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

Sign up for my newsletter: The Internet Personified

23 September 2023

The Internet Personified: All The Tourism I Did With My Mother In Berlin RANKED!

Delicious doughnuts (or, as they’re known here: pfannkuchens, which translates into “pancakes” which is not a very descriptive word for a doughnut),

My mum left last week, and I have thrown myself back into writing—started and finished off a short story, began work on my novel again—mostly thanks to a new practice I’ve begun with a friend who lives close by. We agree to meet three times a week at our local library. where we set up with laptops and reading material and knock out work at a brisk two hour rate. I love my sun-filled glass aquarium of a study but I find being at home is so distracting that I’m not able to really sit down and focus. There’s always procrasti-cleaning, or procrast-cooking, or just catching up on books or TV atop our super comfortable sofa, a hand-me-down from K’s dad. (No, I’m serious, this might be the most comfortable sofa in the entire world and it is appropriately dull looking. K and I and the cats are always fighting for the best spots on it. It’s seriously fucking with my back.) So at home I’m doing some side art projects: this newsletter for one, and I’ve gotten back into painting and related activities, and also I’m thinking of taking up sewing, not in a “I made this myself!” way just yet, but more as a way of experimenting with how adding embroidery to tired old clothes—of which there are plenty available on assorted doorsteps and windowsills of people Marie Kondo-ing their lives—that I have many things to work with.

A collage I did with old public transport tickets. Am v into collages now, so I’m going to try a few more to experiment with.
Sometimes when I watch TV, especially when it’s something I’ve seen before, I like to draw at the same time, just doodle really, not immersive art. I had done this portrait a few weeks before and I coloured it in with watercolours last week.

The good thing about this sort of thing is that it keeps your creative brain engaged but in a way that doesn’t feel like “work.” Writing is work, I mean, it’s amazing and I love it and I couldn’t live without it and so on, but I am often exhausted (and exhilarated if it’s gone well) after a session. Painting and such, it soothes me, gets me into a state where I’m thinking about other things but also working with my hands and seeing how colours and light fit together. It’s a hobby, and something I can do more easily than say, going for a run, which sounds awful.

Speaking of hobbies, I’ve also joined a new class: German language learning with a twist. Instead of a classroom structure with textbooks and grammar, it’s a theatre workshop for German learners. I attended my first one last week, and was a bit at sea because the instructor spoke very fast and everyone else seemed to be at the B1/B2 level of understanding because they all laughed along to her jokes and I was wondering whether to join in the laughter (I’m a joiner!) and pretend or sit there with a polite smile of not-understanding on my face. I chose the latter, the workshop went well, especially since I realised I wasn’t actually the weakest link in the bunch (competition is the only thing that puts the wind beneath my wings to learn something) and we did some fun exercises all of which I mostly understood! It’s on every Tuesday till January and we end with an actual performance which I have forbidden everyone except K from attending and which they have all assured me they will be coming for anyway.

And finally, in the last of my recent life updates (I’ve been extra busy, and something about summer turning into autumn is making me feel the opposite of everyone else: ie, extra energetic and organised. Summer is a lazy time) I’ve been organising a Berlin book event for Soft Animal along with the folk at a lovely new cultural space here for South Asians called Subkontinent. I’ll be in conversation with the wonderful Saskya Jain and if you’re in Berlin and you’re reading this, come! Open to all on October 13th which is also a Friday so spooky VIBES.

Thanks for reading The Internet: Personified! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

My mother and I did this city from top to bottom and we barely scratched the surface. But the nice thing about her staying for a month was that we could schedule some sort of walking tour (sometimes two) or a museum every week and feel like we’d done something between just chilling. Really earning our glasses of wine every evening, y’know? (Rose for me while the warm weather lasted, and she discovered the German sparkling wine very late in her trip but switched to that as soon as she did.)

All the tours were very nice and I’m ranking them here purely in terms of my own enjoyment as a resident of this city and not because they sucked in some other personal way. Also because I thought ranking would be fun and now I’m faced with this list and I’m like, “oh god why did I decide to do this you’re all so nice.”

#8: Sansoucci Palace in Potsdam: Look, it’s not Sansoucci’s fault that we decided to visit on a Tuesday when most of it is closed and it’s very pretty and all, but honestly, once you’ve been to Jaipur most other palaces look pretty meh in comparison. Also we had just had a much more fulfilling hour at my friend’s film university which is close by and then I put my water bottle back in my purse without screwing the lid on tight and my mum’s phone got soaked so she was very upset about this and while the gardens were very pretty I feel like Tiergarten which is closer by (but lacks a palace) is also pretty. Also there was a French tourist on the train home who was rude and it all felt like Sansoucci’s fault even if it wasn’t. We just wandered around the gardens and sat on some rebuilt corridors before we left.

#7: Urban Nation Museum: This is a nice museum full of street art and it’s free but I don’t think it’s worth taking a trip all the way into Schöneberg for it. (West. We are far East.) They had a cool film exhibition happening at their second gallery across the road which showed some pretty filters overlaid on top of short videos called “Berlin Haikus” and I was very inspired so I started to do short videos as well. (You can see all of them on my Instagram profile.) As it happens, we combined this gallery with lunch about a half an hour walk away and then ended with a trip to the library on the way back so we got a lot accomplished.

