Saturday, December 28, 2013


Number Visited - 12
Number Remaining - 95+2

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Attack of Temporal Locality

Temporal Locality is an extremely interesting topic in Computer Architecture - something that has fascinated me enough to make me recollect it repeatedly in different contexts, despite not being a great Computer Science Engineer per se.
According to temporal locality,
If at one point in time a particular memory location is referenced, then it is likely that the same location will be referenced again in the near future.
The actual context is memory access in computers - where the objective is to increase data access speed (or reduce time taken to access data, to put it another way) by trying to "predict" where the next data-to-be-accessed would reside. There are 2 broad approaches to do this -
  1. Spatial Locality, i.e. locality of reference based on "location" - or where a particular data is stored. Suppose you are going to Usman Road Pothys to do some shopping. Seeing you're near Duraiswamy subway, you figure you might as well pay a visit to Venkataramana Boli Stall (which lies just on the other side of the subway) and get some Thengaa Poli which you haven't had for a long time. So if your computer were to control the world, once you were at Pothys, it would automatically activate places within, say a 1-2 km radius, with the expectation that you would go there next (Like how Venkataramana Boli Stall is supposed to produce an extra bunch of Thengaa Polis every time the SuperStar makes a visit to Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam). This, in a gist, is what Spatial Locality is all about.
  2. Temporal Locality is however more intriguing. It is based on "time" or when a particular data was accessed. So going back to our example, according to this concept, if you visited Pothys on 25th December 2013, chances are that you'll visit Pothys or that area within the next couple of days. Now this is both intuitive as well as intriguing. Intuitive because if you go to a particular place, chances are that you might go to that place again. Pothys might be a bad example for an irregular customer, but if you consider your local kirana store or your workplace for that matter, temporal locality works like a charm. Intriguing because of its irrelevance to our example. Why would you keep going to a place, especially if it is far-off, when you can get done things in one go.
Despite its intriguing and possibly questionable efficacy, I am seeing increasing instances of temporal locality in real life.
This past week has been an overdose of temporal locality for me, culminating in a grand finale today.
First was when I'd been to watch the torrid Endrendum Punnagai at Fame Cinemas in Vadapalani on Saturday. The very next day, for a totally different reason, I passed by that place, in a matter of 12 hours, when I live at least 13 km away. Then, to continue the game, temporal locality happened again - the same day, with a different memory location. Sunday I already had plans for the night show of Dhoom-3 at Devi Cinemas. By a queer twist of fate, I ended up going to Tarapore Towers at noon itself, for a different purpose.
Now both these could be dismissed as coincidences, considering I was in an epic break-free mood that weekend anyhow.
But what was most intriguing is what happened today. Just this Saturday (yes, immediately prior to my Endrendum Punnagai experience), I had gone to pick up my vehicle from service - what was noteworthy is that this was the first time I was using my insurance after close to 3 years of owning the vehicle. Though the claim was for reasonably minor repairs, it anyhow wiped out my NCB (No-Claim Bonus). Barely 5 days after my first insurance claim, I met with a minor-but-by-no-means-small accident about 40 km away from the place of my first claim - the first major one for my vehicle. I could almost see temporal locality cocking a snook at spatial locality. The insurance advisor at the service centre who was, by now, familiar with me, could barely suppress a chuckle when I took my vehicle back to him within a week.

Now coming to the actual accident, without ambling along in paragraphs, I'll list a few key points here -
  • The actual moments of impact flew by in slow-motion, almost like this Spiderman scene. In fact, today I could distinctly feel the crunching sound of the glass and there were almost multiple events playing out in front of me in a collision that probably lasted for 2-3 seconds. I've felt it before and I've also had others tell me their accidents to be similarly slo-mo-experiences. If only life in general flew by at such a pace, we'd have so much time to do things. Sigh. This incident anyhow seeked to increase my faith in the belief that during the last few moments of your life, your entire life will be replayed.
  • On the positive front : the immediate moment of impact & some minutes after - there were no thoughts of tweeting/blogging, something I have begun to fear over the past few years. However, after 10 min or so, once reality had sunk in, twitter came to the mind's forefront. Thankfully, live-tweeting didn't happen because of the absence of a data plan.
  • At the police station, this was the picture that greeted me from the Inspector's desk. Enough said. Female simply refuses to refrain from stalking trailing me wherever I go.

