Brazen from the beginning, the young Bombay-based blogger decided to call her internet journal "The Compulsive Confessor", issuing a titillating invitation to share even the most intimate details of her life.
In breezy postings, the 25-year-old girl-about-town –
Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan writes her Sex and the City-style blog under the pseudonym "EM", aware that although her material would not seem outrageous to a British audience, in
A senior Indian political leader recently denounced sex education as an evil that would "corrupt" children. Murli Manohar Joshi, the former minister for human resources development, said it would lead to an "immoral society".Although Madhaven's true identity is known among the chattering classes of Delhi and Bombay, on her blog she drops only tantalising clues: 5ft 3in tall, a Sagittarian "only child, from India's English-speaking/educated elite" who does "pretty much as I please, not hampered by my gender".even he has been called "slut" and "bitch" in comments posted on her blog, yet she cares little for traditional ideas about demure and submissive behaviour.
"There are people who love to hate you, just because you're a woman," she muses online. "Just because you write about going out and having fun because, 'God forbid an Indian woman should have any fun'.She chats boldly about trips to the gynecologist, swigging Bailey's from the bottle, and the phallic-shaped cake at a friend's hen night.Fittingly for a creature of the internet age, when EM recently found a boyfriend – whom she nicknamed "Volt" for his energy – she announced it first on Facebook, the social networking site."Volt" does not read her blog; nor would she want him to.
"He knows I've written about my past boyfriends, so I think it would be a bit awkward for him," she told The Sunday Telegraph. Does she worry that men might be put off by her explicit blog? "I suppose I'm aware of that, but if they're put off, that's their problem," she reflected. "It's who I am."Madhavan, a Delhi-born writer for a news magazine, Outlook, launched The Compulsive Confessor during a dull day at the office in 2004.While her critics grow daily more scandalised, her thousands of fans believe she is changing the face of modern Indian womanhood.
Her blog is among the most popular in India, receiving 400-500 hits a day, although only two per cent of India's 1.1?billion population have internet access.Unsurprisingly perhaps, the publisher Penguin India has commissioned Madhavan to write a semi-autobiographical novel, hoping she will rival the success of Candace Bushnell, the American author of Sex and the City, in giving voice to a new generation.
Her book, due out early next year, promises to be racier than previous Indian chick-lit novels, yet some Indians believe that will not help sales. A fellow blogger, who did not wish to be identified, said: "She has a dedicated following but I'm sure a lot are voyeuristic men seeking titillation. I find it a bit superficial myself."Meanwhile, Madhavan is apprehensive that news of her real identity will spread even further when the book is published, making it harder to be frank in her internet journal.
"It will be harder to write when you're no longer anonymous," she said.Will she carry on? "My blog is an integral part of my life but it's not my life," she said.
"I'd be upset if it vanished tomorrow, but I wouldn't be heartbroken." The Compulsive Confessor, it seems, is defiant to the last.