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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2 August 2006

Don't you know about the new fashion, honey? All you need are looks and a whole lotta money

There is one pecularity I share with the rest of my sex. Actually, there are probably several, but this one puts me firmly in the GIRL-girl bracket. I very much like to shop. Shoe shopping, of course, is my idea of a really sinful afternoon spent, but regular shopping will do it for me as well. And not just clothes or accessories or anything. I'm talking food, books, music, groceries, all that just makes my heart a little bit happier.

I went with a friend from work to Modern Bazaar the other day, at the Priya Complex, which used to be THE place to hang out at in Priya when it first began showing English movies, back in the day. We used to eat channa-kulcha type things then, but then Nirula's opened up and Modern Bazaar was left to the firangs who bought ancient Oreo packets there. Now it's all snazzy with all these cool products, and pretty well-priced too! Friend From Work and I went a little mad, picking up everything we saw and tossing it into our basket. But then we shook our heads at each other and took out most of the unnescessary stuff, like this pancake mix and syrup I had been eyeing. Oh well. Feeling very grown-up (because NOTHING can make you feel as adult as fancy food shopping) I bought a) blue cheese (not the Brittania slices, but posh cheese with mould on it) b) bacon (which my mom never let me buy too often because she was scared I'd get tapeworm. Honestly) c) a loaf of cheese and garlic bread, just baked and smelling yummy d) Cadbury's drinking chocolate, which okay, wasn't so fancy, but I wanted anyway and as a piece de resistance, a crowning glory if you will, as I got to the cash register I tossed in one packet of Malboro lights. How cool am I, baby?

But clothes shopping has always been a different deal. I've been shopping for my clothes alone, since I was about thirteen or fourteen. I remember before that my mother came with me, or aunts from the States sent me matching tops and shorts which I thought were so terribly cool, till I joined a big new school and realised they really weren't. I was invited to my first birthday party at Big New School and happily confident, I dressed up in my favourite frock, a more adult one than my others, because the sleeves were till my elbows and tight and the skirt didn't pouf out like the other ones and even the sash was all muted and understated in this peachy-rose. My mother dropped me off in an auto, said, "Have a good time!" and left and I walked up the stairs, bearing my birthday gift only to find almost my entire class there. All in jeans.

I think that was probably the first (but sadly not the only) time I felt less than confident and amazing in a room full of my peers. Everyone paused to look at me and I blushed violently and turned for the door, hoping my mother would still be there downstairs so that I could leave NOW, but the eleven-year-old hostess, who even though we have long since lost touch, remains to this day, one of the nicest people I have ever met, stopped me and said, "Oh, what a pretty dress! You look so sweet!" And so I stayed, but my party frocks were retired forever, given to the maid's children eventually.

I moved from Weekender to Sarojini Nagar when I was about fifteen or perhaps younger. I'm not sure exactly when, but suddenly all my clothes were emerging from there. This was the time when short, flirty skirts had just about come into vogue and everyone was wearing them, suddenly, as was I, despite a pair of matchstick legs. I loved twirling and watching them flare out, I loved wearing them to Khan Market, teamed with a purple polo neck t-shirt that I bought off a friend for 50 bucks. My favourite skirt was red with huge flowers on it, that came till about mid-thigh. I wore that everywhere, and there is a photograph of me that Leela has had forever, where I'm sitting at Chona's (in Khan Market, which made the BEST french fries in the WORLD, in those pre-McD days) and I'm smiling fakely at the camera and my skirt is in all its full, red flowery glory, spread across my knees.

I was a bit of a slave to fashion in those days. What other people said was cool, was what I wore, perhaps just to fit in, to feel more like everyone else. Stretch jeans were the fad one year, and everyone had a pair, clinging to fat legs or skinny ones with an oversized sweater on top. (Those jeans came in very useful once I went to boarding school, because then they doubled as riding breeches). Another season it was all about the tights--remember those black lycra ones?--we wore them everywhere, some more experimentative, bought them in hot pink or neon green, but I stuck to black. I forget when exactly the trend moved from oversized tops and tight bottoms to the other way around, but suddenly, before I could even blink, parrallel (I KNOW I haven't spelt that right) pants were everywhere, in madras checks and here I came into my element, because they looked so much better on me than they did on the other taller, less skinny girls. You teamed them with a sleeveless top, and they did look rather nice. I loved my parrallel pants. I wore them till they ripped, and then, sadly, they weren't making them anymore.

