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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11 May 2018

Newsletter: Staycation Edition

(This is last week's edition. This week's JUST went out to subscribers. Want to stay current? Sign up here.)

I made this joke on my Instagram story and v pleased with it


For the last two months, I was burning the candle at both ends. As an idiom, it makes so much sense to me right now: imagining my life as wax drippy, long wicks, placed horizontally, and there I was lighting the end that said "work" and when that bit burnt down, lighting the other side which said "social" and letting all my rest, my everything else, be reduced to just wax drippings on the floor.

But this past week, I have felt like doing nothing except sit indoors, and think and read, and watch movies, my great movie watching plan is going very well, and I have done that as well. So, I don't have that much to report, except that I'm enjoying my staycation. I sleep about ten hours every night, and wake up refreshed. It's nice, no I'm not bored, or getting cabin fever just yet. I think I needed this.

My week watching movies: K just discovered an app for my desktop (rhymes with Schmopcorn Mime). I had tried this same app ages ago on my best beloved long lamented Macbook (RIP) (stupid cats), but it didn't work on it, so I gave it up, but turns out, it's rather excellent on Windows. K also--and I must give him all credit here, because I moaned and cried about all the door handles he was removing, more on that in a moment--fixed up the perfect movie watching AREA in his study, which is the only room in the house which you can successfully darken even in the middle of the afternoon, and as a result, it is the best television room I have ever had in my entire life.

So basically, we have a projector--it's a pretty cheap one, but it works--and he set it up so that it projects against the white wall to wall cupboards he has in that room. In order to do that, he had to move the handles so that they wouldn't be in the way, so now the handles are a little lower, but it means that I can lie on the sofa, fully stretched out, as is my preferred position, and watch movies while he works at his desk (and occasionally chimes in with some commentary.) Thanks to the app I just mentioned, things have gotten really easy to watch and bookmark, so I'm regularly watching two movies a day. The funny thing about watching films as opposed to TV, you never feel that brain numbing OMG HOW MUCH HAVE I WATCHED feeling at the end of it. Instead, you feel slightly... triumphant even. Dare I say watching a good movie is like reading a good book? How my attitude has changed from last week when I was all like, "Ugh movies will never be as good as reading."

This is what I watched this week (a mix of what's available and what's on You Know Where). I realised that I sort of followed a theme, even if I wasn't aware of it at the moment.

The Little Mermaid day:

Wonder Woman: nice but FULL of anachronisms, at one point, the Scottish guy goes, "guys." Now, "guys" as a way of saying "everyone" wasn't a popular manner of speech till much later, and would not have been in England during WWI at any rate. I feel like if you're going to spend so much money on a movie with sets and costumes and what not, why not get an accurate historian to go through dialogue while you're at it?

Moana: Which was faaaaaar better than Frozen, I don't know why people like that movie so much. Still Disney, so a little animal sidekick, and lots of songs, but I loved Maui, the demigod who helps Moana because he was such a very realistic douchebag. Nice to see.

The why am I different day:

Wonder: the book, oh my god, the book. I loved it so much. I was fully prepared to be manipulated into tearjerker-y heartwarmingness of the film, and STILL my tears were jerked, my heart was warmed. Very sweet movie, I thought, and THENNN *ominous music* I read this article about how whitewashed the disability was. Sigh.

Get Out: was actually dark dark DARK comedy, and no spoilers, promise, but the end was quite something. I think I love oh look how pretty suburbia is but WAIT there is a SECRET lurking behind the gorgeous woods.

The let's save the day day:

Paddington 2: OKAY, but, a) Michael Bond is the same author who wrote Olga da Polga, who I named our CAT after, so you see, I love him and b) Paddington is one of my favourite bears--Winnie is a bit twee, Rupert is too good to be true, I did a whole article on bears and Michael Bond when he died, here's a link.  Paddington 2 is delightful, but not as delightful as the books. There, that's that.

The Incredibles: a rewatch, but SUCH an underrated Pixar classic. Part two is coming out soon, so I had a sudden URGE to watch the original.

The teen movie day:
The Edge of Seventeen was a REVELATION. Really good in that teen movie way I haven't seen happen since the early noughties. Very real angst as well, and though you feel like shaking some sense into the main character, you're also nodding along like yup, yup, I would have reacted in exactly the same way at that age, because sometimes you forget you weren't born extremely evolved and enlightened.

