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Showing posts from 2009

The year.. that was...

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Finally, another glorious year comes to a close. A truly eventful year - much more than all the years in my life. In the 3 years and 17 days since this blog was started, my life has been through a variety of phases, twists and turns. A quick recap of what happened in the last 365 days...

Following the foot steps of 2008, 2009 too had three things in common:
Another base shift : Shifted base from Bangalore, to my home town, Kodungallur, in Thrissur district of Kerala.Too little railfanningLots of bus fanning :)I shifted my base from Bangalore to Kerala in June this year (in 2008, the event happened in April).

Unlike last year, I spent January 01 of 2009 sitting at home. The two years prior to 2009 saw me railfanning in the first week of January.

I quit my job this year, and got back to my studies. I joined Amrita School of Pharmacy, under Amrita Vishwavidyapeetham Deemed University, at Kochi, Kerala - to do my Masters in Pharmacy.

My love with Kerala's own KSRTC grew in leaps and bounds…

The 'Grande' ride...

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Here comes a 'Grande' new ride... the all new Fiat Grande Punto 1.3. Buying a car was on the cards for a pretty long time now - a long list of Hatches were perused, and the competition was tough. On the list of considered cars were: Maruti Suzuki Swift, Maruti Suzuki Ritz, Hyundai i20 CRDi and Fiat Grande Punto 1.3. The first one was eliminated owing to waiting period, while the second was eliminated for lack of features. The competition between the last two was tight. The i20 was ruled out due to the high price tag - and finally, it was the Grande Punto.

The "Punto" badge..

Fiat Grande Punto is the world wide successor to the Fiat Uno. Punto was launched in 1993. The current version of the Fiat Punto (called as Grande Punto) was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2005. The Grande Punto was styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro. This car is based on the SCCS platform developed jointly by Fiat and GM in 2002. Fiat Punto - and its Sedan version, Fiat Linea - were premiered a…

Seeing two ends of customer service - all in an hour...

Keralites would remember a recent TV Commercial made by a reputed jewellery retail chain in Kerala, depicting a "salesman training center", and the instructor teaching the tricks of the trade. As a buyer, my focus always is on the level of customer service - the attitude of the sales team. Yesterday was one day, that showed me two ends of the service spectrum, and all in an hour. And what swept me off my feet was the fact that I got the best from the place that was expected to be the worst, and the worst service was doled out by a supposedly customer friendly place.

To the good one first: This was a car dealership in Cochin, Kerala - This particular dealer is reported among the notorious ones, and also listed among the customer unfriendly ones by a reputed automobile community. We made a visit to the dealership only because this turned out to be the only dealer open on Sunday (by chance, the shop normally remains closed on Sundays). Memories afresh of a previous visit to a de…

The KSRTC Garuda... after long...

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After a very thrilling trip to Bangalore, and an even thrilling road trip to Mumbai, it was time to head back home in Kerala. I had contracted Viral Fever during my stay and was still on drugs on the day of my journey (rather, i made a visit to the Doctor just that morning). Despite the fever, my plans to return home on the Kerala State RTC Volvo - which is called Garuda - was to go ahead (and this is despite strong reactions from home).

On the particular day, my brother offered to drop me at Corporation Circle. Now KSRTC buses operate from the Mysore Road Satellite bus station and hence boarding from the origin is a damn pain. Although they offer boarding at Madiwala, I opted to join the bus right from the starting point. We started off from home, only to get stuck in heavy traffic blocks on each route we took. We had to change our course thrice to beat the traffic, and finally got into one that was less crowded - albeit longer in distance.

I was dropped at Corporation Circle exactly a…

On the Garib Rath to Bangalore

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Almost three months after my college started, there came an opportunity to take a week long "vacation". A short visit to Bangalore and Mumbai was on cards. The decision came at the last moment, and ticketing was a problem. We booked on the Kochuveli-Yeshwantpur Garib Rath from Ernakulam to Yeshwantpur. As luck always favours, we (I, and my parents) were given all upper berths. The train had some 580-odd berths still available, when the PRS decided to play a game. Later, we decided to exchange berths once on board the train.