But I gave up when the really ugly fashion statements started hitting the market. Does anyone remember those horrible towel-material type tight tops everyone was wearing one year? They came in hideous colours, all pastels and oh, they were gross. Why anyone would want to put something like that on their body is beyond me. Jeans were my only concession to style, but once flared jeans came into vogue, I felt like I had died and gone to heaven because FINALLY there was something that looked good on me. They say now that flares are so out and straight fit are back in but they can go screw themselves. I'm sticking to my flares, I have a lovely pair I bought the other day, admittedly not as large a flare as my older ones, but a flare none the less, which ride low over my hips and are this beautiful shade of dark, faded blue. I still haven't thrown them for a wash, because they fit so WELL, but I'm going to have to soon. Jeans just ride so much better when they're dirty. (Levi's new range, by the way, if anyone's shopping, 544).


  1. Ooh, I so love the 544! But they don't have it in size 25 in any of the stores in Calcutta. And that is one model that'll look hideous if tucked in at the waist. So I have to content myself with 567s and 592s. I love the colour of my 567, but my 592 is the best fit EVER!

  2. I hate jean shopping, simply because it's hard for me to find a pair that fits well *and* is nice and long in the leg.

    *But* when you do find that great pair of jeans that you look good in, it's such a sunbeam-through-the-clouds moment that it makes the search worthwhile. :D

  3. Dear eM, I'm sorry if this sounds rude or something. 'Cos I mean well. To begin with, I think you are a fantastic writer and very, very funny to read. I have been following your blog for the last, what, 2 years, almost since its beginning. Its one of the first blogs I started following, and is instrumental in inspiring me to start one of my own. Okay, now. Why have your posts grown progessively shallower, as you have carved your groove, style, form, niche, whatever? Why? Please don't go all defensive, 'cos I'm just a fan and, admittedly, a much inferior and much much less popular writer.

    For instance, buying a Marlboro, imho, is not even near cool, unless you are, umm, 13.

  4. ok, feel free to delete my comments. I leave it to you. After all, if this is you, and this is what you want to keep writing about, well, I guess, that's that.

  5. me saying i love shopping would be stating the obvious, but i LOVVVVE it. i did my most expensive (to date) shopping just today though! I was gold shopping for a friend's wedding, and i saw this ring (white gold) set with diamonds, tried it on and it looked SO DAMN BEAUTIFUL! so i bought it! :D I'm so happppppyyyy!

  6. khan market, sarojini nagar, priya, chanakya. I want to just jump on a plane and go to Delhi right now

    Skinny jeans were good on girls but it was really bad for guys.

  7. oh god, I still make fashion blunders, but those towel thingies were really the ultimate (didn't do it but, uh-uh). Did you ever go through "dad's shirt" phase though? that keeps coming back to me...because for me it's more about the comfort and less about the look (leading to pllllenty of blunders, but what the heck).

  8. This is depressing. I love shopping but fashion is not my friend these days. They seem to only design things for people with super flat tummies these days and mine is anything but that :(

  9. Uh? Let me get this straight... you claim to be fashion crazy and then you recommend a LEVIs? Thanks for the specific number, but no thanks.

    umm.. let's see... Levis are worn by every alternate human being. If you wanna be taken seriously as a fashionista, can you "recommend" something a little less trite?

    And the word is boot cut. Flares are what you use on a foggy night to warn travellers. Geez.

    And dark, faded blue? what the fuck is that? it's either dark or it's faded. Dark, faded blue is like saying eM's a fashionista.


  10. One fashion trend that we could have all lived with out was the fad for those tiny, pretentious backpacks that sat right in the middle of our backs. what was the point of those people?

  11. In defense of eM - she's writing about her preferences, and if a pair of Levi's makes her happy, so be it! (The Real Fashionista, take heed.)She's not claiming to be a fashionista even though she make like dressing up and looking "purty". Anyway, in India you can hardly buy designer jeans from, say, Tsubi or Citizens of Humanity... and incidentally, I thought boot cut jeans were different from flared jeans - boot cuts are narrow through the leg but open out ever so slightly at the bottom to go over your shoes, while flared jeans are at least 10-15 inches wide at the bottom.
    But I'm no fashionista either!

