Planning for a trip to visit Rameswaram, all of a sudden decided to visit it on 13th October2012, discussed with family members, came to know son’s school was having a parent teacher meeting on 13th and son and his friends have planned to come in an identical dress given as gift from one his friend’s parents after their visit to Singapore.
After lot of explaining, son relented to join for the trip. So searched for the tickets, SRM rameswaram bus was having tickets in the last row, then tried Parveen travels it was showing 35 seats as vacanton 10th October for the 12th Journey. Not knowing what is in store booked the tickets. The website booking was done and the departure was 19:15 hrs from perungalathurParveen office.
On Friday packed everything and left home so as to reach the pickup point early due to weekend rush, luckily reached the Parveen lounge by 6 pm and waited in their office, the office is located in a residential area and away from the NH45, so not sure where to board the bus, the office staff told to wait at their office itself (all other Omni buses have their pickup point some 500m away from this office).
Initially the lounge was free, slowly passengers came in and it was full, other passengers were standing outside the office by around 7 pm the office staff wore a reflective jacket and went out, I was hoping the bus was about to come but by 7.30 he announced the arrival of snooze bus to Trivandrum, I came out of the office to see where the bus is parked, the bus has come on to the side road by reversingnearly about 250mand was standing near to their office.
My son was getting restless and enquired with the office staff where is the 7.15 pm Rameswaram bus, he told the bus has just now crossed porur toll gate, and finally the bus came to the pickup point at 20:15hrs late by 1 hour, by now we were all hungry boarded the bus, the website was showing the seats at the right in the bus the seating was on the left and right side, the bus is a Veera built coach 12m Ashok Leyland with blue magenta livery, on entering the bus found the gangway not so neat, it looked like anyother MTC bus. The bus started at 20:25 movie 23rdPulikesi was already on, slowly crossed the perungalathur traffic and was cruising along I was checking the speed with GPS, the run was not so great at 70kmph.
Reached Paranur toll plaza,and was cruising, then there was this moron ( I don’t have anyother refined word to describe him) seated behind me, this fellow had asked his friend to take his bike from office and park it at his place of stay, the moron’s friend also must be a moron, so he had parked not sure whether in the middle of the house owners drawing room or not, how do I know that the bike was parked in the drawing room, well he was tellin on the phone the floor tiles will be damaged !! so the moron’s house owner had informed him over phone to park his bike properly, so this fellow now contacted his friend and was directing him how and where to park his bike at a volume level which can be heard beyond the movie’s playback volume, I got so annoyed and gave him a cold stare, but true to his character this moron never bothered and started giving Google map direction to his other moron friend how the house plan will look like where he has to enter how to remove the bike and how to again bring back to another location and to park the wretched thing.
You can imagine the course of talk lasted from kattankulathur to till Melmaruvathur a good 75 km length. I don’t know how the battery has the power to withstand the long conversation.
We were so hungry, completed all the snacks and watched the stupid movie being played, the VCD print quality was so bad I think they must have purchased it from any railway station platform vendor. It was a double torture to ensure one side the moron on the phone, one bad quality film and overall hungry also.
Finally at 9.30 pm the bus stopped at a highway inn motel at tindivanam, this is not the M restaurant where the SETC and other buses stop, this a roadside motel for car travelers, we started having our packed dinner in the bus, the moron was also on the bus having his dinner, the bus engine was off and the place was so calm, and luckily for me again there was a person standing outside very far from bus may be 100 m away, he was so loudly talking on the mobile.
So to give company, I was replying to his talk and at the same time taking a dig at the moron, I was not sure whether that fellow understood it or not.
Meanwhile I had an itching sensation and checked the seat’s crevices and found bedbugs, when checked with my family they also complained that they are getting the itch bites while seated. I cursed for booking in this service, when the driver came after completing his dinner went and complained to him that the seats are full of bedbugs, that fellow casually listened and told is it so?, I was so furious told him to bring a torch and check the seats.
