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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23 September 2020

The Internet Personified: O Bruno, where art thou?

Hello my chickadees,

Had a bit of a shock yesterday, when we returned to our flat after a day spent at my mother’s and we found one of our three cats missing.

I feel like this needs background. First: the flat. It is a top floor, three-and-a-half floor walk-up, practically impossible to do in heels or with a heavy suitcase. (This is one of the reasons I have switched almost exclusively to a backpack when I’m travelling, instead of a suitcase. The other reason, is, of course, despite my Impending Middle Age, I enjoy looking cool and like a Backpacker, while at the same time, enjoying nice beds instead of dormitories and nice meals instead of whatever I can get for ten baht/two euro/five yen etc.) (Sometimes at the end of our trips, we literally can only afford the ten baht situation, but at least our hotels were paid in advance when we were still flush with cash, so we sleep well while snacking on a bag of chips and a sandwich.) WHERE WAS I? Oh yes, flat on high floor, hard to walk up to, but it’s also a cool flat, because it has a nice view from the balcony, over two parks and the tops of trees, and also if you climb up to the top terrace, there’s an even better view of everything else.

But, one of the reasons we chose this house was not so much the trees, which are GREAT, but because it is practically cat-proof. Our little terrors are prone to escaping and seeking the Great Outdoors (and then getting stuck in all sorts of situations from which we have to rescue them) and so in several other homes, we’d have to make sure they didn’t get on to the balcony. As anyone who’s owned cats knows, they have slippery little heads and almost liquid bodies, so one slight side-step of your shin and they are off and away, without a care in the world about stray dogs (great packs of them roaming the streets of every colony I’ve lived in) or cars (careless) or people wanting to hurt them (either out of fear or black magic, which sounds like an urban legend, but why risk it? Especially since I’m told these Black Magic Types favour black cats, like our most people-friendly Squishy, who will literally go to anyone and flop at their feet and look up at their faces waiting for pets. He is also a MASSIVE black tom cat, so super intimidating if you’re not into animals in general.)

We can’t actually net the whole terrace, before you ask, like, it’s physically impossible, and the cats have always been careful. Plus they’re super happy, they get to run around upstairs and downstairs, and sleep underneath the water tanks and roll around in the dirt and then come back and strew that dirt all over the house as they look for an air-conditioned spot to nap in, so yes, these are cats in clover. They are indoor cats with a semi-outdoor cat life, with all the advantages (fresh air! vantage points! food and water waiting for them indoors!) and none of the problems (no predators or cars or people who want to hurt them). All excellent, until last night, after we got home from my mum’s and I look around counting one cat, two cat, where’s three cat and K tells me not to worry as he always does and I settle in, watch some TV and I think, huh, it’s odd that cat three has still not emerged, usually they wait for us by the door and say hello so we casually look around the house, even the spots he doesn’t usually favour, because you never know, and when it is quite, quite clear he is not inside, K takes his phone flashlight and goes to peer underneath the water tanks, and when he comes back absent a cat, I decide I will also go look, because maybe I will spot Bruno where K didn’t? And we both look and call out his name and I crawl to the edge of the terrace and peer over it to see if I can see a teeny body on either side and thankfully there is none, so we go round the flat again and meanwhile the other two cats are just looking innocent and washing their faces.

I’m not an anxious person except when it comes to death. Which means, I guess, that I am an anxious person because it all comes back to death in the end. Driving a car: boom, dead. Walking at night: boom, dead. (This does not apply to smoking cigarettes, which is my shameful little hobby.) I also worry about the deaths of people I love, and obviously, OBVIOUSLY, adding pets to this whole thing is not ideal, because my pets are also going to die and I will have to see them die (this is the subject of an essay I am working on, so no more on this at the present moment except: WHYYYYYY). So, I was convinced Bruno was dead, that’s like where my head went instantly. “Oh god, he’s dead,” I kept saying, “I can feel it.” And poor K, trying to stay positive, we’re outside, hunting for him in the streets, and K’s calling, “Bruno! Bruno!” and I’m going, “Bruno.” but really, the subtext of my calling was that I was at any moment going to stumble over a grey and white body and I kept imagining his little face, with his little mustache and it was TOO MUCH. Here is a photo of Bruno (“At last,” you’re thinking, “I read this whole damn newsletter and there are still no cat photos!”) so you can see his pathetic little expression, his sorrowful eyes (one of my other names for him is “Dukhi Singh” and I call this particular expression, “Who killed my father?” but really, he’s just looking for food, because he is a greedy fuck.)

