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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10 September 2018

Newsletter: Daydream Believer

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August 2nd, 2018

Darling potato cutlets, I went away last weekend to review a spa retreat/wellness centre in Sonepat for Conde Nast Traveler, and since it is a review for them, I will not be expanding on that any further. I'll pop a link in here when it's up and you can see all for yourselves. It ended a very heavy month though, and was my first time in one of those places, which was an interesting experience. I have returned finally having slept my fill for the first time in ages. I keep thinking about sleep because of this fantastic deep dive into the science of sleep I just read. It's all about how your brain reacts when you sleep--how you literally go mad during one stage of sleep which leads to the hallucinations we call dreams.

Speaking of mad, I have been rewatching Mad Men on Netflix for the last few months--each episode is as rich and long as I remember it, meaning that you can only binge watch up until a certain point, and then there's too much information happening. I missed the last two seasons when it first aired, and now I'm curious to see what happens to everyone since I'm almost all caught up with what I had already seen. It's such a gorgeous show, and it features one of my favourite man/woman non-romantic pairings in the history of television: Peggy Olson and Don Draper.

Other non-romantic man/woman pairings I've loved:

1) Joey and Phoebe on Friends. They never sleep together (even though he kisses her once) and it seems they are the only ones free of the sexual roundabout the other four put themselves on. Even Monica and Ross, they are so weird with each other, right? Mostly this is because of Phoebe, she refuses to get dragged in, and if it weren't for Lisa Kudrow's character, I think the show would have been much less charming. I like that Phoebe acknowledges Joey for being who he is: dumb but with a good heart and the soul of an innocent. (Joey doesn't begin this way though, his character just gets more stupid as the seasons go on.) And I like that Joey is also fully supportive of Phoebe, he doesn't get her, since she doesn't fall into the traditional Monica/Rachel genre of woman, but regardless, he is never patronising of her as the other men on the show tend to be.

2) Leslie and Ron on Parks and Recreation. This is a more Peggy/Don relationship, but unlike Peggy holding herself back and being awkward around praise, Leslie pushes herself and her friendship forward on Ron Swanson, making him be friends with her whether he wants to or not. There's this one episode where Ron is all like, "I know you plan a birthday party for everyone and I hate birthday parties" and she's all "but it's your birthday!" and you think she's going to have a big thing for him, which he also thinks so he avoids her all day, but in the end, his birthday "party" is just him locked in his office, no one disturbing him, a steak and a bottle of whiskey. Even as he's eating that steak, he's smiling to himself, and you're thinking, "Aw, she really knows him!"

Last week in food and drink: Went out with my mum to a new pizza place called Evoo which has just opened up in Shivalik. Actually, I say new but a lot of my friends have not only been, they were all raving about it, so I was damn excited. However, it seemed like the whole city's friends had been raving about it, because at 12.45 on a Wednesday afternoon, we had to wait for FORTY MINUTES for a table. It's a small place, they don't deliver, they don't have a bar, but MAN, is that pizza good. (They also gave us a free panna cotta for our waiting pains.)

Every time I say I went to Evoo to someone, they're going, "Oh yes, it's fantastic, and have you been to Leo's?" Which is in Vasant Kunj and ALSO meant to have insanely good pizza, so that's next on my list. We've only had pizza home-delivered and recently, I sort of lost my love for pizza in general, it just hasn't been what I want it to be. However, now the love has been kick-started once more, which is good! Pizza for everyone!

This week in Home Hacks Inspired by Queer Eye: I've gotta thank my friend Meghna for the first hack: when we were watching Queer Eye together in Goa, and I saw the way Bobby was putting these little boxes in drawers so the underwear, socks etc would stay separate, I said, "Oooh I should get some of those" because my drawers are a grab bag of chaos. It is only through memory that I know some stuff is in there so I rootle around like a truffle pig until I find what I'm looking for. Meghna suggested using Amazon delivery cardboard boxes, and I was struck by the simplicity of that idea. Sadly, not all Amazon boxes are created the same--some are just the wrong shape, but I have two of approximately the right shape and size right now which are holding my underwear and my socks respectively in my drawer, and they look so NEAT, I spent a while yesterday just looking down at my little panty nest like a proud mother hen. I need more boxes though! Going to use the cardboard to divide up my t-shirt and skirt drawer as well.

