Madras Trip – Random Thoughts

I’d gone to Madras yesterday to participate in the annual QFI open quiz. Went with the usual team – kodhi and madman (aadisht). Missed qualification for the finals by one point. The only saving grace was that we didn’t miss any obvious question, so we didn’t feel that bad for not qualifying. A few pertinent observations from the trip

  • I need to start twitter-ing soon. I think it’s extremely useful for long lonely train journeys such as yesterday’s trip to Madras. There are so many things you want to tell so many people but no quick and easy way of doing it. Also, it doesn’t help when it’s early in the morning on a weekend.
  • There was a massive co-ordination problem.

    ?had initially suggested we go for the quiz and later told me that he is unsure that he’ll be available. So I assumed we aren’t going unless he confirms otherwise and had happily booked for yesterday’s IPL game against Hyderabad. Later it turns out that aadisht has booked tickets for himself and

    ?and he’s somehow assumed that I was going too.

    After this act of utter incompetence from aadisht, I refuse to believe that he has a bachelor’s in Computer Science & Engineering. I’m sure he did nothing at TIT apart from growing his hair and beard

  • All is well that ends in the well. I managed to procure tatkal tickets by Shatabdi. This forced spending of an extra 150 bucks meant that I decided to cut costs for the return trip and booked by Rajahamsa (the normal luxury bus) rather than the airconditioned Airavata. It turned out to be a good choice, since the guy next to me kept the windows open and there was a cool breeze throughout the night
  • I met

    ?for the first time yesterday. I approached her and said “I suppose you are MadWoman”. In hindsight, I should’ve done a H M Stanley and said “Madwoman, I presume?”. She seems much more subdued than what I had thought by looking at her blogs. Or maybe a tiring overnight train journey had ensured that she wasn’t in good spirits

  • Saravana Bhavan sucks. It was a full half hour after we were seated that they came to take our order. I’d ordered idli as starter but didn’t get it until the onion uthappam (my second main course) had arrived. The idlis were hard and stony, and the uthappam too didn’t live up to the usual Chennai standards. And they took so long with the bill that I ended up entering the quiz ten minutes too late.
  • There doesn’t seem to be a cluster of fine-dining restaurants in Chennai, like we almost do on Church Street. There are many excellent restaurants but the problem is that each is 20 rupees by auto away from the other. So if you go to one place and there is no room, there is no option but to take an auto and go elsewhere. Yesterday, we got turned down by Benjarong and Cedar and finally had dinner at Cornucopia. Food was decent, though the portions were small.
  • The CMBT concept (bus stand outside the city) is excellent and needs to be implemented in Bangalore too. However, unlike Madras, Bangalore isn’t in a corner, so we’ll need several bus stands. I think one bus stand each at Peenya, Madiwala and Mysore Road will do good in easing pressure on some arterial city roads. And i’m talking about proper full-fledged bus stands which are connected by frequent buses to each other and to Majestic.
  • There seems to be a massive improvement in the quality of TN buses since the last time I had been to CMBT (which was in October). They seem to have learnt that luxury buses can be profitable and have introduced a few on important routes such as Bangalore and Trichy. Interestingly, in Karnataka, most overnight buses are of the luxury variety. I wonder what has caused this difference in the standard of buses. The roads maybe?
  • KSRTC has responded to SETC’s luxury buses by moving further up the value chain. When I was living in Madras (2000-04), most overnight buses between Bangalore and Madras were Rajahamsas (normal luxury). Now, it seems like there are only 1/2 rajahamsas every night, with the rest of the capacity being fulfilled by A/C Volvos (Airavatas). And there seems to be enough and more demand to justify this large number of Airavatas too.
  • When the bus stops at a dhaba in the middle of the night, I usually don’t prefer to get down. This morning, however, I got down and after having emptied my bladder, stood around observing. Most people made a beeline from the bus to the loo (the loo charged 1 buck btw) and then went to the dhaba to have tender coconut or tea. I also saw a few whores (ok i classified them based on their attire, mannerisms, etc.) at the dhaba. I was observing one of them. She too did the usual routine of loo->tea though she didn’t arrive by any bus. But she didn’t look like she took any tea from the tea stall. I was a fair distance away but i think she just either gave money or took money and walked away. Some commissions I thought.
  • The no-traffic travel time from K R Puram bridge to Richmond circle is 10 minutes. This distance used to take upwards of an hour in the afternoon/evening (this I’d observed back when I was at Sabre

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