The bus started after 30 minutes, ARC travels came in for his dinner break, now the movie got over and second movie winner started this movie selection shows the taste of the fellow who had chosen the DVD. But for reasons best known to them or due to the selection of the movie they switched off the entertainment system. Usually when the movie is off they switch on the night lamps, but this trip has to be special in all ways, the driver / cleaner never switched on any light in the saloon and it was pitch dark. It was bit scary too, and I usually sleep with night lamp on, I cant get sleep when there is complete darkness.
My GPS battery was low tried to charge with the charging points it was not working. The second driver in his 50’s age was driving in a sedate manner. I was too tired and after sometime fell asleep.
In the meanwhile I have forgot to introduce you another cartoon character, this person is seated on the Left hand side seat to me, he boarded the bus when it was about to leave and was sleeping all along please note it he didn’t even get down during the dinner break. Why he has to given prominence you will come to know the journey has completed only the first half, the second half is full of characters and twists who will compete with the Moron of the first half.
The was nearing Padalur toll plaza, other services AVK, Hasan where overtaking us, soon after crossing the toll plaza now this cartoon character springs into life, he walks to the front and bangs the cabin door, there is calling bell switch to alert the cabin attendant, but as usual this fellow is unique at the midnight he bangs the door, the crew is sleep so nobody pays attention, keep in mind the saloon is dark with no lights and then this ghost feature is enacting this drama, after banging for 10 minutes the cleaner opens the door, the fellow asks for water and a water bottle is given. He returns to the seat now he realizes that he has covered major part with dinner and since he slept from the word go now his sleep is also complete so the fellow starts the episode where the moron has left. He fiddles his mobile and connects to another useless fellow on the other side and starts talking, in the middle of the night a loud conversation with no lights, I was forced to watch and hear the antics.
At 1.15am the bus enters Trichy and stops at the Parveen office they exchange some papers and one passenger gets off here now the journey resumes the driver change occurs here.
We take the Pudukottai road and the new driver was kind enough to switch on the saloon night lamp, now I am able watch the character, reclined in his seat he is still continuing his conversation, now the 4 lane road ends and non existent road starts the bus ride is bumpy and I am not able to sleep, thought this fellow will stop talking but not so, the bus crosses keeranur and still this fellow is on the phone, I couldn’t take it any longer I tap the seat and tell him in a louder voice to shut and keep quiet, “do you what time is it, are you aware that there are others also in the bus”, with that the cartoon show ended immediately, I lost my sleep and tried to get in to sleep.
At 2.30am it reached Pudukottai and the cleaner with his loud noise announced pudukottai, as I was seated in the second row I was to hear all this, at pudukottai a lady passenger alighted at this unearthly hour how could they reach their home?? After Pudukottai the bus service was converted to a townbus service it stopped at all places enroute whether the passenger got down or not, the cleaner will shout at his top of voice, Thirumayam, Karaikudi, Devakottai,Thiruvadanai, RS Mangalam, Ramanathapuram, Devipatnam, Thangachimadam (There is akkalmadam also),mandapam, pamban shouting at these places and losing his sleep might have frustrated him I believe after the Pamban bridge he was giving a sarcastic remark everyone is visiting the Rameswaram temple!!(Ellarum Rameswaram samiyaepakka than porannungulo) it made me angry to show such a disrespect to passengers, but what to do it is Parveen Travels may be it is their customer standards.
Got down at Rameswaram at 6.15 am tired, with disturbed sleep and with bitemarks of the bedbugs. I was afraid whether I was carrying any bug with me. Hopeless service I will give a negative rating on all counts, I have send a feedback let us see whether he displays in his testimonial or not, I will not try to use their services again nor I will recommend to others, SETC will always be a shade better.
