Friday, May 31, 2013

Coimbatore to Bangalore - a very eventful hurdle race

I had my eyeballs popping out when I saw all night buses from Coimbatore sold out for May 5, 2013. I reconfirmed by checking the operators' websites, and found it to be true. Some never heard-of operators had some seats vacant, but at exorbitant rates. I hoped someone operated a late evening trip from Coimbatore - but found none. Kallada's Hyderabad buses had some odd seat here-and-there, but did not book. Then I remembered about KaSRTC's services - the night ones were sold out, but the afternoon one had some tickets. I decided to take a service to Mysore instead, and got a seat in the evening "1614CBTMYS" schedule - which was actually their Mangalore service, operating as a "split service".

May 05, 2013:
I received a message from KSRTC at around 1500hrs giving details about my bus and the crew's phone number. I like this service a lot - it gives a lot of peace of mind. I vacated my room at around 1515hrs, and took a TNSTC bus towards Gandhipuram bus station. I got off the bus outside the Gandipuram BS itself, and headed into the SETC BS. I spent sometime photographing buses there, and then headed out of to a nearby bakery for some snacks. While at the bakery, I spotted my bus coming into the bus station - the buses are parked at the Mettupalayam road BS. It was 1545hrs then - a good 30 minutes to go. I packed some snacks and headed off to the bus station.
The bus: KA-01-F-9056 of Mangalore-2 Depot.
I did not board the bus immediately - just waited outside. The conductor had a tiff with a passenger there regarding the lack of identity proof, and some confusion in his booking. The station supervisor at Coimbatore managed the issue and made a remark on the waybill for the same. The bus was from Mangalore division, Depot-2. The maintenance looked good - there were a few dents here and there, but not really odd looking. The bus appeared full. The bus came to life around 1610hrs, and I got in after the AC was switched on. The bus finally started off at 1620hrs, about 6 minutes late. The bus was slow from the point we started. They picked up some local passengers from Ganapathy, and continued the run towards Mysore.

We picked up a passenger from Annur (1702hrs) and continued. I dozed off for sometime - the heat had an effect on me for sure. I woke up just as we stopped at Sathy, near the SPS petrol bunk (1739hrs). The bus then took a right turn and went inside Sathy bus station - a few passengers got off here, but nobody joined us. It took all of 1h19m from Coimbatore to Sathy - compared to over 2 hours for the Conti bus on my inbound trip! A movie was played after Sathy - it was a fairly old Vikram starrer Tamil movie. The bus stopped briefly at Bannari RTO checkpoint due to a traffic snarl. After the check post, the bus stopped at a way-side temple before the ghats (1804hrs). The crew got off, and got a full pooja done! The poojari got in, applied sandalwood paste on the front windshield and then did a karpoora arathi. He then came around to collect money from the passengers. I did not like this part of a government bus stopping for a religious activity - does not really fall into our line of a secular government. We started off from the temple at 1809hrs.

The driver appeared to be an expert in this ghat section - he maintained good pace in the ghats as well. I had travelled down the ghats earlier (read here), but this was my first experience ascending the ghats in a bus. This ghats, called the "Dhimbam Ghats" has 27 hair-pin bends. Three of them were tight - the bus almost touched the rocks at the turns. I was enjoying the run up the ghats in the bus - have driven up the ghats a couple of time earlier though. We stopped at "TNSTC Motel" at Hassanur for a break (1853hrs). This was a run down place - stinking place with garbage strewn around. The "restaurant" was a tin shed. The food was average as well, but thankfully not overpriced. I was sad looking at the place we stopped - but there were no better options anyway. I felt they could've carried on to Chamrajnagar instead. We started after the break at 1911hrs. I've always felt that Mangalore crew are very adamant about timings - they stick to timings.

I had another short sleep after Hassanur. We passed Chamrajnagar at 2000hrs - infact stopped outside the bus station and took a couple of passengers. We were only 60kms from Mysore, and had over 2:30hrs left!! I dozed off for some more time. When I woke up, I was expected the bus to be around Nanjangud - but the route we took looked very unfamilar. I switched on my GPS to find out our exact location - it turned out that we were heading towards T.Narasipura, on the Kollegal route! Then the bus ran towards Mysore - wonder why they took this route avoiding the shorter and direct route via Nanjangud - this route surely had negligible traffic, though. I slept for some more time, and woke up just as the conductor announced Mysore. We were passing Mysore Zoo then. We finally pulled into Mysore Suburban KSRTC Bus Station at 2125hrs - a full 1h05m early!! To read about my journey further to Bangalore, go down further.