  12. go eM. go AD. and boo to everyone who can't digest someone simply being happy.

  13. which idiot thinks levi's are not fashionable? and what is fashionable anyway? my levi's are comforatble, chic and hold me in good stead through formal and informal evenings. i guess fashion's a statement about yourself [and not something rohit bal might tell you in femina or roberto cavalli in vogue....though cavalli i'd listen to if i could afford it]. it's about your confidence, your sense of comfort and who comfortably you wear yourself. it means if you think dark, faded blue jeans exist and reflect you, you wear 'em and the heads will turn.

  14. minor clarification: the red skirt that was mid-thigh covered your knees? was it mid-calf or did it begin mid-thigh or am i just not into this?

  15. comment to M.

    Why does everything need to be profound? Profundity offends me. Profanity, on the other hand, does not.

  16. Let me start with, "Which idiot thinks LEVIs aren't fashionable?"
    Answer: I do.
    Levis are comfy, so are my pyjamas.

    So basically, if everyone already has a LEVIs pair-the people on this space sure do- then who needs a prescription for them?

    It's absolutely idiotic to take a stand about what I call "poor man's fashion" because let's face it, if we had the money we'd buy the better labels.

    If you can't afford Citizens of Humanity, no biggie. The fact that you know that Citizens of Humanity exists and you covet it is a good thing.

    Knowing so, the fact that you defend LEVIs is very apologetic.

    And about the flares, people who claim to be obsessed with fashion would know the boot cuts and wide legs, just like shoewhores would know an espadrille from a maryjane.
    Certain lingo gives you away, that's all I'm saying.

    At this point, Im just hoping flares didn't refer to those ginormous tent-sized jeans they wore in the 60s. IF NOT, then it's either wide leg or boot cut. Look it up before dissing me.

    Boo again.

  17. ah who cares whether levi's are chic or not. i like true religion, but only at the beginning of a semester when all my money comes in. otherwise, it's indian 1500 rupees levi's for me!

    but one word of appreciation for the self-proclaimed 'true fashionista': hell woman -espadrilles from maryjanes - we could totally be bffs and bitch the fuck out of shoe-illiterate people :D

  18. oh good lord.
    WHERE did i say i was fashion crazy? Where? Where?
    As i recall this is what i said I was a bit of a slave to fashion in those days. What other people said was cool, was what I wore, perhaps just to fit in, to feel more like everyone else.

    Key phrases would include: "in those days". Now, meh, I don't give a damn. Levi's are cheap, they fit well and I love them. as for dark, faded blue, it exists if you use your imagination a little.

  19. Who the hell cares whether Levis (and no apostrophe there, fshionistas) are chic or eM is shallow? She listens to Billy Joel, so you better not dump on her, she has Jabba the Hutt in her corner riding shotgun.

    It's still rock'n'roll to me-e-e ...


  20. for the record, i think you're really hot.

  21. Unbelievable.

    When you go to buy jeans, it's: boot-cut, wide-leg, flares.
    (Fashionista, indeed...)

    ...And my very first amazing pair of 518's were a dark, faded blue. *happy sigh*

  22. Oh, yes! Those who say flared is out (and have been saying for what? More than a year now?) can just sod off sideways. I LOVE flares. They make me look pretty, and that's the ultimate reazun, okay?

    And hey, wot you think of these faux Priety Zinta-in-Laksh skirts that seemed to have swamped the retail market a few years back and are still going strong in Certain Sections of the Population (possibly not in Del, but in Cal...omg!)? Especially when worn with kurtis that come down to mid-thigh?

  23. P.S: I prefer tailored trousers to jeans. No? But then I'm a li'l too fat for jeans to be comfy AND look pretty...

  24. Ok, about the pork. My mudder has the same tapeworm paranoia. I crave pork so bad.

    About the clothes, I've only just begun wearing what everybody's wearing and it feels marginally better than being original and looking like a freakshow. Me, atleast.

  25. 1st visit to ur blog.....will keep coming back....:-)

  26. what a load of crap over a good writer feeling happy about some retail therapy! will people leave this girl alone? she writes well and i love to read her. we all do. so shuddup already.
    (way to go, eM! have been reading you since forever...)

  27. I adore 544s!! They only do them in India though (or thats the only place I found them) and I looked in Africa, USA, South America and Europe!

    And I think it is now discontinued :(


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