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



Sign up for my newsletter: The Internet Personified

17 September 2021

Today in Photo


🎶It's the same old thing, we did last week, Not a thing to do, but talk to you. 🎶 Inadvertently (or not?) 70s today made extra with my new spectacle frames. Why am I making this face? I have no idea. Hanging at a friend's house with nothing to do because everyone is "on a call" so great time to post vanity pictures of myself. #glasseshalffull #spectacleofmyself #throughaglassdarkly

via Instagram

16 September 2021

Today in Photo


New newsletter is out! This week I interviewed myself from ten years ago to figure out why we were over Delhi. Link in bio, swipe to see excerpts! #theinternetpersonified #newsletter #delhiiloveyoubutyourebringingmedown

via Instagram

15 September 2021

The Internet Personified: An interview with Me from the Past

Beloved lauki blossoms,

I feel like the subject of my newsletter today, i.e., why I am over Delhi, is going to piss some people off, including me from ten years ago, so let me preemptively say that this is really about me and my relationship with the city I call home, nothing personal, no shade on your choices. As I get older, I find myself wanting to exist more and more in a world where what I say is really only about me and not anyone else, and I think social media, especially Twitter, has ruined this. Time was you could have your own opinion and other people could have theirs, and you’d roll your eyes at them if you disagreed but this active hate for anyone who is not in your own particular Venn diagram, that’s just ten years old.

Why would it make me-from-ten-years-ago angry though? I decided to ask.

James Mcavoy Lol GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Present Day Me (PDM): Hi, 29-year-old Meenakshi, thanks for being on my podcast!

Past Me (PM): Er, what’s a podcast?

PDM: Okay, no, podcasts were actually a thing way back in 2004, so you should know this. Nice try though, trying to make me feel old.

PM: Hah, you are old though. You had how many drinks last night?

PDM: *mumbles* Three.

PM: Three! And you still have a hangover? I had like eight and I am fine.

PDM: Look. This is not supposed to be a conversation about how amazing life was at twenty nine.

PM: Hey, my life is pretty great. I have a decent job, a nice flat, a beloved cat and I just started dating someone new and amazing.

PDM: The good news is you’re still with that amazing man! Yay!

PM: Wait… what about the rest of it?

PDM: Amazing man! Yay!

PM: My cat is dead, isn’t he.

PDM: He was sick for a very long time. Oh, but you have new cats. They’re very nice.

PM: Are they though

PDM: They’re great cats.

PM: I’m really depressed now and I don’t want to talk any more.

PDM: Wait! I wanted to ask you something specific. Why do you love Delhi?

PM: Why do I love Delhi? I mean… it’s home isn’t it?

PDM: That’s what I’ve been saying for ten years now, and I want us to go a little deeper into it. What makes it home?

PM: Well, we grew up here.

PDM: And that means we have to stay?

PM: I guess not, but it’s been nice to feel rooted, like we have a connection to someplace.

PDM: We felt rooted in Bombay as well, didn’t we, before we left?

PM: Yeah, but Bombay never belonged to us in the way Delhi does.

PDM: Does Delhi belong to us? Oh, I know, it’s familiar, we know the roads, the ins and outs of traffic, but we spent our whole childhood pretending to be North Indian so we’d fit in more. We hid away our food because some kids would mock us saying “Ai yi yo, idli sambhar.” We referred to our grandparents as our “Naana and Naani.” We dropped Telugu completely from our list of languages and didn’t even bother to start Malayalam. And since our Hindi was always average at best compared to everyone else, we dropped that too, and now we only speak one language. One language! Delhi did this to us.

PM: We did this to us. How long are you going to go on blaming the city?

PDM: Breathing troubles much?

PM: Uh, escaping from your troubles much?

PDM: Look, they’re constructing a house next door to us, and every morning, no matter how late I go to bed, I wake up to that gnnnnNARRRRGNNNNN of a drill at 8 am. It’s a constant soundtrack. This colony we moved into…

PM: We moved?

PDM: Yeah, to a small green colony that used to be all single story houses and birdsong in the evening.

PM: I’ve never even heard of it.

PDM: And you won’t for three years, but my point is there’s no escaping! Someone described our neighbourhood as “one of the last secret green places in South Delhi” and the secret’s out.