  • Needless to say, this was my 1st proper case-based visit to a police station. And any visit to a police station, I assume, is bound to have several stories. Out of the many stories that I was witness to, today, this one took the cake -
    There was this rather pretty girl (ostensibly from the lower middle class) who'd come all alone, to file a case against a guy. What unraveled over the next half-an-hour or so was straight out of a movie. The girl, originally from Karnataka, was settled in TN and was all of 22 years old. She had already been married once (when barely out of college, in her own words) and had exited it in a jiffy. Her divorce papers are apparently due in January. In the meanwhile, she appears to have moved on to the next relationship and going by her own candid admission, had consummated it. The 2nd guy, however, appears to have been in the dark about her 1st marriage and when he came to know of it, promptly backed out of the relationship, despite having done it. Girl then files a rape case against him. Guy attempts suicide. Girl 1.has no father. 2.has come to the station alone, without any relatives, 3.without the knowledge of her mother. Icing on the cake: she is in a relationship with a 3rd guy now, details of which were uncovered by the Police in course of their investigations. Girl asks the Inspector without batting an eyelid "Adhellam ungalukku epdi theriyum sir? Seri, epdiyo therinju pochu, adha vidunga ippo." Me and my parents watched with our mouths agape.
  • Coming back to my story, collision happened with a vegetable-delivery-to-vegetable-shops truck. Most such truck drivers/owners are likely to be associated with some Vanigar Sangam or some such, which, in turn, is likely to be affiliated with some political party. No surprises there. But in Dravidan land, what are the odds that such a driver is affiliated not with any of the Munnetra Kazhagams, not with the Congress, not even with the Communists, but the BJP! My eyes obviously lit up when I got to know of this, but immediately realized that apart from hobnobbing with a few powers-that-be and some wannabes associated with the BJP, on tyutter, there was little (if at all) "influence" I could use, if confronted with the BJP card from the other party.
  • Mistake was on the truck driver's side and damages to my vehicle were reasonably high, while almost zilch for the truck. I didnt realize then that claiming insurance for *my* vehicle using the *truck's insurance* would be such a lengthy, uncertain, difficult procedure, so was content with getting the insurance details from the truck driver. The police, after ascertaining the mistake to be on the truck driver's side, said that even if I did manage to claim damages from the other party's insurance, I'd still have to shell out money from my pocket for depreciation and other charges. Accordingly, they said I should get something from the other party for the expenses I'd have to pay from my pocket. However, kind-old-me was very reluctant to do that, seeing that the other party was not-so-well-off and all that. After much telling-off by the parents and the police, I had to accept the meagre compensation that the other party gave.
  • Fast-forward to the showroom - reality hits me like a ton of bricks.
    1. Claiming insurance from another party's insurance for your vehicle's damages is an inordinately lengthy process that has no guarantee of getting you just compensation, even if you are in the right, even if the police has issued a certificate stating the same. It involves multiple trips to the court by you as well as the other party, and the process has an average completion time of anywhere between 6 months to a year.
    2. I have to go with claiming damages from my own insurance company. Turns out I'll have to shell out at least double the compensation given by the driver, outside of what the insurance covers. After returning home, could distinctly overhear parents discussing "Minimal replacements vechunde ivlo aagardhu, Indha azhai'la indha uttama-putran'ukku kaasu vera vaanga vendaamaam. Unga pulla indha maadhiri paavam ellam paathaan'na velangiduvaan."
There went my rather eventful 2013 Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Quota system in the LokPal Bill

Thanks to the relentless tweeting of @realitycheckind, I got to know that the Lok Pal Bill that was recently passed in the Parliament has a Quota System of its own.
According to the Bill (,

  • The Lokpal will consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight Members, of which fifty percent shall be judicial members.
  • Fifty per cent of members of Lokpal shall be from amongst SC/ST/OBCs, Minorities and Women.

So now we have reservation even in the Lok Pal that mandates that 50% of the Lok Pal shall be judicial members while 50% shall be from SC/ST/OBCs, Minorities & Women. Note that the 2 50%'s arent mutually exclusive, which means there can be an overlap - which means that the same 50% can be both judicial members as well as from SC/ST/OBCs, Minorities & Women.

Important point here is that there is no stipulation that there should be ONLY 50%. So we now have the following possibilities -

  1. All of the Lokpal consists of SC/ST/OBCs, Minorities & Women (out of which at least 50% are judicial members).
  2. All of the Lokpal consists of judicial members (out of which at least 50% are SC/ST/OBCs, Minorities & Women).