The second hack also has to do with my closet which is literally overflowing (and yet, I spent all of this morning on the Ajio app, going through their EOSS and finally, after two hours of work, my cart had two measly items in it which I haven't even bought. Online shopping is a real addiction.) Anyway, my handbags are all over the place, I do have a drawer for them, but it's a pain to put them back there when you're using a rotation of three anyway, so I bought this set of hooks attached to a long belt thing which hooks above and below your closet door, which means all my bags are neatly hidden from public view.

This week in stuff I wrote: A new mythology for the millennial column! This fortnight: bad mother figures and what that says about the ancient Indians.
Excerpt: But Krishna wasn’t in the clear yet. Putana, pretending to be a beautiful woman, fully planned to kill Krishna by rubbing poison all over her nipple and offering to feed him for a bit to his foster mother. Back in ancient India, I suspect that having a little feed swap, where other people suckled your child as you worked and vice versa was an an obvious solution to day care, though in this case it may also function as a little warning about disease control, rather than an argument for bottle over breast.

This week in stuff other people wrote which I found interesting:
Have you ever wondered why teens on American shows just look so much more... grown up than you did at their age or were you never as naive as I was? Either way, this is a fun read on casting adults as teens.
Excerpt: This long-standing Hollywood ruse of casting definitely-not-pubescent adults as teenagers is seemingly ubiquitous; if an alien were to learn about the human aging process by simply watching mainstream film and television, she would be bewildered to arrive upon Earth's surface and realize that adolescents are not all gorgeous adults, and that many have braces, acne, or both. The fact that adults play teenagers has become such a commonly recognized trope that the internet has named the phenomenon "Dawson Casting," in reference to the much-older-than high-school-aged cast of Dawson's Creek.
How your adult friendships are different from your younger ones.
Excerpt: As they move through life, people make and keep friends in different ways. Some are independent, they make friends wherever they go, and may have more friendly acquaintances than deep friendships. Others are discerning, meaning they have a few best friends they stay close with over the years, but the deep investment means that the loss of one of those friends would be devastating. The most flexible are the acquisitive—people who stay in touch with old friends, but continue to make new ones as they move through the world.
A beautiful essay on menopause. (Hmm, I was clearly thinking a lot about age this week as I clicked on links.)
Excerpt: No matter how attractive or unattractive you are, you have been used to having others look you over when you stood at the bus stop or at the chemist’s to buy tampons. They have looked you over to assess how attractive or unattractive you are, so no matter what the case, you were looked at. Those days are over; now others look straight through you, you are completely invisible to them, you have become a ghost.
Arundhati Roy on writing in English and the moral appropriateness of this.
Excerpt: Guilt in this case is an unhelpful sentiment. India as a country, a nation-state, was a British idea. So, the idea of English is as good or as bad as the idea of India itself. Writing or speaking in English is not a tribute to the British Empire, as the British imperial historian had tried to suggest to me, it is a practical solution to the circumstances created by it. Fundamentally, India is in many ways still an empire, its territories held together by its armed forces and administered from Delhi, which, for most of her subjects, is as distant as any foreign metropole. If India had broken up into language republics, like countries in Europe, then perhaps English could be done away with. But even still, not really, not any time soon. As things stand, English, although it is spoken by a small minority (which still numbers in the tens of millions), is the language of mobility, of opportunity, of the courts, of the national press, the legal fraternity, of science, engineering, and international communication. It is the language of privilege and exclusion.

Sorry folks, there's no way to live a completely ethical life.
Excerpt: In order to develop more moral behavior, it’s much more important to focus on the things we do right, and the good we can bring about—even if that’s just redress after making a wrong. The ethicist contends that there’s no need to get “snooty or grumpy” about morality. A truly ethical life is joyful, lived with a clear conscience, “knowing that we are doing the best we can, even if that means our behavior may be unsatisfactory at times,” she writes.
Baba Ramdev and his Ramdevishness continue to make excellent longform profiles.
Excerpt: In his own way, Ramdev is India’s answer to Donald Trump, and there is much speculation that he may run for prime minister himself. Like Trump, he heads a multibillion-dollar empire. And like Trump, he is a bombastic TV personality whose relationship with truth is elastic; he cannot resist a branding opportunity — his name and face are everywhere in India. In May, he announced plans to add swadeshi SIM cards to his ever-growing list of products: packaged noodles, herbal constipation remedies, floor cleaner made with cow urine. He has a gift for W.W.E.-style publicity stunts: Last year he “won” a televised bout with an Olympic wrestler from Ukraine.

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