Active Women of Chennai


Women going to work on a Sunday
Women going to work on a Sunday

A couple of young women walking briskly to work on a Sunday morning on Mount Road (Anna Salai) a couple of days before Women’s Day.

The building in the background is the Addision Building with its identifiable arches.




Windows to a vanishing heritage

Windows of the crumbling Bharat Insurance Building
Windows of the crumbling Bharat Insurance Building

Another view of the partially demolished Bharat Insurance Building. The High Court ordered a stay on demolition based on a  case was filed by INTACH.

The building has been in the half-demolished condition for the last 10 years or so.

Oldest Bookstore

Higginbotham's Bookstore 1844
Higginbotham’s Bookstore 1844

Higginbothams is perhaps the oldest bookstore in India. It was started by an English stowaway, Abel Higginbothams in 1844. It was taken over by the Amalgamations Group (Simpson’s) in 1945.

During our growing up years, Higginbothams was the go-to shop for any books. Most railway stations in South India also had a Higginbothams stall (some still exist) where we picked up newspapers, magazines and Perry Mason paperbacks (for about 4 or 5 rupees) during travel.

Despite the onslaught of competition from new generation bookstores, online stores, and ebooks, Higginbothams has survived. What is more, the management has restored the iconic heritage building on Mount Road. Our esteem for the management of Amalgamations Group goes up when we see the historic Bharat Insurance Building (Kardyl building) just opposite to Higginbothams which was to be razed to the ground by the Government-owned LIC to put up a ‘modern’ monstrosity.

Temple Ecosystem

Cat in Varadarajaswamy Temple
Cat in Varadarajaswamy Temple, Kanchipuram

Does the kitten know that it is in the 1000-year old Varadaraja Swamy Temple built by the Cholas? Does she know that the temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams venerated by the Alwars and Acharyas and where millions throng for darshan? Does she know that she is standing on a pillar where master craftsmen of the Vijayanagar era have carved exquisite battle scenes? Does it know that it is eating the famous Puliyodarai prasad offered to Perumal?

It may not. It is concerned about its survival. This is part of the large eco-system of a Hindu Temple.

Please also see: Eyeing the Golden Throne

And this one: Complete with Cute cat 

And this: Cats and Gods

Oh God, forgive me for stealing your milk.

This one is from Sree Mallikeswarar Temple, Thambu Chetty Street, Mannady, Chennai photographed in  2011


Multi-pronged protection

Multiple devices to protect from Drishti
Multiple devices to protect from Drishti

Devices to protect from the wrath of the evil eye are very common on doors and vehicles. Here, a door in Kolakaranpet has multiple devices to protect from ‘Drishti’. Being in a locality with the name ‘Kola kaaran pet’ (Murderer’s area) such shotgun approach may be called for.


A nice weekend outing near Chennai

Many of us lament that unlike Delhi, Bangalore or even Trivandrum Chennai has fewer options for weekend outings near the city.

On closer examination, I find several options ex-Chennai which are not well known or well presented by the authorities and enthusiasts.

One such is the Nelapattu bird sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh which is a little over hundred kilometres from Chennai.

Along with 3 NRI friends (birders &  photographers), I visited this place recently and was happy with the experience.

From Chennai hit the Madhavaram roundabout and take the Calcutta Highway.  Getting into the Andhra Pradesh border you cross Tada and Sullurpeta.  Just after the toll booth, take a right turn under the flyover. There is a railway line to cross after which you take a left turn into a village road. One kilometre down this road you can see the gate of the Sanctuary on the left.

The Sanctuary is open from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m.

Entry ticket for adults is Rs. 25. Camera Rs.100 Binoculars Rs.50. Car parking Rs.100.

The car can go inside up to the tourist Centre parking lot. On the way, we could see a Deer Park and a few cottages under construction. The Sanctuary has an area of about 400 hectares In the middle is water body which with its trees form the centre for the Birds to flock and roost.

There is a well-designed path about 500 mtrs long encircling the pond with convenient viewing Towers.

Being a weekday there were hardly any other visitors and we had the entire area to ourselves. I can imagine the crowd during weekends with school children, picnickers, tourists and others besides serious enthusiasts.

The Sanctuary is famous as the largest Pelicanary. Besides pelicans, there are several aquatic birds including open-billed storks, ibises, herons, and egrets. {see photographs}

A view of the Nelapattu sanctuary
A view of the Nelapattu sanctuary
A pelican in flight
A pelican in flight

Even in February, it was quite warm and we carried our own water. The centre had provided mineral water bubble tops at various places. And there were signs of a small canteen and a tuck shop.


The Calcutta Highway (GNT) is fairly good but be prepared for speed breakers, barricades, and traffic indiscipline., There aren’t many options by way of restaurants on the way unlike the Chennai-Trichy and Chennai-Bengaluru highways. If you are fussy about food, better carry with you as we senior citizens did. We supplemented it with some  snacks on the way.

The staff at the centre were very friendly and ready with information. Being first week of February there were lots of birds. A few weeks later, it may not be the case.

We got quite a lot of good frames and were overall happy with the experience.

On the way back we went into the Sriharikota Road through the Sullurpet town hoping to see more birds especially flamingos but we were disappointed. We just had a glimpse of the Sriharikota Gate and some egrets and herons in the receding backwaters and saline marshland. Pulicat Bird Sanctuary Information Centre which was partially closed informed us that we were too late as the birds left in January.


Budget 2018 for Senior Citizens

Tomorrow, when I go for the morning walk at the park, I am sure the topic of the Budget and how it affects Senior Citizens will come up.

So here is a quick summary in the form of an infographic.

Budget 2018 and senior citizens
Budget 2018 and senior citizens

Consoling at the National Roller Skating Competitions.

A competitor consoling another
A competitor from Maharashtra consoling another

You need your friends more at the time of disappointments than at victories. So, no fair weather friends.

Here a competitor from Maharashtra is seen consoling a co-competitor after an unexpected elimination. at the National Roller Skating Competition, Besant Nagar.

Rudyard Kipling’s poem,”If…” and its lines emblazoned at Wimbledon entrance come to mind:

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;  

For a National Level event, it did not attract much media coverage as far as I know. A search on the web showed the venue of the competition as Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium. Was it a last-minute switch to Besant Nagar due to bureaucratic bungling?


‘Heritage’ becomes part of History



Heritage Fresh name board on the sidewalk

The Heritage Fresh chain of retail outlets owned by the family of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr. Chandra Babu Naidu has been taken over by the Future Group of Mr. Kishore Biyani (Big Bazaar).

Now my neighborhood Heritage Fresh store has been brought under the Nilgiris brand.  Nilgiris was taken over by the Future Group some time ago.

The Heritage name board lies unattended on the sidewalk, while the new neon-lit Nilgiris board glows.

Change is inevitable?!


The new Nilgiris board 




The Jain Temple

Jain temple on Ammai Appan Street, Royapettah
Jain temple on Ammai Appan Street, Royapettah

Jain Temples, especially those in Gujarat and Rajasthan have very intricate marble works. This Jain temple tucked away in the narrow Ammai Appan Street Royapettah looked very simple. However, on closer look, it appeared more interesting. A changed perspective, little bit of tweaking on LR/ Silver Efx 2 gave the stunning effect above.

Incidentally, I have lived in the nearby Balaji Nagar for almost 30 years but have not seen this temple just a kilometer away!