#6: Architecture tour of Horseshoe Estates: Berlin has an “open day” for practically everything and this was an open day of historical buildings and given how much K and I had enjoyed the architecture tour of the Barbican building in London, I thought this might be fun. Sadly, they had only very few options in English so I picked a guided tour of a small estate built by a guy called Bruno Taut who is a HUGE deal for architectural nerds. It's a really cool set of buildings with the main bit set out like a horseshoe (hence the name) but there’s only so much you can say about it so I felt like it was slightly repetitive. It makes it to number six, however, because it turned out K’s colleague and his partner lived there, in an old historical house which they’ve kept as close to the original as possible. Sitting in their garden and chatting was the best part and she turned out to be very much into Indian cooking, so much so that she was growing a giant karipatta tree and when I admired it, saying how much I missed my own plant back in Delhi, she gave me a sapling to take home with me. It’s doing very well here too and whenever I look at it, I think of that pleasant evening with pleasant people and the Horseshoe Estate sort of works its way in there as well.

#5: Guided walk of the top tourist attractions: Coming in at a solid number five, and the only reason this isn’t ranked higher is because I already knew a lot of the history covered so this isn’t really a tour for people who have lived here for a few years but a nice way to do a quick brush-up of the top attractions; your Brandenburger Tor, your Memorial to the Murdered Jews and so on. Going by a friend’s recommendation, I picked Sandeman’s tours of Berlin as our guide and the woman who led us was super energetic and funny and friendly, so I’d recommend these guys as well. (Free with a suggested tip of 10-15 euros at the end.) My biggest revelation on this tour is that the balcony from which Michael Jackson dangled his baby, Blanket, is right here in Berlin and also right next to the American Embassy. Who knew?

Random Hotel Rooms - MONDAY MOOD 😭 (DE) Berlin, Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin via Michael Jackson 🥂 #WouldYouDieHere #DontTryThisAtHome | Facebook
Apparently, if you’d like to cosplay this moment and rent the same suite it’ll set you back about 20,000 euros or thereabouts.

#4 Street Art Tour: Both my mum and I really enjoyed this walk. I’d done one with K back when we were just tourists here, in 2015 I think, and I thought it would be repetitive but I forgot that street art here is so temporary that every six months there’s a new piece to marvel at. My best part was asking our guide, who I made friends with and whose Feminism On The Streets workshop I attended last week, about the identity of a tag that I’ve been obsessed with. They’ve gotten kind of quiet recently, I think they’ve retired. ANYWAY, she tells me that it’s not, in fact, a group of young women, rather an older MAN who is running around writing CLIT in places and this kind of ruined it for me tbh until I had the bright and comforting thought that maybe this old man is, in the manner of several old men, just trying to take credit for something young women are doing.

Awesome Graffiti Art On The Steem Blockchain " The CLIT Studies- Vandalism On Its Purest " — Steemit
Not my photo but see how joyful.

#3: Long Night of Museums: This was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, in that I’m really glad we did it but I’m not sure I’d do it again. We trotted around from 6 pm to 1.30 am and we were exhausted and barely managed to see five museums, out of which two (Humboldt Forum and Futurium) were already free, so did we get full bang for our collective bucks? I’m not sure. Something about being in a museum at night is fun though, a festive atmosphere even if you are one amongst hundreds going to the Charité Medical Museum and gazing at their collection of fetuses in formaldehyde, truly realising in that moment how much we all like to rubberneck, as the crowd in front of you is three people deep already and you never get close enough to the medical marvels to breathe out at them and watch your breath fog the glass between you.

#2: Berlinische Galerie: Which is a cool modern art museum which just happened to be having an exhibition called Art In Berlin from 1880 to 1980. It was really well done and I enjoyed going from room to room, seeing them all laid out chronologically and seeing how art responded to the current circumstances of the city. I’d never been to the Berlinische Galerie before so it was all new to me. The only bum note is that it was overrun with teenagers, who were there on a class project or something and oh my god, no sooner did I find a quiet spot to look at what was around me than the room would be invaded by literally dozens of them. Youths!

Angry Old Woman With Brokendown Car Shakes Her Fists Stock Photo - Download Image Now - iStock
Literally me.

#1 Guided Walk of Tempelhof Airport: Despite the fact that I had woken up really early that morning to go to the Indian Embassy to have my passport renewed and then realised I didn’t have the right format photo and then foolishly decided to walk to get new ones taken thereby not conserving my energy which meant halfway through the walk my body was done, especially since our guide kept leaping through hallways and darting up staircases expecting us to follow, this was such a good walk. Imagine the eeriness of an abandoned airport plus all the cool history that goes into it. Tempelhofer Feld, the large park in front of the old airport building, is so much a part of Berlin’s cultural experience that hearing about the airport, actually seeing inside it, was so cool.

I think I’m happy with these rankings, which I’m also sending to you all because I get a lot of messages about what to do in Berlin so save this, come visit!


Currently reading: Vacillating between two excellent (but different) books from both my libraries. Transit by Rachel Cusk sits on my desk and I read with my coffee or when I’m waiting for my laptop to restart. I’m reading her like a writing manual, so much of what she’s managing to achieve with simple sentences is what I’d like my writing to do as well. So I’m poking at the structure, as it were, and seeing how it holds up.

On my coffee table is Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (is that DOYER or Do-er?) which I just began this morning and which I have already consumed the first quarter of.

And on my bedside is my Kindle because I like to turn off the lights and read in the dark till my eyes get heavy. There I’m reading Jane Harper’s Force of Nature which is an Australian murder mystery. Lovely.

Currently watching: Downton Abbey, and this time I have sucked K into it so we are BOTH enthralled.

If you enjoyed this newsletter or any of my others, please buy me a coffee! It’s not much and it keeps the lights on (in my heart as well as in real life.)

Looking for the link list? I’ve shifted it to a weekly round-up instead. ICYMI, the first edition is here.

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.

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. (Plus my book recommendation Instagram!)

