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Sholay: BTC iSTYLE at Jalamangala

Way back in 1973, Ramesh Sippy arrived at Ramnagara to shoot the famous Sholay over a period of 2.5 Yrs. Well actually did not intend to remake “Sholay”, but somehow, somewhere, the group of 18 BTCians did that: Made their own version of Sholay within a night..!! Since it was our own version, we chose our own spot: Jalamangala (some 30 kms from Ramnagara).
The whole crew of Jai & Veeru (Jeh & Virander), the strong men Thakur & Inspector Khurana (Nikhil & Sanjay), The angrezzon ke zamane ka jailor (Prabhakar), The ever tired Rahim Chacha (Koushik), comic characters of Soorma Bhopali & Hariram (Umang & Anshul), The house keeper Ramlaal (Ankit, Myself), and 8 lovely ladies (namely: Dr. Deepthy, dr. Sneha, Yogeeta, Ramya, Priyanka, Jyothi, Priyanka-P2 & Sonali)  who could be Basanti, Helen or Mausi-Ji (Upto them to decide) was very efficiently and effectively clicked by the head of photography, our very own Dwarka Divecha, Puneeth. 
We started off with a train sequence where the 18 of us head to Ramnagara in a packed general compartment. Yogeeta added to the frenzy by carrying an extra bag (no one knows whose) while disembarking, but realized it just in time to dump it back in the train. This followed by a walk through the town, some snacks and buying lots of fruits, and we finally reached the bus stand waiting for our bus to arrive. Meanwhile, the introduction was done at the bus stand itself. There were some new faces, some old trek buddies, but all had the same glitter, the spark in their eyes for the trek of the night. The bus journey wasn’t much trouble coz the constant chitt-chatt and laughter (which did invite a glare or two from fellow passengers) kept our minds elsewhere and in no time we were at Jalamangala.
Reaching the base took us some 20 minutes from the bus stand. While we took the diversion towards the base, Viru asked us politely to stay together and in the middle of the road. The reason: there have been sightings of Bears & Leopards, very few, but still countable! This did scare the shit out of some but they had no choice than continue. This was followed by a request to carry fire wood from the base since there won’t be any available at the peak along with a warning to lookout for snakes.  
Once done with all warnings and scaring people, we started ascending to the peak. Viru lead the way, Prabhakar, our strict jailor came in last with the others in between. We took rest whenever & wherever anyone required a timeout. The whole team stuck together the whole time hence increasing the workload of the head of photography, Puneeth. There wasn’t one resting time when someone (mostly reporter, Sonali) would not call out for a pic. Meanwhile, the devil from the previous trek (Me) had come back to Priyanka who teamed up with the pranksters: Anshul & Prabhakar to scare her time and again. The 1st part of the hill was more of vegetation though the final stretch had just bare rock. Carrying their bags on the back, torch in one hand & wood in the other, people still managed to help each other when required and we made it to the top with ease. Just before reaching the peak, we noticed another group of people around a campfire. It was only when we got closer that we realized they were a bunch of locals. We passed them and made our way to a camping spot.
Though they seemed like our GABBAR, with samba, kaalia and other sidekicks in tow, they were no match to our very own strongmen: Thakur Nikhil Singh & Inspector Sanjay Khurana. The very presence of a Black Belt Thakur meant the Gabbar of Jalamangala stayed away from his group, far far away.
Celebration is the way of life. Hence once done dealing with the Gabbar of Jalamangala, Viru unraveled the celebrations. It was Womens’ day and an amazing gift to show our respect & appreciation to those who trekked with us (and all women who did not) was presented by Veeru (though not to woo any of the basantis) in the form of a cake. After posing for the photo calls and taking as many clicks as possible, the cake was carefully cut and divided into equal parts by the masters at knives: Dr. Deepthy & dr. Sneha.
The dinner followed the cake where Deepthy proved to be more efficient at cooking (boiling water) than Veeru and hence was decided that from the next time onwards, the girls would take up the cooking. Apart from Maggi, there were tiffins containing food ranging from noodles, upma, biriyani and some more. We passed along almost every dish and were finally done with the dinner in an hour or so.
