Posted by: Sreejith | August 29, 2007

Uber fast!

One fateful morning, there was this wedding somewhere near my ancestral home town of Tiruvalla(around 150 kms from Trivandrum) , that i had promised to attend. Since my original plan of driving down was vetoed down because of the lame travelling alone reason, it was decided that i would take the bus.

So at 7:30AM i promptly arrived at the bus stand to find a “Fast Passenger” hurtling towards me. But by the time i read the board on the bus, it had left 😦 To understand this you will need to learn a little history about the KSRTC(Kerala State RTC) buses. The buses are classified by the number of stops they make and how fast they travel. You have the ordinary(by KSRTC standards) bus which has a speed limit of 30-40 kmph. Thats lower speed limit by the way. This very original mallu idea was blatantly copied in the ‘Speed’ movie to make millions of dollars. But since the ships of Kerala don’t follow this rule, the film Speed-2 (which didn’t win any reviews rave), met quite a watery grave. Coming back to the buses, the ordinary stops whenever anyone rings the bell. Yes, buses in Kerala use the state of the art system designed by Bell labs. You then have the next rung which is a ‘Fast Passenger’ or a FP. This i believe travels well above 50-60 kmph at all times. And that is precisely the reason why i couldn’t read the board in time! It also stops at only the major bus depots.

And then, finally, comes the big daddy of all KSRTC buses, the Super Fast(affectionately called the SF, the mallu version of Scuderia Ferrari).

A KSTRC OrdinaryA KSRTC Super Fast

On the left is a KSRTC Ordinary and on your right, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the few rare pictures of a Super Fast. Notice the subtle streamlining of the chassis to enhance aerodynamic efficiency and reduce understeer/oversteer. Since their induction, there have been no recorded statistics of the SF because very few sightings have been made. Officially its believed, around 310 of these mythical beasts roam the roads of Kerala. Since they don’t mate, the numbers pretty much stay the same. However the only place you can make a certain sighting is at the watering holes or bus depots as they are colloquially called. Alternatively sightings of the tyre marks of SF’s have also been reported at regular intervals. Most of these marks have been found on cattle which have been run over.

Back to the journey, since i had missed the FP, a kind old muthachcha(grandpa) in his brand new mundu and flaming red underwear(this calls for a whole post) imparted gyan and made me realize that in Kerala, i had to first board the bus, and then ask where it was going. Fortunately, the very next bus in sight was the famed SF, and considering it was stationary for hardly a few milliseconds i jumped right into it, quick learner that i was. And wonder of wonders, the bus was headed in the general direction that i was headed to.

A quick word here about the mechanics at the depots who service these SF’s. The Ferraris (Mclaren sucks) of the F1 world regularly pick up mechanics from these depots because they can change wheels in a matter of 1 or 2 seconds. But once they go through the state of art F1 training, they lose their edge and manage to change the tyres in 4 seconds because they have to do documentation for 2-3 seconds. Anyway that’s how every mallu you see in Italy is not a nurse. Some of them are Ferrari mechanics.

Anyway now that i was actually in a SF, all that i needed to do was take the ticket and enjoy the ride. Thanks to communism, tickets on Kerala buses are pretty much value for money with the ticket for 150 kms costing just 71 rupees. The bus in itself has only a rickety framework with pretty much nothing to hold onto. This gave rise to an ancient mallu saying which goes like this – “The only thing you can hold onto in a SF is your dear life!” Also latest reports suggest that nazi concentration camps have been rumored to have the same kind of nail marks that are found in the SF. Mostly because people leave traces of nail marks on the railings while they are dumped from one seat to another.

The SF i was on, was by now making excellent progress but then an amazing phenomenon happened. Another SF was spotted ahead of it! I already mentioned that they don’t mate so please control your wild imagination. Now the only thing worse than a SF is two SF’s! And when the SF i was on, tried to overtake the other SF, pride ego and all the hubris came into play. So on a narrow stretch of road, you had two huge monsters, locking(or blaring) horns and motoring down at well over 100kmp. This very sight would have definitely given any oncoming driver the scare of his life. After terrorizing everyone for about 1.5 kms the mahout of the second SF, gave in to reason and let us pass.

