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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8 April 2018

Newsletter: So my pop culture references are mostly from the 1800s





This week in feeling like Beth March and/or Ruby Gillis (which is an actual thing my friend Sam referenced the other day, and I am totally stealing it from her) (actually in my case, it's more like Katy Carr): My hand is WORSE, well, it was worse this whole week, so I spent yesterday resting it, and today I am writing with a timer on so I can take a break every ten minutes. Not to worry, friends and concerned citizens, I am actually going to see an expert about it this week, and not just stick to this home doctoring. From what I understand though, there's not really a "cure" for carpal tunnel, but at least the physiotherapist will give me some exercises so I can stretch out my arm and make it feel less stiff.

However, it was not a wasted day, because I got to do my number one favourite thing to do when I am ill, which is watch TV mindlessly propped up on my pillow like an invalid. The Germans have a word for mindless watching: glotz, which I just love. Glotz, glotz, glotz. I glotz-ted my new binge watching obsession, Friday Night Lights, which I hadn't seen before because it's supposed to be a show about American football and sports are very much "who cares" in my book. HOWEVER, it is about so much more than football! The football is the background, the reason for the show existing, etc etc, but it's really small town teen drama with all sorts of small town intrigues and set in the American South which might be my favourite setting for small town TV shows (think True Blood). Try it, it's on Amazon Prime, and I'm pretty sure you'll be super into it after you watch that pilot.

(While I'm on TV recs, Parenthood, one of my favourite shows of ALL TIME is also on Amazon Prime, and you must watch that also if you're in a heartwarming drama mood, and really, who isn't, right?)

This week in sometimes we are also Ruby Gillis in other ways, which is when we go to parties and toss our hair around: My friend Ameya (I realise I say "my friend so and so" a lot. Can I just stick to their names? You'll know it's a friend, right? In the case of a FRENEMY, I'll say "my frenemy" just to set the record straight) (HAH AS IF! I am way too chicken to actually call out someone's shitty behaviour in real life on the internet! I'll just turn them into a nasty character in my next book!) ANYWAY, Ameya is obsessed with this new jazz bar in the usual no-fly zone of South Ex II, called The Bar Cat and it's like all the good things of Piano Man and PCO with none of the bad (too crowded and too trendy and so too full of children respectively). She took K and me there last week to see a band called Los Catphonics, who were okay, but the bar was really nice. Good cocktails, swing jazz house playlist, and nice food too. Pricey, but it can be your "let's get dressed up and go out with friends" place. Or maybe you have a full time job and are not peering at everything through the shredded remains of your last freelance invoice.

This week in practically turning into the Jetsons:  Here's a first world problem for you: what do you do when you are in the middle of crafting a perfect sentence and your cook comes in at just that moment and asks what you want her to make, turning your thoughts from High Poetic Ancient India to mmm what shall I put in my mouth today? (We have a feminist household, and our division of labour is pretty equal, and I decided to take on the meal planning because, well, I enjoy it, and I care more about what's for dinner than K does.)

What do you do? You do as I did and get an Excel sheet going! I commissioned K to build me something that would let me not only put out all the meals for that week but also have a running grocery list by the side so if for eg, we're eating daal and we have no daal, I just have to check the column in red to see what I'm missing. You can update the list of dishes and ingredients and now it's mostly smooth sailing. I will send you a link to the spreadsheet next week as soon as he tinkers with it a bit more because right now he says it's not yet ready for public consumption. Still it has made my life a lot easier.

Also since all that fuss about antibiotics in your chicken, I have been trying to find a better source. I use the app Fresh To Home which has really really nice fish--we've been eating a lot of fish these days, and I've been using our wedding present Suriani Kitchen (thanks Mihir and Snigdha!) to make all sorts of nice things. The chicken is not the best though, but Zappfresh has been recommended as another good source of antibiotic-free chicken, so will try that next.




This week in stuff I wrote: My monthly books column this time featured statuses: Facebook, singledom in your late thirties and the state of the world in a post apocalyptic future. An excerpt:
Sreemoyee Piu Kundu’s Status Single is the result of her interviews with about 3,000 single women on the realities behind being single in this country. It’s very much a PLU (people like us) book, and yet, it is an important one simply for taking into account the stories of thousands of urban, educated women and what happens to them in this country when they are minus a husband or partner.

