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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15 November 2010

Falling in love at a coffee shop

I am writing this at The Market Cafe, in Khan Market. It’s not yet so cold in Delhi that you need to bundle up, but the sharp sunshine is dulling into soft gold, not hot, but warm-ish, the kind you stretch your neck out into, the kind that is good for sitting just a little while, lingering over coffee. I can still order cold coffee, though, it’s not quite yet the weather where your body craves only warm things. In fact, I’m sipping my cold coffee right now, exceptionally nice coffee, which is a good thing to remember for future reference.


Delhi during my favourite time of the year. What a perfect time to pick to move back, say my friends, and I smirk, like the idea’s entirely original. Delhi during the early winter is the kind of city you show off, proudly. Look, look, what I have. Don’t you wish you had it too?  We are proud of our city bathed in winter mist, we’re proud that we can have New York style, but not New York coldness, we are proud of the monuments that pop out every now and then, and proud of our people, because everyone’s in a better mood during the winter. Notice how easily I slip back into ‘we’ and ‘our’. Does anything ever change? Yes, some things do, I find myself unable to navigate the streets anymore. Often, I look up, and I’m confused about what neighbourhood I’m in, how I’ll get home from here. Apparently, my mind only has space for one map at a time, and right now, that map is Bombay. I search everywhere for the Bandra I’ve left behind, and Khan Market is almost the perfect substitute. For example, no one blinks an eyelid at the way I’m dressed (which, okay, it’s cold. I’m fairly conservative today), or if I light a cigarette. Also, I appear to be the only Indian person here. Except now, my Works From Home Companion, Nayantara, has shown up and we are all cosmopolitan, with our laptops and our typing and our Mexican food.


My little apartment, that I have christened The Hole In The Wall, is also shaping up quite well. When I began to live there, it was spartan. No joke. I had a mattress and a mat, an old fridge and that’s about it. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to pack my coffee machine in my suitcase, because that is one luxury I cannot do without. Also, my cat. Poor old TC. He’s never faced so much excitement in all his young life. First, I shoved a sedative down his throat, bundled him into his carrier and flew him to Delhi. I felt terrible, especially because of the looks he kept giving me, but what was I to do? People kept asking me as I left, “What are you going to do with your cat?” which I thought was quite a weird question. Uh, take him with me? And then, their looks of surprised admiration and pleasure! The fact that people are surprised that you choose to carry on being with your pet. He’s not a fridge, or an old outfit. He’s mine and I’m his, and together, we’re partners. Why would anyone get an animal if it’s a just for now thing? Unless you can assure yourself that your pet will go to someone who loves them just as much as you do, I think it’s very selfish to just dump them when it’s inconvenient for you.


Now, I’ve shifted locations. Khan Market on the whole seems to be having some trouble with their wi fi connections. Lucky for me, as of this morning, I have Tata Photon +, which so far, I’m super impressed by. Unlimited, they’ve promised me, with no hidden costs. It sounds too good to be true, so I’m just going to wait and watch. Back to TC. He’s now fully recovered from his move and struts around The Hole In The Wall, much like he used to strut in my old apartment. It is his, this apartment, and he knows it. Only, it may not justify the Hole In The Wall tag for much longer. My mum and I have gone a little bit crazy decorating. The mattress on the floor has been replaced by a queen sized bed with an eight inch thick mattress. It’s beautiful, my bed. It’s wrought iron, which I had painted white, and the mattress alone made me sleep the sleep of the innocent for close to twelve hours last night. A bed makes all the difference. That, and the internet. A mirror followed soon after (all these the spoils of the cheap furniture markets in Panchkuian Road and Amar Colony), it’s zig zag and retro funky and full length, painted pillar box red, a colour I love. A smaller mirror, distressed green with flowers painted on is in what I’m going to call the living room/study, along with a couple of floor cushions from Fab India. I also got some new light fixtures (the place just had some bulbs, sticking out of the wall) from Fab India, one blue denim, the other yellow paper with flowers. Tonight, a set of small armchairs arrive, done in Chinese-y looking fabric, green and gold, to match a collapsible antique Chinese chest which will be here next week and will serve as a coffee table/seating/storage space. All this bounty for under Rs 20,000. Empty apartments are depressing at first, but SO much fun to work with!


