What ho, companions of my heart!
I felt like our conversation for this year, our fourth year together, wasn’t fully complete, and I wanted to tell you about some more things I enjoyed in 2020, a year that none of us would have volunteered for, but that was foisted upon us nonetheless. Isn’t that the nature of years?
Personally, it has not been too bad. One or two phases of Hitting the Wall, where I felt like I had actively come up against some barrier and could not move further without processing what I already had. It’s been an inward year, a thinking year, and yes, I guess I could say I am always thinking, it’s the nature of what I do, what are novels but taking your thoughts and spelling them out? But you know, I exercised caution on the matter of myself. I let myself explore deep depths within my fictional characters, but when it came to my own brain, I had a little stop sign, a double barred aluminium door that said in big red letters: NO ADMITTANCE TO UNAUTHORISED PERSONNEL and whenever I came to that sign, that door, I decided I wasn’t actually authorised so I left it, I never tried the handle of the door. I didn’t know what was lurking behind it.
But this was the year I tried that door. I pushed it open and wandered into the dark, going, “Hello?” tentatively and when no one answered, I turned on a little lightbulb, just enough to see the first row of dusty shelves of years and years of things I had not addressed, not let myself address, and I took some of those down, and looked at them for the first time in years, under the light of that one dim bulb. It was hard—I think I might need to actually work with a professional about going further into this room—but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. Listen, we all have a little (or vast) room full of issues we haven’t addressed, and of course, it is uncomfortable to pick at them, just as it would be uncomfortable to wash your feet if you haven’t washed them in two years and they’re all crusty and full of sores and scabs and you want to get them all soft and clean again.
All these metaphors just to say I started working on myself this year—my mental health (which is a term that makes me feel all fragile and New Age) and other adjacent things. I may not have done as much (any?) physical exercise as I promised myself I would, but GODDAMN I am a TOGETHERER PERSON than I was.
Okay, now the earnest part of this newsletter is over, let’s move on to the fun.
The best movies I watched in 2020: Backstory: post lockdown, my mum continued to stay isolated in her flat so K and I go over once a week for lunch, and this, very quickly, became lunch and a movie. We carry along our projector and we watch a lot of cinema. I used to write down all the movies I watched, but I kinda half-assed it, so amongst the movies I remember I saw this year, here are my favourites:
Little Women: The Greta Gerwig movie was the last movie I watched in the cinema. I had lots of thoughts about it here on this newsletter and you can now watch it on Amazon Prime which I, a Louisa May Alcott fangirl since I was 11, highly endorse.
Contagion: Course I watched Contagion in March! Didn’t we all? It was very true and I learned all about R noughts.
David Copperfield: At first I was a bit skeptical about this adaptation. But the Wes Anderson-esque whimsy, the diverse cast and the way the film used plot beats from the book and yet turned entirely into its own creature won me over. Rich and lush, it made a real difference from other adaptations of victorian novels which tend to be cold and grey. I loved it.
Whiplash: Made me want to watch more things about jazz. Especially loved how the student starts out bright eyed and bushy tailed and then gets more and more fucked up the longer he is with his teacher. Makes you think about whether all great music really comes with people being unkind to you, whether that leads to early suicide (Amy Winehouse etc) and what a fucked up industry it is for all the beauty that emerges.
Eurovision: SO FUN! Lovely wholesome chemistry between two leads, ageing rapidly but young feel happened anyway.
The best TV I watched in 2020: I mean, I am constantly watching TV, but this is the year I watched The Wire and also Love Life was super fun and then? I don’t remember. I watched everything, but I have not yet watched The Queen’s Gambit or Borgen because I got bored in the first ten minutes. I also started but never finished one French show (Call My Agent) and one Korean show (It’s Okay To Not Be Okay) and I’ll probably finish those eventually too. I rewatched Parks and Rec and Community. I watched all the shows, even that one about matchmaking and the other one about real estate agents but not the one about rich wives in Bombay, preferring to watch rich wives in New York who were less scared of confrontation. I was concious of time slipping by as I lay on my sofa, AC on or under a quilt, endlessly being fed entertainment.
The Internet Personified Cat of the Year Award: Since we have spent more time with our cats than we ever have before, I decided to give one of them the cat of the year award. I considered all the pros and cons of each cat, before deciding, and the choice was tough, but ultimately fair, I think.
The cat who has won TIPCOTY award is a cat who has shown marked improvement over the year. She has changed some of her bad habits (she pisses less around the house) and has only added one new annoyance (shouting at the outside cat who sometimes comes up the stairs, but if you look at this at another angle she’s only protecting us.) She has become even more cuddly than she used to be and is a constant companion to this judge, lying on her desk all day or choosing to sit on her lap, which she never used to do. She is also the most attractive, but the judges do not discriminate on looks, since all of the judges’ cats are pretty much the best looking animals on the face of the earth.
Let’s give it up for Cat of the Year, Olga da Polga!
(this photo by Ameya one sunny afternoon)
desk cat offering moral support
the judge with her cat
It was a good year for this newsletter! Going back to find some favourite letters to link to here, I found I wanted to link to them ALL, but that is not how best round-ups of the year work, SO, here are some of my favourite posts from this year if you’ve just joined us, or if you want to revisit:
My history through songs I used to listen to.
This was popular: people I hold long standing grudges against includes my RWA.
Thinking about my dead friends.
In the midst of a pandemic, thinking about stuff I’d like to do.
My small lexicon of Delhi slang.
And that’s a wrap, friends! See you all in 2021.
What’s your biggest learning from this year? I’d love to hear.
I do have two Links I Liked On The Internet this week for you:
This article made me buy my first Harsh Mander book and it is depressing but also makes you THINK and FEEL, which are never bad things.
Who did JK Rowling become is a lovely deep dive into the world of Rowl.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! See you all when nothing’s changed next week/month/year.
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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