I do love this gig, and how it makes me think about the stuff I read and how to structure it into themes each month. Speaking of reading, it was this month (sadly after column was published) that I got into Cynthia Voigt's excellent series about a family called the Tillermans. The first book is the strongest, and the one I would recommend the most: Homecoming about perhaps my favourite kind of kids-making-it-in-an-adult-world theme, the survival type story where you live off the land by making fires and fishing and hiding from grown ups. Very good. I'd recommend it highly for your next reading fix. 

Sunday link list here to destroy the other things you had to do this afternoon
 
Our top story this week is a woman who befriended a bumblebee. Befriended. A. Bumblebee.
Excerpt: Since the bee, now formally named Bee, would have to walk from flower to flower to feed, Presly built her a private floral buffet. Using some netting, she built Bee an enclosure full of blossoms where her winged counterparts couldn't reach to deplete the pollen.
 
Heh, never date a writer, kids.
Excerpt: Well. If I was going to be in this dang book, at least that gave me license to pick it apart.  I snickered at the skewed grammar — was the foreman blonde, or the daughter? — and rolled my eyes at Carl’s middle-class depiction of my working-class upbringing. And that tentacle thing. The narrator, named Frank, had just met Sophie at a gallery opening, it seemed, and they hadn’t even spoken. How did he know what her ego acted like? I could already see where this was headed: A 64-year-old man turning an insecure 25-year-old woman into an emasculating shrew, her sole goal being to suck his life energy. And this was only page 17.
 
Hey Ladies used to be one of my favourite series over at the late lamented Toast, and I'm glad to see they're turning it into a book.
Excerpt: Ali, since you’re the Maid of Honor I’ll let you handle dress code, but please, ladies, be prepared to wear a pastel or muted shade that goes well with your skin tone. If you’re not sure, google! Or go to a high-end luxury clothing store and make a consultation appointment with a stylist. As for shoes, just because this will be outside doesn’t mean you should sacrifice looking good for being comfortable. I am going to have a photographer on site, so keep that in mind! As for hair and makeup, please call Meegan at Hair Today in VA for consecutive day-of appointments so we can have consistency in looks.
 
A lot of chatter on my Twitter timeline recently about whether internships should be paid or not. I got paid for my first gig which was technically an internship--and I learned a lot from having that money + having to work for it. (I had one unpaid internship just before, which was perhaps a job I learned the LEAST from, and quickly quit about ten days later.) This Guardian article is interesting in that context.
Excerpt: You can only shrug off being paid in change if you’ve got somebody else picking up the tab. If my partner hadn’t had a well-paid job, I would not have had the money to eat that week, or any of the other weeks I worked at Monocle. My “job” was basically a hobby that someone else was funding. One of the other interns in my cohort juggled a second job at a ramen shop, but most had parents who subsidised their rent, bills, travel and food. Journalism has shifted to a greater degree of social exclusivity than any other profession, according to Alan Milburn, the former Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty. In a report published in 2012 headlined “Fair access to professional careers”, he found that 49% of journalism students come from the top three socio-economic groups, and just 14% from the bottom three.
How to be a good mother (if you're a Southern African python.)
Excerpt: Although the mothers wrap around their eggs, they don’t rhythmically contract their muscles to raise their body temperature. Instead, two times a day, they lie at the entrance of burrow until they bake to 40ÂșC before returning to coil around their eggs, transferring the heat from their bodies. For the three-month incubation term, these massive mammas live an austere lifestyle, alternately sunbathing and curling around their precious loads. They don’t eat or drink.
 
Is it really love if you are not posting a hundred pictures of the two of you on Instagram?
Excerpt: It is so early in this couple’s relationship and I’m already exhausted. So are most of our mutual friends. The responses on their weekiversary posts have dropped from dozens of “You two!!” and “Cutest couple ahhhhh!!” comments in the early days of their relationship to just a single comment from one of their moms. A lone tumbleweed of a comment, rolling through the dusty, echoing canyons of Shut Up You Guys National Park.

Okay, my hand is starting to hurt again from all the copy-pasting so I'm ending this week's link list with this nice gif instead! Subscribe here to get this newsletter in your inbox every week!
 
 

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