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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6 January 2014

We twa hae run about the braes & pou'd the gowans fine (Road Trip: Korlai, Maharashtra)

(I have no intention of turning this into a boring resolution post, so just a quick sidebar to tell you that I'm challenging myself to put up one post a day. The blog turns TEN (I know, can you believe it?) this June, and it seems like a good way to mark the anniversary. I know these things seldom last longer than a few months, but it is my hope that this challenge will bring me back to blogging several times a week, and maybe gain a regular-ish community here once more. That's all. Enjoy the story!)

This is the year I'm doing new things. It began last month, December was a fantastic month, and I was almost sorry to see it go. To be fair, when is it not a year I'm doing new things, or at least trying to? I make the same resolution every year, one that's surprisingly easy to keep once you get the hang of it: say yes to everything. (Except, of course, stuff that could harm you.) (Um, or maybe even yes to that sometimes? More on this later!)

Bonfire around which we sat and cooked things in aluminium foil. Speaking of, how do you pronounce "aluminium"? I say: ah-loo-min-um, but I've been informed that's AMERICAN & the correct (BRITISH) way to say it is al-you-min-yum.

But instead of starting at the beginning I'm going to the very end to tell you all about my BRILLIANT New Year's Eve adventure. (No, no, don't go! You can totally go there over the next long weekend, assuming you have a long weekend coming up, or January 26 or something. So this post has a point.)

Good Thing and I repaired to Bombay as soon as December was almost up, just as Delhi's Winter began to stop going, "Lalala, aren't I delightful?" and began to mutate into WINTER HULK, "COLD! I FREEZE YOU! DIE WEAK HUMAN!"  We hadn't really given much thought to Christmas or New Year's, figuring that just being warm would be enough. And it was. We went to a brunch, ate at some new restaurants, watched more TV than could be good for us, and generally settled into the Bombay rhythm.

I have a friend I've blogged about before, I think, under the alias Rodrigo. Rodrigo was the one who showed me around Mohammad Ali Road's many culinary treasures. (Post here.) He's an adventurous kind of guy, always taking off on something exciting or the other. I mean, here are a few examples of how he lives his life: a) he built his own ice-gola machine WHICH HE ACTUALLY USES b) he has regular movie nights with projector and popcorn on his terrace c) he knows little known things about pretty much every single place he visits. Which brings me to a conversation we had at the aforementioned brunch:

Me: What are you doing for New Year's Eve?
Him: We might climb something [a mountain. He climbs things.] Wanna come?
Me: Uh, no. My New Year's adventures pretty much begin and end with beach.
Him: How about if we went to a place with a mountain AND a beach AND an abandoned fort?

Spent the night right before these arches. Right AFTER the first arch was the designated ladies susu area.

Colour me untravelled, but I hadn't heard of Korlai, Maharashtra until it was brought up that afternoon. It's a few hours (read: four. Add on one extra hour for traffic and navigating through Korlai village which has bright houses and very windy roads) out of Bombay, and just an hour from Alibagh. Only, it's so low-key that there's not a single hotel to be had. Not even one. The closest was about 20 kilometres away, and cost an arm and a leg for two rooms. But Rodrigo had different plans. "We'll sleep in the fort!" he said. "In.. the.. fort?" said The Least Outdoorsy Person In The World (me). "It'll be grreaaat," he assured me. "But rats! And snakes! And GENERAL ALL ROUND DISCOMFORT!"

Actually I was very excited, and I only brought up the general all round discomfort because Good Thing, in his effort to not make me disappointed in things told me all the things that could go wrong. (I know, he's a keeper.) But the good thing about the Good Thing's warnings were that I was already prepared for hating every last minute of it, and I only went because of my general say-yes-to-all-new-experiences rule. (I also went for bonfire. And the fact that it sounded so bad-ass to occupy an abandoned fort.)

Korlai is mostly famous for its lighthouse, a beautiful specimen inside a compound, and many people find it easier to climb to the top of the lighthouse than the top of the hill where the fort is. (Which is understandable, because halfway through I was like, "THIS IS KILIMANJARO! This is Everest! DON'T LET ME DIE HERE ALOOOOONE!") All around the hill where the fort is was sea, and after some chatter to the lighthouse keeper, we gathered that the best strategy was to park the car at a distance and make our way upwards. This I did carrying my (small) backpack and someone else's yoga mat, while all around me people lugged water and firewood and booze and food. I would be completely useless on an Amazonian expedition, I realised, as the thorny grass made its way inside my shoes and hung on to my socks. Not my finest hour.

We had to rush up there before sunset so we could see and not be seen, so we got up and settled by about seven. By eight, we had the fire stuff ready, and the food all prepped. By eight thirty, we cooked the food. By nine thirty, we ate the food and were ready for bed. But we (I) managed to keep my eyes open till midnight, which was a little hard, with the starry starry sky spread above us, and the ache in my legs feeling so delicious when I lay down, and the sound of the waves lulling me to sleep. We went for a walk to stay awake (late night fort was spooky and friendly at the same time), and stuck things in the fire to make it burn and then it was midnight and all around us, at Alibagh and other coastal towns, the fireworks went off, and from the sea, the ships sounded low horns in triumph. We're alive, we're somewhere beautiful and aren't we lucky? We might never be this lucky again.

And then everyone fell asleep quite quickly.

Despite the rockiness, it was quite a nice sea to swim in.

The next morning we carried our stuff down again (HUFF & PUFF went I and OOH THE STAIRS GIVE ME VERTIGO! so once again I wound up with just my backpack. Great, eM. You're the one people leave behind to be eaten by wild dogs to slow them down.)

But the climb down also promised us the sea. We'd been sleeping on the ground with no access to proper running water, and with the road trip grime and the soot of the fire and just general dirt, we all felt extra grimy. So we sweet talked the lighthouse keeper into letting us change in his quarters (one of us used their Marathi skills to inveigle a cooked breakfast) and ran down to the empty beach for a swim. Cold, cold, COLD water, unless you braced yourself and ducked your head under and still, the water gave you goosebumps till your neck, which became really hot under the sun. I suppose Fort Aloneness was our quota for the day, because twenty minutes after we got in, so did a gaggle of men, who just HAD to swim in the same section as us, even though there was all this sea. Sometimes (okay, okay, pretty much always) I hate gaggles of men.

So, my New Year's Ruminations. You know my theory about what you do at midnight you do for the rest of the year. Last year kicked off with cold cold Delhi and a few friends coming over, and us all sitting around a living room drinking. Much like my year: domestic, cozy, content. This year began with a blanket of stars, and my favourite person next to me, and new people and old people, and what else can I ask for from a year? 2013 was ruminating, 2014, I'm going to do shit.


  1. Yep, that's my quiet resolve too, this year: do shit. It might not be exciting shit, just shit that needs to be done, but I'll go ahead and do it unlike the past 7 years wherein I waited for a deadline to threaten me into doing shit. Sigh.


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