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Bengaluru to Chengannur: by Humsafar Express

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Humsafar (Companion) Express was among the many brands of trains launched during the last few years in India. This brand of express trains provide only Air-conditioned 3-tier sleeper coaches, and come with quite some bells and whistles. Externally, the coaches are wrapped in some fancy coloured, pleasing looking vinyl stickers. Internally, the facilities include better berths, food storage compartments (including refrigerators and ovens), better toilets, status indicators and cabin fresheners. The only time the Indian Railways introduced coaches with only AC 3-tier sleeper coach was the Garib Rath Express - which was a revolutionary concept of bringing economical AC travel to the masses. Humsafar express, on the other hand, charges a premium compared to the other express trains on the route. Launched towards the end of 2016, about 34 pairs of Humsafar trains operate in the country now. The first Humsafar express on the Bengaluru-Kerala route was launched sometime in October 2018. My …

Uyare - flying high!

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A possessive boyfriend, an ambitious girl, a supportive father, and a flirtatious entrepreneur - how their lives are intertwined is what the movie says, in a nutshell. Anything beyond this could reveal the storyline.

Caution: Possible reveals ahead! Read only if you have watched the movie, or don't mind knowing a part of the story before you watch the movie!

Debutant director Manu Ashokan and scripted by Bobby-Sanjay tells the tale of a very ambitious girl, Pallavi, played by Parvathi Tiruvoth, who struggles hard to become a pilot - a disaster she goes through, and her struggles to attain justice. Parvathi has done absolute justice to the role, and a special work of appreciation goes to the make up artists. Asif Ali, as Govind, the very possessive, authoritarian and lover was amazing. He was perfect for the character. With an authoritarian boyfriend and a feminist girlfriend playing the lead, the rest is up to your guess. Pallavi stresses on her feminist traits through some dialo…

Trivandrum to Bengaluru: on Kerala Lines Volvo B11R

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My travel plans for returning  from Trivandrum was cut clear right at the beginning. Selecting the leading operator on the route was a no-brainer. With high ratings on the leading bus booking website, and the best word-of-mouth reviews, Kerala Lines Volvo B11R was my first choice. A few days before my trip, rather before I booked my ticket, they added another bus on the route, with a later departure. I decided to stick to my original plan of traveling by the 2000hrs Volvo B11R operated by Kerala Lines.

May 02, 2019:
It was a busy day - attending the marriage, followed by the sumptuous lunch and then some awesome time with friends spotting buses, followed by some shopping. I got a bit late since I spent quite a lot of time talking with my good friend Jayasankar, at his place. I had to hurry with getting ready, and then rushed to Thampanoor on an autorickshaw. I badly wanted to eat at the Indian Coffee House - but I was running a little late, and decided to stick to Ariyas near Aristo J…

Bangalore to Trivandrum: Kerala Lines Scania

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A trip to Trivandrum was in the drawing board since long. My friend's marriage at Trivandrum was just what I wanted. I had to wait for until a few days before the trip to book my ticket due to issues with getting leaves from office. I wanted to get to Trivandrum early in the morning, and had researched quite a bit about buses that reached early, and had almost zeroed in on a particular departure of KSRTC (Kerala). I spoke about this to a good friend, who suggested that I try Kerala Lines, who was starting a new service that reaches Trivandrum by 0600hrs. Although this service was not listed at the time, I waited till the service was listed. The bus came online a few days before the trip, and I was among the first to book a ticket by this bus. The return journey was also by Kerala Lines (more on that later).

May 01, 2019:
It was normal working day at work. Since it was a holiday for most offices in the city, traffic was on the lighter side. I was planning to take the metro to my bu…

Private bus operations in India

Buses are an integral part of the transportation scene in India. With the rapid expansion of India's highway network, long distance travel moved to the roadways. The advent of premium rear engine luxury coaches in 2002, more passengers moved to the roads, and buses became popular among the masses. Bus transportation industry in the country can be broadly divided into two types - Stage Carriages and Contract Carriages/AIP Buses.

Stage Carriages are vehicles that operate between points picking up passengers on the way and issuing tickets to them. These buses operate on 'stage carriage' permits issued by the government to operate on specified. They are permitted to pick-up passengers from notified bus stops, collect fares for the distance they travel (not exactly the distance they travel, but for 'stages' they travel) and issue tickets for the same. These type of buses charge fares based on the number of 'stages' they travel - a stage is a prefixed distance (…

Thrissur to Bengaluru: Orange Travels AC Sleeper

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My earlier post had explained in fair detail of the predicament and hurdles I faced while planning a trip to Kerala for Vishu. Although a fair effort was put into planning and booking, all the efforts were in vain as SpiceJet decided to cancel our flights (I am still waiting for a refund on those bookings!). The information about cancellation of our flight from Kochi to Bengaluru came about a week before we were to travel, and this actually made us think if it was better to cancel the trip. The lure of going home after close to 6 months, and the fact that this was the first Vishu after our wedding made me look for other options. Flights were too expensive, and were ruled out earlier on itself. Trains were all waitlisted, and I couldn't fully depend on booking a tatkal ticket. Buses from Thrissur to Bengaluru were charging fares that was almost at par with flight fare. Left with not many options, we chose to book from Coimbatore to Bengaluru - I had a lot of confusion there, and f…

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 …