Okay, you might as well have photos of the other two as well. Here’s Olga da Polga, who is Bruno’s twin and my personal cat. (Look, I have made peace with the fact that the boys in my house stick together, K and the two tom cats, but Olga loves me best.)

Isn’t she a beauty?

And here is the most illustrative photo I can find of Squishy’s general…Squishiness. Please observe little vampire teef.

So, we get home and I send off sorrowful messages to the colony WhatsApp group, thinking it can do good this time for a change and to our next door neighbour. And within five minutes, our neighbour’s like, “My son spotted a similar cat on our terrace today where he has an office” so K and I go out to the balcony from where we can look down on to the neighbour’s roof and we go, “Bruno! Bruno!” and there’s nothing, so K decides to rattle a little food in the bowl, and BOINGGGG, out comes a Very Annoyed Cat who has been STUCK THERE ALL DAY, HUMANS, WHAT KIND OF SERVICE IS THIS and who proceeds to lift his head and yowl at us about the unfairness of it all. The neighbour can hear this—possibly the whole colony can hear this—so K goes to their house and wraps Bruno up in a towel to stop him scratching and cuddles him all the way home. He was a sheepish affectionate cat for the rest of the evening, but today is back to being his usual self, ie, he sleeps a lot and asks for food. Also remarkably uninjured. But, my god, I died a thousand deaths. Thank goodness I don’t have children. I don’t know how you lot sleep at night without worrying.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a whole meditation on cat parenting, but the only truism I have for you, is that the first thing Bruno did when he got home—okay, the third thing, first he drank a lot of water, then he wandered around making sure everything was where he left it and then, he comfortably went to his litter box and made a big poop. Which is exactly the sequence of things I do when I return home after a long and hazardous journey! Animals: they’re just like us.


A movie I watched recently is Dolly, Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare, about which I really don’t have that much to say, except there’s a whole scene set in the Doll’s Museum! The Doll’s Museum! It was my favourite place to go when I was a child, and right next door to the best children’s library in the city. They don’t seem to have updated the display or the dolls since the early ‘80s though, so it’s looking a little… dystopian. But still, hurray for shout-out!

Have you read CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series? It combines Tudor history with murder mystery (hey, I made a rhyme!) and I am obsessed. I’m on book five right now, two left, and I’ve just learned that the author has cancer, so I’m not sure whether there will be more books. (Except his diagnosis was in 2012 and he’s written a few books since, so here’s hoping for the best!) Please read it and mail me your thoughts.

Did you know there’s a comment section underneath these things? I am putting a button over here, please tell me about your pet/s, if you feel like talking about your pets!

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Stuff I read that I liked:

Funny: why did I bring a teenager to Venice?

The public shaming pandemic.

A new and sophisticated way to scam you out of your money.

After reading this story about how terrible Goodreads is (it’s okay, just a bit big), I signed up for Storygraph and I’m really enjoying it. Already bought and read one book off their personalised algorithm which I loved.

You may or may not have watched that social-media-is-bad documentary on Netflix, but this review of a book about Twitter is a lot more powerful, I thought.

This story about donating bone marrow during a pandemic is actually quite funny and droll despite the earnest sounding content.

And in the Newsletters I Enjoy section: Links I Would GChat You If We Were Friends and Bnet.

Have a great week!



Happy Hour Need A Drink GIF by Academy of Country Music Awards

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.

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