We started from our hometown (Kodungallur) on Friday night. It was raining heavily during the day, and decided to hire a taxi instead of traveling by bus. The cab - a white colour Ambassador - came home by around 10 at night. The driver maintained a sedate 60kmph all the way to Ernakulam Town Railway Station - taking about an hour to cover the 35 km journey. The station was all buzz with activity - cleaning works were on at a very mad pace - thanks to an e…

On NMMT's new Volvo

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Prelude: This incident being narrated happened on August 07, 2009. I was on a very urgent - but satisfactory - visit to Mumbai. The day surprised me to the core, given the fact that I reached Mumbai just that morning, and was all set to return home at evening, after finishing truck loads of work. I just finished my work at Mumbai University around 1600, when this idea to try out NMMT's new Volvo struck me. I headed straight from Kalina to Santacruz in a supercrowded BEST bus. After reaching Santacruz station, I pushed myself into a WR Suburban Train, to Bandra.

Heading out of the station, and finding where my bus would depart from was not easy. Unaware of the tiff between BEST and NMMT, I headed straight to the BEST bus station. A BEST Traffic Inspector posted at the bus station coerced me to use a non-AC BEST bus instead. Determined not to fall to his encouragement, I decided to check out with a couple of road-side vendors. The vendors said that the NMMT bus would be parked near t…

KSRTC's fleet number: Demystified

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Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is perhaps the only transport corporation in India to have a very unique system of fleet numbering. Not just fleet number, the corporation has its own RTO mark as well. All KSRTC buses are registered with the mark KL-15 - which is exclusive for KSRTC buses. In Tamil Nadu, the buses are registered at the district headquarters, with the series "TN-XX-N-nnnn". In Karnataka, its KA-xx-F-nnnn, its AP-xx-Z-nnnn in Andhra Pradesh, GA-yy-X-nnnn in Goa, and so on.

Very little state corporations assign an internal number to their buses. Tamil Nadu's SETC has a numbering system, while Mumbai's BEST also has a system. However, the most unique is perhaps of Kerala SRTC. The image below shows a sample of KSRTC's numbering system:


The number in the image above reads "RRC411". This number is divided into three parts as show below:
RRC411

In the breakup above, RR is a "series", "C" indicates the worksho…

Another let down by KSRTC...

KSRTC is often lauded for its reliable service - even during days of strikes and hartals. Today was one such day - but the corporation proved me wrong. A local political outfit declared a hartal in Kodungallur today - the reason was the death of their leader. The leader reportedly died at some protest, and outfit wants everyone to mourn the death of an unknown person. The incident happened on Saturday, and the mourning was scheduled for Monday.

I was determined to not sit at home mourning someone's death who is irrelevant to the place. I started from home at 0615 today, much earlier than my normal 0650 timing. There is one bus from my place to my college at 0630. I was determined not to leave it. This bus being run by KSRTC - and this made me confident of its arrival. The clock ticked past 0635, and there was no sign of this bus appearing. Finally, I called off my wait at 0640 and got into a private bus that arrived.

This bus was operated by one of the most established operators in …

Not a good day... perhaps!

Oh! Don't get mistaken - the title is not related to me... but someone else. At the end of a very interesting day at college, I was on my way back home. Instead of waiting at my normal bus stop, I was at a different stop today. I stood at the stop determined to get into the first bus towards my place - but that wasn't the realty. The first bus to arrive was TP415 of Guruvayur Garage - this was the bus I took yesterday. Yesterday, I got a seat as soon as I got in - but today, the bus was full, with passengers standing on the steps as well. I decided to skip this bus, and wait for the next.

The next to arrive was TP942 of Ernakulam. I jumped up in glee seeing this bus - since that was a Leyland! I am a die-hard fan of Leyland, and never miss opportunities to travel on KSRTC Leyland buses. I usually get into a bus if its a Leyland, irrespective of the crowd inside. Today was no different. The bus came close, and stopped right where I stood. I got into the bus, and was greeted with…

The green surprise

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Warning: This post may not be palatable entirely for normal audience... reserved for the ferroequinologists ;)

The past week had been one that almost all students in my department (pursuing Post Graduation in Pharmacy, M.Pharm) in never like to forget in their life. The college was organising a two day workshop program on what could be the new buzz word in the Indian Healthcare arena - Pharmacoeconomics. While the subject in itself is interesting, and relatively simple to learn, its applications would stir up hornets' net among medical professionals. I wouldn't go into the details of the program, or the subject, in this post, since the intention of this post in entirely different.

