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 2011

Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself

I have been obsessed about one thing and one thing only in the last month, and that is the impending end of my twenties. Good decade. I've gone on about it in other posts, but this is it, the last two weeks that I have to be young and restless. Not that thirty is old, but some things have changed, most notably, my desire to go out has been replaced by a desire to stay in, under my quilt and read. That could just be winter speaking though. I do get extremely lazy in the wintertime. Which is odd, because, in the summer when it's hot and horrible, and everyone wants to stay in with their ACs on, I want to go out and party and live the life.

But they say you change the most in your twenties, possibly growing at a rate even faster than your teens. (Not physically growing, that ship sailed for me at sixteen, and I have been the same height ever since) This decade, I have reinvented myself at least three times, and sometimes, I feel a flashback to an older me, a reaction I forgot I used to have, that just crops up in moments of vulnerability, and I'm taken aback, I'm all, "Oh, right, I used to feel like that." What happens to old personalities? Do we fold them up and put them away among mothballs? Where are the mes that used to be? Maybe, like an onion, if I kept peeling layer after layer of myself off, I'd find the original me, the me I began with. On the other hand, the me that lurks closer to the surface is who I am now, for better or for worse, my personality has formed, and it's hard to break yourself of it. Not bad habits, them I'm constantly trying to eradicate: obsessing and overthinking and needing to be in control of situations and the more obvious ones: smoking and not getting enough exercise and indulging myself too much in the finer things of life.

It's also been a year since I moved back to Delhi, and I can't say I regret that decision. I miss Bombay, I think some part of me will always miss Bombay (but I'm not saying goodbye forever, I'm just saying goodbye for now) but on the other hand, it's been a good move. I'm getting lots of work, I have a large-ish flat,  I like the weather and the people I now know, and reconnecting with old friends, having standing dates with some of them, like we haven't done in years. And, as for Bombay, I have, what we'll call, a Good Thing going on right now, which means I have an excuse to go there every month. Not that I need an excuse, but still. It's nice. Said Good Thing is also nice; and when it's not happening in Bombay/Delhi, it's happening in other parts of the country or the WORLD, and that is so awesome.

Another nice side effect about moving back to Delhi which I hadn't considered in my original pro/con list was that I travelled a LOT this year. Having family here, and resources, meant that I could take off when I liked and it was just a lot easier, having someone pop by and check on the cat and the house and see that everything was running smoothly in my absence. This could've technically happened in Bombay too, but everyone's so busy there that you hate to ask your friends to drop in and see if everything's okay, and while my maid was great, I don't know if she had the work ethic to visit every. single. day while I was gone, which made me stress wherever I was. A lot of my stopovers, especially to the far flung South, were at Bombay airport, so I'd sit in the glass lounge, gazing out wistfully at the tarmac, wishing I was getting off there instead of wherever it was I was off to. Except in the monsoon season, of course. Then I was just like, "HAHA, SUCKERS!"

And now, I will leave you with some pictures from around my house, since I've turned into a homebody and haven't gone anywhere in the last two days. Okay, okay, 24 hours. But it's still a LONG time!

What're you drinking?

Picture of my liquor cabinet, that tequila bottle is about four years old now, and has had the same four shots left in it since I carted it back from Bombay. The Tia Maria behind it has become one of the things I actually drink, having recently learnt how to make White Russians. (They're good cocktails too.)

Flowers, vignette

Yearned after these flowers at Khan Market the other day and a very kind friend bought us both a bunch. I always think of Mrs Dalloway when I put out fresh flowers, but having flowers is like a fancy indulgence, it always makes me feel posh and rich and adult.

Flower lighting
That is a blackboard I bought, full of good intentions (me, ie, not the blackboard, though I'm sure if blackboards had intentions, this one would have good ones) that I'd have a to-do list up and little motivational quotes or pretty poems to look at, and yeah. I haven't updated it since I bought it. Oddly though, the haiku on it now is about flowers, and that sort of went with the flower lights across it, so at least it serves some purpose.

Statue and small green thing

My plants are doing well, thank you. I've only killed three and they're under the windowsill, dead stumps in pots, but otherwise, I think that's a pretty good success rate. I like dressing up this window too, when I'm writing I gaze off  to my right where all the plants are, and it helps me mull. It's one of TC's favourite spots AND I need some oxygen to fight all the cigarette smoke I put into the atmosphere. Win-win.


  1. Though I am way past my 20's, almost mid-thirties now...could relate to it coz facing kinda like a mid-life crisis where I feel the need to cling onto the past and yes, I guess I am in denial about my age as still act and like to do the things I did when I was in my 20s. Having a tough time accepting am finally old. :)

  2. This was a beautiful post. I'm in my 20's but the whole thing about your personality evolving, and suddenly rediscovering some facets of your old personality....this was so beautifully written.

  3. I've been 30 a few weeks now, and what I think marks the time for me is the weeks that preceded the big day - just feeling easier in my own head? It's new. I usually have to remind myself to forgive myself everyday. Does that make sense at all?

  4. Oh and i love the board and flowers with the haiku! Cold be a still staright from a Korean film about a zombie bride.

  5. Know the feeling about getting older but it ain't so bad, good to know you're taking it all in stride.

    And Im glad you finally discovered White Russians, Ive been extolling their virtues for ages and pretty sure I must have tried to convince you at some point as well! :D

    Nice pictures, that tequila bottles going to become like an heirloom isn't it!


  6. eM, after reading your post, i have been inspired to experiment with re-inventing myself. Thanks!

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  8. I know the feeling. Like your sliding down this really slippery slope and trying to dig your heels in but NOTHING can stop you!

    Ah a fellow plant killer. Children giften with Black Thumbs according to my mum. I have cut flowers which have lasted longer than potted flowers.

  9. Stumbled on this blog, while searching for favorite Indian blogs. You write very nicely. Your articles give a different point of view. Good luck.

  10. great. Your blog has a different perspective. just stumble on your blog.

  11. That whole personality bit was really cool, I never thought of it that way before, but now yeah I wonder where all the old mes went. I'd like to meet some of the younger ones and reassure them, and give the older ones some perspective!
    And I'm a summers person too, can't do winters!


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