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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31 May 2006

I can't change, I can't change, but I'm here in my mind, I am here in my mind, I'm a million different people from one day to the next

* Things are out to get me. I'm serious. Just now, not fifteen minutes ago, I'm talking to a friend on the phone and happen to knock my thumb lightly against the table. Okay, it's a slight knock, not the kind of thing you'd notice normally, only five minutes after that I'm aware of an acute throbbing pain in said thumb. I look down, it's scarlet in a way that only an injured limb can be and there's one spot that's blue and pulsing. Ladies and gentlemen, meet eM the only healthy, in control of bodily functions, adult woman alive who has managed to burst a blood vessel while on a perfectly normal phone conversation.

If that's not enough, there's a lift in my office that wants to eat me. You know how with most lifts if you put your hand in or stand against the wall or something, it won't close? I think that has something to do with the sensor. This one, though, each time I try to hold it, so I can get in, begins to close over whatever body part I have inserted. (Okay, that just sounds dirty. I meant, naturellement, a hand or an arm or something. Not like a boob. Or a vagina, but that would be tough) And to make matters worse, it does this with a little chuckle. And ONLY to me, everyone else stands with insouciant ease, with one finger pressed against the door. Yesterday I only managed to save my hand with great agility, but I did scrape it.

* Was out with a friend the other night, who was on assignment at Ralph's Wine Bar at Uppal's Orchid. We enter, are seated, poring over the wine list like experts when really the only thing I recognise is merlot, and this waiter brings a bowl of buttered, salted popcorn which I'm happily tucking into, when this other waiter comes up and asks for ID. Now, I haven't been asked for ID since I was 19 and shivering outside Djinns, when the bouncer looked impervious to my (goosefleshed) charms and refused to move the velvet rope. (Now that no one goes there anymore, I feel a certain glee, coz I can walk in anytime I want to, but I choose not to). Anyway, as regular readers of this blog are no doubt aware, I miss the legal Delhi drinking age by, oh, six months. Six. Lousy. Months. I believe the drinking age in Mumbai is eighteen? And Cal as well, right? But, noooooooo, we must discriminate against me.

So, we tried to bluff our way through it. My friend actually is legal, 26 soon, and I'm all like, "Well, while I'm flattered that you'd think I was under 25, this is just getting silly now, so why don't you run along like a good boy and get us a glass of red?" they insisted. And then, sadly I told my friend I wouldn't drink, I'd just have a coke, honest, because night outs were about the company and totally not about the alcohol. Totally. But they got even more shirty (which is a term I love but it mystifies me. So like the opposite of shirty would be trousery?) about it and said I couldn't sit in the goddamn bar if I was under 25. We did a lot of hem-hem-PRESS-hem-hem, but to no avail. So we had to leave. By the time we were at the Deck in Sahara Mall though, a Bloody Mary flowing happily through my veins, we saw the humour in the situation. But really, Uppal's Orchid dudes? Six months? On a slow Sunday night with no one at your bar? You need to rethink your managerial policies.

* Twas Leela's birthday a couple of days ago. Leela, my best friend, sitting in London turned 25, and I was just thinking of the first birthday I knew her for, I think it was her thirteenth. Her twin sisters and I decided to throw her a surprise party, only she got wind of it and promptly handed them a guest list, "just in case they were interested in knowing if she had a birthday party, who she'd be likely to invite." We played the piano, or she did, and there was a skit or something and her then-boyfriend, this boy she vowed she'd marry someday (and to be fair, they lasted from Class 8 to Class 11) was there. This was before we became the friends we are today, when we were in that first infatuated stage you have with new people you really really really like, and you're over at their place all the time and going, "Leela says" every second sentence at home and looking at old photo albums and basically living together, but you're still not in that comfort zone you have with people you love. Like a new pair of jeans that you can't bear to take off or wash, and soon they're like part of your skin, with white faded areas around your ass. I remember the two of us listening to Madonna really loudly on her parents' system (which we were forbidden to touch) and once, daringly, sneaking out Erotica from its aluminium foil cd case and listening to it quickly.

I miss her. I miss the two just-teenagers, who read Baby Sitter's Club and Sweet Valley High peppered with the occassional classic and went swimming and played endless board games on endless summer afternoons and had fashion shows and sleepovers where we talked and talked and talked till one am. I wonder what those two would think of us. Would they be happy with the way they turned out? Or would they crinkle their noses a little and go, "Really? That's who we become? I think we're going to stay right here, thanks."

* By the way, I'm doing a story on young single independant people in the city, basically talking about what they do, and their friends and support systems and so on and how it's okay to be alone and it would be great if you (or someone you know) would let me speak to them, pick their minds a little, talk about being single. You can be DATING someone, but not married. And preferably, for this story, living alone, and/or defying your parents and convention in some way. Please? Pretty please? Email me at thecompulsiveconfessorATgmailDOTcom

Thank you! :)


  1. My personal "bar strategy" has been the good ol' tried-and-tested "grow a beard" one...

    well not a long beard.. just enough of an unshaven look for them not to ask!

  2. Twenty five? The legal drinking age in Delhi is twenty five?

  3. Teleute, you heard right, its twenty freakin five!

    I tried changing the system,
    but failed,
    so i did the next best thing,
    I fled!

  4. To think I chose to start consuming alcohol in Bombay after I crossed the legal drinking age in Delhi!

  5. 25? Really? Who are they kidding with a 'legal drinking age' like that? There's a rule asking to be broken.

  6. Chanced by ur blog randomly ... enjoyed reading it. have a nice day

  7. the legal age for drinking is 25?


    thats like abstaining from alcohol for almost half your life.....lord!

  8. ah... 25 i remember being shown the door so many times in Delhi :) But not now i CAN legaly drink in delhi now ...some faayda of ageing i guess :))

  9. What's the big deal? There are still countless school and college kids sitting in half the bars in South Delhi...

  10. have you noticed how an increasing number of your posts have to do with nostalgia and how things used to be?

  11. Hi. I have been looking through all your posts and have been enlightened (in some ways) the mentality of guys from India. Especially since in my line of work, I am surrounded by a whole lot of them. I wonder if I can link to you?

  12. Tut! Tut! The law's the law! Can't be going about breaking them laws now, can we?

    But YES! Yet another point to add in my list of why Delhi is truly hell on earth.

    And, not to be pedantic, but its independent, not independant

  13. Hey eM,

    HT Delhi recently ran a biggish article about how it was so easy for underage kids to get away with driving, buying fags, ordering drinks etc. They had a 16 year old decoy do all this stuff, with photos.
    I don't remember when exactly this was (last 3-4 days) but if it came out the same day, may explain why these guys were so uptight - they probably thought you were doing a sting - mentioning you were Presswaalas probably terrified them! If it's any consolation, same thing happened to me recently - I'm over age but wasn't carrying ID (involved five minute walk back to cabin in the dark - and it was snowing.) The bugger refused to even give me a glass of water. Didn't toss me out though. The ultimate irony - all I'd wanted to begin with was a Coke :-)


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