The Internet Personified: I have my own list of names just like Arya Stark
Valar morghulis, bitches.
All days have blurred into one continuous day, I am still within our flat, only telling time by a) my stomach, b) my sleepytimes and c) cocktail hour every alternate day, to ration things. In short, I have completely transformed into an indoor-only housecat (minus the cocktails, plus the balls), and also spend large parts of the day with my eyelids half-lowered, looking like I’m deeply meditating on the fate of the world, when actually I am just thinking of what I would like to eat next. Of course, I know it’s April 1st, but all I’m thinking is that we have two weeks left till the end of this lockdown and whether that will extend into lockdown phase two and lockdown phase three, and on and on and on, till 2022 when there’s finally a vaccination I do not know, but I have marked off April 14th on my calendar and am hoping that I can stock up on some supplies and see a few people before we are all confined to our homes again.
But otherwise I’m okay. It’s been a great time to work on all my grudges, I have several. And once I started organising them, I realised I had all these little pockets of peeves, Peeve Pockets, cluttered through my memories that I could just bring out and polish at will. Grudges, unlike revenge, are not a dish best served cold though, they’re like french fries, delicious when they’re hot and dragged through a pile of mustard and Sriracha, but kind of gross and mealy the next day. You’ll still eat them—don’t waste good potatoes—but the thrill is gone. I will give you some examples of my old grudges—not forgiven, but mostly forgotten because I can’t recall a lot of names now—to show you exactly how petty I can be.
1) Girl at party who told me she wrote for the Caravan and then said, “It’s a magazine?” to me.
2) This medium-famous-for-the-time theatre director who came to our school to direct a play and all but promised me this one role and then called us to his room to tell me I wouldn’t get it because it was going to this other girl instead. TWIST: this was boarding school, the room was his guest cottage. TWIST TWO: the girl who he had given the part to instead of me snuck out of the cottage with a sheepish expression on her face just before I knocked. I wept all through the Sunday Feature Film they showed us, which happened to be Happy Gilmore, a movie I now associate with sorrow, even though it’s a comedy, and I blame him for both the tears and the movie ruining.
3) This one woman who was so rude to me on my first freelance junket that I have loathed her ever since, but she doesn’t realise the extent of my loathing, so she sometimes says hi to me anyway and I try to be cold, but I only come across as slightly vague and short-sighted.
The thing with your Grudgees is that you don’t want anything TRULY bad to happen to them, because then there’s the whole Moral Dilemma you’re sitting on, what sort of person hates someone who has been paralysed in a car accident or whatever, right? No, you want them to have a fairly ordinary life, no highs, no lows, with the occasional annoyance like spilling something on a white sofa and not being able to get it out which kind of ruins the sofa for you, which is a shame because you just bought it and you spent a little over budget to get it. Or you lose your PAN card, and then you can’t get a new one for a few months, but they keep telling you to come back the next day so you lose a week or two to waiting in lines in an office where the fans are not working. That sort of small continuous punishment.
However, it is with GREAT EXCITEMENT, I must tell you that I have a brand new grudge, on a scale I’ve never seen before and it is against my local RWA.
Grudging a whole RWA group is hard, and also a little unfair, because there are some sensible people on this Whatsapp group, did I mention there was a Whatsapp group? It’s continuously muted on my phone and laptop, and I only used to check it once every couple of days to see if there was anything I needed to know, and even then sometimes I didn’t check it and just used it to check if there was a block-wide power cut or just at my house. Things like that.
The place where we live is a small Delhi colony, so small that unless you know someone who lives there, you likely won’t know it exists at all. There’s about 400 plots total, so we don’t even need to have block letters, but we do anyway. What I mean is that B-98 is the ONLY 98, so it could just be House Number 98, but whoever colonised this decided blocks were the way to go. It’s mostly full of old people, I’m not joking when I say one old person dies at least once every two weeks, then it’s RIP all over the group, with the praying hands emoji. Everyone seems to know everyone else and be up in everyone else’s business as well. From what I understand, before we moved here there was a different RWA but they were old and slow and didn’t do anything so the new RWA rode in on high expectations and a desire to change shit, but the old ones decided to sulk and make an entirely different Whatsapp group (which I am not a member of, sadly). Sometimes these two factions have large and unintelligible public fights on both Whatsapp and via circular delivered to each home. On the day that Modi announced that we all had to go on to our terraces and make a joyful noise, there were a bunch of people with conch shells, so it’s that sort of place.