End Notes: The bus was KA-01-F-9056, of Mangalore-2 Depot. It had about 5.69 Lakh kms on the odo. It runs day in-and-day out through average roads, including the Sampaje and Dhimbam Ghats. The upkeep was good - barring some dents on the outside, the bus was largely in good shape. Did not hear any rattles anywhere from the body. I was impressed with the driving - he maintained steady pace throughout, and made it well before scheduled time. No rash driving, no unwanted honks. The driver appeared well trained as well - he did not lug the engine anytime. Blankets were not provided since its a "day" service. I loved the service on the whole.

Facilities:
Blankets: No
Water Bottle: Yes
Snacks: No

Ratings:
Maintenance (including cleanliness): 2.5/5
Punctuality: 5/5 (wanted to give more than 5!)
Staff Behaviour: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.95/5

Will I take this service again? I do not travel on that route very often - but will recommend this bus.

Mysore to Bangalore.. here begins the drama.
It was election night, and buses were far and few. I did not realise this as I went inside a hotel in the bus station - the food was awful to say the least, and service was very lousy. I had a little bit of food, paid up and walked out. Headed straight to the "Bangalore" platform. The place was crowded, but there was no sign of Airavats. There was one Rajahamsa standing, but that was already full. I decided to wait for some more time. Clock ticked past 2230hrs, and there was no sign of an Airavat or a Rajahamsa! There were lots of people waiting as well. Sometime later, around 2235hrs, a Vaibhav rolled in. Did not want to lose the opportunity, and hence got in and booked a seat. Like me, a lot of other people too got in, and kept looking out of the window if an Airavat turns up. The conductor sold tickets - the fare was Rs. 140, if I remember correctly. The bus was only upto Satellite BS in Bangalore.

The bus finally started off at 2308hrs. I asked the conductor about the expected arrival time - he replied, "in 3 hours". I called up a cab operator in Bangalore and arranged to be picked up from Satellite BS - at 0200hrs. I hoped the bus would reach earlier than expected since it a late night "non-stop" trip. I dozed off soon after we started off - vaguely remember passing Srirangapatna. The bus stopped for a tea break at a way-side shop somewhere near Mandya - did not notice the timings. I woke up as the cab driver called me - it was 0210hrs then. He asked about my whereabouts, and I told him the exact pick-up location. He promised to turn up in another 10~15 minutes. We finally pull into Satellite bus station at 0220hrs - 3h12m after we started from Mysore. That was for a distance of 133kms in 192 minutes! I hope the driver wasn't pushing it by hand instead of driving. Terribly disappointed at such a lousy service - that too at night. I am sure the Sariges would've been faster. I will never ever take a Vaibhav again.

The cab was there as promised. It seems the cab had already reached Nayandahalli at 0045hrs, and the driver had slept off. He got worried when I did not call up till 2AM, and called me to find out. I liked that service. The cab was well kept, and the driving was good. He charged me by meter and gave a bill without even asking for one. The operator was CelCabs - will surely try them again.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Conti Travels: Bangalore to Coimbatore

During my visit to Chennai in April, I had decided to make a trip to Coimbatore to capture a particular bus (heights of madness, you may say). I was planning to make a quick trip to Coimbatore for quite some time now. The polling day (assembly elections of Karnataka) was an ideal opportunity for me. As soon as I zeroed in on the date, I started hunting for tickets. The Conti "Asia Bus" was high up on my priority list - but I wanted to try that in the Coimbatore-Bangalore side - but they did not offer online booking for that service. Left with no choice, I decided to book my journey to Coimbatore in Conti Travels. I booked through a third party website and pocketed a small discount as well. Getting a return ticket turned out to be a big task - for some reason, all night services were sold out for that day! I was shocked - non even non-ac buses were available! Left with no options, I booked a ticket to Mysore by KaSRTC.

