Showing posts from January, 2017

iFly 466: Bengaluru to Raipur #AaboBhilai

#AaboBhilai An message on a WhatsApp group from a friend about his booking to Raipur set off the thinking process. He was flying there to attend the annual railfans gathering, the IRFCA Convention, behind hosted at Bhilai. I had been a member of IRFCA (Indian Railways Fans Club) since the early 2000s (2003, if I remember that correctly). Back in my school days, trains were an object of fantasy. I was always a bus fan, but trains were a different  feeling. We rarely traveled by train those days, and my love for trains grew up as I made my longest ever train journey (then) in 1998, from Coimbatore (in Tamil Nadu) to Mumbai. Seeing my love for trains, one fine day, my brother introduced me to a website called IRFCA. He wasn't a train fan, but he came across the site searching for pictures of trains. I was an active member of IRFCA till 2009, where the changing environment around me, shifted me back to my childhood love, buses. Back in 2009, I had been a part of the committee that

The 'regional maharaja': Kochi to Bengaluru on the AI's ATR 72-600

This was a journey I planned at a very short notice. I hadn't booked any ticket, since I had no plan of going home that weekend, in fact, had no plan to go home anytime that month at all. Since I started looking for tickets quite late, most of the buses were sold out, and those that had tickets were priced quite high. Flights were not an option either. I was somehow not convinced about paying astronomical rates for a bus, and changed my plans to return on Monday. Out of curiosity, I casually checked if redemption tickets were available on Air India. Bingo! One last seat was available, and I grabbed it quickly. Why did I look at Air India? Air India flies once daily from Bengaluru to Kochi and back, 6 times a week. The aircraft actually flies Bengaluru-Kochi-Agatti. This sector was flown using an ATR 42-320 earlier, and I had two flights on them earlier. Sometime in mid-December, the ATR42 was replaced with the new ATR 72-600. ATR76s are rare in India, and I did not want to miss

Bangalore to Thrissur: Garuda Maharaja, RP652 - Again, Again!

I was emotionally overcharged. Badly wanted to travel somewhere away from Bangalore. It was another usual two-day weekend, but with a major festival. On a Wednesday, I decide to head out to my home town that Friday. All the travel options for that weekend seemed to be full. After a bit of searching around, I realise that Kerala KSRTC had rescheduled a very useful service to an absolutely idiotic timing - and seats for this bus was available as well. Wasting no time, I book a seat on the first row. Although I wanted a seat on the left side, I managed to get one on the right side. I didn't want to move backwards - a first row seat was compulsory. I had very little options for the return journey - finally ended up flying Air India on Monday (more on that later). Kerala SRTC has a fleet of 18 Scania Metrolink 13.7m coaches, branded as Garuda Maharaja. Only 2 of them were held in a depot outside Trivandrum - and this bus operated on Alappuzha-Bengaluru route. I had taken this service

Coimbatore to Bengaluru: SRS Travels' Mercedes Benz SHD

It was time to head back home after the partially planned journey for Christmas. I wanted to make the return trip a little exciting. I had quite some untested  options available. I had ruled out flying well before the trip started - so the options were among buses. I ruled out a direct bus for some personal reasons,and finally decided to do a break journey via Coimbatore. The options from Coimbatore weren't too exciting - I had two untested options - SRS Travels' Mercedes Benz Super High Deck 15M coach (which was introduced a few days before) and Madurai Radha Travels AC Seater. There was one option that I hadn't tried earlier - which was Conti Travels' Volvo 9100. After a bit of thinking, I zero'd in on SRS. The bus was quite empty when I began my searching process. By the time I reached a decision, seats were filling fast. An advertisement on their website announced that they offered a 20% discount on ticket fares for the first booking on their app. Needless to

Bangalore to Thrissur: KSRTC Garuda Maharaja!

The Garuda Maharaja brand was born early in 2016 with the introduction of Scania Metrolink HD 13.7m intercity coaches in the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation fleet. A total of Eighteen buses were inducted in the fleet, all of which are presently homed at Trivandrum central depot. The buses were procured with the intention of expanding KSRTC services to more states - a misplaced intention, which seems to have been put on the back burner with the change of guard at the corporation. Out of the 18 buses, two were based at Alappuzha until a few days back. And, these buses operated the sole Garuda Maharaja service to Bangalore. Although the services have been operating since mid-April, I never had the chance to try them. I had booked a ticket once, but had to cancel it later. The opportunity to try them came in the form of Christmas. I had no intention of going home for Christmas - solely due to the fact that I had just one day off. As the year drew to a close, a check at my leave

iFly Six Four Seven: The City of Destiny to the Garden City!

After booking my outbound ticket to attend the annual Pharmacist's congress, I started off my search for my return ticket. My requirement was a late evening flight - IndiGo 647 fit my bill to the T. Without much thoughts, I headed to the IndiGo website, and booked a ticket. I applied a discount voucher I had, and pocketed a fairly good discount on my booking. I did an online seat selection, and the integrated travel document was delivered to my mailbox shortly afterwards. December 18, 2016: It was a tiring day at the congress. The day wrapped up with my students winning a prize for their dance performance at the cultural performance. We ended the campaign on a happy note - there was a little bit of disappointment since we expected some prizes in the scientific sessions as well - but that didn't happen. I left the venue a little early to complete some shopping that I had to do. I had checked out of my room earlier in the morning - so just headed to the hotel and picked up my