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Showing posts from March, 2020

Dosa, Dosai or Dosé?

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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!

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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

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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

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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 …

Coimbatore to Thrissur, Kodungallur: SETC and KSRTC!

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March 08, 2020:
My bus from Bengaluru dropped me opposite the bus station (read the travel experience here). I dodged the auto drivers around to get inside the bus station. It was late on a Sunday night - most departures of the day had left by then. The last bus to Kerala leaves a little past 2300hrs - and that bus comes in from Tiruppur. The bus hadn't arrived then - I had to get into this bus, failing which I'd be stuck in Coimbatore until the next morning. Interestingly, I wasn't even carrying clothes to change if I end up having to stay over! I looked at alternatives - majority of the private operators also depart by 2300hrs. I knew there were some buses coming in from other parts of Tamilnadu and passes through Coimbatore towards different parts of Kerala - but then, they need not always enter Coimbatore if they didn't have vacant seats on board.

I walked into the bus station (SETC Bus Station, Gandhipuram, Coimbatore) evaluating all the options, and back-up optio…

Bengaluru to Coimbatore: KSRTC Airavat, and onwards to Thrissur!

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March 08, 2020:
It was the 4th day since I was holed up at my home due to some official reasons. I was almost insane, and badly wanted to go meet my little one. I was finally cleared to go home, and my leaves approved by the boss by around 1000hrs. I quickly ran through all the options I had, and decided to try out the KSRTC Airavat service via Mysore to Coimbatore - I wouldn't get chance to try this service very frequently. I checked the KSRTC website, and found my favorite balcony seat  - the first row seat - still available! I lapped up that seat, and left home in a hurry. I did not even pack my bag properly - took what ever I got and ran out of home. I took a bus to the nearest bus station, then a metro to Majestic, and a BMTC bus from there to Shantinagar. About a kilometre before I reached the bus station, the conductor rang up to find out my location - I updated, and he replied, don't worry, we still have time!

I got to the bus station with about 5 minutes to spare for …

Thrissur to Bengaluru: KSRTC Ambaari Dream Class

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The Ambaari Dream Class service by KSRTC was the best option considering the fact that it was a long weekend. I couldn't get a train ticket (there are no trains that gets to Bangalore early enough to comfortably get to office is the true fact) and private operators would, no doubt, charge a bomb. KSRTC had also increased fares for this date - but that was still the cheapest option for that day. I booked my ticket exactly on the opening date - I actually missed booking right after the booking opened. Although I missed the opening chance, I still got a single lower berth - in the fifth row.

February 23, 2020:
I had enjoyed the last three days playing with my kid - her mood changes; and her lovely, mesmerizing and contagious smile. It was time to leave. It is always difficult to leave home, especially after my little one came. With a really heavy heart, I got moving towards the nearest bus stop, where where I'd take a bus to Thrissur, 35 kilometres away. A dawn to dusk harthal (a…

Yeshwantpur to Thrissur: Garib Rath Express

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Look weekends these days invariable mean a trip by Train. I prefer trains to beat the traffic snarls that are common in Bengaluru, plus to save on some money! The trip this time around was on a Thursday, and Garib Rath operated on this day. I booked a ticket on this train without much thoughts - bagged a lower berth as well.

February 20, 2020:
After a fairly tiring day at work, I reached home fairly late. I had hardly an hour to go, since we (my colleague was also traveling by the same train) planned to have our dinner from a restaurant nearby and then head to the station. On reaching home, I found the kitchen tap leaking, and my attempts to secure it ended up breaking the tap itself! Water gushed in to the kitchen (and the kitchen sink, of course) - after some jugaad I managed to contain the water flow, and restrict it to only the kitchen sink. The landlord came in a little later, and the two of did some more jugaad to bring the leak down to the minimum, while he arranged to replace …

Chennai to Bengaluru: Shatabdi Express

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For the first time in my umpteen journeys to Chennai, I considered booking a train for my return journey from Chennai. I ruled out buses for a few reasons - the main ones being the timings, pick-up points in Chennai and the drop in Bengaluru. I had a big trolley bag with me, and would be returning after a six day long stay in Chennai - and I did not want to lug my bag to Koyambedu (or anywhere) to take a bus, and then have to lug my bag around in Bengaluru, since most buses terminate in or around Madiwala these days. KSRTC was not an option since their sleeper buses are quite old, and I did not fancy traveling by those noisy Coronas. Train was my call, and I booked a ticket by the weekly express from Chennai to Yeshwantpur.

I was in a quandary after getting to Chennai. The hotel I was staying at had a check out policy of 12pm (a restriction due to the low cost booking I secured through Goibibo), and the train was to depart only at 2330hrs. I would have to spend a lot of time doing no…