May 04, 2013:
My bus was late in the night. I normally do not prefer traveling by late night buses - for the simple reason that I sleep quite early on normal days. I was sleepy as I walked to the auto stand near my house. There was only one auto there, and the driver was having his dinner then. I asked him if he'll take a trip after food - he replied affirmative. So decided to wait for him to finish. He finished quickly, and started off with me. The rick was slow - it was crawling, but then, I had no hurry. The driver left me at Madiwala by around 2235hrs - he did not demand a particular rate, so just paid the an amount that is just more than the meter rate. I headed straight to the Conti travels office - the guy saw my ticket and replied that the bus would come at 2300hrs.

I walked around a bit - it was drizzling, and hence I returned to the office and decided to rest my weight on a chair there. I was sleepy - beyond control. Tuned in to some music for some time. The clock ticked past 2300hrs, but no sign of the bus. In the meantime, there was a steady stream of buses towards Chennai - Greenline, Sharma, SPS, etc kept going. There was no sign of my bus - other passengers in the office got a bit restless and they started questioning the office guy there. He replied that the bus has left Kalasipalya, and is getting delayed due to block. I decided to remain outside the office. At around 2315hrs, the old Isuzu of Conti Travels rolled in. Conti has been using their Isuzu to run special services during weekends - so did not really bother. But the guy in the office started shouting "11pm Volvo".
The bus: KA-01-AA-0726. (Old Image. Archives)
Are you kidding me? Volvo? I re-confirmed, and slowly trudged towards the bus. I confirmed again with the drivers - they replied that the Volvo had gone for service and did not return in time and hence the Isuzu! Now came another confusion - how will they adjust the seats? I did not want to waste my precious processor capacity - so just discarded the confusion and walked inside. The bus was chilling inside - the interiors looked well kept as well. As I got in, the driver asked my seat number, and gave me a boarding pass after collecting my e-ticket. A bottle of water was also handed over! I headed straight to my seat (#26), which was now two rows from the back. The bus is a 36 seater, all semi-sleeper seats. As I got in, I understood that the bus wasn't full. Heard from a passenger in the nearby row that they had merged their non-AC and AC services!! They were ruing about the downfall in quality of services. The bus started off at 2324hrs. There was no blanket at my seat.

Soon after the bus started rolling, the attendant came around and supplied blankets to the new passengers. My adjacent seat was empty. The seats were fairly comfortable - the recline was good. I spotted the Kallada EKM-Hyderabad Volvo just as we crossed Silk Board - that was amazing timings. I slowly drifted to sleep - I noticed that we did not take the flyover to Electronic City. The bus did not have great pickup - it made a lot of noise as it starts from stop. But the engine was fairly silent on the run. The AC was very efficient as well. The bus reached Hosur at 0005hrs - one passenger got in, but my adjacent seat remained empty. I decided to make full use of the opportunity now.

In the meantime, I overheard the second driver talking to another passenger about the political unrest in TN. The passenger wanted to be dropped at Sathyamangalam, but the driver replied that the drop would depend on the condition that night - the passenger did not protest. The bus waited at Hosur for some unknown reason. We started only at 0012hrs. I slept quickly after that. The bus pulled into Rajabhojanam restaurant just before Thoppur, at 0210hrs - lights were switched on. I got off the bus, took a short stroll and remained outside till the crew came back. We started again at 0222hrs. I slept soon after we crossed Thoppur toll. The AC was just right, the blanket was big enough and the seat was comfortable enough - perfect recipe for a nice sleep. All I missed was a pillow.

I woke up as the bus stopped at Sathy for dropping a passenger - 0457hrs. It was a brief stop - just stop, drop, and go. The drivers did a good job in the Thoppur-Sathy section. I was hoping to reach Coimbatore by 0530 - that seemed impossible already. I slept for some more time. As I woke up, I saw Roadlink and SPS Sleepers overtaking us - I continued my sleep. The bus pulled into a fuel station at Ramakrishnapuram (near Ganapathy, in Coimbatore) at 0648hrs. The refueling was quick - we got moving at 0657hrs itself. The Sathy-Ramakrishnapuram run was awfully slow. I spotted a couple of KPN buses in a fuel station near Ganapathy as we continued towards the city. I was finally dropped outside the Omni Bus Stand in Coimbatore at 0704hrs - more than 90 minutes past the scheduled arrival time!