Forward to your friends if you liked this and to people convinced Berlin’s only culture is clubbing if you didn’t.

Also, write back to me! I love to hear from you.

18 September 2023

The Internet Personified: Monday Link List

Hello my darling dolphins!

Starting this week, I’m doing a new thing which is retiring my regular links at the bottom of each post and instead putting them all into one glorious edition which I will attempt to send you once a week (the day might vary and also depending on the week, some weeks are slow—for me, I have v specific interests—so it might also be a ten day thing). This is because even though my open rate is super high (yay us!) not that many of you are clicking on the links. Maybe it’s because my essays are too long? Maybe you think you’ll come back to them and don’t? WHO KNOWS.

literally me reading the internet every morning with all my tabs open

I personally LOVE link round-ups, I subscribe to several newsletters that do the same thing, so here we go, for fellow aficionados, and everyone else, I have a long thing lined up for this week as well, so you can ignore this and just wait for the next.

And if you can’t read past the paywall, use 12 feet, which usually works for most things.

Thank you for reading The Internet: Personified . This post is public so feel free to share it.


  • 50 of the weirdest corners of the web: As advertised: a list of the “weirdest” corners of the internet, which aren’t weird so much as slightly obscure. Radiooo is on it, which is a website I enjoy.

  • A writer attends the Frankfurt Book Fair: Two words: “yikes” and “don’t.”

  • The wild quest to invent a fake Indian Cricket League: Do you remember this story from a few years ago where a bunch of people in a random Indian village pretended like they were in a big stadium and played fake matches which they streamed? The real story is a lot more murky.

  • Orange is the new yolk: On why we like our eggs to look a certain way. My best line from the article was this one: “Egg carton marketing, which is at best opaque and at worst a pernicious lie, would have us believe that the hens who imparted these eggs to the bourgeois grocery shopping class are twirling through pastoral fields like Maria in The Sound of Music.”

  • One big article about how this woman’s friends’ babies were ruining their relationship which maybe weren’t that strong to begin with and a nice measured response. Anyway, I feel like this skews very much US, since I haven’t faced the same problems in India and in Germany, kids are just brought along to gatherings as a matter of course.

  • Hurts so good: On why so many young women were using their chronic illnesses as a way to get likes on TikTok and similar.

  • La Dolce Vita: And my favourite read of the week, an apprentice chef works in a “home style” kitchen in Italy and learns many things. This story has all the tones of a coming of age movie set in the summer, complete with a plucky heroine.

    That’s what I’ve got! If you liked this issue or any of my others, please buy me a coffee. Your support is the wind beneath my wings etc.

Of course, chime in with your own recs in the comment section.

Leave a comment

Have a great week! See you v soon in your inboxes with more regular programming.

Subscribe now



30 August 2023

The Internet Personified: Generation Why

My lovely Legos,

My mother—as I mentioned in the last letter I sent you—has been visiting me these past few weeks. The first ten days I took her around the city (and sidebar: I don’t know what they were fed as children in that generation because she was still going strong and I was always tired.) This week, today thanks to a miserable rainy day, a dinner party we had last night and my need and desire to spend time doing things like washing my hair (it takes all day to dry and these days I am using a hair mask so it’s a whole process) and writing this and reading a cozy murder mystery and watching TV. (Try and get your hands on The Middle, a wholesome family sitcom which is actually laugh out loud funny even upon rewatch and is surprisingly positive despite all the negative things that keep happening to the family. It is a treat, I promise) she’s gone out by herself. This was several hours ago, but to be fair, she picked a very “talky” museum. (The Topography of Terror, which is a great place to start with the Nazi history here, just putting it all into context, but incredibly depressing, especially if you’re coming from India.) I wrote down directions for her because she’s refusing to get a local SIM (“I’ll just ask people!” she says, but Asking People is my biggest phobia so I’m amazed that anyone can do it with ease) and told her what to do if she gets lost, and all in all, behaved like an overbearing parent trying to keep control of their wayward child or something. We’re both much too young for the burden of care to be reversed! (Young at heart anyway.) Anyway, there comes a time when your mother visits you in your new life in Berlin that you must learn to let go and trust that as an actual adult woman who has lived a life without you for several years before you came along into the world that she’ll manage on her own.

When I went to the airport to pick her up, I took along a book (obvs) but soon was only holding it in my lap as I unabashedly gawped at all the people around me. There was a brother waiting for his sibling, who had been waiting forever, it seemed like, and when the other brother finally emerged, the two didn’t even wait to cross the security barrier, they just reached out across it and held each other, one weeping very quietly. Later, I saw them embracing once more, bags at their feet. The older brother was saying something very softly, the younger was looking a bit sheepish but not ashamed of his affection. (I know they were brothers and not lovers because I heard the one picking up tell the security guard so.)

Then there was another family, children and young adults and grown ups and parents, all waiting under a large banner they were holding up that said, “Happy Birthday!” They too were waiting ages, but they didn’t seem to mind, the kids skipping about in glee, the adults casually chatting under their banner. I did get to see the Birthday Person, a woman with a large backpack who looked like she had been travelling for months, and as soon as she approached them, everyone burst out singing.

Then there was a mixed race family, a German man and his Asian wife (if I had to guess, I’d say Vietnamese?) with two small children. An older lady received them and the kids went barrelling towards her, shouting, “Oma! Oma!”

