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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30 March 2018

Newsletter: Rage, rage against the dying of the light

As always, you can subscribe to my newsletter here for it to arrive into your inbox instead of waiting for me to post it here! 

This week in further signifiers of my old age: I taught myself to type. I learned online--the best way--by going on chat rooms and talking to people around the world. Age 14. The internet was brand new in India, my dad needed to amuse me one long summer, so he took me with him to work every now and then, where there was an internet enabled computer. Everything took several minutes to load, but worth it. We got the internet at home, eventually, and soon the speed picked up and so did my typing skills. (You can read all about my early experiments with the internet on this longform piece I did for Yahoo Originals a few years ago.)

So, I wrote everything--six years of journalism, ten years of freelancing, almost ten years of book writing--using my two index fingers. The hunt and peck style so favoured by grannies around the world, except I can go damn fast with my hunt and peck, at my prime, I was averaging five thousand words a day without breaking a sweat. (Now I am old and my words are more considered, so it's down to 2000 including sweating.) Alas, friends! Alas for everything, because now my money makers, my two index fingers, have been FELLED by old age and greed! I started developing a TWINGE in my right forefinger which quickly became an ache which quickly became so bad that I couldn't open things or pull tabs off packets or do all the motor skills stuff you depend on your forefinger and thumb to do.

K is sadly familiar with carpal tunnel syndrome (also known as repetitive strain injury or RSI) but I was foolishly hoping to wait until I finish my next manuscript before I mentioned it, because even as I'm writing this, I'm forcing myself to try and use other fingers but I feel CRIPPLED. Anyway, the pain got too much to ignore and I started to worry about seriously doing myself an injury so now I'm wearing his old wrist guard and I've swapped my mouse around so that it's on my left side (very hard but you have to begin using your left index finger) and I'm trying to type this half on an external keyboard and half on my laptop. In the meanwhile, if any of you have done exercises for your hand and wrist with good results, please share them.

This week in VOGUE VOGUE VOGUE: Went to Sarojini Nagar with my mother--an outing we do quite a lot. I have some secret shopping places both within the large Sarojini Market, some stalls to hit which always yield good results, as well as one more export surplus-y place in East Delhi quite near her house where I always score pretty incredible accessories. I have a rule of thumb when buying stuff off the road: mostly it's about fabric. The synthetic stuff always looks cheap, unless it's got a nice geometric or some such pattern--and you're looking for BIG prints not small. Fitted dresses are tricky to figure out size for, I bought a lovely white cotton dress, but alas, it doesn't zip up all the way, so we had to go to the tailor this morning and get him to add a panel to the sides so it expands a bit. This time though, there wasn't such an embarrassment of riches as there usually is, so I think I'm going to need to make another trip soon. *yay*

Oh, the tailor! It is a temperamental shop with a revolving cast, one masterji, who I barely see and instead deal with a tall, handsome young fellow who appears to be second-in-command, but it is right down the road from me, so I go often and I am ALWAYS optimistic. There's always some dress I used to love but is now too old, too faded, too worn, and I want to revive it by giving it an all new cast and crew as it were. This time I'm aiming for a lovely grey kimono/kurta/dress thing with an orange embroidered panel at the back, and it'll either be AMAZING or.. well, it HAS to be amazing because I am paying seven hundred bucks for it, which may not sound like a lot to you, but is roughly double of what he normally charges because of the complicated sleeves and pockets and what not.

Also last week I bought a lovely dress off Olio Stories. I've been wanting to buy a dress from their website for a while, because it all looks so airy and COOL, like with-sunglasses, not temperature, but it's always been ridiculously expensive (you see how I'm wailing about 700 rups also here, so you get my general spend on clothes) but they're having a clearance sale, so you should check them out while the going's good. (Tip: everything is a bit big so even the small which I ordered is slightly loose on me, but in a nice way.) (I normally wear a medium.) (Check the size charts before you buy ANYTHING on the internet.) (The dress was cheaper when I bought it.)

This week in food and drink: Have all the men left after all that chat about clothes? WELL ANYWAY, I am now going to talk about sausages which is a very manly food--both in shape and in cooking techniques, so come back, men!

Vir Sanghvi just wrote a long wailing column about how there were no good sausages to be had in Delhi, unless you go to the OBEROI, DAHLING, but only because they export everything. Now, Vir Sanghvi is very posh and I am not, so I have ONE WORD to say to him, and that word is Pigpo. Pigpo continues to knock it out of the park in terms of sausages. I am no connoisseur, unlike certain Germans in my life, but the teeny Pigpo sausages, about the size of your thumb, are delicious, freeze well and are incredibly easy to just pop into a pan. With them, last week, I made Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes off this recipe from Lifehacker, which you can also make in your pressure cooker. I substituted the half and half mentioned with coconut milk, and they came out just as creamy and no lingering coconut flavour also. (I seriously pop coconut milk into so many things these days that I've just begun buying loads each time I do.)

