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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29 November 2010

Don’t be alarmed if I fall head over feet

So, in cleaning up, I find this note in an old journal:


January 2nd, 2007

bye bye, Delhi, bye bye

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road. (en route to mumbai, a little nervous). Looking down upon the city of my youth, I feel as though suddenly I am giving up the same youth, that I’m finally ready to be grown up. And then, battling with that is the very childish desire to burst into tears, to go back to being two feet high and knowing that my mum would always be around to look out for me.

I should be more excited, surely. This is the departure I’ve always dreamed of, the spreading of my wings at last, the blaze of glory into the sun. (icarus flew too near the sun and crash landed.) Across from my window I can see an orange pink sunset. I wish, I wish… what? That I could go home? Be the same person forever while other people say goodbye and hello and goodbye again? Nooooo, I think not. I know within my gut that this is the right thing to do—it FEELS right, clicking into my soul the way only good decisions do.

But already I am nervous, dying for a smoke, fidgety with all the gentle butterflies in my stomach eaten by a pit of writhing snakes.

What will it be like not to know anyone or any roads or have an opinion about things to do or not know the history I have taken for granted?

Goodbye, goodbye, my beautiful city.

And this comes at a fortuitous time, this discovery of an old note, written what seems like a lifetime ago. This week, even though I’ve been having fun, even though people are great, I’ve been plagued with homesickness. I close my eyes and dream of the streets I know, the people I like, I dream about my phone going off, people who want to see me, I dream about WTF and Den and Blue Frog (which I hear is opening up in Delhi soon.) Would I swap my Saturday night—watching a Sufi performance at the Old Fort, dinner at the Naga Kitchen, a house party—for a Saturday night “back home”? To quote my younger self: Noooo, I think not. But I am more than a little tormented, divided into two. On the one hand, I am having a great time, on the other, I miss being “familiar”. It took me four years in Bombay to be the person I am today, and I feel like right now I’m erasing history. Starting anew is a bit scary, isn’t it?


Today, I turned up Dave Mathews on my new speakers, and danced around the house till I was out of breath and panting. I was… happy. I realised I was carefree and content, in a way I haven’t been in a long time. But twilight is always the hardest time. Some people say 3 am is their time of melancholy, for me it’s just as afternoon drifts into the evening, the sky violet and orange, this is when I am saddest, this is when I long to hold on to things to reassure myself that I am still me.  I haven’t reached the wise age of 28 and a half (okay, 28 and 11 months) without knowing some truths. And the biggest truth in this case is this: you can’t get anywhere if you’re dependent on other people. I shouldn’t need my friends to make me happy, hell, I shouldn’t even need a plan to make me happy. Happiness is what you make yourself. This is what I have come to Delhi to learn. (But, but, says the small voice inside my head, I’m so lonely.  And I tell it to suck it up and deal. This is our life now, honey. This is what we have, and now we figure shit out.)


Luckily, I am someone who has experience with homesickness. It’s happened before, and I’m sure it’ll happen again. I just have to ride it out. In Bombay, it took me three months, more recently, in the UK, it took me a couple of weeks, and now, I’m lucky that I have old friends here, familiar faces and my family and things I care about. Just. Riding it out. That’s all.


  1. "Happiness is what you make yourself." That's so true. I wish it were easier to put into action.
    I totally agree with you about the twilight thing. It used to happen to me too. It's weird how the concept of home keeps changing within us. It's got so little to do with actual geography.
    Lovely, thought-provoking post :)

  2. This is a lovely post! To discover old notes stuck to dairies is always a surprise for me too! Brings back the memories of times so different from now, yet, so close to the heart.

  3. Throw in a alien country with a alien language and I know exactly how you're feeling. Home is what we make for ourselves; emotionally, physically and mentally... and then being able to sit down and look out and smile, even if your alone. Happiness is sure to follow then.

  4. you can’t get anywhere if you’re dependent on other people.

    needed that. love the post.

  5. felt like reading an indian version of satc. only there are two cities for carrie to brag about :p

  6. okay! where would the similarities end?
    left my hometown in 2007 for not so homely adventures. n now am back home.
    age also smwhat similar :P

    though am nowhere in my professional life vis-a-vis you!
    and your posts are an inspiration to keep going with interesting things in life!

    Keep up!

  7. "But, but, says the small voice inside my head, I’m so lonely. And I tell it to suck it up and deal. This is our life now, honey. This is what we have, and now we figure shit out."

    Oh, I can so relate to that!!! You're such a trooper.

  8. i'm lonely too. let's be lonely together.

  9. Homesickness is switching to marlboro lights from classic milds,to packaged red tea from Darjeeling brew.

  10. Ah..Ai am coming back after about a year I guess.Writing is well on its way back to hitting the nice old flow you had circa '08..( Maybe its the break up...You seem to thrive on turmoil, put cruelly)

    All luck on your move to Delhi, my friend. May 2011 herald the return of the one who strted it all..!

  11. precise and hits the spot. thank you for reassuring me that I was not the only one thinking that way.

  12. f**k. i think i needed to hear that line. you cant get anywhere if you're dependent on other people. welcome back CC. this post read well and felt good.

  13. It's so frustratingly difficult to leave some place. There's the discontent of the exile, and the memories, o god, the memories. I've moved myself, possibly permanently, out of the country, and I don't miss it all that often, I'm not sadistic enough to miss pain. But there are golden afternoons I remember, with a lake shimmering and its green water reflected in the scorched whiteness of an apartment three hundred feet from it, gin, nicotine and time passed.
    I miss the sunsets you get in India. The way the sun turned into a fireball and then faded into a skinned orange transcending the sky was so achingly beautiful. Delhi in winter has such a pleasantly violet and faded scarlet haze at twilight. In New England it's just a dead satin sky.
    Ride it out, it's your call. I just hope you can be happy sometime, whatever that means. At times it's worth to live just because it's life. At times.

  14. I am in Delhi too. Winter is relief its not summer, fashionable, depressing, everything. I loved those lines.They help me suck it up and deal.Great post!

  15. Reading through your posts. Extremely fresh with a devil may care attitude thrown in for good measure. Liked a lot. :)

  16. I am reading your blog for the first time, because a friend shared a post with me. I started browsing through it, and I love your honesty!
    This blog specially is something I relate to, and I feel, but I am not sure if I can ever be so candid to tell the world my story!


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