It was getting cold and we scrambled to get stones to setup the camp fire. Once lit-up the group sat around the fire and started off with an attempt of ragging the 1st timers. There were 6 of them who very gracefully danced to the tunes we played. Soorma Umang Bhopali enjoyed this the most because he was the one in their place the previous time. One by one, everyone danced to some song or the other. Gujju tried to teach us some garba steps but the girls got terrified at the jumps and rounds he made and finally gave up. The dancing continued with Priyanka dancing on the condition of playing tamil songs; Sonali trying the same steps in almost every song; Dance student Yogeeta refusing to move an inch from the fire, let alone dance; Veeru trying his hand at Lungi Dance with something dat looked too small and so on..
The night was long and we could not just dance the whole night long. Yes, the Duracell powered Sonali could, but not all. So we settled to play a game. Of the many options of Antakshari (too easy), Mafia (too complicated), Dumb-charades, the last one came out as the winner. Since the participants were not all fluent in Hindi, we decided to go with English movies only. Some movie names were more like a sentence while some were un-pronounceable single words. Though I don’t remember who won, it was real fun teasing and disturbing the other team.
This was followed by a long chat session around the fire (or whatever was left of it). By this time, half of the gang was asleep, some even snoring. While the other half chatted throughout the night. As the wood and twigs perished, dr. Sneha took lot of pains to go around and get whatever was combustible, atleast 3 times. This chat session was by far the most interesting part of the trek. Here we learnt some interesting facts and events from the people we were with. One by one all opened up to the group of strangers to become buddies forever. Viru was grilled and cursed by Yogeeta for his single seater bike (alas not the 3 seater from the original movie), the Class mate prank by Viru & Ramya became the prank of the night that fooled Prabhakar. More stories poured in over the charcoal and heated rock pile we sat around, and the khankhra & chocolates we munched. Some could actually be named and made into a short story like: The Racer: dr. Sneha, The karate kid: Nikhil, The Entrepreneur: P2, so on and so forth..
Even I pooled in to convince people that I won’t fly out in the breeze by the fact that I have roamed around on the streets during a cyclone. But to no avail. The jokes of: “keep your bag full at all times” continued throughout the trek, as is a ritual these days.
Not long after this, the sun started colouring the horizon in a brilliant orangish-yellow (or yellowish-orange, can’t say exactly) hue. The breeze felt as fresh as a lilly and we just sat at the edge of the peak facing the sun, looking into the vast horizon that lay ahead of us. Soon afterwards, we decided to leave since the sun was playing hide-and-seek in the clouds. The Photo sessions continued till all got up and packed to get going. The descend seemed like a ssshhhhh affair, more so coz most people were too tired to keep jumping around. Still the smiles did come instantly the moment there was a call for a pic and the laughter which followed when someone asked: “hawa aayi..??” when I slipped took ages to subdue.
The walk to the spot for the group pic was energized by cucumber and some mango plucking by Jyothi & Deepthy (yes, the mangoes were low enough for not requiring a Veeru for help). Following the group pic, we took the bus to Ramnagara, wherein the photographers took some really nice pics of the sleeping sams on the way.
Post the Morning breakfast at Ramnagara, it was time to bring the curtains down on Sholay, the BTC iSTYLE. This was done on the way back to the city and all credits went to Virander (quite obvious).
The people on the crew all played their roles to perfection: Jai & Veeru played the responsible still playful friends, Nikhil & Sanjay the responsible citizens, Prabhakar kept a watchful eye on things, Umang & Anshul kept us tickiling with their jokes, I did the house keepers job of carrying the garbage and the ladies shared and swapped their roles of the dancer, the talkative lady and the grumpy old aunty. This was the example of the amazing team effort put in to make a simple night trek as memorable as one of the best movies of bollywood.
This was it for the day then and we went our ways after reaching majestic with a promise to keep meeting on the treks to come, keep trekking for the days & years to come.

Written By         : Ankit Maheswari
Organized By    : Virander Sirohi
Date of event    : 8th Mar, 2014
Members Count : 18
Place                : Jalamangala
Pictures            : BTC FB Page

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