Generosity from Kallada...

Some of you would have read about my misadventure on a Kallada bus to Madurai (for the uninitiated, read it here). After a tiring and sleepless journey to Madurai, I decided it was enough, and shot off a mail to Kallada Travels. I wasn't expecting any reply, but decided to go ahead to vent my frustration. After hitting the Send button, I went on with my work in Madurai. It had rained badly the previous night, and the city was horribly dirty.

In the evening, I headed straight to the Kallada office at Madurai, and asked if they could get me a refund. They said it was not possible, and I needed to contact their Cochin office. I had no other go, but resign to fate. I reached my room towards night, and opened my Gmail inbox - only to be surprised! The official at Kallada had replied! He apologised for the inconvenience, and offered a free ticket for my return journey!

A couple of days before my return journey, I headed to the travel agent (the sole selling agent for Kallada in Madurai) to process my freebie. I called up the contact at Kallada, and the agent spoke to him directly.  I was quickly issued a ticket for my journey - the "ticket" was a marking on the booking chart - there was no document.

On the day, er! Night, of journey - March 02, 2011, I checked out my room, had dinner and proceeded towards "Complex" bus station - situated near Periyar Bus Station. As I entered the bus station, I saw the Kallada bus (KL-45-E-4100) parked, all set to head to Madurai. The crew were no where to be seen. I walked towards the office. The agent asked me to wait. He called up the Kallada office in Ernakulam once again, and confirmed my seat - I was issued a boarding pass very quickly. The Boarding pass read my seat number as "12 (F/S)". Around 21:25, the agent sent a person to escort us to the bus.

By now, the bus was opened. I left my baggage in compartment below the passenger deck, and then got in to the bus. I remembered that I did not have water with me, and got off to get a bottle. I boarded the bus just as the driver switched on the engine - the bus was vibrating badly. I got in and settled at my  seat - just when I realised that there were no bottle holders! Had a tough time keeping the bottle. By now a recent Malayalam comedy flick was played on TV. There were all of 11 passengers in the 41 seater bus - Kallada is not doing great on the route for sure.

The clock ticked past 2145 - there was no sign of our bus moving. In the meantime, more passengers joined the bus. We started moving at around 2210 - 40 minutes behind schedule. But the driver was still sure of arriving Ernakulam by 6 AM. The bus ran through Arasaradi, and then through the "ring road", to finally enter the 4-Laned highway. Once on the highway, the driver started ripping off - but the speeds weren't very high. The bus was an 8-year old, and clearly showed signs of aging. The seats were in good shape - thankfully.

The ride got choppy after we exited the highway at Dindugal, and entered the road towards Pollachi. The road was in bad shape at many places - especially at Level crossings. I fell asleep soon after crossing Oddanchathiram. I woke up when the bus was running through Kuthiran - the road was too harsh here, and all the unevenness of the road was passed on to the passengers. I slept again - and woke up around 4 in the morning, when the bus stopped at Thrissur to unload parcels. I slept again, and woke up only when we reached Aluva. One passenger got off at Aluva. I got off at Edappally - the driver was co-operative enough to drop me exactly where I wanted. He parked the bus on the roadside, and got the luggage compartment opened. Walked a little, and got my car to head home!

Notes: The breakdown, and the helplessness of the crew was certainly a big black mark on their service. But, their complimentary ticket offer did go a long way in calming me down. The buses are not in very good shape - afterall, they've outlived most of their expected life. The buses rattle like nobody's business - the ride quality is badly compromised as well. However, the Kallada service is a God's gift to many people who travel from Ernakulam to Madurai and back, very frequently. Kallada certainly needs to improve their customer care badly - they no longer enjoy monopoly on any of their routes.


dineshpkm said…
I thought of Taking Kallada from Hyderabad to Salem, but i wont do that. But their fares are cheaper than their copetitors in this Hyd-Salem route. dont know why