After this scare, i took out my mp3 player which i had thankfully brimmed with full albums of Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Snow Patrol, The Fray, Daughtry, Breaking Benjamin and more alternative bands. If not for them, i would have have gone insane listening to the shrieks of those standing in the SF! I turned the volume to maximum, closed my eyes and relived every single defining moment in my life. By the time i opened my eyes, i had reached Tiruvalla. It would be an euphemism if i said that it was an amazing journey of self discovery.

I took the train back.



  1. Lolol. Kerala buses ROCK!

    btw- hubris…? Are you not a student of engineering? πŸ˜€

  2. lol.. I had the pleasure of going around in kerala buses, though I didnt know about these categories.. yeah we had to climb onto the bus and ask where it was going.. rofl.. and see when you are in a group of 10 and all have to catch the same bus.. it’s worse..

  3. brilliant! this is by far the best post you have ever written πŸ˜€

    and yeah McLaren sucks… although Hamilton is good πŸ™‚

  4. The Killer Super Road Transport Coorperation Rocks! It helps keep our population down, makes instant non veg food ingredient, entertains the folks akin to a rollercoaster ride and on top of all that gets our mallu folks from A to C without touching B…now thats meta physics for you…

    Iam glad that you are sticking to trains…

  5. Rock on sreejith…that was great read…wonder if this will find its way to a newspaper…hmmm

  6. Did you know they have volvo buses now?

  7. err .. dont hav time to read this right now .. jus to let u and ur readers knw tat i still exist πŸ˜›

  8. u missed umpteen ‘defining moments’ in your life by boarding the train back πŸ˜›

  9. hehehe .. awesome πŸ˜€

    Oh, buses in Haryana go on an avg of 90kmph. No matter what route what bus.

    and buses on Pune-Mumbai highway go at 120+ πŸ™‚

    .. thats just FYI

  10. Sporadic, that they do! Whats odd about the ‘hubris’? and anyway am only a pseudo engineer πŸ˜€

    Bolli, ihihihi.. btw in the bus, i did think of how you folks coped with this when u were here.

    Kunal, thanku thanku.. vacations do help πŸ™‚

    Tys, ihihihih now now… you can also reach C from A via Z, Y, X… which is how the roads here are!! πŸ˜€ Thanks for the generous compliment. you are way too kind.

    AP, No i did not know that.. and i didn’t see any such creatures on the roads! Must be the interstate ones… nocturnal maybe.

    Rama, no WordRacer too. i dare you to show that u exist by posting on your blog!

    Sangfroid, ihih.. i will have many more because i took the train. If i had taken the bus it would have been only ‘one defining moment’ πŸ˜›

    Rao, :)) haryana ki baat hii na karo.. i didn’t see a single bus in my entire 1 year in Gurgaon!!

  11. lol…i hav heard worse stories!bout the private bus service..P.s: KSRTC is Karnataka State Road Transport Corpn πŸ˜› lol

  12. >>Since they don’t mate, the >>numbers pretty much stay the >>same.

    God ! I always hated evolution … never ever benefited the humans in an elegant way .. like getting more SFs …

  13. lol … liked rave grave part πŸ˜€

    pretty well written actually πŸ˜› .. we hav the buses .. now we jus need the roads πŸ˜›

  14. Tia, i didn’t want to discuss the privates πŸ˜› And as a mallu shouldn’t your first allegiance lie with KeralaSRTC!

    Pati, lol.. how can you hate sex?!!

    Rama, thank you. if not the first word.. the last comment will be yours eh πŸ™‚

  15. rofl.. indeed one of your best posts…

    about buses… cant say much here.. in my home state the erstwhile Bihar… everything was there in history… well there was a golden period when Ashoka the great ruled…

    similarly there was a time when we had state buses… and until they wakeup from their graves… the remains of them can be seen in front of Patna and Nalanda Museums…

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