Sunday, February 17, 2013

My 2013 Oscar Selections

Watching all the Movies nominated for the Top Oscar Awards as a tradition started in 2011, I followed it up in 2012 and continued this year as well. But this year there was a major difference – I had watched majority of the movies even before the nominations were announced & that was heartening to see! Thanks to being in Kuwait where almost all major Hollywood movie release simultaneously with the US!

2012 was another tremendous year for Hollywood; many brilliant movies were released and many of them made mind-boggling amount of money! Most notably The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall and The Avengers – all 3 made it to the Billion Dollar Club and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey wasn’t too far behind (made 956 Million USD!) 2012 has the record for the most number of films making it to the top 50 with eight films, breaking 2009's record of seven films. It has also tied the record of 2011 for the most number of films crossing the $1 billion mark, with three films, and has beaten its record for the most number of films earning more than $500 million, with thirteen films. It is the only year to have all the top 10 highest-grossing films earn more than $600 million worldwide.

The James Bond series celebrated its 50th anniversary, Spielberg made a Biopic, Tarantino was back & how, Affleck once again proved he is a Master Class director, Kathryn Bigelow was back with another War thriller, Les Misérables was made again (yawn!), David O. Russell was back after “The Fighter”, Jennifer Lawrence proved that she is one of the finest actresses of this generation, De Niro got ANOTHER Oscar Nomination and Meryl Streep didn’t get any (now that’s BIG)!, Daniel Day-Lewis looks strong for his 3rd Oscar & would join a very special club, Ang Lee shows his class & splendid range again with the awe-inspiring Life of Pi, Six box-office blockbusters from previous years (Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Titanic, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Finding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc.) were re-released in 3D and/or IMAX.

I finally finished this selection yesterday when I watched the last 2 pending ones – Frankenweenie & Wreck-It Ralph (both nominated for the “Best Animated Feature” Oscar)

Some snippets from this year’s Oscar Nominations –

The interesting ones to begin with:

  1. Film with Maximum nominations - Lincoln with 12 followed by Life of Pi (11) and Les Misérables and Silver Linings Playbook (8 each)
  2. Amour (French) became the first film in twelve years to be nominated for both Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film; the last film to do so was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Mandarin) in 2000
  3. Emmanuelle Riva, at 85, became the oldest nominee in the Best Actress category for the film Amour
  4. Quvenzhané Wallis, at age 9, became the youngest nominated actress in the Best Actress category for the film Beasts of the Southern Wild
  5. Jennifer Lawrence (for Silver Linings Playbook), at 22, became the youngest Best Actress two-time nominee, having previously been nominated in 2010 for Winter's Bone.
  6. Silver Linings Playbook became the first film in 31 years to receive nominations in all four acting categories; the last film to do so was Reds in 1981.
  7. Silver Linings Playbook also became the first film in eight years to be nominated in the "Big Five" categories; the last film to do so was Million Dollar Baby in the 2004.
  8. For the first time in the history of the awards, the Best Supporting Actor category consists only of previous winners. Alan Arkin, Tommy Lee Jones, and Christoph Waltz have each won Best Supporting Actor; Phillip Seymour Hoffman has won Best Actor; and Robert De Niro has won in both award categories.
And now the misses:

  1. The most controversial and the most talked about is Ben Affleck not getting nominated for the “Best Director” Oscar; every other award ceremony leading has awarded Affleck. Maybe because the Oscars won’t & can't. 
  2. Surprisingly and shockingly Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino and Kathryn Bigelow: Not nominated for Moonrise Kingdom, Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty respectively
  3. I was disappointed not to find “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Master” getting nominated for the Best Picture category. – 3 brilliant movies but which missed out!
  4. Another big surprise was the omission of the French film ‘Untouchable’ in the Best Foreign Language Film category; it was such a wonderful film!
  5. The magnificent performances of Samuel L Jackson and Leonardo in Django Unchained were overlooked but then one single movie can’t have 3 Best Supporting Actor nominations for sure! So these 2 had to sacrifice for the awesomely brilliant Waltz

And now all the nominations, my predictions and my choices! I have also posted some of my reviews as well….

                                    Best Picture


Definitely amongst the top movies of this year for me! A poignant tale of eternal love and with a devastating ending, this movie made me cry 2-3 times just to see those emotions pouring out of the female lead's eyes! The Cinematography of Darius Khondji is par excellence and he has captured the scenes of the house so well! Helmets off to the Director for he has got out brilliant performances from the 2 leads and his tight handling of the script which would have easily got too melodramatic! Full marks to the 85-years old Emmanuelle Riva for acting so well...I can’t imagine myself being so fit at that age!!! This one just can't be wonder it is sweeping all awards rating 4/5...