Stayed at SenthilAndavar LodgeRameswaram, the woes were continuing the water supply was not there in the room, this was discovered after entering in to the bathroom, Hotel fellows coolly replied it will take 30 minutes to resume the supply, what else to do waited and then started to the temple had breakfast at their restaurant, good for nothing , the hotel was only knowing the name of the tiffin items they don’t know how it should look or taste, ordered pongal and what was served was not able to differentiate with upma or kichadi, coloured water mixed with salt in yellow and white colour was accompanying it not sure what is it., O!! is it sambar and chutney, someone has to explain it. This booking was also made through a website, so religiously given feedback in the website, they had guts to ask the question will you recommend it to your friends, why should I and invite the wrath of them.
Had a good Darhan at the temple and took an auto to view other places of interest in Rameswaram, came to the room vacated and reached the bus stand, there were no buses to Trichy, Many buses were there for Madurai, checked with the timekeeper and he told next bus is at 12.30, a good one hour to wait at the Bus stand with fish basket to accompany.
At 12pm came a ramshackle bus named express to Trichy TN63 N 1163, and started at 12.30 pm, this bus took all its time to reach Trichy at 20:00hrs, 7.50 hours journey for 230 km, scolded the driver and the conductor for the Express service, the TNSTC fellows when they are unable to answer anything they have the stock reply “Ask the Oppicers”, these fellows also uttered the same words, gave them a mouthful and got down they were stunned to hear such comments it was visible from the expression on their faces I think they will never forget it in their service.
Wondering was there any cartoon character in this trip, yes it had its own elements, at Ramanathapuram came a fellow fully drunk and seated next to me, he didn’t purchase a ticket I noted it, and when the bus was nearing RS Mangalam the conductor came and asked ticket from this drunkard, this fellow checked his pocket, purse and the characteristic green 5 inch wide belt (vinu chakravarthy trademark brand) with its pockets with press button, rummaged all and produced all the tickets he has purchased ever since he started travelling, he had all the tickets except the day’s journey ticket, myself and my son was having a hearty laugh and dscussing ourselves in English about the drunkard’s foolishness, finally the conductor took money and gave him a ticket, when the fellow paid for his ticket I think he came to his senses, he furiously searched his purse for all his papers for the ticket, till now he was sleeping and falling on me, now he is more alert in searching his ticket, the fellow got down at CK mangalam.
Reached Trichy had a dinner at Sangeetha restaurant and walked towards the Bus stand SETC ultradeluxe to Chennai 21:00hrs departure was ready took the tickets and the conductor offered me seats 1 and 2, the bus had the sticker 6 hours journey time, it started immediately and it was new 12 m CRS engine type Bus, it was having good pickup but i think it is not having air suspension the ride was bumpy.
To complete this part of journey also there was a jerk seated in the row behind me who obkected of my pushback recline and straightened the seat thrice, tired and needed the much rest i couldnt take it anymore vented my anger on him and after uttering choicest abuse the fellow chose to remain calm, i dont understand why only i am forced to these situations. or it happens to others also.
The SETC was flying in Nh 45 the driver was maintaing 88kmph, the bus had GPS tracking and when it reaches 90kmph it would give out a beep, so the driver maintained the constant 88kmph. at vikravandi Aristo M restaurant the driver change occured at 12 am, the second Conductor cum driver took the wheels from here, i was amazed at noting SETC providing 2 conductors for its Trichy Chennai service, first i was worried is he a real driver or just taking the wheels, but soon he showed the real driver in him and drove with the same amazing speed, no honking except at 2 occasions and reached chromepet at 2am and got down near home, thanked and waved a bye to him. This Bus was a new one BS IV engine, the seats were of rexine cover and hard cushion, the bus had a digital clock but it was not working, TV was not present but the crew had kept a USB player and all through the journey played selected Ilaiyaraja's songs from 1986 to 1995, it was so pleasant to hear and enjoy the ride, really i will rate an 5 star SETC unexpected surprise journey, which ended well.