Sadly, Pigpo is very far away from me, and while the meat delivery website Lionfresh looks nice and all, it is really only Pigpo I crave. Next time I'm just going to buy two kilos and freeze all of it. Instant sausage fest! Perfect for Sunday night with Netflix.
Wednesday Link List!
When Harry Met Sally is definitely on my top five list of best movie of all time. ALL TIME!
Excerpt: Perhaps because Ephron took so much from real life, When Harry Met Sally is a surprisingly grounded romantic comedy. It’s made up largely of low-stakes hangout scenes that have more in common with today’s more realistic rom-coms than they do the glossy rom-coms of the 2000s. For instance, the film contains perhaps the most hilariously accurate depiction of a game of Pictionary
ever captured on screen. Although the dialogue often has the patter of a play, Reiner and Ephron anchor those well-written conversations in the natural milieu of New York City life. Harry and Sally discuss their dating lives while unrolling a rug or wandering through Central Park or spending a day at The Met, delivering silly banter in goofy voices.
Basically: eat your vegetables.
Excerpt: The body detoxifies itself daily; that’s a primary job of the liver and the kidneys, and they are really good at it. (The intestines, spleen, and immune system are in on it, too.) So, you want to take good care of your liver and kidneys, gut, and immune system. That’s a far better “cleanse” than any juice. How do you take good care of all your detoxifying organ systems? By taking good care of yourself, of course. That means eating well, not smoking, exercising, sleeping enough, managing your stress, and so on.
Why should you care about all that Facebook stuff?
Excerpt: If you keep secrets about yourself, even innocuous ones, Facebook is likely aware of them in some capacity thanks to the sites you visit, the profiles you linger over, the comments you leave. And it’s not comforting to think that you’re not in charge of that data. Remember when we found out the NSA was spying on everyone, and people argued that “if you have nothing to hide then you shouldn’t be worried”? This feels kind of like that. You should care about what companies can learn about you without your permission, and what data they can retain against your wishes.
Three links about pets this week because I will read anything domestic companion animal related. (Sadly, these are all about dogs, but they should get some internet love too.) (Dammit, I want a dog for my collection.)

Who is my dog? This writer did a DNA test on her mutt.
Excerpt: Oh, you would like to know even more about Peter? If you insist. He has velvet ears. He has a spotted tongue. When he walks down the stairs, at his moderately paced gentleman’s trot, you can tell he’s a bit bow-legged. He has the heart of an angel and the soul of a poet, and there’s a hint of sadness to him that makes you want to protect him against all of the world’s harshness. He has whiskers that are so prominent they make you second-guess whether whiskers are a typical dog trait, or whether he could potentially be part mouse. He will sit his big, fat butt on your lap like he’s tiny, when he is actually 25 pounds. He’s affectionate, but not needy. “He’s just so...kind,” is how a cousin of mine once described him, and it’s true: he’s just so kind. Also he loves to burrow under the covers, and he loves to sleep with his head on a pillow like a tiny little man.
We treat our pets around the same way ancient cave people treated THEIR pets.
Excerpt: As civilization proceeded and small-scale hunter-gatherer societies gave way to urban elites and subservient rural populations, pet keeping entered a completely new phase. In the generally egalitarian communities of the Paleolithic everyone could keep animals as companions, whereas in the highly stratified societies of the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman empires, right up until the twentieth century, the poorest had little opportunity to acquire pets for their own sake. That’s not to say that they didn’t feel affection for dogs and cats, but those animals had to earn their keep. The surviving evidence generally suggests that from the classical period (fifth and fourth centuries bce) until the end of the nineteenth century, pets played a part in the lives of the wealthiest members of society. As the less well-off inevitably left fewer traces of their lives, we can only guess at how they interacted with their animals; no doubt they had less time and fewer resources to devote to them. Not until the nineteenth century, with the rise of the middle classes, did the keeping of pets for their own sake become widespread once more.
Excerpt: It is alarming, although perhaps predictable, that in the US attitudes toward wolves are becoming divided along political lines, with Republicans continuing to introduce and support laws that restrict or persecute them, while First Nations people and many Democrats are much more tolerant, or even encouraging, of the animals. In Europe, by contrast, a more easygoing relationship is being established, as was demonstrated in 2016 when one of the first wolves to enter the Netherlands in centuries crossed the border from Germany. It wandered the streets of a village for several days, the sanguine Dutch displaying little more than minor concern. Elsewhere in Europe, however, where wolves cause more harm to livestock, schemes are in place whereby farmers are compensated by the EU for losses to their flocks. Conflict between wolves and humans in Europe will doubtless continue, but in Europe wolves have a bright future, in part because most landowners seem willing to abide by laws and regulations formulated to address their interactions with the animals. In the US, however, wolves continue to be shot whenever they encroach onto private land. As a result, today more wolves can be found in Europe than in all the US, including Alaska, despite the fact that Europe’s human population is more than twice as large as that of the US.

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