If my understanding is right, both scenarios above are possible.
Here's the question - if the assumption is right that it requires the presence of SC/ST/OBCs, Minorities, Women members to ensure fair treatment in case the accused government servant happens to be from one of those groups, doesn't that imply that you don't have confidence in the impartiality of the other 50% (assuming the other 50% isn't from this list)
Doesn't it logically imply that members from this group need not be expected to be impartial to someone from outside this group?
Or do you mean to say that non-category members can't be trusted when the accused is from one of the categories, while category members can be, when the accused is from a general category?

The Minority Question -
We are back to square one here. What is the definition of "minority" that will be used? If the Lokpal has this composition, is the Lokayukta expected to follow something similar (I am assuming there is no compulsion, but it's anyone's guess whether the states WONT follow suit). In that case, how about states where, simply going by religious parameters, Hindus are a minority or all religions are of relatively similar population where it wouldn't be accurate to categorize one as Majority and the others are Minorities.
For eg:
Nagaland:        90% Christian, 8% Hindu & 2% Muslim
Meghalaya:      70% Christian, 13% Hindu
J&K:        67% Muslim, 30% Hindu

Oh, but this is the Communal Violence Bill all over again!

What specifically is the purpose of this quota here? Surely, we're not trying to uplift and provide opportunities to the historically suppressed communities?
How long are we going to have this quota thing going on? Isn't there some kind of closure that we can expect at some point of time in the future?
Will this quota system henceforth be templatized? What are the chances that we'll now start having agitations from communities demanding for reservation in other constitutional/statutory bodies as well?
Where are we going? Is this the right idea to communicate to our people?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Draft Communal Violence Bill - Details by Shri Arun Jaitley

[This article is taken from Shri.Arun Jaitley's blog and reproduced here for improved readability. Bullet points, formatting, etc mine.]

A draft of a proposed legislation titled "Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011" has been put in public domain. The draft Bill ostensibly appears to be a part of an endeavour to prevent and punish communal violence in the country. Though that may be the ostensible object of the proposed law its real object is to the contrary. It is a Bill which if it is ever enacted as a law will intrude into the domain of the State, damage a federal polity of India and create an imbalance in the inter-community relationship of India.
What does the Bill in effect state?
The most vital definition of the bill is of the expression 'group'.
A 'group' means a religious or linguistic minority and in a given State may include the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The bill creates a whole set of new offences in Chapter II.

  • Clause 6 clarifies that the offences under this Bill are in addition to the offences under the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Can a person be punished twice for the same offence?
  •  Clause 7 prescribes that a person is said to commit sexual assault if he or she commits any of the sexual act against a person belonging to a 'group' by virtue of that person's membership of a group.
  • Clause 8 prescribes that a 'hate propaganda' is an offence when a person by words oral or written or a visible representation causes hate against a 'group' or a person belonging to a 'group'.
  • Clause 9 creates an offence for communal and targeted violence. Any person who singly or jointly or acting under the influence of an association engages in unlawful activity directed against a 'group' is guilty of organized communal and targeted violence.
  • Clause 10 provides for punishment of a person who expends or supplies money in the furtherance or support of an offence against a 'group'.
  • The offence of torture is made out under clause 12 where a public servant inflicts pain or a suffering, mental or physical, on a person belonging to a 'group'.
  • Clause 13 punishes a public servant for dereliction of duty in relation to offences mentioned in this Bill.
  • Clause 14 punishes public servants who control the armed forces or security forces and fails to exercise control over people in his command in order to discharge their duty effectively.
  • Clause 15 expands the principle of vicarious liability. An offence is deemed to be committed by a senior person or office bearer of an association and he fails to exercise control over subordinates under his control or supervision. He is vicariously liable for an offence which is committed by some other person.
  • Clause 16 renders orders of superiors as no defence for an alleged offence committed under this section.
Any communal trouble during which offences are committed is a law and order problem. Dealing with the law and order is squarely within the domain of the State Governments. In the division of powers between the Centre and the States, the Central Government has no direct authority to deal with the law and order issues; nor is it directly empowered to deal with them nor it can legislate on the subject. The Central Government's jurisdiction restricts itself to issue advisories, directions and eventually forming an opinion under Article 356 that the governance of the State can be carried on in accordance with the Constitution or not.
If the proposed Bill becomes a law, then effectively it is the Central Government which would have usurped the jurisdiction of the States and legislated on a subject squarely within the domain of the States.