PM: People have to live somewhere.

PDM: Well, the colony infrastructure can’t take so many people.

PM: Wow. Where are the socialist ideals you love to toss around at parties? It’s okay for everyone to sacrifice but not at the expense of your discomfort?

PDM: *sputters* It would be okay if these high rises were going to, like, social housing or something but it’s just the same rich Delhi douchebags--

PM: Like you.

PDM: Worse! At least I don’t have the same sense of entitlement.

PM: Or you’re just still afraid of confrontation. Listen, I hear you. But tell me you’d be like 100 per cent thrilled by your “quiet green colony” or whatever becoming a social housing project.

PDM: You know in Berlin, social housing is everywhere.

PM: Oh yeah? In your new neighbourhood?

PDM: There’s a very famous squat just down the road.

PM: And there you go, about to gentrify the neighbourhood.

PDM: Look, I know you’re not that interested in talking about how fucked up capitalism is yet, so why even pretend. Let’s get back to why we say we love Delhi.

PM: The food? The people? Our lovely big flat for low low rents? The sense of--

PDM: Oh do not say “the sense of history.”

PM: What? It’s true!

PDM: Come on, you’re clinging on to something you thought about when we were nineteen and thought we were so deep.

Nineteen-year-old me: HEY! I AM SO DEEP.

PDM & PM: GO AWAY!

PDM: Look, I’ll give you the food. We miss it in Berlin. We’ve learned to cook, but it’s not the same. But we’ve never been massive foodies, so while we like good food, obviously, it doesn’t make our decisions for us.

PM: Bombay had terrible food.

PDM: It did! They couldn’t even do a decent penne arrabiata let alone a kebab roll.

PM: Kari patta in everything, even the rajma.

(Everyone from Bombay sends me angry emails/unsubscribes en masse.)

PDM: See, and we still loved Bombay.

PM: People though. You can’t replace them.

PDM: No, I can’t. But a weird thing has happened these last ten years. People began to make families, to shrink into smaller units, to move away. Our life has been scattered. We’re moving with our person, and our cats. We’ll miss everyone, especially our parents and our closest dearest friends, but we can’t keep treading water while everyone else swims laps.

PM: *mutters* Our new replacement cats.

PDM: And we haven’t seen a lot of people over the last year and a half anyway.

PM: Why, what happened in the last year and a half?

PDM: Oh boy.

Share


I hope you enjoyed that. As you can see, I have absolutely no good reason for being over Delhi, except that I am. I mean, as a couple who have chosen to not have children, it’s important that we shake things up every now and then, just so we’re not the same people, sitting in the same house, living the same life, over and over again. Where is the challenge? Where is the excitement? While for some people, the idea of a settled life is comforting and the dream, for us, it feels stifling.

Then too there’s the fact that I seem to be living my life slower than other people. My friends went, did their years (or five) abroad, returned, got married, are living good lives. Mine is in reverse, giving up the good life in exchange for newer pastures. Choosing discomfort and excitement over comfort and ordinariness.

Shermans Showcase Change GIF by IFC

Meanwhile I am having a whale of a time in Delhi (here for the next three or four weeks). I’ve gotten a lot of clothes made at my brilliant local tailor, updated my glasses prescription and met friends and hung with my mum, and eaten a lot, and spent time alone in my flat, the last time I’ll be doing that here. (K stayed back in Germany but is arriving tonight.) (I hate to say “last,” so I’ll say “for the forseeable future.”) I got a haircut, and finally, for the first time in my adult life, got bangs, which I’ve always wanted but was told my “face was too small for.” I hired a temporary maid, which is a great and incredible luxury, except I’m finding I prefer to be a lazy housewife (housespouse?) and do everything myself slowly rather than give someone instructions. The instruction-giving seems to sap more of my energy than actually doing a thing, so weird. I guess it’s lucky I’m moving to Berlin where there will be no maid and only us and our pigsty.


Oh, I almost forgot! My reunification with my cats was just as loving (on my side) and anticlimatic (on theirs) as you’d expect. Olga is delighted, Squishy is like “Olga happy so Squishy also happy” and Bruno has been avoiding me except when there’s food involved so all is status quo. I have a feeling they’re going to sulk mightily when they are relocated but I also know (okay, I think. I hope?) they love us enough that our presence will make up for this small upheaval in their lives.


