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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30 June 2008

Disjointed Dog Memories

Reading the ebook of Marley and Me on a rainy evening, right before I go out to dinner, I realise how much I miss having a dog around. TC is awesome, he's a stellar cat, does his own thing, is affectionate when he wants to be, is SERIOUSLY adorable and is the size of Garfield, but he doesn't come rushing to the door when I come home. He can't be walked. He won't be walked. His ideas of conversations with us are: "Oh, an ankle. Let me scratch it lovingly." or "Legs! Food! TC hungry!" or "I know you love me, and I tolerate you when you scratch under my chin." Cats are cats and dogs are dogs and the two are very different species, I know, but I miss my dog. Cookie is more like a cat than a dog. She is loving, yes. When I'm in Delhi, she can't get enough of me and rests her head with deep sighs on my knee. When my mother calls, sometimes she puts Cookie on the phone and I say, "Hey Cookie! Who'sa good girl? Who?" and she closes her eyes and licks the reciever. But I bet if our house in Delhi ever got robbed, Cookie would be the one either under the dining table or going, "You can have them all! Just don't hurt me!"

Bobo, now. Bobo was a dog. He oozed essence of dogginess from his every pore. Bobo was part Alsatian (full Alsatian, the pet shop assured us, but he seemed more like a Dobermann-Alsatian cross to me). He was named by my mother, for Boris Becker-which should be more BoBE than BoBO, but hey. He was an adorable puppy and an adolescent dog with behaviour issues. MAJOR behaviour issues. And we weren't the best puppy owners in the world either. My parents have this whole live and let live thing when it comes to rearing anything--including me--and that's something I've inherited. I figure discipline can come, everything can come as long as the thing being raised realises it's loved. Bobo understood he was loved all right. He also understood that his humans were inconsistent with their punishments and in a large house, it was easy for an active puppy to get into mischief.

We packed him off to obedience school once--the kindest decision, my parents felt. I opposed it as violently as an eight year old could, but when Bobo returned, he could sit and speak and do all sorts of things. Well, for like five whole minutes. Then he was back to being himself, tongue out, wide smile, head lopsided. I lived in Trivandrum then, which I've written about before--a huge house on top of a valley, no other kids nearby and lots of walks. Bobo and I walked all over that hillside--well, he took off and fathered many children--but I had Enid Blyton ideals about my dos and whistled to him as I set out. Sometimes, he'd respond and come bounding after me, but most times he was wrapped up in mating with every bitch that waggled her bottom at him.

He loved me though. He was a loving dog. My mother would hold him by the leash and I'd hide and she'd say, "Bobo, where's eM? Go find eM!" and he'd always find me. When we moved back to Delhi, I gave him to my grandfather, who also took him on long walks and was firm with him and gave him attention when he needed some--in fact, probably a much better pet owner than we were--and Bobo was devoted to him. He'd even leave off chatting up some brindle mongrel to go running whenever my grandfather called. Once Bobo died (of snake bite) I considered getting my grandfather another dog, but he's older, the farm is smaller and I don't think he has the energy for a puppy.

Plus, I think like human beings, some animals are just meant to be with some people. Bobo was meant to be with my grandfather, he was, TC is meant to be with me, he is the pet I feel perhaps the most strongly about, and I've had many many pets. Someday, I'll find my dog, my soulmate dog, my dog that will come running when I call it and will be the one I train and everything. TC is going to have to live with it, sadly, a fact that I don't think he's quite aware of just yet.


  1. Didn't know they have obedience schools in Trivandrum... or anywhere around, for that matter...

  2. it wud really be gr8 having lots of pets...

    even i have a dog called tysu

    hez a pug and hez so adorable...evryone in our family loves him.....

    when u mentioned when ur dog bobe or bobo licked the receiver when u spoke .it reminds me of a similar incidence ...even our tysu did the same.......ur grandfather must be happy layin with bobo and TC supposed to be a cat and u love it like anything


    btw ur blog is gr8
    check out mine

  3. I have NINE of them (well, in office?@....feel free to adopt ;P

    except the rottwieler...he's my precioussssss

  4. Been wanting a dog since I was 5 :( I shall have it someday...
    Oh better a silly dog which romps and plays with you rather than one who can "sit" and "roll over" na..

  5. i love this post!
    being obsessed with my cat, i feel relieved when other people talk about theirs as passionately.

  6. Between a dog and a cat, I'd go for the dog for a pet! They have so much more character: they seem to understand so much more, they feel and they seem to be able to perceive so much that's not said. And no, a spitz or a pom is not the dog with character. A lab or a golden retriever or even a gernam shepherd is!

    (Yes, I'm precise. So what?)

  7. well.. thats one honest post.. never thought you believed in soulmates though!

  8. I had a few dogs as a kid. 2 of them were alsatians, and their lives coincided for a few months. Truly my best friends. Their death, though , was unbearable. Its unfortunate that dogs have a life span so much lesser than ours. The only reason why I cant get myself to get a dog again is that I know I might have to see him go, I would prefer s/he sees me go.
    Anyhow, dogs are the perfect pets. They arent as fragile as fish, and cats are scary! I wonder if its legal to have a monkey in this town.
    Maybe you should get a dog. Adopt a stray pup, it would do two lives good :)

  9. L ike Dogs more..
    but like cats too!

    this is nice.