End notes: The bus, KA-01-AA-0726, had about 5.6 Lakh kms on the odo. The exteriors looked battered, but the interiors were in good shape. There was occasional rattles from the underbody. The seats were clean and well kept. The blanket was fresh. The interiors smelled foul - they could've used an air freshener. The crew were well behaved - they talked typically like a Coimbatorean - Nostalgia! They showed no signs of picking speed or atleast trying to make it to Coimbatore on time. But then, there were some political trouble in TN at that time - so not sure if the bus was detained anywhere during the night. The end-to-end run took 7h49m - surely high for the distance, especially for a night bus. I was terribly disappointed about the replacement as well - I booked the service only to try their Volvo 9100 "Asia Bus" - but ended up in an Isuzu. Not that the Isuzu was bad, but did not meet my expectations.

Facilities:
Blankets: Yes
Water Bottle: Yes
Snacks: No

Ratings:
Maintenance (including cleanliness): 3.5/5
Punctuality: 3/5
Staff Behaviour: 4.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Will I take this service again? I doubt. Might take it once again just to try their Volvo.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ashoka Volvo 9100: Kannur to Bangalore

Sometime in the beginning of April 2013, I decided to head to Kannur to attend a wedding in May. May month would be punctuated with lots of journeys and hence taking a call to head to Kannur was a bit crucial. I was going there with my brother by road, and return tickets were being searched. For some reason, operators in Northern Kerala, aka Malabar, aren't very net savvy - they, either do not offer online bookings for their Kerala-Bangalore services, or put very few seats online. I checked on RedBus, and found that only Ashoka Volvo was listed on the route - Golden was shown "Sold Out". I had already traveled by Golden, so decided to check out Ashoka, who was offering a brand new Volvo 9100. I booked through Redbus, and chose one of the two seats available.

May 01, 2013:
Beginning of a happening month - it was a tiring day attending a wedding in Payyannur - the heat had sapped most of my energy. I had a short nap in the afternoon after returning from the wedding. I had my dinner from home, and left towards Kannur with my brother's brother-in-law by around 7pm. The reporting time for my bus was around 2015hrs. We reached Kannur well in time for the departure. I headed to the office to get my boarding pass - they allotted the same seat that I had chosen on RedBus, and issued a boarding pass. I left my bag in the bus and got off. While in the office, I understood that the bus was full. There was no sign of the bus departing even at 2030hrs (the scheduled departure time). In the meantime, they called me from the office (on phone) and asked me to come there - I went there, and they took back the boarding pass and changed by seat number. I was now allotted seat #10 - my seat choice was retained though. The driver was fairly old guy - he looked quite experienced with Volvos. The attendant was a young guy - he was upset when I took a picture of the bus - and was saying that I needed permission from the office, blah, blah, blah. The Kalpaka office on the opposite side was very busy - lots of departure one after the other from there.
The bus: KA-01-AC-1161 (Photo from Archives)
The bus finally got moving at 2047hrs - the office guys said that the official departure time is 2045hrs - wonder why they put 2030hrs on Redbus. We had a couple of pick ups in the town - a long halt at Caltex Junction for a passenger too thrown in. Our last pickup in town was at Thana - at 2101hrs. We then stopped at the new Bus station in Thalassery, at 2129hrs. Quite a lot of passengers got in here, and a lot of parcels were loaded as well. We started from there at 2145hrs. A fairly recent malayalam movie was played after we started off from Thalassery. The road seemed good as the ride quality was decent. The bus did not sound strained or struggling. We had pickups from Koothuparamba (2203/2209hrs), Mattannur (2226/2228hrs) and Iritty (2246hrs). Now the bus was full - we had 41/41 bookings. The movie was still on. We reached Koottupuzha junction at around 2308hrs. There was long line of buses waiting to cross the bridge then. The bridge is at a 90* turn from the road and the bridge is quite narrow as well. Buses really struggle to take that turn to enter the bridge. My bus too struggled - he had to take a well planned turn, and reverse once. This was the first time I was seeing the turn from a bus.