Whenever I was making the leg back and forth to India in the last year, I was always surrounded by grandparents. Tens of older Indian couples, making their first visit overseas to see children settled abroad, and in many cases, grandchildren born there as well. In 2022, the year post second waves and vaccinations, I think grandparents travelled more than they ever had. I’m on a couple of Indians in Berlin groups (terrible for the most part, but I lurk) and most of them recommend that you book a wheelchair service for your parents even if they don’t need it, because someone will wheel them all the way to the plane and help them with paperwork and so on. Of course, once they land on foreign soil, this service is no longer free, so you see lots of them just lost or huddled together. I helped a lady who spoke no Hindi or English (Telugu, but my Telugu was too rusty to communicate with) fill out her landing form on the plane, I showed another how her internet worked. I couldn’t protect them though, they shrunk inside their saris or dhoti-kurtas, looking befuddled at the unfamiliar languages, waiting for their children to appear and whisk them away.

My mother is nothing like these Visiting Grandparents though. She’s quite confident and has been travelling for years, so I wasn’t worried that she’d get fazed by signs or paperwork. I worried slightly that German immigration might be rude (once, in Frankfurt, before passport control, a random border police official met our plane as soon as it landed and made all of us show our passports before we could actually, you know, go into the airport. There was a lady with a face covering in front of me and he kept trying to tell her to put on her face mask, and she wasn’t understanding him because she didn’t speak the language and kept pointing at her scarf and meanwhile he moved on to the next person in line, so she took the escalator up and he literally shouted after her, “AM I SPEAKING CHINESE? PUT ON YOUR FACE MASK.” I was fresh from India where everyone is so nice to you as soon as you land, no one would even dream of yelling at an older woman like that so I was completely shocked. Later, I caught up with her, she looked so puzzled, and using my hands, I indicated a face mask and using hers, she said she didn’t have any, and a lady watching produced a spare out of her bag and the matter was solved instantly and peacefully.) but I’m pretty sure my mother can handle rudeness better than I can. (As it turned out, “everyone was lovely” and she made a bunch of friends on the plane.)

I don’t know at what age we start to believe we are smarter than the generation before us. Any time travel movie will attest to this: everyone in the 50s and 40s was a dumb yokel, impossibly naive, innocent in the way of animals. Even their crimes are ham-fisted, say you have to stop a 1950s serial killer, you already know everything the killer doesn’t, he is evil but like an evil child, you are the grown up who knows everything. This also applies to things set far into the future where they talk about things like “once we had books” or “once we had trees” and you feel very wise because you have books and trees. I saw a great tweet the other day (which sadly I can’t find any more because the site is crap and I didn’t save it and Google isn’t throwing it up) which said, “We can never time travel back to World War I because we’ll keep calling it World War One.

Of course, Gen Z simultaneously thinks we’re old and also worries that they’re old because Gen Alpha (kids born post 2011—HOW ARE THEY OLD ENOUGH TO MATTER ARGH) has references that they don’t understand. Meanwhile I’m walking around seeing kids wearing LITERALLY EXACTLY what I used to wear in my teens: tight tank tops, baggy jeans, straightened hair, Avril Lavigne eye makeup. I walk into a thrift store and somehow Y2K fashion is vintage??? We gave our friend a bag from our favourite local vintage store and the guy said it was from the 90s, which is also, apparently “vintage” these days. I’m old enough to own clothes that I bought new once and for them to have become vintage. I’m old enough that I still type out texts and messages with one forefinger, the other hand cupping my phone as a stand, instead of holding it up in front of me and using both my thumbs. (Sometimes I do this as well, but it feels… counterintuitive.) I was showing our cat-sitter how the TV works, and I suddenly realised she may not know how a non-smart TV turns on to use the HDMI cable. (She didn’t. I had to walk her through the “source” button and other such sundries.) I’m okay with this—I’m an elderly millennial after all, I’m ready for the whippersnappers to take over and do all the shit we used to do in our twenties. I’m not ready to be obsolete, but luckily I haven’t come into contact with any condescending twenty somethings yet. My friends who work in hiring positions often bitch and moan about Gen Z’s lack of professional ethics and it makes me laugh a little because I’m sure Gen X and the Boomers bitched and moaned about us. (Okay, not Gen X, you’re a lost generation, I feel for you.) It’s also nice to see more and more young women in Delhi wearing exactly what they want, but a little gratitude for the path we laid before you came along would be nice, y’know? (She says like an ancient feminist. Remember your foremothers!)

Remember when we were the youngest and the coolest people on the planet? Me neither.

Anyway. What was I talking about? Oh yes, thinking we know more than the generations preceding us. I think in my case it’s purely a technology thing. Because I am better at the internet than my parents, I believe it gives me keys to the modern world and so on. And I get afraid that without these keys they’ll get lost.

Berlin now has so many Indians, I think in 2022 alone, 17,000 Indians moved to the German capital. It’s such a radical rise in numbers that even in the two years I’ve been here, this year has felt fuller. And with young Indians moving here, their parents coming to visit them aren’t far behind. All summer I’ve been watching couples or single people shepherding around a set of parents (but usually just one parent, maybe more people move here whose parents are separated or maybe the parents take turns?). Usually, if there’s two grandparents, there’s also a small child, focus of the group, in his large buggy, the foreign grandchild drawing everyone together. Unlike the United States, however, you are not automatically considered German just because you were born here. One or both of your parents either has to have been living here for eight years or be a German citizen. So the babies are (probably) just as Indian as I am, their first years just look different from mine. (I looked this up because I started thinking of my American cousins, who were born in the US, but whose parents still have Indian citizenship. Truly Global Grandchildren.)

Of course, we have no children, so my mother’s visit here has looked different from childcare and watching the generations move on and so forth. She wants to see everything, so we have trotted from biergartens to museums, guided tours to walks of our neighbourhood. We sat by the side of a canal and people watched and we went shopping to a mall and had a cup of coffee and a slice of strawberry cake on top of an old East German department store. We took the regional train with a friend down to her friend’s datcha and we swam in a lake. The end of summer golden days lasted till the end of last week and we made the most of them.

