On Shama B9R, to Thrissur..

An urgent need to head home popped up sometime in the end of April. I was to travel on a Saturday evening, and quickly blocked a seat. However, at the last moment, the trip was postponed by a week. This time around, did not have much confusions about which operator to take - I had zeroed in on Shama, since its been almost a year since I last traveled by them. I headed straight to the Shama office on Sunday - our Manoj was sitting there, half asleep and rest smiling. He blocked a seat on the right side of the bus for me. I did not pay for the ticket then.

Fast forward to July 05, 2013:
It was a slightly busy day in office - it was our Chairman's birthday and we had some work related to that in office. Luckily, I could leave office on time, and reached home by 6pm. I left home by around 2015hrs (for a 2200hrs departure) - luckily managed to get an auto soon. The auto driver took some interior routes and avoided a good portion of traffic, and dropped me at Madiwala by around 2045hrs. Met up with some co-busfans at Madiwala in the intervening period. Went to Shama and got my boarding pass as well - it read "Seat #E". Bus number: "AB5343". Yipee! Its a fairly new bus - not one of the older ones. My dinner was from the Dosa vendor at the petrol pump near Friends/Shama. The food has become pricey, but was still as yummy as it used to be. Being a Friday, he was very busy.
The bus: KA-01-AB-5343 (Old pic)
I saw my bus coming in to Madiwala at 2140hrs. Just before my bus, its pairing bus too came in (AB-5342), which was working a special to Ernakulam. I was booked in the regular service. I got into the bus at around 2155hrs. The bus was half empty even at that time - but by the time a person got in to check seats, we were full. While we were waiting, the Kallada G4 to Kottayam, and Shama's Ernakulam special left. There was some confusion about one passenger - who was supposed to travel by the special bus, but missed it. He was put in our bus, and we finally started off from Madiwala at 2213hrs (13 minutes late). As is the practice with Shama, no movie/music was played (I love that) - so the field was set for me to sleep. In the mean time the crew were busy discussing about their next pick-up (at Bommasandra) - but neither of them knew where this office was. So the crew were cautious after crossing BETL - the went slow, but still managed to miss the pickup point!

We stopped at Bommasandra, at 2237hrs, and the driver called up the agent. We had crossed the office by now. The agent agreed to bring the passengers to our bus. In the meantime, the driver called up the crew of the special bus (who was asked to wait at Bommasandra, but did not wait) and fixed up the point where the passenger could be put on that bus. Two passengers joined us at Bommasandra, and we got moving at 2246hrs. So we had 50 passenger now - 49 on seats, and one in cabin. I dozed off soon after we left Bommasandra. The seats were very comfortable, and I found my sleeping posture in no time. I had a nice sleep, and woke up only when we stopped at Chavadi - it was past 0400hrs then. I knew we were late - but good running even then. The driver had got off to help another Shama bus, which had broken down due to air lock. That was KA-01-AA-2012, their Adoor bus. We got moving at 0405hrs - no idea when did we stop though.

Our next stop was at Walayar - 0423hrs. The Adoor bus still had a problem - so our crew were at it. By now, we were standing in a queue of Shama buses - led by my bus, AA2012 (Adoor bus) behind and AB5342 (Ernakulam Special) at the back. And, behind all was the Kallada G4 to Kottayam. This halt took some time - we started off only at 0431hrs. I was back in my seat, and slept off again - not very comfortable this time because the bus was rocking thanks to the bad roads. We vaguely remember the cleaner calling out Palakkad (all lights were switched on) - it was around 0455hrs then. The driver was quite fast, and somewhat rash on the Shoranur road - the road is curvy, and the driver gave a good rocking motion - I dozed off again. Vaguely remember passing Wadakkanchery bridge (the other Shama buses were still in the convoy). The bus had stopped somewhere in between as a lady wanted to vomit - not sure where it was. I woke up just as the bus passed through Viyyur and approached Thrissur town. I quickly set my seat upright, packed aside the blanket and got ready to get off. Was finally dropped outside Thrissur General Hospital at 0619hrs - 8 hours and 6 minutes after we started from Bangalore.

End Notes: The bus, KA-01-AB-5343, had about 1.8 Lakh kms on the odo. The maintenance was good - absolutely no squeaks or rattles. It did not have one fog lamp though. Interiors were absolutely clean - no dirt or mud anywhere. Like every Shama bus, this one too did not have floor mats or musical horn. The seats were very comfortable, and to make us more comfortable, they provided full size blankets - it really covered me head to toe - I don't remember having used such good blankets anytime recently in buses. I absolutely loved the sleep friendly attitude - no movies/music played. Its quite irritating when they play movies in a late night bus - its quite unnecessary, IMHO. The crew were speaking out aloud though - this could've been avoided. Otherwise the driving was quite sleep friendly - the driver honked excessively after day break though. Overall, I liked the service a lot.

Maintenance (including cleanliness): 5/5
Punctuality: 4.75/5
Staff Behaviour: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.75/5

Will I take this service again? Absolutely Sure! Recommended as well. They've been consistent on all my recent trips as well.