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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17 January 2022

Today in Photo

Some photos from the History of Berlin exhibition we went to this weekend. Very interactive as you can see. There I am dancing with my headphones in a "club" (the closest I will get to dancing in an actual club for some time sigh) a "grave" burying the once low rents of Kreuzberg, which was an actual installation once in the centre of that area, a nice little layout of what to wear if you want to get into Berghain (again someday) and some stickers, because I like stickers. Very fun. I'll take you when you come. #historyofberlin #humboldtforum #dancingqueen

via Instagram

15 January 2022

Today in Photo

Very cool bar just 350 metres from our flat, very cool (and authentic!) Chinese restaurant just a ten minute walk away. We've been super lazy about exploring because it's cold and more expensive than staying in and it's just so COMFY at home in pajamas but no more! Pledging to go out and have a nice new time once a week if possible in these covid ridden times. Good date night and also someone at the next table was like "can I ask how old you are?" and I said "forty" and she's like "nooo you look 29 AT MOST" (Lighting was dim also but STILL.) I am delighted. Must always leave the house so I can collect more compliments. #urbanexplorer #berlinna

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12 January 2022

Today in Photo

Have been super busy with, well, LIFE I guess and then I started language classes again so here's an accurate portrayal of how I've been spending my evenings. Cats, cooking and rewatching Grey's Anatomy which has not lost any of its shine despite my many years away from it. No deaths only sex in the first two seasons which is refreshing especially when you consider how unlucky that hospital is with constant disaster. Newsletter as soon as I'm able to form sentences again. #catcuddles #blackcatsareawesome #squishythecat

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4 January 2022

Today in Photo

New newsletter out and a photo of K and Squishy to grab your interest and make you swipe for excerpts! 😁 Link in bio #newsletter #theinternetpersonified #lifeinberlin

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3 January 2022

The Internet Personified: Just your basic (update) bitch

Happy New Year, my most beloved companions!

I’m not going to bore you with my new year resolutions: honestly, I keep seeing them blazing fresh and new across platforms: people tweeting them, Instagramming them, sending me long newsletter intros about them, and you know I will always be like, “Cool, that’s not going to last” because I am a cynic. I like to here about resolutions one or two months later, when your goal to say eat a different salad every day or finally start that kitchen garden has got some steam under it, so I can see results, not just wishful thinking. I also think that any time is a good time to start a resolution: January 1st or April 15th, who cares, just do that new thing and enjoy yourself in doing it.

New Year Cat GIF by Susanne Lamb

I just re-read that paragraph and I also want to tell you that I’m not the Resolution Police, don’t worry, I frequently do things other people think are boring, so go ahead and post those resolutions in the first week of January and who cares what I think.

In Berlin, it is warm and rainy. Not warm-warm, you understand, just warmer than it was the day we went for a long walk in Lichtenfeld (or -berg, one of those is close to us, one of those is a 40 minute drive away, we did the drive one). It was December 26th, what the Brits call Boxing Day (because it was the day the landed gentry gave presents to their servants IN BOXES so of course they had to name it after themselves) and what the Germans call second Christmas.

(Christmas in Germany starts on December 24th, where you decorate a tree and open your presents, then December 25th where you eat a big goose type lunch or dinner and then December 26th where you go and visit friends. There’s a church visit on the 24th as well, and I think most people eat fish or some sort of fasting food on that day. Santa Claus here is the Weihnnachtmann (literally: Christmas Man) who leaves presents, St Nicholas himself has his own day on December 5th when he leaves small sweets and toys for children. This year, I was struck for the first time how creepy the whole Santa legend is: he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows whether you’ve been bad or good etc. I started singing you better not shout, you better not cry in a creaky horror movie voice, but no, seriously, a strange man knows you and the ages and interests of your children, comes into your house at night and leaves little presents to show he’s been there. Down the chimney, no less. There’s a murder mystery waiting to happen.) (Of course, a quick Google of creepy Santa or something will probably show that Hollywood got there before I did, but still, creepy!)

Colin Raff christmas weird xmas creepy GIF

This Boxing Day was minus eight degrees. Now Delhi gets plenty cold, I wore ski pants indoors for all of December 2020 and January 2021, going swish-swish-swish around the house and elsewhere. (They’re warm and flattering! Decathlon in Delhi has nice ski wear including the puffy down jacket that you can wear with just a t-shirt inside when the temperature’s low but not so low. Cheap too.) However, -8 was something else. Pretty soon my feet turned into blocks of ice I could barely move despite my thick soles and warm socks because the ground was so icy it travelled through them. I am inordinately fond of these boots, I bought them with some birthday money my parents gave me, and even more pleased because I set out with a budget of 200 euros for good boots and found a pair I loved for 35, so I tossed in fancy cashmere merino socks as a side treat. (Later, I bought fleece insoles to line them and now not even icy grounds give me pause from clumping all over them.)