Once past the bridge, we enter Karnataka. The bus made a brief stop at the check post as well, and then continued our run to Bangalore. The movie got over sometime later. I slowed drifted as sleep. I woke up when the lights were turned on, and the cleaner announced a break - it was 2349hrs, and the boards in the area read "Perumbadi". There is a hotel and a small shop on the banks of a lake here. I got off the bus, took a short stroll and waited till the crew came back. We started off at 0005hrs. Wonder why these buses need to take a dinner break in the middle of the night. The concept of "non-stop" services should evolve here as well. I started struggling to sleep after we started off again. The seats weren't very comfortable. The bus was a 41 seater, and hence had fairly good leg room. The seat design was faulty, and it offered very little under-thigh support - plus it was very "flat" - so one keeps sliding out whenever the driver applied brakes!

The bus was struggling in the ghats, and it did not sound very confident of being able to handle grades. I slept off sometime in between. The sleep wasn't very continuous, since I kept sliding out of my seat. Did not realise if we took the Elivala-KRS-Srirangapatna route, or if we went via Mysore. I woke up as the bus stopped at Kengeri to drop some one - at 0500hrs. We stopped again at Satellite (0516hrs). The attendant left the lights on, and spoilt all the chances of catching up some more sleep. We stopped at Market (0529), before reaching Kalasipalya - 0534hrs. What shocked me was, all the non-ac buses which left before us, was already standing there! In effect, we had no time advantage. We left Kalasipalya at 0537hrs. The bus slowly crawled out of Kalasipalya. We stopped at Lalbagh to drop a passenger (0545hrs), then again at Dairy Circle (0552hrs). The bus finally rolled into Madiwala at 0556hrs. The driver was adamant about dropping passengers only after parking inside the petrol pump!

Ending notes: The bus, KA-01-AC-1161, had about 28-thousand kms on the odo. The maintenance was fairly good - not dents, no rattles. The interiors were clean as well. Seats had fake-leather upholstery - it offered very little comfort. The seat design was flawed, and I felt quite uncomfortable. The running time seemed too high for the distance - it took 9h09m end-to-end for a 300-odd kms journey. I agree there was a ghat section in between, but they seemed to waste a lot of time here-and-there. My last journey in Golden was faster, and they seemed to keep time better. The advantage of Ashoka over Golden is that Ashoka provides blankets, while Golden doesn't.

Facilities:
Blankets: Yes
Water Bottle: No
Snacks: No

Ratings:
Maintenance (including cleanliness): 4.5/5
Punctuality: 4/5
Staff Behaviour: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Will I take this service again? I doubt. Might take it other alternatives aren't available. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

VRL B9R: Chennai to Bangalore

It was a happening trip to Chennai - spent two rocking days doing busfanning. The first days roaming literally burnt me - my complexion changed dark. At the sun set on the second day, it was time for me to get packing. The ticket for my return journey was booked long back - much before I book the ticket for my onward journey. I am still not sure about the rationale for selecting VRL - but I chose it and booked the ticket through their website, getting a 5% discount on the rate. The bus was almost empty when I booked the ticket. I somehow like the VRL website for its simplicity, and limited use of graphics/images.

April 21, 2013:
A few hours to go for my bus, my phone beeped... "BINAI SANKAR Your Bus Number is KA25D1403 Departures from Koyambedu(OMNI BUS STAND)". I was happy - its a new bus for me! I had nothing much to do in my hotel room - so checked out, and headed to the restaurant downstairs for a good dinner. After dinner, I took an auto from my hotel to the Omni bus station - it was just a short distance away, but had luggage. My bus was still about an hour away - so just kept walking around the bus station without any aim. The bus station was almost deserted - most bus bays were empty. I was actually enjoying wandering around the empty place. The KPN bays were active - they had a lot of buses at that time, and most of them were monsters aka Multi-axle Volvos. After some time of roaming around, I reached back outside the VRL Agent in CMBT -Senthil Travels. Showed the ticket there and waited outside the shop.

