Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hampi : I finally made it

(Writing from Bangalore)

This is my 3rd visit to Bangalore and this time I had made it to Hampi. Standing by the famed stone chariot at the Vittala temple complex, I said to me ‘this is why come all the way’. Among all the ruins in Hampi scattered over 25 sq km, what I really wanted to see were the Hampi Chariot. If you have read Indian history (I believe most of us did at least in school), then you probably had seen a photo of the Hampi chariot. There also is an old 5 paise postage stamp issued on this. This is a piece of history. My wish of being able to see it had fulfilled.

It was a real hectic trip. I started at 9 pm on Saturday from Bangalore and reached Hampi at 8 am next day. Hiring an auto, I could complete the sight seeing by 1 pm. I had seen almost all important monuments during this time frame. I also enjoyed a brief coracle boat ride on the Tungavadra. With the sightseeing trip ending well before I had expected, I boarded a bus back to Bangalore by 3 pm of Sunday and was back at Bangalore by 12 midnight. Thus in about 27 hours, I had traveled nearly 800 km by road. Yet the satisfaction of being able to see Hampi took away major part of the tiredness of such an arduous trip.

I will be putting up the details once I am back in Delhi.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The 1 rupee Volvo joyride in Bangalore

Back in Bangalore for a second time this year.

One of the front page news on Thursday’s TOI newspaper (Bangalore edition) was that take a ride in BMTC’s premium Volvo city bus service for just Rs.1. I was also a bit surprised at this news. The fare I had paid for my Volvo trips the earlier day was Rs.25/- for Domlur – Marathali Bridge section and Rs.15/- for Marathali Bridge – Sarjapur Jn. Section.

When I ride one Thursday morning at Marathali Bridge, I had kept a 1 rupee coin ready. The lady conductor was asking everyone to give one rupee change. Though hard to digest, the 1 rupee fare is a reality. Some of the Volvo regulars, who did not have time to read morning newspaper, was taken by surprise at this huge discount. As the bus progressed, more and more people had started getting into the bus. Soon the bus was full and it started to feel a bit suffocating. This is not what the premium service is meant for. I saw even a guy, who appears to be regular Volvo user, getting off after traveling hardly two stoppages, apparently to travel by other means.

The transport minister had reasoned that this is done to entice the bikers to use this bus service. Such a stupid idea. It is another example of the mental bankruptcy of our administrators. A biker will never trade his bike ride for a bus ride because a bike provides a cheap point to point ride -- right from his doorstep to gate of his office. Thus instead of bikers, it were the people who normally uses other type of cheaper city buses had crowded the buses.

Next morning the same newspaper (TOI) carried an article with photos telling that the 1 rupee fare scheme is a huge success. It also cited a different reason this time for the scheme. Such a crape! The reason for success is that the largesse had made the air-conditioned Volvo city buses the cheapest mode of transport for the day. Therefore only the fools and stupidest would have traveled by normal buses. This is just throwing a free ride for those people who would never ever travel by these once original fare is restored in 4 days. The fare of Volvo buses is too high for them to afford.

With a running cost of Rs.52/- per kilometer, the Volvo service is positioned as a premium service targeted for a certain set of users who are willing to pay the price for a comfortable travel. This stupid scheme of the government had put the regular users into lot of trouble. Instead of providing a feel of comfortable journey, it had made one to get out and travel by a regular bus. Unfortunately they will have to face this music till Sunday, the 14th Sept.

Friday, September 05, 2008