India has been gradually moving towards a more amicable inter-community relationship. Even when minor communal or caste disturbances occur, there is a national mood of revulsion against them. The governments, media, the courts among other institutions rise to perform their duty. The perpetrators of communal trouble should certainly be punished. This draft Bill however proceeds on a presumption that communal trouble is created only by members of the majority community and never by a member of the minority community. Thus, offences committed by members of the majority community against members of the minority community are punishable. Identical offences committed by minority groups against the majority are not deemed to be offences at all. Thus a sexual assault is punishable under this bill and only if committed against a person belonging to a minority 'group'. A member of a majority community in a State does not fall within the purview of a 'group'. A 'hate propaganda' is an offence against minority community and not otherwise. Organised and targeted violence, hate propaganda, financial help to such persons who commit an offence, torture or dereliction of duty by public servants are all offences only if committed against a member of the minority community and not otherwise. No member of the majority community can ever be a victim. This draft law thus proceeds on an assumption which re-defines the offences in a highly discriminatory manner. No member of the minority community are to be punished under this Act for having committed the offence against the majority community. It is only a member of the majority community who is prone to commit such offences and therefore the legislative intent of this law is that since only majority community members commit these offences, culpability and punishment should only be confined to them. If implemented in a manner as provided by this Bill, it opens up a huge scope for abuse. It can incentivize members of some communities to commit such offences encouraged by the fact that they would never be charged under the Act. Terrorist groups may no longer indulge in terrorist violence. They will be incentivized to create communal riots due to a statutory assumption that members of a Jihadi group will not be punished under this law. The law makes only members of the majority community culpable.
Why should the law discriminate on the basis of a religion or caste? An offence is an offence irrespective of origin of the offender. Here is a proposed law being legislated in the 21st Century where caste and religion of an offender wipe out the culpability under this law.

Who will ensure implementation of this Act?
The bill provides for a 7-member national authority for communal harmony, justice and reparations. Of these 7 members, at least 4 of them including the Chairman and Vice Chairman shall only belong to a 'group' i.e. minority community. A similar body is intended to be created in the States. Membership of this body thus shall be on religious and caste grounds. The offenders under this law are only the members of the majority community. The enforcement of the Act will be done by a body where statutorily the members of the majority community will be in a minority. The governments will have to make available Police and other investigative agencies to this authority. This authority shall have a power to conduct investigations and enter buildings, conduct raids and searches to make inquiries into complaints and to initiate steps, record proceedings for prosecution and make its recommendations to the Governments. It shall have powers to deal with the armed forces. It has a power to send advisories to the Central and State Governments. Members of this authority shall be appointed in the case of Central Government by a collegium which shall comprise of Prime Minister, the Home Minister, and the Leader of Opposition in the house of People and a leader of each recognized political party. A similar provision is created in relation to the States. Thus, it Is the Opposition at the Centre and the States which will have a majority say in the composition of the Authority.

What are the procedures to be followed?
The procedures to be followed for investigations under this Act are extraordinary. No statement shall be recorded under section 161 of the CrPC. Victim statements shall be only under section 164 i.e. before courts. The government will have a power to intercept and block messages and telecommunications under this law. Under clause 74 of the Bill if an offence of hate propaganda is alleged against a person, a presumption of guilt shall exist unless the offender proves to the contrary. An allegation thus is equivalent to proof. Public servants under this bill under clause 67 are liable to be proceeded against without any sanction from the State. The Special Public prosecutor to conduct proceedings under this Act shall not act in aid of truth but 'in the interest of the victim'. The name and identity of the victim complainant will not be disclosed. Progress of the case will be reported by the police to the victim complainant. The occurrence of organized communal and targeted violence under this Act shall amount to an internal disturbance in a State within the meaning of Article 355 entitling the Central Government to impose President's rule.

