Recently we had to undertake an overnight road journey and taking a bus seemed the ideal option. A previous experience had been quite satisfactory hence making this decision was easy. That's when a well wisher suggested taking a sleeper bus. Many years ago we travelled from Bhuj to Ahmedabad on a sleeper bus. That too was a fairly pleasant experience despite being a non A/C coach.
We went ahead and booked for a sleeper coach happy that this time it was an A/C one. The bus was on time which seemed to be a good omen. Wow, services seemed surely on an up trend now...
We got our first shock the moment we stepped into the sleeper coach. It had a central aisle and 'coupes' on either side with a lower and upper berth.
This was the shocking part- the allocation was two (TWO- 2) people to ONE (1) berth!!!!!
We were aghast. How was one to 'share' this barely 3 feet wide by six feet long space with a total stranger? The fact that the 'berth' had a curtain, was covered with a filthy sheet and provided with much used and unwashed blankets did nothing to ease the developing anger.
Worse, the other passengers did not seem hassled at all- may be this was because most were young couples... Our protests fell on deaf ears and we could do nothing more than sit around stewing about our misguided choice. As the bus zoomed (yes the driver seemed to be an ex-Formula one driver) over the steep ghat (steep hill) roads, there was nothing to cling on to to stay up right.
For the brief time that I did lie down, I sorely felt a need for straps similar to seat belts to hold down the sleeping form as I was tossed from side to side. Things are much worse if you get the upper berth.
For both lower and upper berths there is not much of window space- so if you thought you could spend time looking at the passing countryside- forget it.
For once I did not complain of the driver's skills as the journey was apparently over sooner than later. The moment we got off, we changed the return journey to a regular seating bus. Being peak holiday time and short notice there was no way we could have got train reservations. For the record, the Bhuj-Ahmedabad journey was on coach with one person per berth.
For those mulling a ticket on a high tech sleeper coach, do find out what is the berth layout when you buy your tickets. Else be prepared for a 'cozy' ride to wherever-it-is that you are going...