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Bengaluru to Coimbatore: on Indian Railways' First UDAY express

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UDAY aka Utkrisht Double-decker Air-conditioned Yatri Express trains were thought to be innovative high-capacity overnight express trains with seating facility that connected pairs of high-density points. These trains were to be built with two decks, thereby increasing the carrying capacity, and offering better seats than normal AC Chair cars - seats with calf rests and all the bells and whistles. However, in reality, like all Utkrisht coaches, the ones in UDAY express also turned out to be Lipstick on the Pig. The same old Double decker coaches were wrapped in a not-so-fancy vinyl including the interiors, and some fancy modifications were performed. Three coaches in the entire formation were converted to have a "pantry" - basically a storage area with heaters and coolers for the food, and a dining area with round stools and table. The railways also did announce plans to install vending machines in the dining area. The first UDAY express began its journey in June 2018 - on …

Lucifer: the "L" is surely a Mass entertainer!

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Thalai yum illa Thalaivan um illai.. Thalai edukkaravan da naan...

This was one of the many punch dialogues that the beloved Lalettan aka Mohanlal delivered on the silverscreen in his latest mass entertainer, Lucifer! The movie was quite engrossing, and it made me want to write a review - one after a very long time!

Lucifer is a new Malayalam movie directed by Prithviraj Sukumaran and produced by Antony Perumbavoor (under his banner, "Aashirvad Cinemas"). The movie is a political thriller, revolving around a power struggle over finding a successor, following the death of the state's chief minister.

The movie, which is Prithviraj Sukumaran's first directorial venture, is a stylish movie, and uses background score to enhance the effect of the way the story is told. The director has taken a lot of effort to ensure the continuity of scenes. The story by Murali Gopi has been turned into a marvelous entertainer by Prithviraj and his team.

Claps and whistles were high as Mo…

Vijayapura to Bengaluru - on the Gol Gumbaz Express

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I hadn't considered train as a option for return from Vijayapura - in fact, all my accomplices advised against taking the train since it takes a very long time to get to Bengaluru, compared to buses. Out of curiosity, I did check the train option, and I realised that the fastest train takes a good 15 hours for the distance, while buses take only around 10 hours! The curious traveller in me wanted to take the train this time - I knew I'd be quite tired after the long trip that I'd have performed before I reached Vijayapura (Bijapur). Booking a berth in an Airconditioned 3-tier coach seemed the best bet - I found there were lots of seats available too. I booked one, and got a Side upper berth in coach #B3.

January 28, 2019:
I had returned to my hotel room a little past 1300hrs, after my examination work. I took some rest before setting off to the railway station, some time around 1545hrs. My train was to depart from Vijayapura at 1655hrs - it took me a while to get an autori…

Pune to Bijapur: by 11139 Gadag Express train

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During the planning phase, I had searched for tickets to return from Shirdi to Bijapur - all I found was one non-ac seater run by NEKRTC. I didn't want to risk traveling this distance by a non-ac bus. Alternatively, there was on Shivshahi bus operated from Aurangabad to Bijapur - Aurangabad was about 4 hours by road from Shirdi. This made me drop that idea as well. I then looked at options from Pune - the first stop were buses, I did find some interesting options here. For some reason, I decided to simply try the railways - I didn't know if any trains existed - so this was just a trial. I was stunned to see an express train listed for this route - I quickly checked the availability, and found it was waitlisted. I looked at buses once again - they seemed prohibitively expensive for the distance. I was back on the IRCTC website, and booked a waitlisted ticket by this train (11139 Mumbai CSMT - Gadag Express), boarding at Pune. I had decided to keep the Aurangabad-Bijapur bus as…

Shirdi, Shrirampur to Pune: The first Shivshahi experience

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I hadn't booked any ticket to travel back from Shirdi to Pune. I had a train ticket from Pune to Bijapur (Vijayapura), where I to officiate for an examination. I had a plethora of options - but no direct options, as such. The last reservable Shivshahi bus from Shirdi to Pune was at 1200hrs, which would drop me in Pune quite early, and I had no way of spending time till my train to Vijayapura arrives (at 0100hrs). I had decided to leave a little late from Shirdi, and left all the decision make to the day of travel.

January 26, 2019:
I checked out of my hotel, had a light lunch and headed towards the bus station some time around 1300hrs. My first stop was the enquiry counter at the bus station. They updated that there were no more Shivshahi buses to Pune until late in the evening - they had non-AC buses, though. I badly wanted to try the Shivshahi, and hence headed to the reservation counter. I asked for a ticket from Shrirampur to Pune by Shivshahi - I picked up a bus that departs …

Pune to Shirdi by MSRTC

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January 25, 2019:

I had just alighted from the Shatabdi Express, having arrived from Kalaburagi (Gulbarga). I tried getting a cab/auto on the Ola app, to head to Shivajinagar bus station - but none turned up. I hired an auto from the railway station, making my wallet lighter by about Rs. 100. As I traveled towards the bus station, shivering in the cold, I checked on the internet if there were any buses to Shirdi that I could reserve on. I found none, and decided to try my luck at the MSRTC bus station. I felt uneasy as I neared the bus station - the entire area was crowded and chocked. I understood that getting a bus wouldn't be easy.

The bus station was packed to capacity - It was impossible even to get to the enquiry counter! The MSRTC website claimed there were buses at 0000 and 0100hrs - but I had no clue if they'd arrive, and I was fairly sure it would be impossible to get into them, in any case. I looked at 'Plan-B' - taking a bus to Nashik. I headed to the platf…

Kalaburagi to Pune: 12026 Shatabdi Express

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The search for tickets to travel from Kalaburagi (Gulbarga) to Shirdi wasn't easy. I couldn't find any direct options - although the state transport corporation operated a bus, it didn't seem to have reservation. I did find some options ex-Solapur, but getting to Solapur in time for that option didn't seem feasible, either. I had to look at other options, and it looked it was best for me to head to Pune first, and then look at option to head to Shirdi. Now, there were multiple trains to reach Pune - the 12026 Secunderabad-Pune Shatabdi looked the best bet for me. This train had dynamic pricing, and the ticket was getting expensive by the day. I booked a ticket on this train, and bagged a window seat as well. I did opt for catering as well.

January 25, 2019:
I was quite excited about traveling in a Shatabdi Express - one after almost 10 years, and the first in an LHB coach consist! I was quite excited that I checked-out from the hotel quite early. I was at the station b…