My mum is still here for another two weeks, and now she’s confident about going out on her own, plus it seems like Summer Lethargy has given way to Autumn Organisation because suddenly I have plans to make, people to meet and so on. It was nice that she got to see both sides of my life—the easygoing and the slightly more scheduled—always nice when people we love are able to enter our worlds.

Thank you for reading The Internet: Personified . This post is public so feel free to share it.


It’s hard to get into a new book when you’re still championing your last, but Soft Animal must now make its own fate. When I return to India in January or similar of next year, I’ll do some readings, some signings (maybe some festivals) and essentially, what I can to spread the word, but it’s not in my hands any more. The book is in the world, you hope it’ll find readers, but there’s only so much I can do. (The reviews have either been wonderful or baffling, I’m still thinking about one random one that said the critic didn’t like the book because it wasn’t about a dog rescuing a woman. Um…) (Here is a very nice one in The Hindu and another in Scroll and a third in The New Indian Express.) I’m organising a little Berlin book event soon, so if you’re in the city around the end of September, let me know and I’ll send you details as soon as I have them.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to buy a copy, a reminder that the book is available online and if it’s not at your favourite local bookstore, you just have to ask them to order a copy for you.

Buy Soft Animal online

Which reminds me: the poll results were not super encouraging to starting a subscription tier for this project but I don’t know, I have such good ideas! I might try it anyhow (or some version of it) and you guys that voted yes can enjoy that bit and the rest of you can also enjoy the free letters that I’ll send out every now and then. Win-win! I appreciate all of your support over the years and I’m really glad you’ve stuck this out with me.

Currently reading: The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood, another series about unlikely friends and a little old lady solving murders and crossword puzzles. I love the aged detective (see: Miss Marple) but must we be so precious about it? Treat old people like people and not like dogs you’ve dressed up in coats and hats and now you can’t stop pointing it out: look! it’s a dog! in a coat and a hat!

A Flicker In The Dark by Stacy Willingham which was absorbing enough, but whose twist I guessed about a quarter of the way through and I only kept reading to see if I was correct. I think I’ve read too many murder mysteries, I’m guessing everything.

Currently watching: Our public library has an online streaming app called Filmfriend which has a bunch of movies all arranged in curated collections, many of which are in English or with English subtitles so we’re having regular movie nights at home. Outside home we finally watched Tar, which was incredible.

B-LINK AND YOU’LL MISS IT! (No, not a great pun, but still here are some good stories I read online)

Naomi Klein is tired of people thinking she’s Naomi Wolf.

The trauma of publishing a novel.

The battle between diners and restaurants. (very US-centric, but an interesting read.)

The dangers of Substack for the chronically low self esteemed.

On the difficulty of getting rid of books.

Inside the hidden world of cockroaches.

Thanks for reading The Internet: Personified ! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

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.

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. (Plus my book recommendation Instagram!)

Forward to your friends if you liked this and to condescending people of any generation if you didn’t.

Also, write back to me! I love to hear from you.

15 August 2023

The Internet Personified: Missing

Dearest Mighty Microorganisms,

I left Berlin a few weeks ago around the same time the girl went missing. She had been gone for 48 hours, her friends said, it was very unlike her, especially since she had left her apartment unlocked and her belongings inside. This was on a Facebook group I’d joined but never participated in. The only reason I’m still on Facebook any more is the groups, I belong to so many, and as Twitter and Instagram get more and more boring, the only source of internet drama I have is Facebook Groups, people generally tend to mock and berate more than they help. A recent example:

“Hey, can anyone give me a ride to the airport, I have four bags?”

Followed by: “why can’t you take a taxi?”

“Take the airport train, I’ve done it loads of times carrying my entire house with me.”

And so on. It seems that the lure of FB groups is if you can’t answer a question with yes or no, you must offer unsolicited advice.

So, the missing girl’s poster was posted on the group with a plea from her friend, “We’re worried about her!” the friend said. You see missing posters all over the city, mostly for dogs and cats but sometimes people. It’s surprisingly easy to vanish in this city, especially if you’re young and not used to having complete and absolute freedom with a thriving club subculture and drugs and alcohol available freely. It’s so easy to slip between the cracks. That’s what most people come to the city for—to party their nights away, to stand in line for Berghain and go to fetish clubs and hook up and dance to dirty techno and postpone sleep forever until you haven’t sat down since Friday evening and it’s early Monday morning now, the bored employees are ushering you out and cleaning up around you. A friend visiting told us about how early in the morning he and a few straggling clubbers all spied one sofa placed outside this club for people to rest before they left, and they all clocked it at the same time and each made a rush for it, but they were so shattered after their revelry that they could only move in slow motion, and someone else made it there first.

And so said the comments on the Facebook post. “She’s probably just out partying,” said many people dismissively, “She forgot her phone at home and won’t make contact with you until Wednesday when the drugs wear off.” People on the internet assume they know a lot more about the situation than you do, but friends, if I ever go missing in Berlin over the weekend, please do not assume I am at a club and will emerge on Wednesday, chastened and tired.

We took our flight to Turkey that week, it was Thursday, the girl had been missing for close to a week. By now, the family flew over, the girl was an immigrant (or an expat? She came from a poorer country but as a Very Aggressive Mansplainer told me recently (re: myself) if you have the privilege to come abroad, and—what were his words?— “not work at a job like cooking at an Indian restaurant” then you’re by default an expat. I know. I tried. And then I got mad, and then I left) and the Embassy put out a plea (which of course didn’t play out well in the Facebook groups, because all the other people from the girl’s home country living here said, “Oh now the embassy is active.”)