The NJK Mercedes Benz sleeper to Coimbatore was parked there. Around 2300hrs, I saw my bus rolling into the bus station. Boarding started immediately after it came in - I was surprised to see that majority of the passengers were boarding from CMBT - I thought Central would contribute the maximum. Boarding was swift  - the driver was checking the tickets at the door itself. I understood that there was only one driver and one attendant - that's actually a good idea for such a short route. I settled on my seat as the attendant came around to take a headcount - he gave a go ahead, when a passenger got off the bus to use the washroom. We started off at 2317hrs, as soon as the passenger came back. That was a two minute delay at the origin.
The bus: KA-25-D-1403 @ CMBT
The bus slowly crawled out of the bus station and got on to Ponamalle High Road. The driver stopped just after the flyover to talk to another VRL bus there (the AC Sleeper which left just before us). The talk was short - the bus got moving quickly. The driver was lugging the engine big time - it was making a hell lot of noise and was vibrating madly. A couple of KaSRTC buses overtook my bus with ease - now that was something I really was shocked at. Given the way the bus was being driven, I had no hope of making it to Bangalore anywhere close to the scheduled arrival time. I decided to make good use of the slow run - had a very nice, continuous sleep.

I woke up around 4AM, and the bus was nearing a toll gate - I was sure we were at Krishnagiri. Did not want to waste time - so just closed the curtain and continued my sleep. I woke up again around 25 minutes later - and had the shock of my life - we were running through Singasandra then! OMG! So the toll gate I saw was Attibelle, not Krishnagiri! By the time I came to my senses, the bus rolled past my stop - Bommanahalli! My co-passenger was still asleep and I really had to struggle to wake him. By now, the attendant shouted out "Silk Board". I finally got off there at 0435hrs. The Scheduled arrival in Bangalore is only 0530hrs!!

End remarks: The bus, KA-25-D-1403, was maintained in fairly good shape. The odo reading was around 2 lakh kms - did not really note down the number. The interiors were in good shape - the seats had fake-leather/canvas upholstery. The driving was awful - he lugged the engine badly - but maintained time. The end-to-end running time came out to a comfortable 5h18m only! The ride was very sleep friendly as well, and the icing is a stable fare structure! I feel VRL is one of the best bets on this route - the driving is very sleep friendly and fares are really proportionate!

Facilities:
Blankets: Yes
Water Bottle: No
Snacks: No
 
Ratings:
Maintenance (including cleanliness): 4.5/5
Punctuality: 5/5 (wanted to give more than 5!)
Staff Behaviour: 5/5
Overall: 4.95/5
 
Will I take this service again? Sure! Will be my priority on this route.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bharathi B9R: Bangalore to Chennai

I had been planning to visit Chennai solely with the intention of spotting some buses. The trip had been on the planning board right from mid 2012, when I had spent a couple of days in Chennai in connection with my first job after post-graduation. The pressures of the new job caught the best of me, and I had been mostly busy since then. Whenever I think of heading to Chennai, something else comes up, and I end up putting off the trip. There was one point when I almost booked a ticket to Chennai, but something else made me put it off. Then came a situation when I had booked a oneway ticket, but some health reasons made me put it off. Finally, the chance came up in mid-April 2013. I knew it was the wrong time to go to Chennai - the risk of getting fried in the heat there.

As soon I decided to go ahead with the trip, I booked my return ticket from Chennai - I had to return on a Sunday night, and hence had to make moves swiftly. I wanted to try the new Volvo sleeper of KPN, but by the time I made up my mind, all the lower berths were gone, and I was hesitant to try the upper berths. I remembered about VRL, and quickly checked their website - the bus was almost empty! Without a rethought, I booked on VRL - got a discount for using their website as well. Sometime later, I realised that I had a lot of other options - may that I hadn't tried earlier! Now comes the dilemma about choosing the operator for my onward journey. I wanted a bus that would drop me outside CMBT, not near the flyover. Some operators were ruled out due to this - while some others were ruled out due to the fare. The state operator was quite expensive, while a lot of private operators offered cheaper rates. I turned to my friends on FB to find out an option. Finally, after "rounds of talks" there, I chose Bharathi. Booked the ticket through a third party website, and pocketed a cool Rs. 115 discount.