It started raining soon after that, so my enduring memories of Berlin this winter are wet ones. Because it’s rainy, the temperature’s gone up—weird because in Delhi when it rains in the winter it suddenly gets colder—and when we went ice skating on the 30th, a first for me, the rink was already dripping. Ice skating is a lot harder than it looks, but I dismissed this truism with a wave of my hand. After all, hadn’t I been a champion at roller skating when I was four or five? I never once fell down, and I didn’t ice skating either, but probably because I skated very close to the inner guard rail, beloved by all beginner skaters, because you can just hold on to it for dear life and move your feet very slowly. You soon learn to move your feet sideways, like a crab, to get any momentum at all, but the ice is a lot slipperier than I expected, I mean, I don’t know what I expected, it was all very new, but people went swish-swish around me, and I held K’s hand and let go of the guard rail and actually managed some speed by the end, which was fun, like one of those dreams where you’re not exactly flying but you’re running so gracefully and so hard, you’re floating above the ground. People skated with great speed through the puddles on the ice, so it was a good thing we wore our ski pants, everyone else was soaked. It gently rained through all of this so my hat was sodden and whatever was exposed of my hair stuck to my face, but you get so warm doing this that it doesn’t matter.

ice skating schaatsen GIF by Videoland

I wanted to tell you about our apartment, which I already love, so you can picture me here in it, writing to you. It’s in a new building, new for Berlin that is, because this area (East Berlin) got heavily shelled during the war, so not many old buildings remain. Which means our ceilings are low, our floors are linoleum but we have super insulated windows and even with the heating off, we stay warm as toast. This also means it’s so quiet that when Olga da Polga starts off her six am “where’s my breakfast” song, it echoes around the house and shakes us awake like a very irritating alarm clock. (Earplugs as soon as the shops open tomorrow. German supermarkets and pharmacies and so on are all closed on Sundays and public holidays, so since yesterday was January 1st and a Saturday, and Friday was a half day for New Year’s, we’ve been without groceries since Thursday. This is okay, because we had enough staples to feed ourselves, but have now run out.) (The second thing about our house you should know is that it came so unfurnished that there’s no fridge and the one we liked and bought on Amazon still has not given us a delivery date because they ran out of workmen over Christmas and of course no one is working this week. So all our food has gone into my study, a small enclosed balcony which closes so we can leave the window open there. This was all very well and good in our -8 days, but now it’s too warm for anything to last very long, so we’ve turned vegetarian in self-defence, but even the tofu I put in Thai green curry yesterday was tasting a little extra fermented. This also means I’m not doing any writing until the fridge arrives, unless I write here on the dining table.) The house is also so insulated that we can smell the cats’ poop as soon as it leaves their little anuses, great for fast clean up, not so great when you have a friend over and the two of you wrinkle your noses at the same time as it hits you. (Hah, my friends who are reading this are now reconsidering coming to visit, but we—and I mean K, I do nothing—do clean it as soon as we smell it, so twice or thrice a day at this point.)

The kitchen might be my favourite part: it’s so large and while the house came unfurnished to the point of no cupboards or light fixtures, the lady who lived here before had a passion for kitchen cabinets it seems, and suddenly we have so much storage in that room that we could put one different thing in each drawer and still have plenty of space. This building belongs to one of those faceless corporations but our landlady bought it in some savings scheme she had, and for many years it was rented out at rent control prices to one woman who lived here alone and then with her caretaker when she got too old to look after herself. The caretaker finally had her shifted to a home because of dementia and all her belongings went with her except for some elaborate china: tens of saucers, little espresso cups, fancy gold rimmed tea cups, a whole tea set in fact. I never learnt her name, so I’ve named her Ursula, and with this naming I feel a lot closer to her as I use her cups and wipe down the counters she installed. It reminds me in that sense of another old lady whose house we rented, in Goa.