The drafting of this Bill appears to be a handiwork of those social entrepreneurs who have learnt from the Gujarat experience of how to fix senior leaders even when they are not liable for an offence. Offences which are defined under the Bill have been deliberately left vague. Communal and targeted violence means a violence which destroys the 'secular fabric of the nation'. There can be legitimate political differences as to what constitutes secularism. The phrase secularism can be construed differently by different persons. Which definition is the judge supposed to follow?
Similarly, the creation of a hostile 'environment' may leave enough scope for a subjective decision as to what constitutes 'a hostile environment'. The inevitable consequences of such a law would be that in the event of any communal trouble the majority community would be assumed to be guilty. There would be a presumption of guilt unless otherwise proved. Only a member of the majority shall be held culpable under this law. A member of the minority shall never commit an offence of hate propaganda or a communal violence. There is a virtual statutory declaration of innocence under this law for him. The statutory authority prescribed at the Central and State level would intrinsically suffer from an institutional bias because of its membership structure based on caste and community.

I have no doubt that once this law is implemented with the intention with which it is being drafted, it will create disharmony in the inter-community relations in India. It is a law fraught with dangerous consequences. It is bound to be misused. Perhaps, that appears to be the real purpose behind its drafting. It will encourage minority communalism. The law defies the basic principles of equality and fairness. Social entrepreneurs in the National Advisory Council can be expected to draft such a dangerous and discriminatory law. One wonders how the political head of that body cleared this draft. When some persons carried on a campaign against TADA - an anti-terrorist law, the members of the UPA argued that even terrorists should be tried under the normal laws. A far more draconian law is now being proposed. The States will be watching hopelessly when the Centre goes ahead with this misadventure. Their power is being usurped. The search for communal harmony is through fairness - not through reverse discrimination.                         

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The BJP Press Statement That Could Have Been - 1

@techrsr brought up an interesting point the other day about the BJP not having the locus of control of the Indian media with them. Now, I'm not sure how much of an electoral impact having the locus of control of Indian media will have, but it is a well-established fact that BJP is simply clueless (after all these days, yes) in handling the barrage of anti-BJP media outlets that dot the (sorry) Indian media landscape. In a sense, this is both funny & intriguing, considering one of their top-most leaders (supposedly?) has excellent contacts with most top media outlets. But that's a discussion for another day. Coming back, given this well-entrenched hostility, it becomes absolutely imperative for the BJP to tackle them strategically, *consistently*. As laymen-supporters of the BJP, apart from the occasional display of savvy, we are mostly left licking our self-inflicted wounds.
In light of the recent "Clarification" (an obvious euphemism for "Sorry [Hehe] for peddling lies" [Yes, I can almost see the sardonic grin on the editors' faces while printing out this joke of a clarification, which, by the way, is neither sincere nor well-intentioned nor truly apologetic]) issued by the Times of India group with respect to the "Modi rescues 15000" controversy, the handling of the issue by the BJP left a lot to be desired. Consider this - the clarification itself is neatly tucked into a corner of one of the deepest parts of the printed edition (Page 9 in the Mumbai & Chennai editions, Page 10 in the Bangalore edition, to name a few), so it is quite unlikely that this is going to be read by as many people as those who would've bought into the "self-orchestrated propaganda by the BJP" story, which, anyway, was the main aim of the ToI piece in the first place.
And dear BJP supporters, for how long can we keep taking cover under the "No publicity is bad publicity" logic? There is a point at which the actual "publicity" part of the publicity (good or bad) plateaus and in Modi's case, this point has long since been reached. Again, I don't know about the net impact (electoral or otherwise, but basically, to me, it is only the "electoral" bit that least for the next one year) of the "15000" ToI scandal, but here's what the BJP could have done immediately after the issue blew up which, I am sure, would have garnered them much more sympathy than what they will most likely receive now. A simple press release on the lines of -
"This in reference to the article "Modi lands in Uttarakhand, flies out with 15,000 Gujaratis" published in the Times of India. The BJP would like to categorically state that this is a totally baseless number that is being quoted and no BJP representative has been contacted in this regard. We would further like to add that Shri Narendra Modi was indeed instrumental in part of the relief work that is being carried out in Uttarakhand, however his relief efforts were not restricted to people of any particular community, region or language. Furthermore, at a time of grave crisis like this, what matters is that all effort possible be rendered to the needy across political and ideological differences and not one-upmanship based on numbers. Publishing such an article with unsubstantiated data amounts to rumour-mongering. Instead of helping focus on the relief work being carried out by all parties, this is a grossly irresponsible act of journalism by one of the country's oldest journalistic institutions. We strongly condemn this rather mischievous attempt to insinuate controversy and demand an apology by Times of India in the front page of ALL their editions, with all the clarifications stated above, failing which, we will be forced to take legal action against them."
Alas, that was not to be. With such an insincere and delayed "Clarification" by ToI, when the whole issue is more or less out of public memory, has the damage been done?
Your guess is as good as mine.