This week in stuff I wrote: My book recommendation column got lots of views last weekend mainly because of the first book, almost fan fiction about a certain dimple faced popular writer in India and the publishing industry.
Excerpt: Besides people-spotting behind the pseudonyms, there’s also fun to be had by finding real-life names (Hi, Nilanjana Roy and Janice Pariat!) as well as a whole description of partying at the Udaipur Literature Festival.
And this week in stuff other people wrote which I liked:

A ghostwriter might be talking to you on Tinder
Excerpt: “There’s no question about it,” reads one chapter, “women want to date the alpha male. They are naturally drawn to the ‘leader of the pack.’” Valdez elaborates later in the manual: “The alpha male is the selector, he chooses… he is not chosen.” But how do you present yourself as an Alpha? “Never compliment her without a qualification,” he writes. “Let her know what you want in a woman and make her explain why she fits those criteria.”
Since I'm watching some superhero movies, this one about the Avengers in general and the idea of an American hero in particular was interesting.
Excerpt: Yet even as the films restore a sense of heroism to a war that has become bureaucratic, they also betray profound anxiety about that war. This emerges through a peculiar feature of the Marvel movies. The heroes confront threats of all sorts, but time and again, they fight their doppelgängers. Iron Man takes on other scientists in metal suits. Ant-Man’s enemy is Yellowjacket, who is, like him, a shrinking technological insectoid. Captain America battles serum-enhanced supersoldiers (“What kind of monster would let a German scientist experiment on him to protect his country?” he asks, winking). Often, the heroes simply face their relatives, as when Black Panther fights his cousin, Thor fights his siblings, or Peter Quill, the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, fights his father (while another Guardian, Gamora, fights her sister). The Hulk’s antagonist is the Abomination, a similarly sized creature made with the Hulk’s own blood. And SHIELD, the shadowy governmental organization that runs the Avengers, must face HYDRA, another shadowy governmental organization that has infiltrated it.
Hey did you know Aatish Taseer once dated a royal? Did you? Did you?
Excerpt: My own enduring memory of the Windsors was of constant cutbacks and reduced circumstances. To fly with royalty was to fly EasyJet. On the flight back from Sardinia, a velvet rope cordoned off the first row alone, behind which Their Royal Highnesses—Prince and Princess Michael—sat with Ella and me. A moment of silence ensued, then there was a dull roar on the Jetway, and a planeload of lobster-red British tourists poured onto the flight, muttering, “Wot’s this, wot’s this?,” as they rushed past the grandson of George V, Emperor of India.
Cape Town is fucked. But there's the very merest glimmer of hope because society.
 
Excerpt: Wealthy South Africans, traditionally, have had fastidious cleanliness standards, a way of distinguishing themselves and of tapping the vast labor reserve of cheap maids. Now, being able to show a visitor day-old urine ripening in your toilet bowl, proving you do not flush, is a proud moment. Body odor is less taboo. Many women have radically adjusted their haircare routines: embracing natural curls to diminish the need to wash and style, shampooing only once a week or, as one woman told me in a discussion on a community-run drought Facebook page, “experimenting with spraying my hair lightly” with a plant mister. Others chopped hip-length hair off into bobs or SinĂ©ad O’Connor shaves. A queer friend of mine complained she didn’t know who to hit on because “there are queer haircuts everywhere.”
How to have a conversation with a grieving friend (or a friend in trouble, even.)
Excerpt:  Sociologist Charles Derber describes this tendency to insert oneself into a conversation as “conversational narcissism.” It’s the desire to take over a conversation, to do most of the talking and to turn the focus of the exchange to yourself.
A conversation with the woman who was raped by Mahmood Farooqi
 
Excerpt: The decision to press charges against a person is never a onetime event. For me, it was a decision that I had to make repeatedly day after day as pressure to drop the charges surrounded me – some of it even coming from well-meaning people attempting to protect me from further pain. It was a decision that I questioned daily because I was never quite sure if I would have the strength to survive the process. Reliving your trauma time and again to strangers, a necessary requirement of partaking in the judicial system, is – in a way – beyond explanation. It is hard and it is heartbreaking. But in the way of which it breaks you apart, the act of being heard, of having a voice also made me grateful. It allowed me to have hope that I could put myself back together again. It reminded me that I am still alive and able to fight for myself. Of course, I hadn’t anticipated being socially ostracised by groups of people I had considered friends, both in India and America, that was perhaps the most difficult.


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