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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9 April 2006

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

I yearn, as the weather gets increasingly arid, for the perfect glass of chilled water. Chilled as oppossed to cold. Chilled, so that the glass stays frosty with no condensation droplets. So that as you drink it, there's a sharp cold headache reaching your head, so it's almost painful to keep drinking, but you do anyway, because the coldness extends its tendrils throughout your veins and your thirst is quenched for a while.

No one does chilled water anymore. At restaurants, I have learned to ask for 'ice water', but instead of being what I had imagined, water from melted ice cubes, so cold, so perfectly cold and exquisite in your throat, it's water a little cooler than room temperature with a few ice cubes in it, that look sad and sorry, and explode on your tongue when you encounter them, chilling your molars briefly, but not your drink.

It's surprising to me that no one drinks chilled water anymore. Freezing cold Coke you get, or beer or whatever, but they have a taste and though they'll quench your thirst, they don't have the flavour that water does, the H20ness that whooshes over your palate, sprinkles itself around the corners of your mouth, makes you wipe your face and say, "Ah." When was the last time you said 'ah' with a glass of water? For me, it was at TC, as I entered, straight from breathing the humid, un-windy night air to breathing smoke, and I asked for a glass of water, which the bartender poured me--lukewarm, but with a little ice in it--but I downed it, in three gulps, my throat aching and I felt so much better. No sticky residue, no sweetness. Just.. there.

At home, I've learned to get chilled water by sticking the bottle in my room in the freezer when I get home. But the problem is, in the middle of the night, when I roll over, t-shirt sticking to my body, sheet half off the bed from where I've kicked it, and reach for the bottle of water, it's warm by then, so not chilled, and I drink a little, and it tastes like spit and I go back to tossing and turning and dreaming about coldness and icicles and rain and algid, arctic, below freezing, below zero, benumbed, biting, bitter, blasting, bleak, boreal, brisk, brumal, chill, chilled, cool, crisp, cutting, freezing, frigid, frore, frosty, frozen, gelid, glacial, hiemal, hyperborean, icebox, iced, icy, inclement, intense, keen, nipping, nippy, numbed, numbing, one-dog night, penetrating, piercing, polar, raw, rimy, severe, sharp, shivery, sleety, snappy, snowy, stinging, wintry water.


  1. Thanks for the post. It is HOT here! You should take a plastic bottle, fill it with water but only partially, shove it in the freezer and let it freeze in a few hours. Take it out and keep it by the bedisde. It should last a few hours.

  2. *at the top of my lungs* Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you got till it's gone.

    Sorry, couldn't help it.

    I'm with you...I need my water cold enough for a brain freeze. When we were in India and would ask for bottled water the waiter would always ask "chilled or room temperature?" My husband laughed once because he thought the guy was joking. "It feels like we're 3 blocks from the sun, who the hell is drinking room temperature water??"

  3. 1st comment.. woohoo.. i've been waiting for this for so long.

    i like these posts about absolutely mundane topics. sort of like seinfeld.

  4. Universal. And very vivid. Evocative (a word I use too much, but the only one that fits here). Now I'm looking forward to the book.


  5. what a torturous last paragraph! it's hot out here too, you know. hot and humid. choking. and going to get worse.


  6. Wrote this last year during the peak of delhi's summer,

    It is interesting how almost the same words come out to describe such a longing.

    I preferred the long walk to the freezer to get that gulp of midnight water, rather than have it on my bedside.

    Also, I found after that gulp pf water, a little sip of Maaza or Frooti works wonders. Not Coke. That heightens the thirst.

  7. no one has ever written on a glass of "perfectly" chilled water. and i doubt anyone will be able to make it this interesting!!!

    i love a glass of "perfectly" chilled water in the morning, especially after a night of "too many" drinks :-)

  8. hey, if you're outside and thirsty, the best place for REALLLY ice-cold CHILLED water is McDs.

    Inside the house.... dunno!

  9. You know what works? I use used wine bottles instead of plastic bottles to store water..they get cold faster, stay cold longer, and get to the perfect temperature..

    plus it feels nice to chug from a wine bottle..

  10. came across this post while looking for the song - gawdd knows if you'll ever see this! 2 years later - kick ass read! better drop by your newer posts!
    cheerses to chilled water - i just filled my bottle from the cooler! :-)


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