Up narrow, bat smelling stairs, I walked, balancing handbag and cellphone torch. A friendly black dog decided to keep us company and bounded along next to me and I almost thought he was a mouse and screamed. Also, he was a big dog and between us, we barely fit on those ancient stairs, but we made it to the top without dying.
We spread out sheets (I brought a sheet!) and doled out the food and alcohol. This was officially illegal. The wine had a cork, no one brought a corkscrew. We shrugged and resorted to vodka. The dog lay silently by the staircase, ready to get up and warn us about any incoming visitors.
From time to time, our voices got really loud. And then someone would say, "SHUSH!" and we shushed. Sometimes we spied people on trysts like ours, mostly lovers, some ardent night runners, we ducked from them all. One of us crawled on her stomach to peer out through a hole in the low wall. We were carried away by the adventure of it all.
"This would be a great date place," was repeated many times, and we all sighed and agreed. It would be a great date place. "This is not something we could have done in Bombay," said my friend to me, and we agreed on that as well.
We played a drinking game: Sex, Drugs And Rock and Roll. Mostly, people could only think of sex things. 'X' was a sticking point.
I had to pee. I went down the stairs to the darkest spot I could find. I saw someone with a torch and stood against the wall, hurriedly zipping up my jeans, feeling like a spy and a sex offender at the same time.
As the vodka levels got lower and our spirits got higher, we decided we weren't going to get caught after all. We stood up, stretching our legs. We took photographs. A friend and I decided to open the wine bottle with a knife, she was careful, I took the knife, wedged into the cork and banged it against the wall. The bottle broke, but we extracted the wine. There were giggles. There were more photographs. We sat, insouciant, on the parapet, and watched people running, talking into their cellphones.
Some people left. We cleaned up. We played a very loud game where we sung all the songs we could think of. It was a balmy night. We finished whatever little wine we had left in our plastic cups. We sang louder. Bohemian Rhapsody echoed out over the lawns.
Say what you will about Delhi. Yes, sometimes it's rape-y and nasty and disgusting. But sometimes it's kinda magic. That's why I love this city, for the magic. That's what I have to remind myself why I continue to live here, despite the ugly stuff. This kind of evening.