Prologue: Going by recent happenings, one can't help but begin to wonder if Shekhar Gupta was indeed right when he said that instead of setting the agenda, the BJP is walking right into Congress' trap. One of the impressive aspects about Narendra Modi so far has been his ability to set the terms of the discourse and decide the agenda. If recent events are any indication, this ability appears to be waning. It is too early to conclude, but a course correction is definitely in order.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Chennai'yil Oru Shivarathri

The problem with cliches is that despite being cliches, they *do* happen. With unfailing regularity.
One such cliche is - the best of plans are often unplanned ones. 2013 Shivaratri was one such unplanned plan. So that part of my life was basically around travelling, with me coming home to Chennai during weekends. That weekend was no different. Shivarathri was on Sunday night and I was scheduled to travel that Sunday for work.
So there is this good friend of mine I have always wanted to visit temples with. A guy whose temple-knowledge I haven't come across in people twice his age and whose knowledge of temples is only exceeded by his love of the deities (or at least that is what I make of it). You could say - one of the more perfect companions to have on a temple visit. So a perchance conversation with him on Sunday over phone brought up the topic of "plans" for Shivaratri and ended up in me deciding to take the next day off + (more importantly) my manager granting me the leave and so, us making one impromptu (fuelled in no small measure by the fear of impending loss of bachelorhood for either of us [albeit with no existent cause {then or now}]) plan for that night.
So off we went, starting at around 10 PM, in what was to be easily one of my more memorable temple tours. The best part of the whole experience was that this guy took me to temples I'd hitherto not known or even heard of, despite having criss-crossed that area for many many years.
  • Valasaravakkam Agastheeswarar/Velveeswarar temple - We started off with the Agastheeswarar temple in Valasaravakkam. Though I'd not frequented this temple, I'd been here once many years before with my mother, on yet another Shivaratri.
  • Koyambedu Sri Kurungaleeswarar temple - Easily one of the highlights of the night, since I had absolutely no idea that there was such a huge Shivan temple a (few) stone's throw away from the Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus. The approach to the temple is quite misleading, since you have to weave in and out of tiny roads, but when you finally enter the temple, you are quite awed.
  • Vadapalani Vengeeswarar temple - Enga area, so I know this temple pretty well. Had been there as recently as January, when best-friend-2.5's engagement took place nearby.
  • Vadapalani Puliyur Sivan Koil - The most mystic of all the temples that night. That I wasn't able to find any link to this temple on google shows you just how mystic this temple is. I'm not entirely sure, but I think this is the temple after which "Sivan Koil Street" is named, near Powerhouse. Since the temple is located bang in the middle of a residential area, there was an eerie silence en route to the temple. When we finally reached the temple, the silence was that much louder, with stillness joining the party. Then out of the blue came a pack of dogs, not exactly howling, but barking to strike moderate fear in even a reasonably brave soul. Main matter was that this temple was under construction, since I believe arrangements for a Kumbabhishekam were taking place. Not a single chappal outside. Just when we were about to turn back, we heard the distant chanting of Mantras. Tentatively, we walked closer and lo, in a small thatched enclosure there was the Vigraham and a small huddle of people (around 10-12 including the Archakars). Reasonably Definite thrilling experience (First time I wrote, I used "reasonably" but while previewing the post, I was partially transported to that day and realized that the thrill was definitely certain).
    Update: Friend tells me this temple is called Bharadwajeeswarar temple.
    From the Kodambakkam area to Nungambakkam came our first major jump.
  • Nungambakkam Agastheeswarar temple - So this was one of the temples that made me go "Chhaaa, idhu kooda theriyaama irundhuttene". Yup, I grew up within a 5 km-radius of this temple and had not been there even once (assuming my parents haven't taken me as a child). For those in the know, this temple is very close the Nungambakkam Police Station on College Road. And though I'd known for most part of my life that there is a temple there (the temple tank is visible from College Road itself), I'd never been there. There is also the Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal temple nearby.
    From Nungambakkam, we took our next major leap, this time across Mount Road.