  10. I'm not much of a pet-person, per se, but I do dabble with the idea of having a dog someday, when I have a house of my own. Very touching post, by the way. Loved the writing, as have for the past year or so (yes, I've been visiting for that long - took me so much time to leave a comment, mainly because most of the time, instead of having anything to say, I am just smiling after reading your posts).

    First heard of you and your blog from Mita (Kapur). It's been a pleasure reading it and I'm looking forward to the book.

    All the best

  11. quite ironic.

    I just fought with my mother who opposes the idea of me getting another dog.
    I fought.argued.sobbed. To no avail. Came to my room. and tadaa you post about Dog memories.

    Not fair!!

  12. I am commenting on your blog post after a long break, eM! Dogs are a species I can never resist talking about. I owned one and it died, when I was away from home(of hernia, sadly), after giving us wonderful memories in 13 years. Pappu was like my kid-brother, the best companion I ever had and will have, for sure. The most loving and loyal friend. And yes, the walks were always adventurous. My father bought me the book 'The Obedient Dog' in order to help me learn how to train him. He did learn quite a lot of good things, and was very well behaved, except when children came home and I started giving attention to them. He was one jealous dog, alright.I realized after reading your post that I miss him more than ever after 5 yrs. I resorted to reading James Herriot after his death, and loved every single dog story. I was away from home, single, and could not have owned one again. Other compulsions like living in a flat make me desist owning a dog now. I too share your wish of owning a dog again (for my daughter's sake too, when she is older), and going for long walks, and taking him/her with me whereever I travel. Thanks for this post...

  13. This is a foolproof Bets Friend test, if you don't believe just try this:
    Put your significant other and your dog in the trunk of your car for an hour.
    When you open the trunk who is really happy to see you.

  14. It's a nice thought, but our cities, being the way they are, have no place for a dog. So TC needn't worry.

    I loved this post. I had a Labrador quite some time back. And it grew up to be as indisciplined as I am :D I guess some breeds handle the lack of discipline better than others. You wouldn't want an indisciplined rottie now, would you?

    And just what is the anonymous who's talking about the trunk of a car thinking???

  15. Awww I love dog posts. My spaniel is my soulmate - she looks like the weight of the world is upon her when all she's thinking about is food.

  16. btw, i encountered some of the friendliest stray dogs on my recent trip to mumbai.
    we'd be sitting at nariman point and this stray would come running up and raise his paw for a hand shake.then he'd sit, lean against one of us as if he's part of the gang and then listen to the rest of the conversation with curious tilts of his head.

    tres cute!

  17. I have one called Pepsi...its a pom..dogs have a thing about them...Aura I would say I think...which makes them stand apart from most domesticated animals.

    Great Writing.
    Scribblers Inc.

  18. so like a soulmate dog is a pet... and a soulmate bitch would be...... a girlfriend?!?! Ho ho!! Claws out girls???

  19. i am what you call a mallu and the best dog funeral i've read is in a malayalam novel with a tongue twisting name, londonbatteriyile luthuniyakal.
    it was written by madhavan
    the dog was called Chang because it had slit-eyes.
    Chang was not a watchdog; it was just a tailwagging mongrel whose only job was to love.

  20. A dog for a soulmate? Now that should not difficult to find. Lots of dawgs around.

  21. Wow, your own column? Congrats girl thats awesome! :)

  22. ooh ur on the cover of today's mumbair mirror...just net surfing and saw it... look hot :)

  23. great post :) lovely read babes...when are you back in Delhi? I feel like cozying up on your sofa with a bottle of old monk to keep me company again.

  24. Ranjini: 'It was written by Madhavan'. It was written by N.S.Madhavan. Why don't you tell em that 'it was wriiten by your dad N.S.Madhavan.

  25. thnk u...ur blog is d 1 i turn 2 wen i have absolutely NO work at work :)
    its fun 2 read ur stuff!

  26. reminded me of the one we have back in kolkata. whenever am home, her fav job is to wake me up at say 7am and den play with me... and her major mission is to lick my face, which she has been unable to do till date!!

  27. I read 'Marley and me' a year back and Marley reminded me of my own dog. Your post is really nice.

  28. I love to have lots of furry cats and a lot of licking dogs. But one thing I don't understand is - how do we tell them to keep the floor clean? How do we tell them to wait for someone to open the door for them to relieve themselves?

  29. so finally sre you a cat person or a dog person??

    I have two cats....Maheen, a fat fluffy one whos part persian and therefore thinks she owns us....
    Pepper's a stray half-kitten-half-cat....
    both very cuddly with each other and all, but when they fight, the fur literally flies...
    So yeah, Maheen has the whole thing where she purrs, croons and rubs herself onto us, flops down and mews all seductive.....bloody irresistible cat, that...cho chweet....

  30. I had a dof called Boris.. of course his name got shortened to all sorts of idiotic syllables in no time at all... and Babs and Boru were the ones used most ...

    hummm.. he too had many behavioural issues... namely biting everyone in the house except for my mum... guess he figured.. bitingthe hand that feeds may not work in his favour ...

    lived to a ripe old age of 13...

  31. Marley & Me was one book which when I bought, I realized that I must be a sado-masochist to do that! I remember I cried so much at the end of the book, partly for Marley, and partly for our dog who had left us!


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