A lot of my neighbours, in true Delhi style, are obsessed with keeping people out. You see, our little colony has two sprawling neighbourhoods on either side, pressing it in, of what you might call an economically weaker section of society. Traffic between the three is pretty free-flowing, there are shortcuts I frequently use by cutting through the other neighbourhoods, we all share a large public park, the market in our colony is the one “main market” for all three places, the ATMs however are in the neighbourhood on the left and so on. But to hear the people on this Whatsapp group tell it, all the “outsiders” have only one goal and that is to get into our colony because it is better. “Their children are playing on our swings!” someone will say, panicking and attaching a photo. This is getting worse now, because they finally, finally, have a good excuse to keep everyone out. All the gates have been locked, except one, from where you may go and collect your delivery but the guards are stopping delivery people from entering. And here’s where my grudge comes in. I got delivery one night, tired of cooking and sure enough the guard stopped them. I messaged on the group saying that it was against the whole idea of social distancing if I had to go down and walk outside to the main gate (two lanes away from me). I thought my point was well-made, seriously, with all the delivery people getting clogged at the entrance, doesn’t that end the idea of keeping two metres away from everyone? Isn’t it less infecting if someone leaves a package on my stairs rather than all the people I might meet and infect on the way to the gate or vice versa? By this time, the guard frog-marched the delivery guy to my front door and looked pleased with himself for doing it.
But by then the president of the RWA had posted a passive aggressive message on the group anyway. “I am 66,” she said, and has said repeatedly since then, “And I have been going to the gate to collect my groceries. Exercise is good for you.” I messaged her one-on-one to make my point, but she kept going on about being 66. Later, when someone else asked how they were going to get their groceries, she said she’d collect it and bring it to them. “May God give me strength to come out of my comfort zone and give strength to others,” she went on to say.
Meanwhile, the rest of them were having a lovely judgy party too. “Lots of labour class youngsters on the main road,” one said. Yup. Labour class. Another exchange went, “A lot of people walking in the park.” Someone else asked, “Oh, educated or uneducated?” This is the same Whatsapp group that suggested having an evening social club, with games and everything, “just for Brahmins.” A few voices spoke up then, and the Brahmin-clubbers went dark. I think they started their own group.
A couple of days ago (after I asked if one of the stores was still open and was told to Google the information instead of asking—they really are becoming quite rude with so much time on their hands) the president posted a photo of a house in the colony with a red quarantine sign on it. “This just went up yesterday,” she said. The owner of the house chimed in then saying a) he had returned from a foreign trip and was required to quarantine but was NOT SICK and b) the sign had gone up the previous week, so he was almost done. So many reasons to enjoy this grudge, and foolishness is just one of them.
I did, against my own good sense, join one of their activities though. They wanted some volunteers to check in on senior citizens once a day and see if they were good and happy. Everyone else on this second Whatsapp group was posting tearful-cheerful stories about how TOUCHED the olds were, and how they BLESSED all of us. I thought I’d have my own Tuesdays with Morrie movement you guys, but my old was tech-savvy and also a little bemused by my Loud Cheerful Nurse Voice. He took to messaging me himself before I could call him. “We are fine,” he’d say quickly. Finally I asked him, “Do you enjoy this checking in or would you prefer to let me know if you need anything?” Pat came the answer: “Will let you know in case of any requirement.” That’s me put in my place like a salesman trying to get you to upgrade your internet speed. I haven’t heard from him since.
Write back and tell me about your grudges, okay? I’d like to hear a good hate story to keep me warm and energised.
Here is a song that I thought was very COVID-appropriate. Of course it’s called Doom Days.
This week in publishing news:
The Internet Archive made all the books in their library free—even the copyrighted titles, leading authors to argue that people should be buying books in this troubling time instead of getting them for free, which I totally agree with because otherwise we won’t have enough money to write another book. (Hah, as if my old books pay for my new ones.) Just adding a little reminder button over here.
After that Juggernaut/Scroll online lit fest I told you about last week, all the publishers in India are having some sort of online event. Details here.
It’s been a slow week. Send me news if you have any for next week’s edition.
Non-corona stuff up top!
An old piece of mine went slightly viral this week on Instagram so I’m sharing it here also. On nostalgia and looking back. Which also reminds me of an essay I did for Open back in 2011 about why we (Indian people) love old music so much.
Love Mary Beard, love Asterix, love the two of them together.
Who wants to be a billionaire’s butler?
The most hated poet in Portland (and also Instagram.)
A lexicon of dogs and their owners by stereotype.
Celine Dion’s It’s All Coming Back To Me is just a really weird song, this essay says.
Corona stories, because I can’t avoid them, you guys but you can just skip ahead.
Beautiful meditation on people.
Other ways to socialise with people on video chat which isn’t just “catching up.”
I’m not giving you science shit, you’re probably inundated. Stay indoors, and if you’re going out for groceries, latest research suggests that you should start wearing a mask now. We made ourselves masks this week using cut up legs off an old churidhar K didn’t want anymore, a bendy stick curler inside to make it contour to our noses and sashes off two of my dresses to wrap the neck up snugly. We looked like fools, but we felt a little safer.
This week’s dedicated gifs are sphinx cats, a breed that I personally think are gorgeous, especially as our three cats are shedding their winter coats all over the place and I am constantly sneezing. (NOT A COVID SYMPTOM, DO NOT FREAK OUT.)
And I’m ending with this image from the Lit Hub newsletter today. I can’t find a link to the piece, but this is what I needed to read.
If you know anyone who’d enjoy this sort of rambling story + links format, please share. Here’s a button.
Have a great week!
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.
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Forward to your friends if you liked this and to that one guy on your Whatsapp group who is inciting you to violence despite your usual pacifist nature.
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