's my left foot, so I'll only be using it for the clutch.

    vibhu: Gosh that must've been painful! And three months?? I was willing to rip this thing off today and it's only Day Two.

    Mandar: I certainly hope so!

    Mint: And you couldn't be more correct. :)

    Amitken: Thank you!

    eesh!: I know!!! Forget jumping over puddles though, I barely think I can hop over my dog!

    n.a: Thanks! And now that I'm among the fractured fraternity, the next time someone else blogs about breaking something, I will say I totally know how they feel!

    mahima: Thanks :) And it's technically justa toe, not a foot, but I thank you for your sympathy anyway!

    the box: Okay, ew. Take those beetles away from me! *Runs, no wait, HOBBLES off screaming* :)

    sml: Perhaps. But already I'm sick of Oprah and sitting in bed :(

    Vignesh: Thank you!

    Buchu: Oh much milking is happening, I can assure you ;) All "Please come and see me" and everything! Works like a charm.

    fingeek: I promise when I'm very drunk and this cast is off, I'll be able to see the humour in this situation. Till then, no mechanical bull jokes. ALL of you :)

    tama: I agree with you there, but it's technically against the law to have any building with stairs and without a ramp.

    JAP: You're telling me! Yesterday, I finished with the bath, attempted to stand and slipped on my loofah. It was very scary. And why do you feel the lack of facilities?

  15. oh, here's a tip from experience: you can use a knitting needle to good effect if/when a mosquito makes it way into the cast!!

  16. Hope you're not laid up too long: what an interesting way to have such a horrible thing happen to you, if you know what I mean!
    I've been reading the comments with fascination: has EVERYONE who reads this blog broken a foot/limb/other body part (pl specify) at some stage? (Me guilty. Twice over, same ankle, different year.)
    If you're hobbling around watch out for hotel lobbies, they're vast smooth granite traps for the disabled. Polished floors and fibreglass casts should never be allowed to meet, and when they do, you'd be surprised how fast they part company.
    Knitting needle works well, also ruler. Be prepared for I Am A Teenage Werewolf moment when the cast comes off and you discover manically flourishing hair growth under it.
    Plastic bags over foot secured with rubber bands work; clingfilm and/or household foil is a BIG mistake.
    Get well soon, and er, stay that way.


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