Our bed is also wonderful, we were sleeping for a while on just piles of carpet. Every morning we woke up with sore backs and stiff necks. K found the bed frame on eBay Kleinanzeigen which is a German subset of the regular eBay, just for second hand things. Note: we also found our flat through listings on this same eBay, so it’s a super useful platform. Almost all our house—except for the furniture K’s parents brought up in a trailer—is second hand things off eBay and in some cases, off the road, like our shoe cabinet someone left outside to be carted away, already tagged with graffiti. Outside our building, every day someone leaves a new empty ceramic plant pot to be taken by whoever fancies it, we have picked one up each time we see it, so now we have more pots than plants, but they’re all so pretty, I can imagine them full! Anyway—the bed. We bought a really expensive mattress to go on it, and it was worth it, I’m sleeping better than I have in ages (apart from Olga’s morning shouts), it’s so soft and comforting.

itsrach cat cats sassy puss GIF

The rest of the house, well… it’s coming along. The living room is mostly done thanks to K’s parents furniture, including a dining table with four chairs and a wide soft sofa and two armchairs. The bathroom needs a cabinet to be complete. K’s study/guest bed still needs the most things, and in our bedroom I still need more shelves for all of my clothes and sundries, but we got three DIY shelves from a hardware store (meant for gardens and toolsheds but they do for clothes right now, and I think I will turn one into a bookshelf for my study when I get a better cupboard.) Hard to believe we’ve been here less than one full month, so much has happened, but there you are.

Time to stop before I run over my word count limit on Gmail, but I had to tell you all my news so the next time I write you’ll be able to picture all of it. Setting is so important for a character.

If you liked what you read, would you consider buying me a coffee? THANK YOU to everyone who bought me coffee/s last year, you made me so happy and thankful.

Cat Money GIF

Buy me a coffee!

Some links to start the week (and the year!) removes most paywalls from most websites. Useful if you want to read just one story and are blocked.

I know stories about the Indian immigrant experience and how people say your food smells is so five years ago, but this story is beautiful and tbh, it’s hard to not internalise the “your food smells” thing when you’re abroad even though it smells DELICIOUS.

JK Rowling and the limits of imagination.

Ten ways to confront the climate crisis without losing hope.

Have a great 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.

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2 January 2022

Today in Photo

Here's what I wore on the last day of the year. Bought this from a vintage shop close by so I could fully lean into my 70s look. Paired with heat tech, obvs, which is amazing and is keeping me toasty warm. We partied at a friend's house till 3.30 in the morning (small party, vaxxed, covid tested) and then made our way home with all the other revelers done for the night. Happy New Year you guys! May you have all the invitations you want and the perfect outfit for all of them even if only virtually. #whatiworetoday #happynewyear

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31 December 2021

Today in Photo

A mad, glad and sad year. What will the future bring? #happynewyear

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30 December 2021

Today in Photo

Some excerpts from the graphic diary I've been keeping since my birthday. (Names and identifying places blacked out in the first picture.) I just draw because I enjoy it, no larger project in mind which is always refreshing for someone who has turned something they love doing into a career. It's nice not to hustle and just draw my day but also ideas begin to ferment at the back of my mind, whether I like it or not. For now though: no agenda. #graphicdiary #berlinsketches #penandink

via Instagram

29 December 2021

Today in Photo

Yesterday, out to buy some things from the Indian supermarket (including pricey dosa batter which I intend to make at home in the future but we were right THERE and it was right there too) we passed this bevy of swans on the river. Look how beautiful they are. I felt bad that they had to sit in the semi frozen river but they were having a grand time, swimming all the way up to the ice and then standing on it with their webbed feet. Right next to them was a street market where we bought all sorts of yummy things like a wedge of camembert and rose hips for tea (full of vit c, very good for you) and flat bread for our dinner to go with my instant pot dal makhani and clementines and as we exited, a man selling crates of mangoes from South America for €2 a pop, the cheapest I've ever heard of mangoes! So we bought a crate and now I will cook with them because they don't look very ripe. The second photo is of the imposing Soviet gates on Frankfurter Tor, very close to our new house, where I walk and pretend to be an East German spy, which is also fun in the cold and the dark. I'm rereading Stasiland so full of ideas. #berlinna #swanlake #urbanexplorer #berlin #tvtower

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26 December 2021

Today in Photo

Sunset Christmas walks. Then we stopped off and bought half a chicken and a doner and ate them later at home with Friends on the TV. Apart from the scenery, this could really be my life anywhere in the world tbh. But that frozen lake in a city park, that's not Delhi. #berlinna #citywalks #frozenlake

via Instagram