Turkey is slightly screwed. Cost of living has risen so much that the price of bread changes every day (source: a friend of a friend, but also have a look at this and this.) We were flying into Izmir, from where we would spend the weekend at a nearby beach before joining friends in Istanbul for a landmark birthday celebration. On the way to the hotel, in Izmir’s centre, we asked directions from a woman who stopped to smoke a cigarette and one of the first sentences out of her mouth was, “Turkey is so fucked.” She was Turkish herself, holidaying in Izmir for a few days with a friend. There were local tourists everywhere, rich local tourists, plenty of lip fillers and boob jobs, but underneath it all, an almost uneasy acceptance of the fluctuating prices. And those people spoke Turkish. For me and K, it was fill-in-the-blanks as the menus so often didn’t have a listed price. They looked at our faces and made up a figure and we only learned not to order and then ask after a few times of this. But who wants to spend their holiday anxiously enquiring how much everything costs—even people a little budget-strapped like us? No, it took away some of the magic of being in Alaçati, which is a gorgeous town with deep, deep blue seas and the most litter I’ve ever seen on any beach, including Baga. One section has the old town, showing Grecian influences, all winding roads and uphill, full of bars and people walking back and forth. (What did I eat in this idyllic place? Chicken wings, if you can believe it. Have been craving wings in Buffalo sauce, and you can’t get them here in Berlin—well, maybe you can, but it would be a hunt, and I feel silly hunting for something so basic—and there was one “American style” bar so I tried my luck and wow, did the wait pay off.) Where we were staying was a hop and a skip from the crowded little beach so we didn’t even bother to take a towel or anything, just ran from the hotel to the sand in our shorts and t-shirts with bathing suits underneath. Close by, there were huge bungalows, gated and apparently empty except for one which was where the owners were having a small party, sitting on the patio and watching all of us plebs go by. The vibes were very much Real Housewives of Istanbul on one of their mandated “holidays,” the cats were strays but the little dogs stayed on their leashes and close to their owner’s augmented faces.

In Istanbul, we stayed on the side of a hill. It went up and up ending in a tower before going downhill again. You understood that if you walked downhill at all, you’d have to walk up again. It was raging heat, our clothes stuck to us like skin. After a day of this, we had to spend another just sitting in the hotel room, decompressing while the AC blew at us. In Berlin, it felt like summer was ending. Long spells of rain made the temperatures plummet, it was cold enough for jackets and tights, put away optimistically till October, now yanked out of cupboards and drawers again. The girl’s family organised a sit-in, they wanted answers. No one said she might still be partying. A woman was raped in a park beloved of both local residents and weed dealers. Her boyfriend was assaulted and made to watch. The culprits were immigrants—not expats—and so the centre-right government took it up as a battle cry. Just a few weeks ago, we’d all been laughing about the news about a wild lionness running loose in the suburbs. We thought it was so funny that someone took a video of an animal and just assumed it was a lion. We rooted for the lion, may they never find her we said.

The lion turned out to be a wild boar. The rape meant the police could close the gates of the park after ten pm. Police here are armed, guns on the side of their hips, so young, overwhelmingly so white. They often look bored when I see them, standing against barriers for protest marches, cruising lazily in their cars. Across the road from our flat is a falafel place, the police car on duty often stops for dinner. It’s hard not to be distracted by their bullet proof vests, how they never seem to laugh or smile.

In Istanbul, our group was ten people, which meant a lot of coordinating meals and meeting spots. I’d never been on a group holiday except with family, and I was surprised at how friendly everyone was, how even on hot angry days, there was no drama. Our family holidays are full of drama, and I equated that with travelling in a large group. Turns out it’s just family. K and I were on a tighter budget than the rest, and also we’d just been to Istanbul for a few weeks the year before, so we splintered off, did our own thing during the day and joined everyone else in the evening. One day, all ten of us made our way to a small island off the city, connected by ferry. That was glorious, but it was sad for me because I left behind my beloved beach cover-up that K bought me from a second hand shop in Poland several years ago, and also a sun visor I’d just bought in Alaçati. It had a black straw brim with daisies embroidered on it. I know you shouldn’t get so attached to things, but I was very sad anyway when I discovered their loss. I’m trying to be zen about my stuff, but I grow so fond of them that it’s like losing a friend even when I drop a coffee cup by accident. They feel like a symbol, like if I’ve lost my things then I’m losing control of everything. Maybe I need even more therapy. Maybe it’s growing up without siblings. I really liked that cover up, it was stylish, light and dried very fast.

On the ferry, on the way back to the mainland as I was mourning my things, a Greek student who struck up conversation with us, asked K, quite out of the blue, “Do you like Hitler?” That made us laugh. K said, “Do you?” and he replied, “No, but my mother does.” Those family holidays must be full of tension. K says when most people talk to him about Germany they mention the Autobahn, Oktoberfest and usually, Hitler comes up. It’s mostly Indian Uncles who do this, so we were both surprised to get it from a Greek student.

