Saturday, March 15, 2008

Maha Maza at Mahabaleshwar - Night 1 - Bus Ride

All India Meet
(organised by GMKCO)
7-9 December 2007

" Night 1 – Bus ride

Unjustified Apprehension

"As the 6th day of December 2007 crawled to a close, the excitement surged within each of us. Amongst old friend's reunion and getting acquainted with new colleagues, we boarded our buses. There were two buses namely viz. route 1 and route 2. Both buses were a/c, with push back seats and a stereo cum video facility. But leaving aside the stereo which hardly worked in either of the buses, route 2 bus was far more comfortable and jerk-free. I was in route 1 for the initial ride from Borivali to Sion. Then I switched to route 2. I was apprehensive about this switch-for I presumed I didn't know too many people there-but the apprehension was so not justified!

I was glad to see a few known faces amongst the 50-odd people already seated. I took my seat on the second row-the seat reserved by Meghana ma'am-but my attention was fixed on the back of the seat. No, no, not because there were hot guys there, but simply because that's where all the action would be- the dancing, singing, joking and chilling out. So I conveniently moved to the middle of the bus, asked Sangita to make a little place for me on the already full two-person seat. I adjusted myself merrily, and was certain no one had problem with it for here in Mumbai everyone is accustomed to adjustments, especially train commuters! :D

Settling down

Post minor adjustments in everyone's seating-after being inspired by me I like to presume-the happy hours began. There was the usual round of Antakshari, which paved way for singing atrocious songs in the league of 'amma dekh tera munda bigda jaye', 'billo rani kaho to kabhi jaan de du', 'kala kava kaat khaiga' etc. After the cheap thrills of the tapori songs, we moved on to being mesmerized by hindi classics. Then we tried to persuade the Delhi mundas to join us in the game. But they weren't interested in anything but sleep! So we let them have their way-just this one time- and had a good laugh looking at one of the delhi guys(either Vivek or Abhishek Singh) sleeping with his hand on his face, in true Manoj Kumar style. The laughs died down as it was time for the first halt.

Lookout for a 'halt'!

Halt, the word rings funny memories! I had left my hostel a good 2 hours before the scheduled bus departure from Borivali. I swore not to have a drop of water till the first halt came by and till I eased myself of the building pressure. As soon as I reached Borivali I enquired about the first halt. From then on Shefali teased me by calling me 'halt'!

So finally when we halted at 2:00 AM somewhere in Lonavala, I was the first one to make relieving use of the much awaited-halt. Call it our luck or the good planning; the washrooms were decent, very unlike Indian halts on highways. Route 2-my route- reached the halt first and everyone scatted around like rats let out from a cage. We stretched our limps, loosened our sore necks and gulped hot coffee/tea. Once the route 1 people arrived, we hugged one another like we were brothers/sisters lost during partition, just for fun! Someone happened to click a picture somewhere-the flash could be seen- and everyone followed suit. Thus began the great photo-mania!

Photo Mania

Photos were being clicked in every possible pose (hold on to the wild imagination) and the bus in-charges,
Hitesh Bhai and Mruni had to pull us into the buses after we bid our goodbyes and wished each other good morning, just for fun again! Apparently only half of the bus people in route two had been recharged by the cuppa hot drinks. Those who fizzled out slept soundly, while the other half (including me) played the dumb man's game, 'dumb-sharardz', in a hope of not disturbing the sleeping lot! (in reality there wasn't anything more interesting to play, but I said the previous line to win the hearts of the other half!!)

Dumber game & Lukkhagiri

The game warmed up with easy movies and went on to the tougher one's like- kehar, ijazat, koshish. In the beginning only Hitesh bhai and Nikul were acting, but in the end everyone had acted at least once, some made serious movies seem funny, some made absurd references and some were outright smart! (if you've played this game, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about) After guessing about 10-odd movie names, our bus got stuck in a traffic jam. Most of us who were awake took it in our stride and got off the bus to explore.

It was quite cold outside. There were mostly truckwallas around us. The guys who wanted to show off, climbed the trucks and guess what – clicked snaps again! The rest of us just chatted and pretended we were smoking invisible cigarettes (as we exhaled from our mouth, white smoky vapours would be seen). We also talked to our mates in the other bus via cell phones and they were also doing lukkhagiri. After about ½ hour the jam decongested and the bus revved up. Hitesh bhai ushered us in-like we were some school kids-and we resumed the dumb man's game. With a fee more warm-up-movies (read easy) we again proceeded to complicated movies. But the icing on the cake was, without doubt, the movie that I gave Nikul to enact. After hearing the movie name, the first question he asked me was 'Is this really a movie'? I whispered back into his ear saying, 'yes, it is!' He gave me a weird look and commenced the acting.

As he began revealing the movie by his actions, everyone started giving me the stare. The weird stare, the suspicious stare and the 'is-his-really-a-movie-stare'. And I sat there with a fixed expression which I called, 'believe-me-it-is-a-movie'. Surprisingly he acted out the whole movie without splitting into laughs and people actually guessed the movie name. That's the height of Sportsman spirit!!

Once the movie name had been guessed, people began wondering how a corpse can float in a dry drain, and that's when the bus thundered with laughter. On this funny note we ended an entertaining session. If you're wondering what the movie was, it was "Sukhey Naley mein Tairti Laash!!" hahaha

Bring on the food...and the sleep

By then it was 4:30 AM. Having played all through the graveyard shift, we were sleepy and hungry. That's when the food was brought out. We assumed that the food and the tea/coffee that we received were free-elation galore-until someone let the cat out of the bag. The food and drinks were sponsored by our own hard-earned money (stipend/salary). Our faces sulked just a bit, but the taste of food on a hungry stomach was bliss and made us forget the hole in our pocket! We ate potato wafers, kachori, mentos and cream biscuits. Trust me, food had never tasted this good!

With our tummies smiling, we began dozing off, but not without fights for seats. I ended up stealing Prashant's place, who in turn stole someone else's seat and in the end everyone slept, but in someone else's seat!! The bus was silent for a whole 2 hours!

When majority of us woke up-say around 6:30 AM-the sky was starting to glow in the morning light. The scenery was breath-taking, with valley on one side and fresh green plants and trees on both sides of the road. Paradise had emerged!

Morning chill and grand arrival

We stopped again-somewhere between Pune and Satara- to stretch our limps and to answer the nature's call. It was chilled. Those of us who like he-men/ she-women got off the bus without warm clothes were hit most by the cold. The he-men and she-women got the message straight and within minutes everyone was covered with at least two layers of clothing! The change in weather was a sign that Mahabaleshwar was nearing and of the pleasant days to come!

At about 8:15 AM everyone was awake and uneasy. The long bus journey was sort-of taking its toll on most of us. But the sight of the tax barrier-a few kilometers short of Mahabaleshwar, near the Venna lake-put everyone's weariness behind them. By 8:30 AM we had officially arrived in Mahabaleshwar, where the Maha Maza would be our Mantra!!

Route 2 (my bus) was the first to reach. The bus dropped us off at the City centre beyond which no bus was allowed. The Valley View (our resort) staff was waiting for us. They ushered our luggage into mini-vans and took it to the resort. All of us merrily walked to the resort, enjoying the fresh air gushing into our lungs, the cool breeze flirting with our faces, the valley, lake waiting to be explored and the shops beckoning us to spend that cash!

Maha Maza at Mahabaleshwar - Day 1 - Sight seeing and fun games...

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