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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23 February 2010

Make like a sommelier and wine

One of the best parts about writing a book (apart from the actual writing of it) are all the invitations you get to go places and talk about it. I always feel like something of a fraud when I get up on those panels, ready to discourse on Indian Women And Sex or whatever the topic of the day is. A fraud because, well, I wasn't trying to make a statement or speak for Indian women in general, not with this blog, not with the book. I was just talking about stuff that happens, to me and sometimes to my limited circle of friends and acquaintances.

Anyway. That was a very long digression to get to my point. Which was about the cool part about being an author/blogger/general writer-at-large. I got an email last week talking about the Sulafest (which I had heard people making plans about and was very jealous) and asking if I wanted to come and write about it for my blog. If I did, they'd send me passes. One of my new year's resolutions was to always say 'yes' if a new experience presented itself. And I didn't need much convincing for this one. I was mentally checking off all the things I like: travelling, impromptu trips, wine, music, shopping? What's not to love?  JC decided he didn't want to go at the last minute and so I made some calls and got a new friend, Christine, to come with.

Christine and I got super excited, even retiring to bed early on Friday night so we could be all fresh and ready for our journey ahead. I have never, ever been to a vineyard associating it with something "socialites" do, you know, like going to the Derby and wearing a big old hat. The drive to Nashik was looong (about four hours) and HOT and our driver was a jackass (Public Service Announcement: If you're using Just Dial to get a driver for long distance runs, do NOT use Dolphin Travels.) But Christine and I amused ourselves by plugging in her iPod (one earphone for each of us) and singing loudly and tunefully along to show tunes and random Hindi movies. At least, we sounded pretty tuneful to me.

When we got to Nashik, wouldn't you know? The hottest day in AGES. And the sun was super-sharp. We went to get something to eat and the sun kept burning the back of my calves. Pretty soon, Christine and I were both ready to collapse. "Let's go up to the Tasting Lounge and get a drink," I suggested and we limply made our way upstairs, where many other people had had the same idea. Once there, we got a Merlot (me, and no, Sideways hasn't put me off it) and Chenin Blanc (her. I've never been a white wine person, no matter what the weather. I can do rose in a pinch, but not white.) And then we people-watched for a while. Observation #1: People dress for vineyards as they would for Goa, so lots of short-shorts, flowy sundresses and so on. I was glad we dressed up.

The heat and wine got a bit too much for Christine so she decided to gently fade away on the couch. There was a couch! There was this huge tent in the middle, a little away from the bar at the festival and it was all decorated by Good Housekeeping and had a tarot reader, a caricature artist and a tattoo guy (fake tattoos). I sat and read a magazine to keep her company for a while but then I decided to go and check out the tarot. For those of you who didn't know, I've been reading tarot cards since I was about 14. I'm not professional, by any means, I do it for love, not cash, and I use a Guide To The Tarot to interpret, but I've gotten pretty good readings off my cards. So, I've never really had my cards read by anyone else. I told the tarot artist this (a young girl, a make-up artist who had been reading cards for like a year) and she got all sniffy with me, "Oh, you're one of THOSE. Why don't you just read your cards yourself?" I was a little bit taken aback and said I couldn't without my book and she felt a little better and said one question would be a hundred rupees. Wow. There's totally money to be made, and I'm not exploiting that! Hmmm. Maybe I SHOULD be doing my readings for money at bazaars and things. Anyway, so I asked about my engagement and whether things would go well, and she made me shuffle them and said, "Yes. But even better if you move somewhere else." So, yeah. There's my hundred rupee answer.

Finally, I got a little tired of sitting in the tent, which was shaded, but stifling, so I went for a walk and ran into some other friends. I got Christine up, and she seemed a little better so we chilled with them for a bit. By then, the music had started, and it was a little bit cooler, so off I went for a top-up of my merlot and we wandered to the top of the amphitheatre where we watched a lot of great bands and the sun setting. Something Relevant was my favourite, but the others were pretty good too, especially Shkabang where the lead singer did this version of You spin my head right round, right round which I loved. There were LOTS of people there, some famous, some not, but basically all of Bombay had decended. (See Miss Malini's very fun photoblog for pictures, plus one of my dress and red wine mouth.)

Anyhoo. We had to leave before the last band came on, because we were aiming to get back to Bombay by midnight. Everyone else we met seemed to be spending the night, which seems like a good option for next time. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE red wine. It never gives me a hangover the next day. And while sometimes wine at bars in Bombay can be old (and not in a good way) and nasty tasting, the wine at the festival was perfect. Wine as it should be drunk. Even though our horrible driver snarled at us, took a long dinner break halfway through and drove at the speed of light all the way home, I had a brilliant time. I think this should be a regular outing for me, and I wish other places would do it too.

A couple of quibbles I had though: 1) I think included in the price of the entry ticket (Rs 700) should be at least one glass of complimentary wine. I know Christine and I didn't have to pay for our tickets, so I was okay spending at the bar, but still. 2) The "food court" which was more a "food stall" with biryani, kebab (single piece per plate) and slices of pizza should definitely be expanded, 3) I think there should have been a sort of 'Sula Shuttle' with the vineyard organising buses that you could get on to at a price, which went back and forth and 4) Next year, I think a little earlier in the year, like January or early February would be the perfect weather, specially since it's all outdoors. Minor stuff though, and I'm sure they'll iron out the details eventually. But, if you have a chance, you should make a weekend of it. Nothing is as decandant as a day listening to music and drinking. Brilliant.

And if you're around Bandra on Friday, a friend of mine is organising an event at the salon Jean-Claude Biguine, on Chapel Road at 7.30 pm. Perks include complimentary wine and cheese, massages and a chance to buy a gift card and help out her NGO, Atma. Come! Details on Facebook here.


  1. I read my own cards too, and am sort of curious what she drew in answer to your question?

  2. You know, she didn't even do a layout, just got me to shuffle and then dealt the cards one on top each of other in front of her, so not sure what she was reading. Although the other day, I was cleaning up and found in an old book the card The Fool, which is always a good sign. :)

  3. Yup - The Fool is an exciting card! Though as with all the cards, depends on context. We should trade trusted layouts and tips sometime. :)

  4. Red wine doesn't give you hangovers? WHAT??? Like the biggest motherfucker hangovers ever. Lucky you. :o)) Still, I've just had a glass right now. It also makes me sing, which sort of makes up for the hangovers. Lalalalalala.

    One of the things I missed most when I lived in Delhi: nice, reasonably priced wine.

  5. I was there too and thought they should have limited the entertainment to wine related stuff and music...everything else just seemed so tacky!

    PS Loved the dress btw

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  7. Hey eM i've just recently started following your blog though i'd read the book like months back... all in all good the blog..loved the book....

  8. Heya eM! Saw your mention for Jean-Claude Event. They're launching in Kemps Corner this weekend. Would you like to come over? Will make sure its a blast. :)

    Awaiting your response!


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