Showing posts from 2020

The evolution of bus travels in India - Part-2

Buses and bus travels have come a very long way in India. From what was one predominantly a feeder mode of transportation, or a primary mode of transportation even for long distance journeys, there has been a metamorphosis in the road transport industry. Powerful luxury buses, combined with rapidly progressing highway works has just been the booster this industry needed. In the earlier part of this multi-part series on evolution of bus travels in India, I had discussed about the way the buses changed in the country. The last two decades has been very happening in the country.

Before I begin this part, I must retrace the memories of long distance buses to the period before the last two decades. My daily spotting every single day in the 1999-2000 period were those long distance buses that operated daily trips from Mumbai to Mangalore - buses of CPC, Ballal, etc. These buses took 24 hours to cover the distance from Mumbai to Mangalore - they carried huge amounts of cargo on their roof a…

The evolution of bus travels in India - Part-1

Sometime in early 2000s:
It was about 2 years since we had moved to Mumbai from Coimbatore. It was perhaps the first time we were traveling to our hometown in Kerala after moving to Mumbai. We were traveling by road - my brother at the wheels of our Omni - he was the only driver in the family back then. We traveled via Ratnagiri, Panaji, Karwar, Mangalore, Kasaragod and Kozhikode. On the highway, spotted quite a lot of buses - owned by an operator called "Benzy". Those days, Benzy was the leading operator on the Mumbai-Thrissur route - buses took about 24 hours those days to cover the distance from Mumbai to Mangalore - and another 10 hrs or so to reach Thrissur! How do people travel such long distances by bus was the question I had in my mind back then. Buses were mostly used for short distances then. The longest journey I've experienced those days was between Coimbatore and Alappuzha - a distance of about 6 hours then. 
The luxuries offered by buses those days was a pu…

Dosa, Dosai or Dosé?

The ubiquitous south Indian crispy, thin crepes made of fermented rice and lentil batter is a favorite in almost every South Indian restaurant. An all-time favorite item on the menu that is often available morning to night (some hotels don't serve this food during lunch hours). It comes in a variety of forms - Plain, Masala, Ghee, Butter, and what not. There are other variants that don't use lentils, some that use other grains like Rava or millets.

Although all the South Indian states specialize in preparing this food item, the way it is prepared changes between the states. I wouldn't comment on the variants of Dosa available outside of South India. Now, everyone likes the style of Dosa that is prepared in their home state - the crispy thin layered version of Tamil Nadu (Dosai), or the thin, not so crispy variant of Kerala (Dosa) or the thicker, oily and roasted variant of Karnataka (Dosé - read as "Do-Sey"). Each style has their own fan following, and its own t…

BRTS aka Bus Rapid Transit System!

Bus Rapid Transit System or BRTS is a bus based rapid transit system. Designed alike a railway system, the BRTS uses dedicated lanes on roads that allow fast movement of buses without being slowed down by other vehicles on the road. This system allows for higher frequency of services, and often longer buses. Wikipedia goes on to say the first BRTS system in the world was built in Canada in 1973, followed by the famous Curitiba BRTS in Brazil, in 1974. The most used BRTS system in the world is believed to be the one in the Colombian capital city Bogota.

The first BRT System in India was built in Pune, which was never completed - still has large unfinished stretches. The first functional BRT system in India was perhaps the one in Delhi, but the most successful one, perhaps, is the Ahmedabad Janmarg BRTS. User sourced information on Wikipedia claims there are about 14 or so functional BRT systems in India. I've had the fortune to travel in two such BRT systems in India - the Rainbow…

Yeshwantpur to Thrissur on Garib Rath Express

The COVID-19 Pandemic was hitting India harder than imagined. Positive cases began appearing out of no where, and the Government was working overtime to keep the situation under control. The first, and the most appropriate idea, was to keep the crowds out - the government declared holidays for all educational institutions. Our campus also had to shut down - we broke our heads trying to identify solutions to deliver course content online and implemented some of them. The situation turned grim over the days as the local government forced students to travel to their hometowns from Bengaluru to reduce crowd in the city - local stores were slowly shutting down, and hotels too were slowly closing. Our campus decided to shut down completely, and staff were given offs for a long period. A lot of us were staying alone in the City, and we weighed our options. I consulted with health department staff back in my home town, and finally decided to travel home and remain indoors for the rest of the…

Thrissur to Bengaluru: YBM Travels

I have always wanted to try new operators as they come up. YBM Travels is not exactly a new operator - but an operator who has consistently broken into monopoly routes and captured the top position in their routes. YBM Travels recently entered the Bengalore-Kerala route, with services on the Bengaluru-Ernakulam route. Private operators are quite expensive on the Bengaluru-Kerala route on weekends, and I had to wait for a weekday to try this operator. Holiday travels to home are planned quite in advance - I usually prefer travel around middle of a month, but March was to be different. A particular holiday on our holiday calendar caught my eye - it was on a Monday, and I could probably try YBM. I make a reservation through the redbus website to bag a small discount. The travel plan went for a toss, and ended up having to reschedule my journey. This ticket was "reschedulable" according to redbus - I had to pay a reschedule fee and the difference in fare. My total spend on the …