Whether it is 500K, 500C or 500D, you'll know only when the bus is close by and it won't stop unless you signal the driver. This means you flag down every bus to look at its number and then wave the angry driver along.
It's around 4.30 pm. The 'first shift' of my job is done. The second shift will begin once I get home. It might be 6.15 pm when I see home, if am lucky. Most times these days it is 6.45 pm.
The second shift will begin at around 7 when I login from home to finish any unfinished work and will go on till 8.30 in the night. When you have a commute like mine, getting work done by hook or crook is the only option.
The commute begins in the morning at ITI layout, Mallathahalli, some 3 kms from Nagarabhavi circle. An auto at around 7.30 am takes me to Nagarabhavi circle for Rs 25, some 20% more than the meter to entice the auto-wallahs. Some days, even they refuse.
That leaves me taking a bus till the junction of Outer Ring Road (ORR) and the Nagarabhavi road near AIT from where an auto will charge me Rs 20 to drop me off at Nagarabhavi circle. Buses standing at Dr. AIT are dicey. You can't predict when they'll leave and the Nagarabhavi circle bus stop from that direction towards Chandra layout ensures that you walk a good 100m either way. Valuable time and distance when you are running to catch a bus.
The bus in question from Nagarabhavi circle is 500K, running from Vijayanagar to ITPL. The only bus which goes from Nagarabhavi Circle to Nyandahalli through the ORR. Other options are through Athiguppe or through the University. Both take a good 20 minutes more.
There were days when the bus could help you keep time on your watch. 7.35 am and it would be there at the stop loading in a dozen or so loyal commuters who swore by this bus.
These days you'd be lucky if it even appears. There is one at 7.40 am apparently, but I think it's just the 7.35 one that is late most days. Other days, even that fails to appear, leaving you waiting for the 7.50 one. Some days, at 7.45, you can see a bunch of buses heading in the opposite direction towards Vijayanagar and you know you are going to be really late. Depending on your luck with the Nyandahalli junction, you could reach Bellandur by 8.45 or 9 am in less than 90 minutes.
Beyond that is a lottery with the flyover construction. With such long commutes and with an attempt to minimise the fraction of my lifetime waiting for the signal at Nyandahalli junction I leave early even when there's work left to be done for the day to get home early and finish it off from home. Thank God for little mercies and flexible managers!
Back to where we started, I leave office at 4.15 pm. At 4.30, I am waiting near Bellandur, in a cloud of dust and pollution. There are no shelters here to wait under and you stand holding your palms over your eyes squinting at the buses that come by as the sun gets reflected off the scrolling sign-board.
Whether it is 500K, 500C or 500D, you'll know only when the bus is close by and he won't stop unless you signal the driver. This means you flag down every bus to look at its number and then wave it along leading to angry drivers.
The 4.40 pm 500K usually comes anywhere between 4.35 and 4.45 pm depending on who decided to cut past which vehicle while negotiating the Bellandur flyover mess.
Some days, vehicles break down causing traffic jams all the way till Marathahalli. The service road is gone, the way only Bangalore roads do after an attack by the BWSSB. If you want an example for complete destruction of a road the service road here deserves a visit!
It's almost 4.55 now and there is no sign of the bus. At 5.00 pm there is a bus that I know will be there. It drops by at 5:05 pm, just 5 minutes late. But I can't be angry with that guy. I wonder what became of the 4:40 one.
I make conversation with the conductor, one of the friendliest conductors on the BMTC payroll and tell him the 4.40 pm bus never came. He can only sympathise. The trouble with this more reliable bus is the unfortunate likelihood of it being stuck in a long signal at Nyandahalli. This is one of the better days.
Some days I take the 500C when the dust becomes unbearable and get down at Sangam Circle. Sangam Circle is an excellent bus stop as the metro construction barriers on the road ensure that only one bus can pass through that stop.
No buses overtaking each other at bus stops causing people to run 50m each side anxiously wondering if their bus is going to overtake all and go to the front or decide to stay at the very back and consider its duty done.
Some days you wait for 15 minutes, some days for 30 minutes to see two buses dropping by together, as if in friendly conversation with each other. One day I wait for 45 minutes for the bus to turn up and the 5 pm one with the friendly conductor drops by, itself 20 minutes late, filled to the brim with people. I reach home at 7 pm, a good 2 hour 45 minutes since I left office, with a waiting time of 45 minutes (which considering a frequency of 15 minutes is two buses absent)!
This time, I write to BMTC about their increasingly absent buses. As expected I get no response. They usually follow up promptly on the low-hanging fruits - crew behaviour, but not these.
These days I step out with a prayer, wondering what the evening will have in hold for me, if any 500K can be seen in reasonable time or the evening will just be a long wait for the promised bus to turn up...
P.S: Here's the 500K schedule online on the BMTC website, just for laughs. The third column in when the buses are supposed to leave ITPL. ⊕