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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24 October 2020

Today in Photo


Sheddy McSnugglepants. (OK he is the least snuggly but once you're a cat person, you have to keep pointing out how cutely they sleep. It's our secret password.) #catsofinstagram #brunothetabby

via Instagram

22 October 2020

Today in Photo


Digitally "painted" yesterday, turned Squishinder into a Squishierre. #catsofinstagram #drawtober #squishytheblackcat #painting #wacom

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The Internet Personified: The Wilderness Years

Hello my persistent little yaks,

It’s been a long time since I wrote. (I feel like eventually all bloggers/newsletter writers will write that sentence: it’s been a long time since I updated this thing! Here’s what’s been up with me followed by three paragraphs of catching you up on their lives, even sadder if it was a blog no one visited, like a party you throw where no one comes.) (Is it sadder to have a party where literally zero people attend or a party where you’ve invited twenty people and only two people show up and not even two people you’re particularly close to, these are maybe co-workers or that guy you met at a different party who seemed sort of cool but you don’t know him well enough to sit across from him all night and make chit-chat while behind you, your dining table heaving with food and drink, just sort of hangs out like the elephant in the room?) Woof. That was a digression! Anyhow, I have not been particularly occupied one way or the other. My interminable book edits continue. I’m in a reading slump. I’m watching The Wire for the first time and it is everything that was promised.

Frame By Frame Falling GIF by grantkoltoons

The funny thing is, even though The Wire is relatively new to my life, I’ve already had one dream about wire-tapping but I have had exactly zero dreams about this pandemic we’re all living through. None of my dreams feature masks or social distancing, we’re all just going about our lives, touching and being crowded together in public transport. I think it’s telling that a TV show has apparently reached into my subconscious and needs to be processed and apparently, COVID needs no processing at all. (My spellcheck is putting a curly red line under COVID, which makes me wonder how long before it is an official word recognised by dictionaries.)

And winter is making its presence felt here in Delhi, we went from air conditioning to fans off in just ten days. Another season given over to pandemic living. Remember when we thought this was going to be over by September? Hah. Anyway, obviously since the present is more of “sat at home and thought about things” mixed with a little “I leave my house in great excitement to sit at a friend’s house and think about things” obviously I have taken to thinking about the past. Stories flash in and out of my head, and I walk through my memories like I’m a time traveller, watching from a distance. It’s not just glimpses of memory, I’m reliving time like I never have before. In my thoughts I am standing at the doorway of a long ago room, looking in, and then I arrange all the furniture so it’s exactly how it was when I was there, and then I go through my rememberances like prayer beads, holding each one for a moment between my fingers and then letting them go to fall into place. Do you do this too?


One of the eras of my life I’ve been thinking about a lot is moving to Bombay. Did I ever tell you I lived there? For four formative years, I lived and worked in Bandra—first the East and then the West. I was so Bombay that I let go of all my Delhiness easily, like a snake shedding off their skin. I was immersed in Bombay things, in Bombay people (mostly immigrants like me), in the Bombay life. I didn’t take anything of my old self with me, it seemed like nothing I had had in Delhi for the 25 years I lived there prior stayed.

I don’t know whether you can make that sort of move, the Snake Shedding Its Skin move more than once in your life. You have to be in a place where you’re ready to give over everything, everything to the present. No looking back, no reliving your past. It feels like those years were lived in hectic living in the moment vibes that exhaust me if I think about them now, but in Bombay I floated like a dandelion in the breeze from one friend group to another, from one unsuitable man to the next.

art loop GIF by Falcao Lucas

I guess what I remember most is travelling, sitting in a local train or a rickshaw or a cab, sitting next to people usually, it’s so humid outside and we’re too cheap to spring for a Cool Cab, which is what they called the air conditioned ones, they were painted blue. This was before Uber, before Tinder, before Zomato, before any of those things that you now can’t imagine your life without. How did I meet people? I went to bars, particularly this one bar called Zenzi, which was painted orange and had these Chinese noodle boxes they served to you in takeaway cardboard and also wasabi mayo fries. All this sounds like I had a lot of money, and actually, no, I have never been poorer. I lived on love, some parental handouts, some columns I did, royalty statements from You Are Here which came out while I was in Bombay, and the kindness of my salaried friends who bought me a drink whenever they could or whenever I could freeload off them.

