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

Sign up for my newsletter: The Internet Personified

22 March 2012

We found love in a hopeless place

 We snuck in through a side entrance, me, who has never really done anything lawless in her life, my heart thumping, and a flutter of uncontrollable, inappropriate giggles about to rise up through my chest. "Shhh!" said the first person in line, warningly, we dodged a guard, walked under a bridge and ran across the lawn, being careful to stay in the shadows, and then (I thought he was joking) we lurked behind a tree. No joke. One by one, we peeled ourselves out from behind the tree and scampered, no forgiving shadows there, but it was a short scamper, till we reached the wall of the monument we were aiming for. (The old horse stables, I was told later.) Two others and I thought we spied a guard, so we stayed behind the tree longer than we should have, and our Fearless Leader came back, hugging the wall, to find us and send us ahead of him.

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.


  1. Actually, there is a really cool little forgotten park in Bandra, kinda slope-y, small but seriously abandoned and still pretty, where you can hang out at night. But there are buildings surrounding it so I suppose singing Queen loudly would not be a good idea.

    1. In the lane behind the big Candies on Pali Hill, when you turn into it from Turner Road there's a garage at the bend. Occasionally there's a watchman, but not at night.

  2. That was such a beautiful post. It brought to mind Games at Twilight by Anita Desai. Very vividly written. Nice to see you posting more often! :)

    1. aw. i loved that story. we did it in english, i remember, in class 9.

  3. And i hope U haven't written the post to flaunt your act and have paid fine for the lawless thing that you did :)

  4. WHAT FUN! Damn, I gotta do this with my friends. :D

  5. The melody of a felony well told..
    Like the candies we hid to eat in bed
    Great stuff...
    Thanks for sharing

  6. "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."

    you do realize there's a bunch of guys masturbating to this sentence?

    - pervert anon

  7. I so agree with the last line about the "magic" in Delhi sometimes. :)

  8. Why those stuff of vodka & wine make difference in large scale of every indivisual stories !!!..

  9. You write really well. Its the first time Im reading your blog. What a fun piece, so vivid

  10. nic post I so agree with you .thanks for sharing


Thanks for your feedback! It'll be published once I approve it. Inflammatory/abusive comments will not be posted. Please play nice.