Posted in Random

Madam Fatal and Robert Galbraith

Thank you, Internet, for giving me a life goal.

The sad part is that Madam Fatal is not Miss Marple’s more active cousin bred on paperback novels of 1940-42 America, but a man named Richard Stanton in drag.

Beat that, Mrs. Doubtfire.

Still, despite Stanton being the man behind Madam Fatal, I like this attempt to punch the notion of a comic femme fatale in the gut. He’s also a cross-dressing superhero, acknowledging the power the stereotype of the Crone has over him even as he adds a level of menace to one of the less villainised avatars of womanhood, the ‘little old lady’. It’s interesting because Stanton wants to be an old lady, which is rare. There are characters who make their peace with being old women, but by and large, no one chooses that state. It’s considered a withered version of vibrant, young femininity. The wisdom gained from age renders men into benign respectability and even power, but not in women. The old woman may be wise, but she’s usually also bitter, fixated upon the loss of youth because her power lay in her sexuality.

So Stanton’s cheerful and willing transformation into an frumpy old lady whom no one suspects of anything until she unleashes herself upon them is very, very intriguing. And happy-making, I think. It’s taking an anxiety about feminine power and turning it on its head.


Probably because ‘pleasant’ in Delhi summers is the temperature hovering around 40C, looking at Madam Fatal made me wander over to Robert Galbraith, who will never be anything more than a flimsy paperback mask for JK Rowling. After all the stories we’re told of women writers who needed to adopt either pseudonyms or androgynous versions of their names to break through, there’s something rather poetic about this male pseudonym that Rowling is determined to establish even though it’s an exercise in futility. Galbraith has the sales he does because everyone knows he’s actually Rowling.

I imagine him a fragile, waif of an alter ego, growing malevolent and bitter invisibly. Biding his time for when he will, somehow, wreak his revenge upon Rowling for bringing him into this world and forcing him to stay on, just ’cause.

And then, a few hundred years later, just as we obsess over who was William Shakespeare, perhaps scholars and the general public will think Galbraith was the real writer whose credit was snatched by this woman called JK Rowling.

Yeah, it’s true. The heat isn’t good for my brain.

Posted in Random

“Great news, beta!”

Scene: Exterior
Parking area of a nondescript Mumbai apartment building.

An elderly gentleman is sitting on a plastic chair. He’s wearing a turban, a short-sleeved shirt and glasses. Behind him is a small passage that leads to the lift and a staircase.

Not-so-young woman comes out of the lift and as she makes her way to the gate, she passes the elderly gentleman. He beams at her and continues beaming throughout the following exchange.

WOMAN: Good morning, uncle.

UNCLE: Good morning, good morning. You’re going out?

WOMAN: Yes, uncle.

UNCLE: Good, good. You must go out so that you can come back. It’s very important. We need people like you to come back.

WOMAN: Erm, yes, uncle.

UNCLE: Yes, yes. You go, you come back and then you can attend the housing society meeting.

WOMAN: Oh. Is it happening now? As in, today?

UNCLE: No, next Saturday. You’ve read the The Times of India today? Continue reading ““Great news, beta!””

Posted in Random

Hello you

Anna Borges has done a set of super charts and graphs that describe introverts. I realise that this is supposed to make “them” people understand “us” better, but man, I just feel vaguely exposed and therefore betrayed. Dammit Anna, did we need to tell the whole world about the fictional characters? Sigh. 

On the plus side, “animal companions” aren’t my thing. (No, occasionally discussing plot with a teddy bear named Sherlock – he has a pipe and a deer hunter cap – doesn’t count. Not really. Let’s not argue about this.) On the other hand, what replaces “animal companions” in my personal pie chart is not necessarily…convincing me of my normalcy. Double sigh.

See more of Anna’s insights here

Posted in Uncategorized

Write this way


“If at first you don’t succeed, get used to it.”

I have spent the last 24 hours trying to write, which means I have done the following:

  • Stuck 30-odd photographs on a wall that I’ve decided is going to be my wall of travel photographs
  • Stuffed a chicken
  • Marinated a duck in a plum, basil and chilli mix
  • Washed clothes that didn’t need washing
  • Stared unseeingly out of my window so fixedly for so long that the people in the next apartment building actually drew their curtains.

What I do have at the end of all this is an excellent reason to write by hand, rather than sitting at the computer. When you write on that onscreen document on your computer, you type and the words appear. They’re neat, orderly and present. Then you read what you’ve written and it’s a bloody disaster. So you hit delete. And it’s gone. Whoosh. The document’s blank again. Continue reading “Write this way”

Posted in Current affairs

Get-it-off-your-chest Tuesday

Don’t mind me. I’ll just be in this corner, my face to the wall, frothing at the mouth and talking to myself. Because holy hell in a handbag, what is this country that on paper is mine?

A young man killed himself on Sunday night. Yesterday, while thousands (I live in hope that there are more zeroes to add to that number) mourned and raged that he’d been driven to suicide, government authorities secretly cremated his body. Why? Because they didn’t want a “law and order” situation. Never mind the fact that this man wouldn’t have killed himself if the government hadn’t made a mockery of the idea of law and enforced an order that privileges spinelessness and is repressive, exploitative and prejudiced. Continue reading “Get-it-off-your-chest Tuesday”