We used Mandi (Himachal Pradesh, India) as the base for our Prashar Lake trip. For our return journey Sesha booked two tickets in a private Volvo bus through Satluj Travels (located next to the Mandi Government Bus Stand). One can get the tickets in a Manali-Delhi Volvo passing via Mandi. Our past experience with private tour operators have not been too good. And this one too proved to be no exception.
We were given the starting time from Mandi as 9.30 at night and we were promptly there. The bus came up at 10.30, an hour late. But I guess this could be a standard practice by tour operators as they assume that passengers would turn up late according to the Indian sense of time.
The configuration of this Volvo was different from the government operated one, the latter is more spacious. Still, there was ample leg room even in this bus. The driver was a moron of the first order (but then, I think it is luck and you can get morons even on government buses) and would negotiate all the turns on the hill roads at a breakneck speed. I was almost always sliding off my seat and in spite of the good leg room it was very difficult to sleep.
Around 6.00 in the morning the AC of the bus broke down and with a Volvo you can’t open the windows. They opened the roof ventilators and the morning weather was pleasant. I would not have given a damn whether the AC worked or not, I would have preferred to reach Delhi on time. But the moron driver wanted to get it repaired. At the first shop they tried, they were unsuccessful after wasting 45 minutes. A short time later, he tried to get it repaired at another shop and around 7.30 in the morning (by the time we should have been in Delhi but we were more than 250 kilometers away yet) we ditched the bus and hopped in an ordinary government bus at a traffic signal.
By 8.30 the day was getting hotter by the minute. We finally reached home around 12 in the noon and both of us had to miss the office that day. We are going to stay away from private bus operators as far as we can.