  • Apparswamy Temple, Luz - Considering I neither grew up in Mylapore nor (considering I grew up a Mambalam'ite) "regarded" it much as a pride-worthy locality (an opinion I have vehemently drastically altered now), I don't have too much guilt at not knowing about this temple. But considering I frequented the Valluvar Selai bus stop almost everyday for a good part of 10 months in 2010-2011, maybe some guilt will have to be admitted. Here, we were almost warmed up by the poshness of the crowd, I guess, in preparation for the Big One.
  • The Big One -I have, for many years now, wondered and to some extent, been bothered by whether it was an imagined emotion or a definite one, but if you were to blindfold me, arms outstretched in front of my face, turn me over & over till I finally came to rest on my own, chances are that my hands would end up pointing in the direction of this temple. I have, by now, more or less come to terms with the fact that this is THE temple for me (the reason for which continues to elude me). I'll spare you the emotions that go through me internally, but suffice to say that even externally, the joie de vivre Kapali gives me remains quite unmatched. It was almost 4 AM by the time we reached here and thankfully, the crowd that was in wasn't much. Needless to say, the darshan was fantastic.
    A lovely thing with temple visits during Shivarathri is that you get to hear the Thevarams & Thirumanthirams a lot (something you otherwise dont get the chance to). Inside the Shivan sannidhi, there was this gentleman who sang with such a ghaNeer voice that you were plain awed.
    The usual awesome experience was, however slightly marred (or enhanced, whichever way you see it) by a little distraction inside the Shivan sannidhi. While a majority of us were standing outside the railings, there were a few people inside (remember the "poshness" bit from the Apparswamy temple?) - obviously regular patrons of the temple. There inside among the others was this mother-daughter duo (or maybe more, but it was only these two that appeared obvious) - the mother in a Madusaar (stylishly, richly worn) and the daughter, a brown-coloured saree which seemed a cross between a saree and a dhavani (keep in mind the observations were mostly indirect & guilt-based, hence accuracy will have been affected). But in spite of all the out-of-the-corner-of-the-eye/indirect glances, it was obvious this girl was a stunner. Anywhere between 22-28, there was this irresistible aristocracy in her face - sharp nose (this speaks a lot since I am bad at noticing specific features in a girl's appearance and also the fact that till date, I don't know if/why a sharp nose is associated with good looks) accentuated by a noticeable jawline and a face that didn't sport a smile for even 2 seconds. There might have been a bored look, but I am not sure. But yes, the girl was enough of a head-turner to distract one moderately & one deeply Bhakti-based fellow when both would probably have been in one of their more spirituality-based Paravasa nilais. Yes, a quick discussion on the girl happened once we were outside the temple and I was partially relieved that it wasn't only the lesser mortal in me whose manasu sanchala pattufied. :D
  • Besant Nagar Ratnagireeswarar templeThis is one of the temples whose existence I came to know of pretty recently, i.e. over the past couple of years, courtesy parents. Been there a few times myself, so wasn't a Eureka moment for me like some of the others. Very conveniently located on the way from Kapali to Marundheeswarar.
  • Thiruvanmiyur Marundheeswarar temple - A temple which, to me, is now well-acquainted despite the fact that my first visit here happened barely 2 years ago, owing probably to my frequent visits to the area. Another heavy-crowd temple where we had to jostle around for a fair bit. And we also saw the ghaNeer-voice mama from Kapali demonstrating his awesomeness again here.
  • Velachery Dhandeeswarar temple - Our final stop for the Shivaratri was the Velachery Dhandeeswarar temple. No prizes for guessing that this was another temple whose vicinity I had frequented a lot (in fact the main road near the temple is called Dhandeeswaram Road) but had never been to the temple. It was 5'ish and both of us were very tired, more so me. We had to wait in the queue since the early morning Abhishegam was going on. I was ever so slightly irritated but marvelled at my friend's devotion & dedication - it was obvious he too was barely able to stand but bravely stood on and I, though restless, bore on, taking inspiration from him. Finally, we got a Darshan of Dhandeeswarar and our quite wonderful Shivaratri came to an end.
At the end of what was surely one of my best Shivaratris, I was left stunned by the number of Shivan temples within Chennai city. I will eternally be grateful to my friend for opening my eyes to the lovely temples that adorn the city.
I hope I was able to enrich your knowledge of Chennai's temples by a notch or two as well, credit for which must wholly go to my friend. :-)
Map of our 2013 Shivaratri Expedition.