Ernakulam to Bangalore: SRM iShift B9R

End of May, Cousin's wedding, longing to go home - it was deadly combination. It was sure that I had to go for the wedding, and I wanted to have a hassle free journey. It took quite some time for me to evaluate all the options available to me - the process started in the first week of April itself. Since end of May is a peak time for buses - end of vacations and a Sunday too! Did not want to take a risk waiting till May to book my tickets. I wanted a bus that leaves late in the night - I wasn't really particular about an early arrival in Bangalore. I thought of taking the non-stop KaSRTC - but was vary of its arrival time in Bangalore, and the awful driving style too. Kallada sleeper was not listed then. The late night options available to me were from Kallada (Suresh), Kallada (G4) and SRM. I decided to go with SRM this time - to see if its really worth the hype some people spread. I booked the tickets soon after the booking was opened (in the middle of April) - I was actually shocked to see half the bus blocked - not a great habit. My favorite seats on the right had side were blocked - I spoke to Friends' Travels and confirmed that the seats were blocked and not sold.

May 25, 2013:
It was a musical extravaganza at my cousin's wedding reception that evening - the music was too good that I sat absorbed in it till quite late. Luckily, I had taken my dinner early. I was actually alerted when I got a call from the Driver of the bus asking my whereabouts - I was actually shocked if the bus had actually reached - it was only 2130hrs then, and I was about 2kms away from the boarding point. I asked about the position of the bus, and he replied they were near Aroor. I and my family left the venue soon after I got the call. I was dropped at Vyttila at around 2200hrs. I headed straight to the Skyline Travels office there - they were earlier in the Corporation building, but now shifted out of the building. I showed my ticket - he asked me to wait. An Yellow coloured Kallada B9R, heading to Bangalore, stopped by and picked up a few passengers. Next to come was the Kallada G4, iShift B9R - it did not stop there.
The bus: KA-01-AB-3341 (old photo)
My bus came in at around 2219hrs - well past their scheduled departure time of 2145hrs. Boarding started immediately - the crew was in a bit of hurry. A passenger was already sitting at my place - he vacated when I signalled that it was my seat. The bus got moving from Vyttila at 2223hrs. The AC was set to comfortable temperatures. I prepared to sleep - since it was two sleepless nights earlier, and it was going to be a long day in office the next day. Ernakulam bypass was more or less empty by now - Sunday night! We passed Edappally in no time. We picked up a passenger from Aluva (near Zam Zam) at 2241hrs. I set my seat to a comfortable position, and slowly started drifting asleep. I was waken up by a call from home - asking if the bus had left - I had actually forgotten to message when the bus left. Wished good night, and I fell asleep again.

Sometime later, I got another call from home - he began a long drama. The home keys were with me, and that was the only key! I did not realise that the key was with me, and we normally keep a spare key with a family friend - but that wasn't the case that fateful night! I had a chill going down as I wondered about options. In the meantime, I headed to the cabin to have a word with the driver - he said we do not have anymore agents, and he really cannot help me. My plan was to leave with a travel agent en-route and have my family pick it up from there. Since they did not have agents, I requested the driver to stop at the next Kallada office. The driver was now confused if we'd take the Kuthiran route or the Shoranur Route - he said he'll call me once we pass Paliekara toll. I headed back to my seat, and asked my family to leave from there immediately and head towards Thrissur.

The driver stopped for me at Mannuthy - I rushed to the Kallada office there, and explained him my situation. The person there (sorry! I forgot his name) agreed to help me out - he took the key, and took down our phone numbers. The only catch was that the office would close in another 15~20 minutes. I called up my family and updated the details. We left Mannuthy at 2327hrs after the drama. I thanked the driver for stopping (he was a bit hesitant to stop initially - saying that we are late, blah blah, but later agreed after seeing my confidence about convincing the Kallada guys). I headed back to my seat - a big sorry to my co-passenger that night - I did not let him sleep as well. The road ahead was bouncy - the bus kept swaying through the night as we passed the Kuthiran stretch.

I had a short nap - not really a good sleep. The rear axle link-rod was gone, and the bus made a lot of noise - it disturbed my sleep a lot. The bus stopped for fuel at the fuel station just before Coimbatore bypass (at Madukkarai) - at 0111hrs. A lot of passenger got off for a leak. The first driver got off here, and the second guy took to the wheels. We started off at 0125hrs. I slept off after we got on to the bypass - the sleep wasn't really continuous, but I wasn't sleepless as well. The bus rattled every time it went over a bad patch. I was back to my senses as we passed Attibele. It was around 0550 then. The bus rushed through, and took the BETL - flew over it, and finally dropped me at Silk Board flyover, at 0619hrs. That means we took all of 7h56m for Vyttila to Silk Board - excellent running time, but surely did not feel very confidence inspiring to me - I am not a fan of heroics on the road.

End Notes: The bus was KA-01-AB-3341, and had about 2.8 Lakh kms on the odo. Maintenance was average - rattles from the rear axle was really disturbing. The blankets, er! Shawls, were too small - it was long but too narrow - I wonder what do they save by providing such small shawls. I do not have much to write on it - I had a fairly sleepless journey, despite two tiring days prefixed to it. I am not a big fan of these high speed runs - but for those who love it, this is surely the bus.

Blankets: Yes (Shawls, not blankets)
Water Bottle: No
Snacks: No

Maintenance (including cleanliness): 3/5
Punctuality: 5/5
Staff Behaviour: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

Will I take this service again? Not really - I look forward to a rather sedate driving style. But recommended for people who love speed.


Krishnaprasad said…
What an extraordinary piece of events! Did your family got the keys back finally? Helping mentality at dead nights are normally out of question these days.

Well I am also heading back to Bangalore coming Monday & have booked Viji-Yathra through 3rd party site-Now they had cut the rate so less-They didn't mention Boarding point clearly-seems its MG Road-Do you know where it is? (Its not Ashirwad/Ensign I suppose)
Binai K Sankar said…
Yes.. the keys did reach my family members safely - all thanks to the guy at the Kallada office.

Viji's own website doesn't show any pick-up in MG Road.. Vyttila is the safest option, since most of the buses now pick from Vyttila only, except some Kalladas and Shama.