Airavat to Thrissur, via Gudalur, yet again.

Another trip home. That week was punctuated with journeys all along - so much that I was spending two nights in a bus, then one night at home - then again two nights in a bus. With all the travelling thrown in, I was quite unsure about traveling home until early Friday morning. I hadn't booked any ticket (I had a confirmed ticket for my return journey though). My sister-in-law asked me to confirm my plan - I decided to dive in. I booked the ticket immediately through my Mobile - the new Avatar App from KSRTC is quite good. It loads a bit slow, but works fantastically. My favorite seat was gone - only the last four rows were available, and some seats on the right side. After my last experience, I decided never ever to book a seat on the right side in an Airavat. I went ahead and booked seat #36.

February 14, 2014:
I left from work after noon. I was a bit late to start. Every minute made me nervous - and there was no bus in sight. As clock ticked past 1330hrs, I decided to take an auto. I was a bit worried about the auto meter running faster than the auto itself. I was dropped at the Satellite bus station on Mysore Road at 1430hrs. After light refreshments, I headed to the platform from where my bus would depart (Platform #7). There was no sign of my bus even after 1500hrs - as usual. This particular service (1500BNGTRC) is operated by Mysore-2 depot. The bus comes as a Mysore-Bangalore service and returns as Bangalore-Thrissur - hence, if the bus leaves late from Mysore, they end up late everywhere. The bus landed up at 1506hrs - it was KA-09-F-4696 that day.
The bus: KA-09-F-4696, posing at Mysore.
I received an SMS with the bus number about 3 minutes after the bus came. I guess the SMS is sent out when the trip sheet is generated. Soon the conductor came back with the reservation chart - and by then passengers mobbed the bus. I chose to remain a little away waiting for the crowd to settle. Soon after the crowd settled down, I got into the bus. Like everytime, the mTicket was checked, and the conductor verified my ID proof. The interiors look quite dull - maintenance was about average. Unlike last time, this time the crew did not waste a lot of time scouting for passengers - we reversed out of the platform at 1515hrs. We made a brief halt at the Mysore platform and we finally left at 1520hrs - a moderate 20 minute late.

I was very tired by all the journeys in the week. I was not in a mood to sit and enjoy the trip actually. I left my phone for charging. As soon as the bus started moving, the gentleman in the seat ahead of mine, pushed back his seat - I was locked tight now. I moved to the aisle seat instead. A movie was played. Mysore depot normally uses USB drives to play movies - I really like that attitude. Its far better than having scratched discs that stop every now and then, or skips scenes when the bus goes over a pothole. While the movie was quite interesting (the Hindi remake of a recent Malayalam blockbuster), I badly wanted to sleep. Dozed off for some time. Since the sun was on my side, I had left the curtain closed - this meant that I never knew where I was.

We reached Mysore at 1809hrs - in fact, I realised that we had reached Mysore only when we entered the bus station! I used this as a break to stretch a bit - walked around the bus station for a while. The crew were waiting for one passenger to turn up. We started from Mysore at 1829hrs - 9 minutes late. The driver slowed down after Mysore - he was crawling at places. By now the second movie was reaching its climax. We stopped for Dinner, at Hotel Coffe Stoppe, short of Gundlupet - at 1950hrs. Some KeSRTC buses, one Mysore-Ernakulam KaSRTC Volvo and an unknown Rajahamsa was parked there. This is a hotel used by almost all the buses that go this way. I have been to this place multiple times - the food is okayish and not overcharged. The service is a bit slow though.

We left from there at 2020hrs - I was a bit worried now. We had to pass the forest checkpost before 2100hrs and the driver showed absolutely no hurry. He crawled through Gundlupet town, stopped outside the bus station, then crawled again. We passed the forest checkpost at 2042hrs - I let out a sigh. The roads were okayish in Karnataka. We passed the state border at 2103hrs. There was heavy checking at the state border - our bus wasn't stopped though. Roads were inexistent as we entered Tamil nadu. We finally exited the forest at 2133hrs. The driver continued crawling. We reached Gudalur bus station at 2145hrs - picked up a passenger and left at 2146hrs. I slept off after Gudalur - a nice sleep. Woke up intermittently, and found the bus crawling everytime. I woke up when the bus stopped at Guruvayur - guess it was outside the private bus station. The time now was 0109hrs - we were over an hour and a half late now. I did not notice when we started off, or which route we took out of Guruvayur. We stopped at Puzhakkal to drop a passenger (0137hrs) and continued. We finally reached Thrissur KSRTC bus station at 0146hrs - almost two hours behind schedule (the scheduled arrival time was 2359hrs).

Ending notes - The bus was KA-09-F-4696. She had about 8.16lakh kms on the odo. The crew were well behaved. Driving was good - but too slow once we entered Kerala. He took a good 4 hours from Gudalur to Thrissur in the night - last time we had taken around 45 minutes lesser. Maintenance was awful - the rear suspension made all kinds of noises one can imagine. The interiors were average - it showed age. Exteriors were in great shape though. The end-to-end running time was about 10h26m. The last time, a Kerala RTC non-AC Leyland, which came via the same route took only 9hrs!!


Amenities:
Blankets: Yes
Water: Yes
Charger points: Available (it worked throughout)
Entertainment: Available (3 movies were played back-to-back)

Ratings:
Maintenance: 2/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 4/5
Crew Behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

Will I take the service again? Its a good option, and quite easy to get tickets during weekends as well.

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