Funnily enough, I also remember myself as being vividly unhappy. I must have been, otherwise why would I keep choosing such toxic men? Every single man I met, I decided to fall in like with (love is a strong word, and I only thought I loved two of them) and then I was deeply disappointed when they turned out to be commitmentphobic or full of emotional issues. One refused to tell me his last name, can you believe it? I only found out when I saw a boarding pass in his apartment. He also cheated on me eventually, after flying down to Delhi to attend my bestie’s wedding, which means he lives on in her wedding album. If you’re in a relationship you suspect will not last and you’re considering taking him or her to a wedding with you, DO NOT. You will live to regret it over a decade later. One was very nice, but our relationship had a time limit because he was going off to do an MBA (plus, his folks were super conservative and he couldn’t tell them he ever dated me). One I was only hooking up with out of boredom, because I had no one else to pine after that month and I was addicted to the drama by then. One I was engaged to be married to, and burnt me out and sent me running back to Delhi, but I don’t want to think about those years with him.

Bandra East was nice. My friend chose it, he was moving to Bombay and I had gone to his farewell party and I was like, “Oh I wish I was moving to Bombay” and he said, “Come” so I went with a suitcase, and we shared a flat and I adopted a kitten because I was so homesick, an impulse decision that led me to the wonderful world of cat ownership. (I’d always had dogs up until then.) It was a quiet neighbourhood, called MIG Colony, which stands for Middle Income Group, and the flats were only two floors high, very government quarters. Bal Thackeray lived down the road, so I always used to joke that I was safer than I was anywhere else in Bombay because the Shiv Sena wouldn’t burn down their own neighbourhood. (And now the Shiv Sena is… liberal? What a strange world we live in.) It was ridiculously quiet after nine pm, there was no home delivery except for two sea food restaurants which I did not appreciate because at the time I was going through a fish aversion, yes, of my four years in Bombay, I spent three years eating bony mutton and stringy chicken. Whenever I had to get home from somewhere else, I had to trick the taxi/rickshaw driver into it. I’d say somewhere else and then halfway through, I’d be like, “Oh actually, can you make it Bandra East?”

And then I met this chap, you know the one I decided eventually to marry, not out of love, oh no, but because by the time he proposed I was like, “Might as well.” MIGHT AS WELL. My god. And we decided to get a flat together in Bandra West, the posh bit and you guys. I loved that flat so much. I would not change a thing about it. It was on Perry Road, right before the turn to Carter Road. It was a large one bedroom fourth floor walk up and it was amazing. It only cost 24k a month which even back then was ridiculously low rent. And this chap, this guy I wanted to make a life with (whyyyyyy) was away half the year in the UK where he was from for visa or whatever reasons, so really, I basically lived alone on half the rent. It was in this flat that I had a small drinks party to which I invited K, because we were sort of friends by then, and K and this other fellow actually met and hung out and thinking about that is so weird. I wish I remembered more of that evening, but you never know when something is significant at the moment, do you? You never say, “Oh look, here’s an interaction with my future husband meeting my future ex boyfriend!”(Actually maybe that situation is super specific to me, but please let me know if this is your life too.)

I feel like my Bombay years were the first time I felt like a proper young grown up. I mean, I’d been living alone in Delhi since I was 21, so flat sharing and so on wasn’t new to me. It’s just that Delhi depended so much on who would drop you home, being safe, being careful, blah blah blah and suddenly, here I was, walking home at two in the morning or just jumping in an auto whenever I was done with a scene, wearing whatever I wanted to wear and being whoever I wanted to be. That’s probably how I met so many different people, Bombay back then was what someone described as Dubai International Airport, a revolving door of people, and only a few of us stalwarts there year after year. Every week, almost, there’d be a goodbye party, and at that party, you’d meet someone who had just moved. One of my favourite stories about Bombay is at one of these parties where I met a guy who had just arrived two days prior from London and I smiled and said the usual things and he gripped my wrist and said, “What have I done?”

Also, I think it made a difference that all but one of my friends was living away from their parents. No one had parents in the city and that made us this young pack, I guess. Free of adult influences. Unencumbered by opinions. I had originally planned to only stay for one year, but I was having such a good time, I stayed till the very end, when the host has started to pick up dirty glasses from around you and the sun is pushing its way through a grubby dawn sky.

Always leave a party when you’re having fun.


Links I Liked On The World Wide Web:

Studying Big Brain GIF by Jimmy Arca

I wrote this list for Voice of Fashion about ten exciting Indian books that have come out in the last six months.

THIS STORY IS ADORABLE. A chipmunk restaurant!

The Very Quiet Foreign Girls Poetry Club.

TL;DR of this funny story: do not put your boarding pass on Instagram.

Here’s how it feels to be an extrovert. (Which it turns out, I am, despite thinking I was an introvert all this while.)

