Monday, 30 July 2012

My first journey in KSRTC's Corona 'Ambaari' Sleeper

My day had actually began at 7:30am at Kamat restaurant in Ankola. I had boarded a VRL B9R from Mumbai the last evening and as my journey progressed towards Mangalore, the rains showed no respite all along and by the time I landed up in Mangalore it was at 12:30pm. As planned I headed straight to my friend's place and attended a crazy party till 9PM.

When my trip was initially being planned few weeks back, I had decided to try the KSRTC Corona 'Ambaari' Sleeper(A/C) for my return trip to Bangalore. The bus was scheduled to depart from Mangalore Bus Stand at 21:52. Since this was my first ride in a Corona I was very excited and reached the bus stand at 21:30 and was expecting the bus would reach the platform late. There are many extra buses that run between Mangalore and Bangalore and vice-versa during weekends to clear the extra rush. However, to my surprise the bus was already at the platform and was waiting for passengers. The bus was fairly new with around 80000kms on the odo. Showed my ticket to the conductor and he checked me in, in his reservation chart. He noticed my heavy backpack and asked me whether I would like to stash it in the belly. I politely declined and boarded the bus. Well as usual the A/C was not running. I checked my berth and found a Blanket and a 500ml Water Bottle already placed in the holder.

I de-boarded the bus and decided to take a look around the bus and tried taking some pics. However it was raining and I did not want to risk my friend's SLR camera and hence decided not to take any pics. There was a line of buses with almost all the buses heading towards Bangalore. I noticed for any dent marks towards the bottom of the bus as that would indicate the condition of the roads up ahead but to my surprise did not find any. While I was on the inspection tour, i heard the bus engine suddenly roaring to life and I noticed the conductor going towards the office to finish the entry formalities. I could no longer hold my excitement and boarded the bus. The driver again noticing my backpack asked if I would like to keep the luggage in the belly. (I really liked the crew's behavior as they were very friendly towards the passengers.) I again declined and headed to my berth and was sure I would have a 'comfortable' journey or was I mistaken...?

The bus departed exactly at 22:15hrs, a good 23mins late. I had booked a Single Upper Berth (Seat number 26) and the moment I got in, I started feeling claustrophobic. I have traveled in sleeper buses before but never felt this way and I knew something was wrong. The bus was slowly making its way out of the bus stand along with a Bangalore bound Airavat Mark lll. I had read few reviews about this bus before and there was lot of talks about the pillow they provide in the berths. Well to sum it up 'it was hard as a rock..!!!' Luckily I had come prepared and my shawl came to my rescue. The bus slowly made its way passing by PVC, Jyothi, Kankannady and finally passed by Mahaveer circle. The bus reached State Bank and picked up few passengers and finally we bid adieu to Mangalore. The bus was seriously
underpowered and the regular sleeper buses of Durgamba and Sugama Travels were overtaking this bus from Left, Right and Center. Since I had a tiring day, I decided to catch up with some sleep as I had to attend work the next morning. The 'U' shaped design of the bed was proving to be more of a pain than comfort. However something was still not going right. It did not take a while for me to realize that it was the A/C. I tried to wiggle around with the knob but there was hardly any air coming out of vent. Though it was raining heavily outside, it was relatively warmer inside. The knob was so hard to turn and I tried my best but it would not budge. I tried with all the strength I had and finally a blast of cold air started to come out of the vents. Again struggled hard to control the air flow and finally tried to get some sleep. The suspension of the bus was appreciable but the engine noise inside the bus was not..!!! The noise could be heard inside the bus and it was very annoying. There was one more row behind my berth and finally a lower and an upper berth on top of the engine. If I was getting annoyed because of the engine noise, think about the poor souls sleeping at the last row above the engine.

Finally, I slept with all these hassles only to be woken up by the conductor at Sakleshpur Bus Stop at 1:30am. It was a routine 15min stop and buses from Bangalore and Mangalore joined us. Got down from the bus and was wondering, for an fairly underpowered bus, it has indeed covered the distance very well climbing the Shiradi ghat. I had a pep talk with the driver and mentioned the same for which he smiled and replied back stating that he was driving a Rajahamsa before he got trained to drive a Corona and he would the same stretch in a Rajahamsa and reach this place exactly in 3hrs. I thought he was exaggerating a bit too much and went on to locate the Mark lll Airavath which departed along with us but it was no where in picture. I realized that he would have been long gone and came back to my berth and tried to get some sleep. The bus finally departed by 2:00am from Sakleshpur. I forgot to tell the conductor to wake me up at Navrang Bus Stop in Bangalore, my alighting point. Hence, I kept an alarm on my cellphone for 6am in the morning expecting the bus to reach a little late considering the traffic it encounters once it enters Bangalore. I immediately fell asleep and the next thing I remember was the conductor waking me up saying 'Last Stop Majestic Bus Stop.!!!'

I got up with a severe neck pain all thanks to the pillow and looked at the time and it was 5:30AM. I immediately grabbed my luggage and got out of the bus and was shocked to come into terms that an underpowered Corona bus did a 360kms journey in 7hrs and 15mins.

Just when I was coming into terms with these figures, I saw the same Mark lll Volvo just making its making its way into the bus stand.!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I am here to tell you that this helped me :)
    Thanks for the write-up.

    ReplyDelete