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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4 November 2006
Little Red Driving Hood
Once upon a time, in a city plagued with doubt and despair, there lived a beautiful maiden called Little Red Driving Hood. She was called that because she drove a chariot (which was black, but still, small detail) and she wore a red shawl. Little Red Driving Hood loved her city, despite the doubt and despair and she was happy living in it, with her woodland friends and comrades.
One morning, Little Red Driving Hood woke up and made herself a cup of sustaining brew as was her custom, before she picked up the daily gazetteer that the town criers put together to give the citizens of that city a fair and not so fair view of what the day had to offer. She noticed shops with locks on them, and watchmen snoozing outside and wondered what had happened to make it so.
But because Little Red Driving Hood was a frivolous creature—which is what let her be happy in the first place---she soon put thoughts of her city’s apparent shut down out of her mind and prepared her toilette so she could go across the fields to the neighbouring town where she worked.
That morning, the other fair maiden who resided with her was giving her a ride back to her car, parked at the other fair maiden’s parents castle, not very far away. On the way, they stopped to pick up another young lad who also worked with Driving Hood in the neighbouring town.
Once she reached her chariot, Driving Hood noticed that her fuel chart appeared a little low on supplies. With the young lad, she drove to a nearby filling station not noticing the Big Bad Wolf coming up from behind her and carefully removing the air from her front left wheel. The chariot started listing a little to the side, and the Young Lad stuck his head out of the window and confirmed that indeed, the tyre was flat.
“Oh no,” said Driving Hood, “Now what shall I do? Especially since the spare tyre is flat as well.” But being a maiden of great resources, as well as beauty, she managed to drag her flagging chariot to the filling station, where, she hoped like most filling stations, they would be able to repair it. But alas, she hoped against hope. All they could do, was fill a little air in the tyre and send them on their way to another wheel place, that would be able to do the trick.
“Never fear!” said Driving Hood, “I will get us there! Carry on, oh trusty chariot!” The chariot tried its very best, moving forward slowly, and trying not to cause any more damage to its tyre, and they reached the lane where the Tyresmiths lived, strange mysterious creatures, who puffed on their leaf cigarettes and watched the two of them with hardened eyes. Young Lad looked slightly nervous, but Driving Hood rolled down her window to ask the Tyresmiths whether they would be so kind as to attend to her chariot. “We’re shut,” said one. And it was true! All around them, shutters were down, and with a sinking heart, Driving Hood remembered that morning’s gazette. “All the places are shut,” she breathed and Young Lad looked even more alarmed.
The chariot just barely made it back to her own stone hut and there it stood sadly as the two of them regarded it. Time was ticking fast, and in order to complete their first task of the day they had to be in the neighbouring town soon, or risk being turned into toads. “We could,” faltered the Young Man, “Take the tyre with us to the neighbouring town and ask them to repair it there.” Though the idea seemed foolish, it was also the only option that seemed feasible at the time, and so they opened the back of the chariot and removed the spare tyre. And, then the Young Lad, with great gallantry, half-rolled, half-carried the heavy thing to the road, where Driving Hood flagged down a haycart which would take them to the very edge of the next town.
The tyre was old and dirty and the Young Lad’s hands and clothes got badly stained, but still he persevered, and Driving Hood meanwhile sent up a signal to her place of employment, letting them know that they were on their way, and whether another chariot could be sent to meet them. But by the time they got to the very edge of their next town, another signal was sent saying that no chariots were presently available. Driving Hood could have cried. Especially since her red shawl was now muddy and dirty. And the walk from the edges to the main town was quite a distance, even rolling a tyre.
The town’s official security guards looked at them a little curiously, as the duo pushed the tyre past their check post and stood at the side of the road, hoping to get a lift with another chariot. But though most chariots slowed down to have a look, no one stopped and their hearts filled with despair.
But then hope! In the form of a shining steed on a bicycle cart, sent by their place of employment. The Young Lad and Driving Hood clambered gladly into it, resting the tyre against their legs. And sure enough, they found Tyresmiths open, who fixed the tyre and sent them on their way. And by the time they reached their place of employment and left the tyre with the reception, news of their adventures had spread and they weren’t turned into toads after all.
“All’s well that ends well,” sighed Driving Hood, when she reached her stone hut that evening and sank thankfully into bed.
What, you still want a moral? Fine, here you go. Taking a flat tyre with you from Delhi to Gurgaon is never a good idea, no matter if it may seem that way at the time.
Meh. Not a good week.