[Continued from here]
Tuesday morning I decided enough was enough and that I should try the old city route – cut through the city and go to Marathahalli and take another bus from there for the 3-4 stops into the ring road. Considering not much construction was going on in the middle of the city it should be faster. 333T was the magic number for this day and was supposed to leave at 7:45 AM. I realised it might take less than 1.5 hours to reach Marathahalli bridge and then another 15-20 minutes to my workplace.
I reached the stop at 8 AM. I had seen buses coming in that early the previous day so thought it was a good bet. Nothing happened for the next 15 minutes. I figured I might be jinxing these buses by waiting for them and should try to wait for something else while planning to get into some other one. At 8:15 the 600KC came by followed by 333T at almost 8:20. Again a half hour delay for the bus that I was waiting for. I got in resigned to my fate. By 9:05 however he had gone inside the Majestic bus stand and gotten out of it without spending too much time sitting on the horn. Very impressive!
At 9:30 he had crossed Domlur and the huge mesh of flyovers at the Indiranagar-Kormangala road junction with the Old Airport Road. And then it stopped. And I was greeted by the old sea of vehicles stretching into the horizon again. My theory had been that since the airport had shifted out to Devanahalli there’d be much less traffic on the Old Airport Road. The bus moved slowly, gaining inch by inch and when I reached the Manipal hospital junction I saw what the problem was. The huge sea of vehicles were waiting to take a U-turn there. There are at least 3-4 tech park type buildings on the other side of Airport road and the only way anyone can access them coming from Domlur is to go all the way up to Manipal hospital and executing a U-turn there. I so, so, wanted to meet the guy who had planned this. A perfect example of pure bad planning ruining the traffic flow. After that, the next major one was the one at ISRO where the vehicles waited to take a right turn. Nothing much to complain there. But the lack of sensitivity to lane-discipline clearly showed. If people could clear off the left lane which went straight traffic would flow much easier. But then, that’s just wishful thinking.
After that, traffic was a breeze, but by the time I got to Marathahalli Bridge it was 9:55. The next bus journey was uneventful except for being packed into a Volvo with scores of other techies till my stop. I reached work at 10:15. In hindsight, I guess, if only the bus had come 15 minutes earlier, might have made it before 10 considering that the bus could use more of the pre-9 AM traffic flow.
Having not been able to put in much hours the previous day I decided to spend sometime in office. Coupled with a presentation which was to be finished at 4 PM but went on till 5 PM, by the time I got out of my office it was 5:30 PM. The plan was to do the return journey along the same route as the morning. But on getting into the ring road I saw one going to Vijaynagar and was immediately tempted. I got in. One hour later I was still passing through BTM layout with no signs of the traffic speeding up. Eventually by the time I got to BSK 3rd stage it was 7:30 PM. 2 hours to do half of my journey. I got down there and decided to wait for a bus that would go left on Mysore Road or take me home. At some point I got confused about the whole thing and decided to wait for 500KC instead. I guess I felt slightly lucky, no idea why!!
At almost 8 PM when I figured I wasn’t getting anywhere the same Vijaynagar route turned up. I got in putting off worrying about the final journey home later. The problem was, on committing to this route I was depending on just one or two routes to take me home and I had already lost confidence in BMTC’s scheduling and adherence to schedules. Turned out it did not matter. The bus stopped a km away from the Mysore Road, ORR junction at Nayandahalli and I was greeted by the old sea of vehicles. Brilliant!!
The Nayandahalli junction is special in many ways. It is one of the main hotspots for all vehicles going from the west to the south of the city. It is also the place where metro work is going on in full swing. And it also happens to be the place where some grade separator work is going on. I’ll let you imagine the rest.
20 minutes later I realised I was still some way from the junction itself and had managed to move inch by inch to somewhere where I could see the perpendicular traffic. After another 5-10 minutes the bus managed to get past it and promptly turned left at BHEL. I knew I had to make a call here and got down soon at the Chandra Layout junction. On walking around I managed to find an auto who did not bargain with me and agreed to come where I wanted him to without much difficulty.
I reached home at 9 PM finally and was happy to pay the auto guy Rs 50 even though the meter said 40 and he did not ask for more!
I was tired and more than tired, crazy hungry!! Lesson learnt : Leaving at 5:30 would not do. Ever.
Considering my trouble getting the bus I wanted in the morning, I decided to get into the first red Volvo I saw and improvise later. Again, nothing came for 15 minutes. Some severe jinxing going on. At 8:15 I saw a 600KC and got in first thing. At close to 9 I got out after Banashankari and got into a 500-something going to ITPL. Was a quick swap. The traffic wasn’t so much of a killer at BTM layout as before, but then Hosur Road happened and I wondered if I’d ever cross that junction. Then the 2 flyovers and after considerable waiting I reached work at 10:10-10:15 AM. Pretty much similar in timings to the first day, I guess I wasn’t in so much hurry and did not notice the waiting so much.
The return journey began at 4:45 PM and I was strong on my resolve to cut through the city. At 5:00 PM I was in Marathahalli waiting for 333T. There were a lot of Volvos flying by, all of them headed to Majestic. Considering that I’d have to plan the next phase of my journey from there and would have to fall back on 333T I decided to wait for it. At 5:30 PM I forgot all such decisions and got into the next Volvo headed to Majestic. Seating myself there I was still restless and kept looking back and around for the magic number.
At 6:05 PM the bus had reached Viveknagar without any major traffic waiting incident. Looking around I saw the 333T standing right next to my bus. I convinced the driver to open the doors for me and the next moment was knocking on the doors of my magic bus. Getting in I seated myself again, settling in with some documents which I had picked up to read. At 7:20 the bus was at AIT and I was home at 7:30 PM. So 2 hours to get to my place, but almost 3 hours considering the half hour wait.
What I had learnt over the past 3 days was that my problem was not the time for the buses to reach as much as the time I spent at the bus stops waiting for buses that did not turn up. BMTC’s problem was not with the number of buses or routes, but with the old Indian problem of time-sensitivity. Given this, I figured I was left with 2-3 options now.
1. Going to work, neither route worked too well. I had to leave earlier to beat the traffic, but there were no buses so early. Something else had to be done.
2. Returning – If before 5, going via BTM layout and Banashankari made sense. But after 5 I had to cut through the city and that was the better route. What option I would choose and what time I would leave would depend on option 1.
Day 4 and 5 :
On day 4, there was a meeting at 7:30 AM and I figured I would have to ride down. I left at 6:30 and reached work at 7:15 AM. The roads were mostly empty and it was a breeze driving through. Left at 4:30 and reached at 5:45 after a break at Jayanagar to buy stuff. So pretty good! Considering the distance and the amount of vehicles on the roads I realised it wasn’t safe even though effective. And I didn’t want to go the way I went before I went to Australia, with a broken back.
Day 5 being Kannada Sahitya Sammelana I decided not to risk the traffic and stayed at home and worked from there. So that was my week!
I wondered if everyday was going to be an adventure getting to work and figuring things out! But then, there is still a small ray of hope as there is a bus that leaves from my place at 7:30 AM which am hoping will take me to Vijayanagar or at least the Chord road from where I can get the Vijayanagar bus at a time earlier than 8. Might just be able to sneak into work before 9 or 9:30!! Will keep the blog posted on how that goes….
Also, I might just have to start looking for a place at a much saner distance!!