Berlin is still really safe. No one else is jumpy, women even leave their headphones on as they walk home alone in the middle of the night. I’m jumpy, but I have Delhi PTSD, I tell people. I cross the road when I see groups of men standing around. I take my key out two blocks before I come back to our street. There’s this one bridge, a beautiful one, which is a shortcut between our neighbourhood and another, and once meeting friends for dinner, I crossed underneath it, rushing along, gripping my bag and a man jumped out at me from behind a pillar and all he said was, “Are you okay?” but I think I screamed a little and I scampered as fast as I could go. My heart was still beating hard when I sat down. The friends we were meeting looked bemused but I laughed and said it was my cardio exercise for the day. I still call it the Scary Bridge, which is terrible because it’s one of the prettiest spots close by. You should also know about me that I’m a dreamy walker, very much not aware of my surroundings, very much drifting along from lane to lane. Many times I’ve almost stepped into the path of a bike or oncoming e-scooter. K has to steer me away from more purposeful walkers coming behind me. I love walking, I love thinking when I walk, and looking at all the little things—a backyard of wild flowers, someone’s dropped earring, interesting stickers, sparrows eating leftover bread off a table—lalala just strolling along, looking up at the sky occasionally. Now I’ve been here close to two years, some routes have become automatic, so I don’t even have to look at my maps. It means I startle very easily though, because I’m so in my own head, that my reaction time has to be immediate and animalistic

The day before we were flying back home, the police found the girl in a canal near her home. She may have jumped in voluntarily. There’s not much more information. One article quotes the mother as saying, “She was very homesick.” She was very young. It must be hard to be young on your own so far away. So many of my friends left India to study abroad after school, it must have been hard for them as well. And I stayed and stayed, until the end of my thirties, and still, it was an adjustment. I wouldn’t give up this life for the one I left behind but I do miss certain luxuries of living in a country of which you are a native citizen. Even though I’m taking up space here, I’m carving my own little hole in which I sit, it’ll always be about learning. Learning is great—how do you stay alive if you’re stagnant—but coming home from an exhausting trip and having to speak a foreign language you’re not very good at as soon as you land? It’s a process.

Thank you for reading The Internet: Personified . This post is public so feel free to share it.


My mum is coming for a month-long visit today and I’m really excited to show her around and our lives. I’ve also got some plans for this space so please help me by voting in these polls. I’d like to make this newsletter more regular, because I have so much to say, so I’ve been considering certain levels of a paid tier? Check out the options below and please vote! I have an editorial plan and everything!

And the second question:


You can also buy me a coffee if you liked this or other editions of the newsletter.

Or go ahead and buy yourself one of my books—the latest one is my current favourite.

Currently reading:

Needful Things by Stephen King who I normally love, but I don’t know, this one is feeling hackneyed and formulaic. Not really that deep bone-chilling horror I usually get from King, so I’m struggling to finish. Maybe I’m just distracted though.

Subscribe now

Onward to the links!

With the new Made In Heaven out, a really good time to re-up my newsletter about season one.

Rethinking weekend plans.

Lovely long read (tw: missing children): who walks always beside you.

Great profile of Umar Khalid who is still in jail.

It’s summer, so not a lot of great links. Perhaps you’re even reading this the day after I send it to you because it’s a holiday. Wherever you are—have a good 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.

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. (Plus my book recommendation Instagram!)

Forward to your friends if you liked this and to people who never vote in polls if you didn’t.

Also, write back to me! I love to hear from you.

11 July 2023

The Internet Personified: Everybody poops sometimes

Dearest fields of dreams,

Hello and welcome from another scorching hot day in Berlin. (I love it so much.) I have my standing fan on in my little study and after I write this I am going to travel in the (sweaty) U Bahn to the library and maybe meet K after. Summer evenings are the best.

Thanks for reading The Internet: Personified ! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

Before we get to the meat (hee) of this thing, a little reminder to buy Soft Animal! Buy two copies and give one to your local library or reading cafe. THANK YOU! KISSES!

Buy Soft Animal today!

As everyone from a certain part of the world knows, the moment you set foot in the other part of the world, one big question starts to form in your mind (and your body): how on earth do I poop here? Hundreds of years ago, certain Western countries decided the best way to clean their bums post shit was to wipe a piece of dry paper across it and call it a day. This became upheld as the golden standard of hygiene, to this day I hear about foreigners going to countries with bidets and saying, “Gross!” So much so that toilet paper has become standard: you’ll hear people complaining that loos have no TP, but not a mention if they lack a potty shower.

That’s what I call this thing, by the way. A potty shower.

It is the number one thing I miss about India, that, and how it’s standard to give people glasses of water at restaurants and bars without them having to request it specially.

Potty showers are known by all sorts of different names. I have heard:

  1. Bum jets

  2. Hygiene spray

  3. Loo guns

  4. Bum guns

But one thing all of us know is that toilet paper countries will not have them. Some friends who have been in Berlin long enough to purchase a flat decided that since it was their own property, goddammit, they were going to have a comfortable and convenient way to clean their asses. So they brought in a bidet attachment and asked the plumber who was renovating the bathroom to fix it near the toilet. This man, being German, did not understand what exactly the thing was going to be used for and connected it to the mains instead of a side flow. “So you see,” said my friend, when I went to visit his home some summers ago, “It gives you an enema each time you use it.”

I tried it myself, not on myself thankfully, since I had been warned and water came whooshing out like a pressure hose.

