Sunday, March 31, 2013

My experience: Gurgaon-Jaipur by Bus

This post narrates my bus journey between Gurgaon and Jaipur, which happened in Jan 2013

Once I decided to visit Jaipur, started exploring my options. All trains were full for onward journey, hence had to rely on bus. The internet sites on bus ticket booking had only night time buses and afternoon buses were not listed there. So I decided to try spot booking.

Went to IFFCO Chowki and boarded a bus that had just arrived with Jaipur written on it. It was a luxury, Non-AC bus with reclining seats and looked decent overall. After being the first few to board the bus, I sensed that crew had no urgency to leave and might wait till the bus fills up. Few passengers got down after seeing other buses heading towards their destination. I didn't see any alternate bus, so held on. Couple of AC buses passed by, but I couldn't verify if they’re headed towards Jaipur. I sat patiently and slowly bus started filling up.

One gentleman boarded the bus, kept his bag on the seat, asked driver if there’s a bathroom nearby and got down immediately. My sensors alerted me that he’s leaving his bag and going away from the bus, it could be a bomb. However, the person spent a minute with the conductor, seeking detailed direction for bathroom, so I felt a bit confidence that he’s serious about going to washroom and isn't just planning to move away from the bus. Trusting my instincts, I held on. He came back after few minutes, argued with people who'd taken his seat by pushing his bag under the seat and occupied his seat.

It took good 45 minutes (2 PM) before the bus could leave from IFFCO Chowki, now fully loaded with people, both sitting and standing. My thought that being a luxury bus there won’t be standing seats was false one.

Soon a person started collecting money. He took Rs 200 from me for the journey, no receipt. I asked what time we're expected to reach Jaipur, he said "6". Since the 380kms Chennai-Bangalore is covered within 6-7 hours by buses, I was expecting to reach Jaipur by 5PM as it was just 240 kms away. But partly due to bad roads and partly due to frequent stops, even the 6PM timeline quoted by the conductor proved to be false. We reached only by 8PM. The conductor was asking people "Kiraya bol di?", which translates into "Have you told the rent", while he meant if they've paid the ticket fare or not.

Soon there were few more stops and some more people boarding in. Instead of using few flyovers, bus took the road below, hoping to pickup more people. 

the overhead rack to keep the bags was already full. People were trying move and re-arrange the bags hoping to create more space. Some standing passengers were resting their arms on this bags. I had laptop and camera in the bag and had to keep an eye on it all the time. A lady boarded with some bags-as there was no space to keep the bag, her eyes fell on the space which I believed to be my leg room. She insisted that I fold my legs, so that she can keep her bags the space where my legs were there. I proposed she keep the bag under the seat instead, but her bag wouldn't fit. It eventually ended occupying half of my leg room, without any space for movement.

We passed through Manesar, where Hero Honda and Maruti- India's largest two and four wheeler makers had their plants.

Near Bhiwadi my co passenger got out, a middle aged lady took the seat. As soon as she sat, she asked me to go to a seat somewhere behind, so that she and her husband can sit together. I wasn't interested going behind and losing site of my bag and risking an even bad seat. I declined. She tried to argue, but I held my ground. Couple of stops later, they managed to move someone else around to get 2 seats together.

Outside of the window were lots of green fields with yellow flowers. I learnt that these are plants of Sarso (mustard). I could also see lots of signage related to real estate. The highway was either not complete or was undergoing some repair. 
Mustard fields adjacent to Delhi-Jaipur highway
Before a small town called Bawal, the bus stopped for refreshment, in front of a small roadside hotel. They served some pakodas, packed food and few other items. A shopkeeper was showing "Bus will halt for 30 mins, Jaipur is 3 hours away, have your refreshments". People dispersed and to my surprise, bus started in about 10 minutes. However after everyone got in and bus was about to leave, it was realized that 2 passengers are yet to board. Another 10 minutes was spent tracing them and when they came back they said "That person was saying bus will stop for 30 minutes". Bus crew retorted "They will say anything, you should have checked with us". After couple of minutes the argument ceased and we moved further. By now I'd removed my jacket and conductor mistook me for new passenger and asked me for money again (my shirt and jacket had different colours). I had to put the jacket back on to help him realize that I am the same soul who'd board at Gurgaon.

Now it was sunset time and Jaipur was nowhere closer. A signboard told me it is still 120 or so kms away. Eventually by about 8 PM the bus entered Jaipur town. With help of a fellow passenger,  got down at a place closer to civil lines and headed to my destination, Shahar Palace. Thankfully return journey on Jaipur-Delhi double decker took only 4 hours.


Shalu said...

Nice read! interesting