The planning part of the workshop commenced in the last week of September, and the program was scheduled for October 19-20. Interestingly, my department worked almost continuously since then, without much breaks in between. Sundays turned to be working days, and the college timings seemed to extend to …

Its here: A Hartal...

Its been over four months since I relocated to Kerala. However, Kerala's own Hartal has been eluding me till date (I did experience a Private bus strike in between). Finally, here it strikes. Kerala - more specifically, Thrissur District - is very famous for Hartals. People are ready to disrupt normal life for any trivial reason, often non-issues. Sadly, the common public - who appear lethargic - sympathise with these name-sake parties in organising such 'day offs'.

Today, Kodungallur Taluk - in Thrissur District - is celebrating a Hartal. The reason: The local president of BJP was "manhandled" by the Police. The police had reportedly arrested a goon masquerading as a political activist of the said party. The president was protesting the arrest. While this might be an issue of prestige for the political party in question, I fail to understand why this should affect public life? If the arrested person was indeed a goon, he deserves to be put behind the bars.

The sta…

A Quick Trip to Alappuzha - two interesting KSRTC episodes...

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Ever since I moved from Bangalore to Kodungallur, my hometown in Kerala, I have been traveling extensively on KSRTC. KSRTC - acronym for Kerala State Road Transport Corporation - was always considered a passenger unfriendly corporation, which focused more on reaching the destination on time, than carrying more passengers. The entire-outlook of KSRTC changed a bit after ministers decided to flog the horse, and get it back on its feet.

I travel daily by KSRTC, from my hometown to my college - about 36 kms away. Each day is a new experience on KSRTC - but none of them were bitter till date. Here is a narration from a recent journey to Alappuzha, my mom's hometown. Alappuzha is about 90kms from my home town (my mom's exact place is about 14 kms from Alappuzha). Last Friday (October 09, 2009), I had to travel to Alappuzha, to attend a function. I had college till afternoon, and started from there by around 1500 hours. My aim was to reach my mom's place before too late at night.

I…

College... Bliss...

Its been five days since my college days restarted. I last attended a college back in April 2007 - and those were days of fun and enjoyment - far from the burdens of life. After two years of freedom (as some may call) that a job gives, its back to the world of classrooms and assignments.

The first day at College - September 15, 2009 - went about without much fuss or work. There was a long drawn "inauguration" function - welcoming the second batch of M Pharm students to the college (in fact, it was the first batch in two specialisations), peppered with speeches and advices from a range of experts who occupy the highest offices at the Health Care campus of Amrita Vishwavidyapeetham. The Principal discussed our syllabus, and also gave some clue of what lies in store for us. The day ended sitting at the library searching for volumes that I remember seeing at my old college.

The second day was no different - just as the function wasn't there. Lectures started on the second day …

Back to college....

After a long two-year break from studies, I am finally back to college. I am pursuing Masters in Pharmacy (specialising in Hospital & Clinical Pharmacy) at Amrita School of Pharmacy (under Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, deemed university) Edappalli, Kochi, Kerala. Its a two year programme, with one year for theoretical studies and one for thesis/research work along with an internship at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (A 1200-bed super-speciality, tertiary referral hospital in Ernakulam).

Ours is a batch of 10 students (there are two more specialisations, with 10 students each). There was a long inaugural session, and a mandatory visit to the Library. The inaugural session was interesting - and boring - in every manner.

A few words about the institution - the institution is affiliated to Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham Deemed University. The University was recently accredited with an "A" rating by the NAAC. The University was founded by Shri Mata Amritananda Mayi (fondly …

Private Buses finally gets cut to size...

The City bus service in Ernakulam - the Commercial Capital of Kerala - is handled almost exclusively by Private buses. Official records show that there are over 900 buses serving the city and its suburbs - extending from Thripunithura to Cheranalloor and Thevara/Fort Kochi to Aluva. The sheer number of buses provide an amazing connectivity within the city, with frequencies as good as a minute between two buses! However, the amazing frequency has led to unhealthy competition among bus operators - and finally ends up in buses running at speeds putting even F1 drivers to shame.

