Bullets and Baale Mane

February 4, 2010

Seventy two classic bikes – and one not so classic shiny red superbike which seemed to have come along for the ride – lined up in the grey light just before the sun rose on 31st January.  The riders were a mixed bunch of grizzly bikers – Bulleteers and RTMC boys, rally riders and solo speeders – and wet-behind-the-ears firangs, girls and the odd guy who had swapped his regular bike for the bullet thump.  But this heterogenous crowd was there for one reason: to bring a fantastic array of donations, from toothbrushes to self-defence lessons to a month’s supply of tomatoes, to the girls at Baale Mane.

It only took the highway patrol an hour to spot this small army of two wheelers.  The first patrol vehicle was shortly followed by a second and then a third, all of them armed with a loud speaker and several tummy-proud officers.  Barrage after barrage of Kannada commands finally precipitated a fast start, and the ride had begun.

After a good stretch of Magadi Road’s glorious bends, twists and curves the group stopped for breakfast en masse at the foot of a hill.  The carefully placed route markers had been equally carefully harvested – all those precious steel rods or perhaps they just fancied the brightly coloured branded flags – by the villagers almost as soon as they were laid out, so the ride relied on strategically placed bikes to prevent wrong turns.   

Empty roads soon gave way to the under-construction diversion-pocked Bangalore-Mangalore highway where the two lanes of traffic rubbed shoulders and at times confronted one another, and finally the madness of Nelamangala town.  A police escort having been promised – after several meetings with the Nelamangala circle inspector– and guaranteed in writing, a solitary rather overweight officer on a clapped out bike emerged from the chaos to attempt to forge a path for the lead rider.  After several ill fated attempts to clear the traffic with the flaccid peep peeps of his horn, he was summarily demoted to route marker – at least he couldn’t be nicked – and the cohort sailed through the town and down village roads to Baale Mane.

Drumming girls heralded the bikes’ arrival at Baale Mane and were soon treating the riders to a dramatic performance of Dhollu Kunitha. 

The younger girls had to choose the best looking bikes and loyally picked those that belonged to the Road Veda team and Anoop Ravi, a long time supporter of the girls’ home, ignoring the lovingly modified old school Bullets for shiny new models, and even a Thunderbird.   

After several requests by the inhabitants of Gopalapura, a nearby village, the bikes filed out to strut their stuff through the village, a beaming girl behind each jacketed and booted rider. 

And then it was back to town and Opus.

With only one breakdown – quickly rectified by Mubarak, Bangalore’s ever smiling Bullet saviour – the group pitched up at Opus, announced by the roar of their engines which was reportedly audible for a full minute before the first rider came into view. 

Solder injected fresh energy into the crowd as they strummed their way through the Beatles, Elvis and several of their own numbers.  Only Yeh Dosti, which won the vote for best riding song, could beat them.  Amitabh Bacchan in a tight white suit riding in a side car and swinging on trees with Dharmendra in tow – bikes don’t get much better than that.

A fierce arm wrestling competition and some near head banging gave the group a bit of authentic biker flavour among the mohitos and flavoured yoghurt of Opus.  Murtu, tool king and the chief fixer-onner of bike flags, won the day with Rishabh, the burly Delhiite with a moustache to die for, a close second.   

We’ve also collected Rs 103,985 in cash towards vegetables, milk, eggs, education and other earmarked purposes.

A link to the video of the ride

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuP3lI0QIhU

A link to the story done by Chris, Chairman of the Baale Mane:

http://friendsofbaalemane.emailmsg.net/cgi-bin/v.pl?p=2%2E34%2E18%2E28%2E2%2E2010%40a%3A704%2Ec%3A6%2Ee%3A35%2Er%3A1081%2El%3A0%2Eac%3AVI%2Es%3A74

We’d like to say a huge thank you to those who went to extraordinary lengths to make this ride a success:

Kabir Bhasin for driving just about everything

Varun Sharma for his all-round marketing/PR/sponsorship brilliance

Bella Hodgkinson for being wonderfully English and efficient always

Krunal Varma for countless ideas and endless publicity

Murtu Lokhandwala for his flag-assembling and photographic skills

Arjun Singh for creative genius

Danish Aziz for Bullet solidarity and support

Amirtharaj Stephen for persuading us to aim for 100 bikes

Rishabh Malhotra and Priyanshu Painyuli for an injection of last-minute, much-needed energy

And in addition our small army of helpers on the day including the ride marshals and Mubarak and his team of star mechanics 

And finally thank you to those organisations who sponsored or contributed to the ride: Yogesh Bhandari; Nike; Alpha Relations; Masters Management Consultants; Kurl On; Islamic Relief Fund; Gayatri International, Vaman Pai of Mass Marketing Corporation for giving all the girls 7 sets of tailored clothes and last but very much not least Ashwin Mohan from Independent Shoot Fighters for giving up 52 Sunday evenings to give the girls’ a whole year of self-defence classes.

Photos courtesy of Murtu Lokhandwala, Phil Clevenger, Deepa Shastry and anyone else whose photos we nicked from Facebook

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