Yet another overnight bus journey in Kerala..

Yet another bus fanning trip, this time to the North. This one was lingering around for a long time, but the decision to do it came at the last moment. I was to join Sankar on some bus fanning at Kozhikode on Saturday, May 28, 2011. My initial plan was to start off on Saturday morning - very early in the morning. I had almost finalised the 4AM from Thrissur, but later had my mind hanging around. I then thought of taking a train - but the lack of reservations just nipped the plan in the bud itself.

Towards evening of Friday, May 27, 2011, I get a call from Sankar saying that he is taking the Trivandrum - Kozhikode AC bus, from Kollam. I changed my mind at the last moment, and decided to join his bus at Thrissur. I called him up and asked him to try to block a seat for me from Ernakulam. No news from him till later in the night. I got set to travel, and left home around 11 pm on Friday. I was to leave my car at the railway station, and then take the bus from the bus station.

Around 23:24, my phone beeped.. a message from Sankar: "Left ekm. No halt here. bus full tight". A hard feeling sunk in.. if the bus was full at Ernakulam, there are very little chances of getting a seat from Thrissur. I was very sedate until then.. just pushed down the throttle after this. My intention was to reach Thrissur at the earliest, and then take the first bus towards Kozhikode. I reached Thrissur around 23:50. Rushed into the bus station and had a glance at the timetable - a "Limited Stop Fast Passenger" bus was the immediate next bus. I called up Sankar once again - he repeated, it was very tight. Very little chances.

At 00:05, the Fast Passenger bus comes in.. RNA648 of Thottilpalam, working Kottayam-Kozhikode-Tottilpalam. I pushed myself in - intially dejected to see all seats taken. All of a sudden, I notice one 'middle' seat empty - just rushed in without a second thought. There was no sign of movement - the bus filled up in no time. Around 00:20, the drivers gets on board - we move at 00:21. No sign of Sankar's bus. Just as my bus pulls out of Thrissur bus station, Sankar's bus pulls in. I somehow make space for myself in what could best be described as a 2-and-a-half seater bench, with 3 people sitting on it. The window shutter was closed - not just the one at my seat, but most in the bus.

The bus was unbearably hot and humid - the driver was struggling to keep the windshield free of condensation. It started raining as well. The bus was crawling, and we kept making very frequent stops. This continued till we reached Kunnamkulam. In the meantime, my neighbour - a tamilian - was remarking how people in Kerala did not know Tamil!! They got off at Kunnamkulam, and a new co-passenger came in. This person - a tall and well built person was struggling to seat on the "half" seat space he got. Poor guy almost fell off at quite a few curves.

Past Kunnamkulam, the driver made it clear that he meant business. We were flying past - the road here is well paved, marked and accessorised with reflectors. The BSII Cummins powered TATA was vibrating like no-body's business. The ride was horrible once the bus went past 60kmph, and I had a tough time not itching my nose. I fell asleep sometime after Perumbilavu. I slept upto Kuttipuram. We reached Kuttipuram at 0133 - left after picking a couple of passengers. Since it was night time, there were little passengers waiting for the bus at the wayside. However, we still had standing passengers in the bus.

Valanchery was crossed at 0144. I was half asleep all the time. I woke up when the bus pulled aside all of a sudden. The place was Velimukku, and the time was 0225. That was a break for tea. I got off the bus and decided to have a stroll. The Trivandrum-Mangalore bus overtook us at this time (I did not notice the number). I had a tea and walked around for some time. In the mean time, the Trivandrum-Bathery deluxe also went ahead. We started off at 0245. I realised that we were not very far from Kozhikode, and decided not to sleep anymore. The windows were shut again since it was cold outside. I continued in a half-awaken state. We turned off the bypass road and headed towards Ramanattukara. The territory ahead appeared very familiar - I was traveling through the area after a good 6 years.

We turn left near Baby Memorial Hospital, and rushed straight into the Municipal Bus Station. The time was 03:16. Just 2:55 hrs, including a 20 minute break, that too in a Fast Passenger bus! I spent just Rs. 78 for the run - but my back was making unusual noises at the end of the journey. It was tiring, plus the lack of sleep made me more tired. Sankar's bus was yet to reach. I had another tea and some light snack, before Sankar reached Kozhikode.. we then took the Kannur Deluxe, and go off at Thalassery, for a day full of bus fanning....