April 19, 2013:
My brother dropped me at Madiwala around 2230hrs itself, although the bus was past 2300hrs. I spent some time talking to my acquaintances there. Some people warned that the seating in the bus I had booked was very tight, while some other told me there were better options. I was a bit worried now. By 2300hrs, I went to Alhind Travels, who handle Bharathi Travels in Madiwala. The scheduled pickup was at 2315hrs. As  I waited for my bus, the Greenline Travels 1+1+1 seater came in - I really regretted not booking that one, seeing the way the bus was kept. it was gleaming! My bus came in at 2314hrs - I was jumping up in joy, since the bus was perfectly on time! The passengers got it, and we started moving at 2316hrs! Wow! That was great! But my joy was shortlived as the bus moved ahead and parked somewhere near the Kallada office! Then a guy from the Alhind came around to check tickets. It was a long process, and we finally started off only at 2338hrs - a good 22 minutes late.
Soon after the bus started moving, the attendant came around distributing water bottles - 1 litre bottles for a 6hr ride! The driver meant business after he started off - he maintained decent pace. The bus did not take the elevated highway - went below the flyover. I always felt it was not worth paying the toll for journeys late in the night or early in the morning. We stopped for a passenger pick-up at Hosur, at 0032hrs. I slept even before the bus started from Hosur. I woke up suddenly hearing the sound of the bus hitting something, and then the sound of a flat tyre! Yes! We had a flat tyre!! The driver pulled over - the time was 0047hrs. So we weren't far from Hosur. I slept off again. I woke up hearing a kid in the bus crying out suddenly - the kid had a very peculiar pattern of crying - she just screams at the top of her voice - no pitch variations! The entire bus woke up - the attendant came rushing to find out if something went wrong. The kid receives two thrashings from her mother - the pitch of the scream increases! I keep wondering why do mothers hit their children when they cry!

The time was 0200hrs, and we were at Krishnagiri then. After struggling for some time, I regained sleep. This time it was one continuous sleep. I slept till the attendant came around calling for passengers getting off at Poonamalle - it was 0550. We dropped a passenger and continued our run. The bus took the Poonamalle-Porur-Guindy-CMBT route. Our next drop was at Guindy - 0610hrs. By now the entire bus had woken up and people were getting ready to get off at different places. A passenger seated behind my seat was frantically trying to find out where we were and where would he be dropped. In the meantime, we rolled to Ashoka Pillar - 0617hrs. We were accompanied by some other buses now - including an NJK Mercedes Benz, and some SRM buses. We had another drop at Vadapalani - 0623hrs, and kept proceeding. The bus finally dropped me outside Koyambedu CMBT Metro bus terminus at 0630hrs - a good one hour late.

End Remarks: The bus, TN-73-E-3437, was maintained fairly well. I could not notice the odometer readings since the crew had left somethings on the dash. The interiors were in fairly decent shape - seats were clean and the blanket too was very clean. It appeared like the bus had quite a lot of regular clientele. I felt that the leg space was on the lower side - may be due to the higher reclining angle of the seats. The driving was really good - minimal honking, no rash cuts, no overspeeding. The puncture ended up taking quite some time - delaying our arrival in Chennai. I liked the service in total - and would like to try them again, may be when required. The end-to-end running time was on the higher side, at 6h52m, though.

Facilities:
Blankets: Yes
Water Bottle: Yes
Snacks: No
Ratings:
Maintenance (including cleanliness): 4.5/5
Punctuality: 4/5
Staff Behaviour: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5
Will I take this service again? Its a good service. Will surely take it again.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Off Desk!

Its been quite some time since I wrote something up here. It isn't that there has been nothing to write about, but I'd been quite lazy and busy (now that's an oxymoron) over the past month or so. Quite a lot of traveling, and been tied up with official work as well. I have a lot of reports to write here - they are on the way - may be another week more.

The last month was quite happening - a mindboggling trip to Chennai - two days with fellow bus-spotters, and then a trip to Ooty with my lovely students for an academic program. I remembered my last college trip during this one - in fact, I met my beloved teacher who had accompanied us on the last trip, during the trip with my students!! The last time I was with him as his student, this time I was there as a teacher! Teaching is one profession where the teacher and student reaches one level at one point of time (seniority is surely there - but a teacher is a teacher).

Last Teachers' Day, our college management gave a small memento to every one of us - the memento read - "I touch the future, I teach". I am proud to say that as well. Adieu for now, as the pending reports get ready in the background :)