Of bandh, elephants and melam - Part 1

It has been a while since I enjoyed a temple festival in my home town.  The annual festival in Ernakulam Shiva temple in 2018 was between 22nd and 29th January.  Thanks to the 3 day weekend for Republic Day, I decided to travel home to enjoy the festivities.  Tickets were booked well in advance - long weekends bring surge pricing, premium tatkal and other shocks for travellers.

What we did not factor in was the Mahadayi river water dispute between Karnataka and Goa and the call for a Karnataka bandh on 25th January.   I have not been able to understand how an elected Government can support a blatantly anti-people activity like bandh.  If at all someone is affected adversely, it is the daily labourer.

Schools declared 25th as holiday and decided to compensate on Sat, 27th Jan.  Luckily there was no IAS exam scheduled for my kid on the alternate working day.  Also, the cancellation charges of train ticket is worth a month and a half of milk supply at home - so it made sense to travel!

Being a Keralite, bandh is part and parcel of our livelihood.  These days, it is called hartal to comply with a high court ban on bandhs.  What is in a name - so long as everyone can stay at home and watch Asianet News? Just the previous day, 24th Jan, Kerala shutdown protesting petrol/diesel price hike.  Now this one makes sense - imagine a lot of vehicles go off the street - supply of petrol outweighs demand - price then has to drop.   (Did anyone research if the two days of bandhs across Kerala and Karnataka create such a situation?)

Luckily, Karnataka believes in market economy - if there is a demand, there will be supply.  Autos plied though at inflated rates.  I did see Uber and Ola cars in the app as well - though few in number and with sufficient surge pricing to travel to Airport by Volvo bus.   I booked an Uber and a driver accepted, who was "finishing a trip nearby" and "arriving in 22 minutes".   Time wasn't an issue (since I booked early), and traffic being sparse, the car could have made it in good time.   We called the driver only for him to claim his car had "broken down", and it may take any time from 20 to 40 minutes.

"But why did you accept the ride?  Can you please cancel?"

"No, I will not cancel. I will come.  Wait".

"But the train will not wait for us.  You accepted the ride.  You should cancel".

Well, the driver didn't want to cancel and lose money.  I had no choice but to Cancel - luckily Uber didn't penalise (their software must have seen a pattern of such cancellation especially on this day).

An auto deposited us at Krishnarajapuram Railway Station well before the scheduled arrival of the train.  Talking about train arrivals, Railways now has a new information about trains - Avg Delay.

Average Delay of Trains
I like this - let's call a spade a spade.  Our trains are late. Instead of pretending that is not true, let us instead talk about how much and how often.  It is not clear  how this information is meant to be used by people - plan for the delay or reconcile for the same?  I found the "Print Avg Delay" button - perhaps data to help travellers indulge in some betting game waiting for the train? (On a related topic, did you read about the Indigo flight that departed 30 min early with 14 passengers still to board. We don't want that scenario right?)

As per this data, our train had an average delay of 7 min at this Station.  And indeed it was delayed by about the same time!   It appeared that the bandh had not changed the outstation/long weekend travel plan of Bangaloreans - there was the usual crowd and this train did run full.

This is one of the trains that is longer than the covered part of the Platform 2 (where it stops).   This means, you either have to bear the weather (sun or the rain as the case is) or stand/sit elsewhere and make a dash for it, when the train comes (announced or unannounced).  A couple of years back, we were thoroughly drenched seeing off my parents since their coach stopped at the uncovered part.  But there is social justice here - it is the A/c coaches that typically stop here (at least in case of this train).

The train ride itself was uneventful and we made it to Ernakulam, about 15 minutes late - couple of minutes more than the average delay!

What is it about us that we need to be standing next to the doors with luggages and all, even when the train is half an hour away from the Station?  In fact, this extends to other forms of public transport like buses and aeroplanes too!  In the latter, as soon as the plane touches, even before the air-hostesses, you can see passengers make a beeline for the exit doors, despite clear announcements and signage indicating otherwise.   The only time I see a need to do this in train is if there is no planned halt of the vehicle and you need to opportunistically get off in case it stops for signal or something.  Maybe, this is a global phenomenon.

So how did the festival go?  Read on.


Comments

  1. :) I found this funnier than usual...

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