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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5 December 2017

Newsletter: Goa Returned

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me trying to get back to work

The Christmas music is on. I repeat: the Christmas music is on! December in Delhi is as delightful as it always has been, even though the pollution is making our noses run, and I have had a weird red eye for the past three days, which is probably also pollution related. Around us, there's the sound of coughing, but also last night at a birthday party, there was definite Good Cheer. It's a great time to be in this city, if you stock up on antihistamines. Personally, it's my favourite month of the year, since it's also my birthday month, and the run up to the party I throw myself every year is still--if not AS exciting as when I was ten years old--something to look forward to.

I actually don't have much to update you about this week. Leaving Goa was a bit of a wrench, but it always nice to be home. When I think of Delhi, I think mostly of our flat. Even though when we walked in, fresh from our dilapidated mansion, it looked very small with low ceilings, but now I have stretched into it, and it is as perfect as I remember.

This week in television: I had a real weekend of lounging. We pulled out the electric blanket from where it lay--this is our first year in this house using it, since we were away during the coldest months last year--but the problem with pulling out the electric blanket is now no one wants to leave the bed. It's the coziest spot in the house, and if you don't have one, I highly recommend it. (Easily available on Amazon.) I might have to replace ours, bought on skiing holiday in Gulmarg, because now only one side is working, but when done right, the whole bed is heated and glorious. We haven't needed to pull out the room heater yet, because as soon as it gets cold, we go back to bed. And I had the perfect show to keep me company. My beloved Amy Sherman Palladino (creator of Gilmore Girls and the fantastic but sadly cancelled too soon Bunheads) has a period drama out on Amazon Prime called The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, and if that doesn't keep you cozy on these cold nights, I don't know what else to say to you. Set in the late 50s, with costumes that rival Mad Men, it's about a upper West Side housewife who is suddenly left adrift when her husband leaves her, so she turns her hand to stand up comedy. It's absolutely perfect and I only have thirty minutes left to finish the season, which makes me sad, but The Crown returns on Netflix next week I think, so at least there's another period drama to replace this one.

This week in books and reading: Scroll republished my best books of 2017 list and I added one that I forgot earlier:

My favourite series about a family: A very specific category, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet Chronicles. Set in England between the world wars, and some of the Second World War, I came across her via Hilary Mantel who mentioned in an article that in her opinion, Howard was the underrated author of her time. I couldn’t agree more. Even though the books have been made into a TV series, there aren’t many fellow Howardites, which is what makes our special club even more special. Finely observed, with all the foibles that make big families so entertaining, these were definitely a set of books I was sad to give up.

This week in winter vegetables: Our gardener has been a busy man since we last saw him, and now the terrace is filled with planters, including lettuce! Which I'm super excited about. There's also spinach and two types of cauliflower, aubergine and the long chillis which I like to season and fry to eat as an accompaniment to daal-chawal. Pretty soon, our onions and garlic will blossom (do they blossom?) and we'll have no need for outside veggie shopping at all. (Well, except bhindi, and he tells me he can't plant those for me till March.) Winter vegetables don't look as gloriously green as the post-monsoon ones, but they're chunky and solid, much like my fashion options.

This week in winter cats: OH MY FLUFFIES. MY FLUFFY FLOOFERSONS. MY FATTY FLUFFIES. Even the one who has pissed in various hidden corners of the house, which no one has noticed and which we are now excavating like hidden treasure.

Tuesday link list:
When Hannah was young, she said why at least a thousand times a day, and Dan and I developed a theory: She needed to know the truth; the truth would soothe her. Then on Christmas morning, when Hannah was 5, decked out in her new fairy dress, she asked where babies came from, and Dan told her. She didn’t speak for a week.

- A writer writes about her teenage daughter, interspersed with comments from said daughter, which are hysterical but also very wise. I loved this story.

In the years that followed, we shared so much, or looked at differently, so little: our lives were small, restricted. The Jhabvalas moved to the beautiful house designed by Jhab on Flagstaff Road, and there were now three daughters – and two enormous German shepherds. I too married and had children and would take them over for tea, which they would greatly look forward to because Ruth always had her cook, Abdul, bake a cake for them and Jhab would come back from his office to entertain them with his repertoire of magic tricks.

- Anita Desai on Ruth Praver Jhabwala. Made me go out and get a copy of Jhabvala's short stories. I've never read her, but was very intrigued by this piece.

My mother’s life started years ago in a small village, barefoot and unable to remember when she first wore shoes. She thought that Sunlight soap was for washing your clothes, then your hair and then your body — one after the other. I think of how her world grew bigger and bigger and then how, after a point, it started to shrink. She was boxed in by marriage and children and all those things that she had been taught to be afraid of. Unknowns and ‘what-ifs’; the places women could not go to, the things they could not do.

- A writer on her 70-year-old mother's world expanding with a phone.

In 1905, when seventy-year-old Mark Twain began to collect a bevy of adolescent girls, whom he called his “angel-fish,” he defended his predilection by insisting that he longed for grandchildren. His own daughters were grown—his favorite, Susy, was dead by then—and he was lonely. But grandfathers can have grandsons as well as granddaughters, and Twain, the creator of one of literature’s most famous adolescents, surely celebrated boys’ cheeky energy. There was more, then, to his strange sorority than an elderly man’s yearning for grandchildren, more even than nostalgia for his daughters’ childhoods. “As for me,” Twain wrote at the age of seventy-three, “I collect pets: young girls—girls from ten to sixteen years old; girls who are pretty and sweet and naive and innocent—dear young creatures to whom life is a perfect joy and to whom it has brought no wounds, no bitterness, and few tears.”

- Why are so many famous men kinda gross and creepy?

Octopus don't have any tentacles. 0. Not one. They have 8 arms.

- Twitter thread on that one fact scientists wish you knew.

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