Watching bad TV at the end of the world.

Why Alcoholics Anonymous isn’t always the answer.

All about Reddit’s Am I The Asshole subreddit.

And related! Some tweets I tweeted about AITA (click through to see the whole thread.)

Have a great week! I miss you when we don’t talk for a while.

xx

m

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.

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

Got sent this newsletter? Sign up here to subscribe!

Forward to your friends if you liked this and to the thought that you can’t actually fix time if you didn’t.

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

21 October 2020

Today in Photo


Olga is basically living my best life. #catsofinstagram #olgadapolga

via Instagram

20 October 2020

Today in Photo


We recently cleaned our ceiling light and bought a new bulb for it. I need new glasses but I've forgotten my prescription and don't want to go get a new one. I'm watching The Wire on the red sofa and I have to have subtitles on because I can't understand what they're saying so I have to read with my glasses on and then my eyes get tired so I take them off and stretch to the ceiling and see a photograph while K makes impatient noises next to me. Looks a bit like a full moon. Looks a bit like Moonface who lives on top of the Faraway Tree. #indoors #sociallydistantlife #television #hiddenobjects

via Instagram

18 October 2020

Today in Photo


Only a few more weeks to wear my summer clothes, ahhhh. I mean, winter is nice and all but my fashion always sucks because I'm always more concerned with being warm and cozy than I am with dressing up. Sigh. Besides we might all hibernate this winter, we certainly have a good enough excuse. But until then, here's a photo of a jumpsuit I bought at Artjuna in Goa which is this vegetarian hippy place with a boutique attached which always had weird clothes, like, you know, stuff you could buy at the beach but at twice the price. But I always hoped and one day the hoping paid off because I found this, and I love jumpsuits especially ones with dropped crotches. Wriggling in and out of them though is a different story so these straps have snapped before and probably will again. #whatiworetoday

via Instagram

13 October 2020

Today in Photo


New cartoon! This one with a uniball pen on sketch paper. Self explanatory. #coronavirusdiaries #sketch #penandink #drawtober

via Instagram

10 October 2020

Today in Photo


A sneak peek at my newsletter this week! (whatta great rhyme) no, but I illustrated The Internet Personified this edition which you can find by clicking on the link in bio or just mrm.substack.com. Please subscribe! I am only 5 people away from 1000 which is a BIG DEAL in the small newsletter world! Tell your friends! #comic #newsletter #theinternetpersonified

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9 October 2020

The Internet Personified: The illustrated edition

Dear moonpies,

Surprise! I have drawn this newsletter for you! It’s partly because I am sort of half-heartedly doing a version of Inktober—that’s the yearly challenge where they give you drawing prompts all through October, and I’ve been meaning to draw more. I hope you can understand my handwriting, let me know a) what you think and b) if it’s legible. I’m sorry I haven’t written to you in a long time, but life has been fairly monotonous. Nice, but you know, same ol’, same ol’. (The sixth panel is supposed to have the word “night” but technical error.)

Share


I finished Masaba Masaba on Netflix last week, which is this surprisingly fun show about Masaba Gupta, the designer and her mum, Neena Gupta, the actor. The twist is that the show is fiction, only “based on” real life. I liked it, I liked the body positivity, and the sexiness, and the storyline of being an older actor in Bollywood. I’d recommend it! Better than a lot of the other stuff on Netflix.


Stories I loved on the internet!

Blood fry and other recipes from my Dalit childhood made me want more food writing like this.

The story of the 19-year-old girl raped in Hathras.

Insults are my family’s love language.

I don’t know how to define this piece: babies? superstition? But I loved it and subscribed to the newsletter as soon as I read it. Isn’t it nice how much new writing is coming from people’s own newsletters and not just big media houses?

I will always link to an Arundhati Roy essay.

Judith Butler TAKES ON JK Rowling.

Ramona Quimby was my childhood BFF.

How work became an inexcapable hellhole.

Are you ageing correctly? (No.)

Subscribe now

Have a great week!

xx

m

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.

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

Got sent this newsletter? Sign up here to subscribe!

Forward to your friends if you liked this and to the inexorable march of time if you didn’t .

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

7 October 2020

Today in Photo


One, two, three! (all in one frame is unusual.) Five seconds after this photo was taken, Squishy started being a dick to Bruno out of jealousy, because he thinks he should be wherever Bruno is and he should get alllll the attention, none for anyone else. He is the youngest, after all. #catsofinstagram #squishythecat #brunothetabby #olgadapolga

via Instagram