Most people have learned to make do. Some use wet wipes, others a little mug by the side of the loo. The toilets in new build houses in Berlin are generally windowless and cramped, small and damp. I have another friend who has a really beautiful pre-war apartment in an attic. Slanting windows let in light into her bathroom which has the vastness of a sanctuary. Ours is a tiny little afterthought, placed between bedrooms, large enough for a washing machine to be tucked into one corner, not large enough to have a separate shower and tub. Instead we stand inside the tub and use the shower, adjusted to our respective heights. At least we have a tub, it is my joy and delight to soak in it after a tiring week, but because of similar space issues, the drying laundry flutters on the rack just above my head. I’ve never had a vast bathroom, so I always admire them in other people’s homes. When you have a big space you can decorate, have a theme even, some decor. One of my friends in Delhi had a little rug by the long sink and counter, the shower was so far away that no splash would ever come near it. Our neighbour next door has the same tiny loo we do, but she has made it into a sanctuary. When you turn on the light, there’s a little machine with bird sounds that comes on. Sweet smelling things are everywhere. In contrast, ours is basic, not even a mirror on the wall to lighten things up. (Often in Germany, houses come completely unfurnished so it’s not rare for tenants to buy things for themselves and then remove them completely when they leave. In our case, the previous tenants were an old woman and her hired caretaker, so they left us a fully intact kitchen including cups and plates but took things like light fixtures and bathroom mirrors.)

I had a dream the other night about a bathroom. It could’ve been because I really had to pee and my brain starts throwing up images of loos in a desperate attempt to make me wake up and use it. It wasn’t a very nice dream, in fact, it was a nightmare, it ended with an old man cornering me against the hot water pipes, after which I woke up, heart pounding (and went to the loo after all, so well done, brain, scare me awake) but the bathroom itself was so beautiful. It was all tiled in sunny yellow, the ceilings were high, with windows placed close to it so shafts of sunlight danced through the room. There were plenty of plants and a low long tub in the corner. “It was a really nice bathroom,” I told my therapist later, we often discuss my dreams, “It was almost like a church.”

Pretty bathrooms are supposed to distract from the most important thing you do there. Which is: poop. Which is a time of day you sit still and focus, perhaps you have your phone or a book with you, but really you’re listening to your body. And we know pooping is important. Think of how uncomfortable you feel when you haven’t gone in a couple of days because you’re on holiday and your schedule is off. (Me.) Or when you have a bad tummy and how sick and weak you feel because you can’t do this one simple thing you have been doing since you came out of the womb. I have a strong stomach and good gut health, but one week of overdoing the partying and everything is off, wobbling sideways, ominous noises from my belly, a general sense of unease and malaise.

(And you’re supposed to be sick with toilet paper? Ew.)

Anyway, it’s hard to live in Germany with only TP, unless you train yourself to go just before you have a shower. (The Italians are very civilised and have bidets.) We have a portable plastic bidet now called the Happy Po, which we carry along whenever we have to travel and which has changed our lives considerably for the better. It was given to us by a friend whose then-wife was a gynaecologist and received a few samples at work, for women to clean themselves after giving birth, since there’s a lot of post-partum blood and so on. (Imagine doing that with toilet paper.) We love ours so much that when it came out at our local drug store we bought them as presents for (Indian) friends who also delight in it. (But are a little shy about discussing how amazing it is, people should really talk about poop logistics more freely.) From my window I can see customers at the supermarket across the road coming and going, and on Monday, after the shops have been closed on Sunday, they’re often coming out with bundles of toilet paper, stacks of it, like there’s going to be an apocalypse.

Everyone, especially us geriatric millennials, is used to pooping a certain way, I suppose. I have a little stool I put in front of the toilet because it’s slightly high, not so high as you would notice, but it’s more comfortable if my feet are up and my knees bent in front of my hips. I probably can’t convince anyone else to use a stool or a bidet for that matter, if you’re used to TP, but honestly, try one, it could change your life.

Thank you for reading The Internet: Personified . This post is public so feel free to share it.


Currently watching: EVERYTHING on our new SECOND HAND TV! It’s a 42” Phillips brand and our Chromecast fits into it and it just makes me SO HAPPY to have a television again after 20 years. (The Smart TV features, while a bonus, weren’t really needed, which is good, because this TV is about 9 years old and the smart part of it has become sort of slow and outdated.)

Currently reading: VS Naipaul’s An Area of Darkness which is his really personal, really intense India book, listening to My Friend Anna, a memoir about a woman who was friends with Anna Delvey, the con artist. It’s narrated by the author who is really annoying, or has a really annoying voice, so you could call it a hate-listen, I guess, because I keep snorting and rolling my eyes.

I borrowed two books from the library I’d never heard of and completely loved. I like that discovery feeling, it’s been so long since I just looked at the back of a book and thought, “Huh, might give this a go” without ever having heard of it before. And then the joy of knowing there are no stakes, you can just give it back if you don’t like it. (I borrowed and did not finish Kamila Shamsie’s Best Of Friends, because it was not for me, for example). Anyway these two were: Sabrina by Nick Drnaso (a graphic novel that was nominated for a Booker prize) and Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn about a Jamaican immigrant to the US. I suggest you read both of them blind like I did, and just feel the sense of a good book unfolding in front of you. It’s so satisfying.

Here are some good online reads I enjoyed recently:

Would you dare to meet your doppelganger?

Yahoo boys in Nigeria are romance scammers and one man set out in search of them.

Yay, new Zadie Smith novel!

It’s really sad that Victoria Ammelina, a Ukrainian novelist, just died in a shelling, because this piece was the first of hers I’d read and it just struck me as so insightful and moving. The world’s loss.

Meals for one.


Presencia Inquietante (1959) by Remedios Varo It’s my birthday so I’m celebrating by sitting around feeling sorry for myself. It’s not about my age, who cares about that? I’m Age-Is-Just-A-Number years old. What’s upsetting is that I need every single tiny thing to go perfectly on my birthday. Even though I am not five or fifteen or twenty-five, I still …
Read more

That’s all I’ve got! Go enjoy yourself, I command it.



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.

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. (Plus my book recommendation Instagram!)

Forward to your friends if you liked this and to toilet paper hoarders if you didn’t.

Also, write back to me! I love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading The Internet: Personified ! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.