Clearly, I have a lot more to say, but I’m not going to inflict it all upon you at the same time. Let this be the first of many instalments, now with my internet up and running again, I have no excuses.


  1. uff the suspense! I hope Delhi doesnt make s Stepford Wife of you yet. Eyebrows up at the Housewife tag!

  2. You're back! And How!

    I'm so happy you carried TC to Delhi. Now, you have to write some more, of course. :)

  3. Starting over is sooooo much more fun roight??? ;)

    kicka ass!!!!!

  4. Beautiful post. It's funny because I'm moving back to Delhi too next week. Though relocations, and new beginnings are kinds stressful for me! Though I am looking forward to my Dilli, so crazy, and so beautiful!! So now that you're in Delhi do you plan to have more writing workshops, because this time I can totally make it??

  5. You make it sound so dreamy; you and your cat! Nice.

  6. fading sun-light. retreating days. Delhi, yes, I fall in love with this city, as it is getting time for me to leave.

    Hmm. Delhi.

  7. I'm so jealous! Delhi is where I should be, especially in the winter.

  8. Your hole-in-the wall sounds lovely. Do put up some pictures, everything you have described makes me sooooo want to see! I loved your description of the furniture and lights and cushions.. pleeeeeeeeease show!

  9. I am missing delhi so bloody much right now...

  10. Finally! What a beautiful post, the way you've described Delhi this time of the year.

    And it's really sad that people get rid of their pets without giving it much thought. In Goa, you often see petrified little kittens in the fish market, who've simply been left there - and the people who leave them like that go home with a clean conscience thinking that at least they'll get some food to eat. They don't even factor in the fact that these kittens are being flung into an environment and life that they know nothing about. Not to mention that a pack of stray dogs doesn't take well to cats. I'm so glad you wrote about this.

    Congrats on settling in (in style, that too) and looking forward to more posts soon :)

  11. Having a posh address like Khan market in itself means a lot, Don't cha think? :)
    Does the city make you nostalgic?
    I am planning to shift base to Bombay, but man, you can't take Delhi out of your system. It has a character of its own!!
    And we welcome you here in Delhi.

  12. Part where you are in Khan Market was nothing short of melodious. Beautifully painted.
    I am not much of a pet guy but yet nicely done.

    This one for our Delhi. Welcome back. :)

  13. Yeah! see!! (I told-you-so look)
    Delhi is so haunting n yet so warm n friendly in winters.
    Though its my home n yet had it not been, by virtue of its winters I would have labeled it as so!

    besides, lovely description of furniture. I also want a red dressing table!! Have never seen such a piece anywhere.
    would go to markets mentioned.

    Enjoy the chill onset (its raining..!!).

  14. Is it weird that you moving to Delhi makes me feel like I moved with you too, even though I am far away in a small college campus in America.

    I come to this blog everyday, to know what lovely Em is upto. This blog makes me smile even when I have the worst blues.

    P.S: You're fab! And I confess I sometimes, okay a lot of the times, throw around your quotes as mine and sound all.. intelligent and chic :P

  15. its just amazing how exciting someone could make the shifting from mumbai to delhi....every word of the write up was a smooth flow of a river in lost in its own melodies..guess i was lost in that melody too...
    yes delhi is beautiful is this season...the colors of the markets, the food stuffs like bhajji,chats have special fun during these times...
    hope hole in the wall prospers and flourishes with time and you have a wonderful stay....

  16. pictures pictures pictures please! and now that you're back i'm sure we'll bump into each other even if I dont manage to trek from gurgaon to see you.
    welcome home.. love the way you write about Delhi. its exactly the way i feel about it too.

  17. That is such a beautiful description of Delhi. It makes me want to visit the city.

  18. I finally managed to get your new book from dear old Delhi, next book plan a global launch!

    And I missed out on Khan Market this time, yes its an up market classy place no doubt


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