It is no secret that these private buses run on a mix of Kerosene and Diesel (obviously for saving on fuel money - only to spend more on engine repairs). In addition to cutting costs, the mix also allows buses to pick speed much faster than a bus running purely on diesel. Each bus runs with about 3-4 crew members manning it - including one driver and two conductors. The crew are usually at tenterhooks, because any …

The 'RailKerala' meet: At Pattambi

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It has been a tradition of RailKerala - a group of Railfans in Kerala, often called a 'sub-group' of the Indian Railways Fans Club (IRFCA) - to have a get together every year, since 2007. We usual get together in October every year, usually at Ernakulam. We decided to have something different this year - meet in September, perhaps at a different location. Long discussions later, Kozhikode was chosen as our place of meet. However, attendees started withdrawing one by one, and a spot closer to Shoranur was chosen. Pattambi got the toss.

Pattambi is 12 kilometres from Shoranur, on the Shoranur-Mangalore Railway Line. The station is located on the banks of the river Bharathapuzha and is in the middle of a couple of nice curves. The location was studied using Google Earth, and we checked for connectivity in detail. So Pattambi, it was! RailKeralites were to assemble at Shoranur Station at 9 AM on Saturday, September 05, 2009. I planned to take the 6305 Kannur Intercity to reach Shor…

Happy Onam!!!

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Thiruvonam is finally here! Putting an end to 10-days of festivities, Thiruvonam is here. Onam is celebrated to mark the Harvest season, and also to welcome the mythical king Mahabali is regarded as the best ruler the state has ever seen. History has it that Mahabali was an Asura (or Devil) and he ruled over all the three worlds, including the Devas. Annoyed by this, the Devas approached Lord Vishnu for help. It is said that Lord Vishnu approached Mahabali in his Vamana avatar. Mahabali was performing a Yagna at that time, and he had promised to fulfill the needs of any one approaching him. Taking advantage of the situation, Vamana said to Mahabali, "You need not give me anything great. It is enough if you give me that extend of land covered by three footsteps of mine".

Although Mahabali was warned by the sages performing the Yagna that Vamana was an avatar of a Deva and the statement was a trap. Mahabali, determined to keep up his promise, begged pardon from his Guru (among…

Garib Yathra: To Bangalore and back... Part-II

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As the purpose of my visit to Bangalore comes to a good end, it was time to begin the pursuit for the return ticket. Be it a weekend or a weekday, getting a ticket from Bangalore to Kerala is a task in itself. Fortunately, on three days of the week, a very good alternative is available - in the form of the Yeshwantpur - Kochuveli Garib Rath. With over 1200 AC berths, the train is a real cheap alternative, that one could actually walk into. Over 400 berths were available on this train (#2257) and one was booked quickly. My request for a lower berth went through, and was allotted berth #16 (Lower) in coach G13.

The Garib Rath departs at 2100 from Yeshwantpur, every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. However, a mis-understanding meant that I believed the departure time to be 2130. Accordingly, started from home at around 1900. I was at the wheels, driving a Toyota Innova. Thankfully, the traffic on the road kept flowing, without much hiccups. Driving through Bangalore's traffic during even…

Aana Vandi - a new blog for the KSRTC Lovers

KSRTC, or Kerala State Road Transport Corporation is a charming little transport corporation. Though much older than most other state run road transport corporations, KSRTC is a small organisation, that concentrates more on providing basic transport solutions to the weaker sections of the society.

Expressing my love for the corporation, and to disseminate more information on this lesser known company, Here I present another blog for all my beloved patrons. Here comes Aana Vandi. Click here to visit this blog. Do drop in to get more information on KSRTC.

Be aware that the blog is just being put together and hence more information would be added soon. Remember to bookmark the page, you might just require it in the future :)

The First Class experience...

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Unfurling a new stage in my life also presented a gigantic challenge – getting some papers from the University of Mumbai as well as my old college. Well, one might as what was the challenge in these. Here is the catch – I was conveyed this need on a Wednesday evening, and the papers had to be in town on Monday. However, the challenges were quickly met and a way to reach Mumbai by Friday morning – by train – was quickly finalised.

At the end of a tiring search for trains and ticket, I left home at around 2030. Getting a bus from my home to the nearest town is another challenge, in itself, especially if the time is past 2000. A bus turned up after about 7 minutes of anxious wait. The bus short-terminated before the scheduled bus terminus – as luck favours, the bus stopped right near the place where I would get my onward connection. The wait for the onward connection was even longer – about 20 minutes. A private bus heading to Parur turned up – a passenger waiting at the bus stop asked if…