If you liked this newsletter (or any of my newsletters!) please buy me a coffee! Tips are great and encouraging that I am doing something right here.

Buy Me A Coffee


Links I Liked (A bit thin on the ground this edition, apologies)

That’s all I got! Have a great week!

xx

m

Vintage 80S GIF

Where am I? The Internet Personified! A mostly weekly collection of things I did/thought/read/saw that week.

Who are you? Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, writer of internet words (and other things) author of seven books (support me by buying a book!) and general city-potter-er.

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. (Plus my book recommendation Instagram!)

Got sent this newsletter? Sign up here to subscribe!

Forward to your friends if you liked this and to thirty nine, kicking your butt each time you drink more than ONE cocktail if you didn’t.

Also, write back to me! I love to hear from you.

Today in Photo


Another! (only two to go and they are cold weather things: a kimono style shrug made with orange and saffron brocade and a satin ajrak dress, so you won't see either of them on on this trip.) I'm particularly pleased with how this turned out because it isn't a copy or a picture, it's something I sort of designed myself. Well, only sort of. Took inspo as the kids say from a strappy low cut brocade cocktail dress from the 60s and added puffed sleeves that roll up and button. Puffed sleeves are everywhere right now by the way, and of course, I keep thinking of Anne of Green Gables. Also raised the neckline slightly and made the back square. I'm serving Sandra from Bandra going to Sunday mass. All in all, delighted. I'll think of Delhi and this rainy September whenever I wear them next. #whatiworetoday #tailormade

via Instagram

12 September 2021

Today in Photo


People keep saying to me "you look more and more like your mother as you age" and even though I can't usually see it, I can in this photo. In another custom made dress, my tailor actually screwed this up by swapping the design and the fabric I had intended for each but it still turned out so nice! I love the patridges. This is very thin cotton so will not be a winter dress, but loose enough to wear over a tight sweater for some extra styling. 📸 @shortpantsromance background interiors @sambhwmck #whatiworetoday #tailormade

via Instagram

10 September 2021

Today in Photo


Was super excited to start wearing my new tailored dresses but was waiting for a slightly cooler day (and air conditioning) for this one. I'm having a bunch made so I don't have to walk around a German winter looking as blah as I will inevitably feel, I'm told, after several months of barely seeing the sun. Fun! Why am I doing this again? 😬 ANYHOO this is a poly blend cotton I think (my mum got me machine washable thick material from Hyderabad) which I used an older Anokhi dress as inspiration, shortened the skirt and added the border as stripes on the side (well OK also because we ran out of material). I love it! I'm really going to miss this guy but never mind, next time I'm back I will go forth again. Meanwhile eyeing this ugly blue silk sari I have, wondering if I should cut it up into pants and a jacket. What do you think? #whatiworetoday #tailormade

via Instagram

8 September 2021

Today in Photo


Lol didn't take long. But no seriously sing it, it's fun! #poetry

via Instagram

7 September 2021

Today in Photo


Obsessed with my new haircut. Swipe to see photo dump of how long my hair was, and with my stylist for oh, fifteen years? @wu.martina is the only person I trust with my hair. (and now I'm leavingggg sob sob) I used to hate having curly hair, it always stuck out, always looked so messy compared to everyone else's but I'm realising that with hair like mine I have so many more options about the kind of cut I want so I keep changing it up every few years. My first time with bangs! And I wanted BIG hair like a halo (which actually it is this morning, I look like the lead singer of a 70s cover band.) what a fun way to go back to Berlin. Funny how a haircut can make you feel so many different things. #delhidiary #hairtoday #curlygirl

via Instagram

4 September 2021

Today in Photo


Spending time with the grandkits. #catsofinstagram #mothers

via Instagram

1 September 2021

Today in Photo


Well, I'm off. Wrote a swift newsletter about money and life which is linked in my bio. Bye German summer! Hello Delhi monsoon (I've been hearing news of rain)! Read read, tell me your thoughts etc. I'll write again soon. #newsletter #theinternetpersonified #minnaindeutschland #berlinstories

via Instagram