Unspoken Rules And Etiquette Of KSRTC and Private Buses In Kerala

KSRTC (KURTC) also known as “Aana vandi” and private buses are some of the most commonly used transportation services by people living in Kerala. This article will help you understand the bus etiquette that is followed on every bus by most Malayalis, if not all. You will be perplexed to find that there is a customary code of conduct that you should follow to make a mark among the conductor chetan/ chechi and other travellers on a particular bus, especially if you are planning to take the bus regularly. Let’s explore each one.

It’s all about the front and back sides

The first thing to note when you enter a bus in Kerala is the door. Even though it is not mandatory, men take the back doors and women take the front doors for entry and exit. The seats on the front are reserved for women while seats on the back of the bus are for all genders. The point to note here is that you can sit anywhere you want (even though the norm is different) as long as people around you are comfortably seated.

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Yes, there is discrimination

Unspoken Rules And Etiquette Of KSRTC and Private Buses In Kerala
Source: The Hindu

Out of our kindness (and learnt behaviour), we usually do favours to people while using public transport like giving the seat to old people, pregnant women, etc. There are special seats reserved for physically challenged people and women in most buses. But most of the time, people take advantage of (which occurs everywhere) their privileges. People need to own the responsibility of standing, irrespective of gender. Men tend to make seats for women irrespective of the fact that they might or might not be completely healthy. This, at times, leads certain people to misinterpret seating as their monopoly. Reservations do have a purpose and we need to act accordingly. 

Change or no change – always with the right hand

Unspoken Rules And Etiquette Of KSRTC and Private Buses In Kerala
Source: 123RF

The not-so-regular commuters of Kerala buses always have this concern: “Will I be able to grab on a handle or seat before the “knight bus” (Potterheads will understand) fires up?”.

Once I was standing in a moving bus as no seats were available. The Tarzan in me was trying hard to balance steadily when the conductor came to collect the bus fare and I somehow gave the money. Before moving on to the next person, he advised the importance of giving money to someone with the right hand only (I accidentally used the left hand). It would be nice if you could keep this in mind next time you give money to someone even though it seems pointless. I somehow follow this principle to this day (to please the people pleaser in me). Jokes aside, there seem to be a lot of misconceptions and norms that you are bound to follow to show people that you respect them. This is just another bummer and it is up to you to consider.

Be a commoner

Buses in Kerala are one of the cheapest and most viable modes of commutation. It is also one of the most democratic spaces in our state. Like everywhere else, you are going to be judged by a lot of random people, especially the way you dress. So, keep in mind that you might feel disturbed by people staring at you without a reason. 

Conductor is king

Even if you are an introvert, be ready to have some small talk with them and the passengers if you are going to be a regular traveller on the bus. People in Kerala don’t get that you are an introvert and will mistake you for being a ‘jaadakaaran’/’jaadakaari’ and the outcomes can be not so enjoyable. Don’t forget to keep change handy because not all conductors are generous in giving you change for the fare or else – you know, make the conductor your machan.

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Being young can be daunting

Being young doesn’t always mean being active and healthy throughout the day. You will have your fair share of exhaustion after a long and hectic work, school or college day. But, it’s not applicable here. You might need to make a seat for an elder person even if you are dead tired.

There are some extra points to keep in mind to travel safely especially if you are a woman.

  • Keep some extra safety pins or small sharp objects to pull through perverts.
  • Keep enough water in a bottle and some light snacks if it is a long journey. The bus halts only at the main bus stand for breakfast/lunch/dinner.
  • There will be some quick stops at some common points to avail public washroom facilities which you may need to note. If unsure, let the conductor know beforehand that you are unfamiliar with these practices and inform you in such cases.
  • Keep the necessary things handy before handling your bags to the main luggage lobby on the bus.

These are general points to be noted even if it is outside Kerala. I only mentioned it because you might find it useful. Did I miss out on any other points? Please let us know in the comments.

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