i stay at Bangalore, somewhere close to the old airport.i visit my native place very rarely, once in 6 months or so....this is not because i am under house arrest by the Naxalites/millitant outfits nor is it because iam subject to any kind of PETA/POTA act preventing me from setting foot on my home soil... the prime reason for my infrequent visits to Kanyakumari, is the lack of proper & "tolerable' transport services from the Garden city to the tip of the Indian Ocean!!
When i was at Chennai, i never faced this problem.... there was our usual sunny Kanyakuamri Express, that'll pick me up from Egmore at 5.30pm & drop me gently at India's southern most tip at 6.30am sharp... the next day!!just had to spend a night comfortably, with hands & legs stretched....in this friend-for-life train! Now that im in Bangalore.... i have very limited... in fact, just a single "feasible" option!! My usual but most-hated mode of travel is the Semi sleeper bus service provided by KPN. This means that i would have to subject myself to approximately 14hrs of a roller coaster ride.... with an aching back, weeping toes (bcoz im too short, my legs dont reach the floor of the bus :-( ), worn-out posteriors, a moaning neck, an itching body & a can-burst-at-any-moment bladder/kidney!!
i have wondered all these years (am still wondering) why there is this inadequacy of reasonable transport services from the so-called hi-tech city, software hub, Silicon Valley of India to one of the fascinating tourist destinations of South India (if i may call it that).... And any fine day (working or weekend) i find that all the available buses/trains/flights/lorries/bullock carts & containers from Blore to Kanyakumari are FULL... and there is no possibility of getting any seat other than the ones at the top (out)side of the vehicle, without advance (read: 1 month early) booking!!! When there is always this mad rush, why the hell cant the govt or private transport fellas provide more number of vehicles in this route?? Ok now let me also throw some light on the alternative modes of transport available to me.
There are 2 trains plying between these stations.... one of them on a daily basis & the other one on three inconvenient days a week :-( The problem with Train 1 is that it takes a horribly longgg route.... starting at 10.00pm from Bangalore in Karnataka, via Palakkad it enters Kerala.... roams around each city & township in God's own country for one whole day & reaches the land of Cape Comorin at around 5.30pm (with due regards to the punctuality of Indian Railways :-)) the consecutive day!! that is close to 24 hrs in the train.... wasting a day's leave from office, no sleep, no brushing, no bathing, no proper flushing... an incredibly nasty routine with equally stinking co-passengers for what looks like close-to-a-decade in the spiteful train!! All i manage to get is a meagre two days off from work.... which i would rather love to spend with my family at home.... than with the strange smelly species in train :-) OK now coming to Train # 2. This blighter, as i said earlier, runs only on Wednesdays, Thursdays & Sundays..... and that too... during the daytime.... thereby making travel impossible for office goers like self :-( i dont see any valid sensible reason why this train cannot/should not run on all days... or atleast during the night!! Lallooo uncle, any thought on this?? hmmm....
There were those (g)olden days when air charges used to be as low as 900 bucks (i.e. inclusive of the fuel surcharge, airport tax, service tax, coffee tax, toffee tax, cotton tax, airhostess-beautification tax etc... etc...).... Those days, i used to take the Air Deccan or Indian Airlines flight to Trivandrum... which is approx 2hrs journey from my native town. But, there was this intriguing task of someone always having to wait at the airport, to "pick me up" & drive me home. Another option is to to take an auto till the bus stand.... wait eternally for a pathetically cuboidal structure locally known as the "Bus", enroute Kanyakumari.... reach the destination bus stop after 2-2.5hrs of tedious travel.... and from there take another bus to reach my sweet little home... phewwwww!! Nowadays, even this has become a distant dream... with the fuel prices soaring skyhigh & all major airlines hiking the ticket fares at supersonic rates.... i seriously dont want to donate all the components of my "peanutty" salary towards air travel!! Also, another major hurdle - the Blore airport having been moved to a territory as far as the Indo-Pak border... which would easily consume 2-3hrs of juicy time & a Gawd-help-us rate for the taxis to reach the airport, from my place of residence. All this boils down to 3hrs of drive from home to BIAL, 1.5hrs in air, then again 2.5hrs from TVM airport to home - close to 10000 odd bucks & 7 straight hours even for a small inland flight trip!!!! Hence, this too is ruled out with a big fat Natraj pencil & ruler :-)
As for the last of the options - Lorries/Bullock carts/Containers, well all i can say is iam from a deejent family (oh yeah!!) that tabooes the girls from boarding lorries... or any other dangerous vehicles of the kind.... and deems it close to terrorism (travelling in lorries, i mean :-))!! With regard to bullock carts... well.... err.... i dont want to spend an entire lifetime travelling around the vast expanse of the earth.... at speeds equal to that of a walking Karunanidhi.... in a futile attempt to reach home :-) Moreover, due to inadequate possession of oxygen cylinders or life-saving masks..... and being the only child of my parents.... i refrain from the prospect of travelling in a closed steel container enroute Kanyakumari.
Thus, having "exhausted" all options at hand.... i am currently standing at the KPN office.... trying to book two tickets for my onward & return journeys to & from the peninsular district of Kanyakumari, my birthplace!!