My favourite movie from the weekend list! I always love movies based on real-life stories and when they are based in the Middle-East it makes them even better! It is a story of how a CIA Operative led the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis...Ben Affleck is stupendous both in the direction and acting departments! The movie stays true to the script and never loses direction and that was the highlight for me! the suspense moments in the last scene were real awesome too! I loved this movie and hope it wins some awards too! My rating 4/5...

Beasts of the Southern Wild

I am not a big fan of the Fantasy-Drama genre but this surely is an is a lovely tale of a father-daughter relationship and about their miraculous lives! Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy is the star of the movie and a true revelation...superb debut performance...I am sure this would many Oscars and Golden Globes this year! My rating 3/5...

Django Unchained

Les Misérables

DLed this in early January but could not gather the guts to watch this as I hate the Musical Genre plus the 158 Mins duration of this movie was another deterrent...the only reason I wanted to watch this was due to it getting all those Oscar Nominations & complete my 2013 Oscar Fiesta! So after gathering all possible patience & guts I started this movie in the weekend but could not last 45 minutes! The way all dialogues have been sung put me off so much that it became intolerable! Finally decided to stop it and save myself....sorry folks...this movie would always remain "not rated" for me!

Life of Pi

It is not just a movie...It is a cinematic spectacle in itself....poetry on screen! I loved this movie to bits...the plot, cinematography, digital effects and the thrills! And the IMAX View made it even more brilliant...I shouted 2-3 times during the Tiger Jump scenes! Loved the ending too...the different interpretation...and this movie reinforced one of my fundas - Never Give-Up! It is one of the best of 2012 so far for rating 4/5...


A Biopic Movie, Daniel Day-Lewis and a historic plot...good enough reasons to watch this movie! And yeah these were even before all those GG Wins and Oscar nominations...and a brilliant movie for sure...DDL is simply superb - his dialogue delivery, mannerisms and demeanor are near perfect! The movie covers the final four months of Lincoln's life, focusing on his efforts in January 1865 to have the Thirteenth Amendment (Abolition of Slavery) to the US Constitution...his political maneuvers were superb and helped shaped one of the most important law-changes for the US...I ended up doing a lot of research on his life and no wonder he is considered one of the greatest! And DDL looks strikingly similar to Lincoln too...thanks to the awesome make-up...he definitely deserves his 2nd Oscar! My rating 4/5...

Silver Linings Playbook

One of the most quirky love-stories I have ever seen and a real nice movie...has loads of fun is a story of a man played by Cooper suffering from Bi-Polar Disorder and how he gets into a love affair with the strange and equally quirky Jennifer Lawrence...both Cooper & Lawrence are brilliant in the movie...and then there is ROBERT DE NIRO - in one of his meatiest roles in recent times - he is superb as always...I loved this movie! My rating 3.5/5...

Zero Dark Thirty

157-Minutes long & we didn't move from our couch even for a second! thats how how gripping this movie is...full of thrill & engaging moments...coupled with superb editing and cinematography...the plot talks about one of the most important encounters of our times and the painstaking research & intelligence efforts which went to achieve the near-impossible! It also shows the dark side of torture showered on the inmates but then that is a stark reality! It isn't easy to get the truth out! Kathryn Bigelow's direction is surely Oscar-worthy!
Now the Indian Connection - Osama Bin Laden's role is played by an Indian! The co-producer of this movie - Megan Ellison (daughter of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison) owns a company named - Annapurna Pictures :) and "Being Human" Tee is visible in one of the scenes! My rating 4/5 for this movie...go watch it folks...I am sure you would like it too...

Only 3 films have ever won best picture without best director, the last being "Driving Miss Daisy"…

And now my say:

Will win:                   Argo
Could win:                Lincoln
MY CHOICE:           Zero Dark Thirty

                                     Best Director

Michael Haneke – Amour

Haven’t watched any of his previous movies but what a masterpiece this movie is; kept me intrigued & glued throughout in spite of the fact that the plot was supposedly a slow & boring one plus to make such old-aged actors work such effortlessly! This movie made my eyes moist but at the same happy very happy just because of the sheer class of the entire crew!

Ang Lee – Life of Pi

One of the Directors having a splendid range! One can see that just looking at his repertoire - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hulk, Brokeback Mountain and now this movie which is an artistic masterpiece! A movie best enjoyed if watched in 3D IMAX (which I luckily did); the opening sequence on that huge screen made my money worth! I haven’t read the novel so can’t compare the two but still this definitely is a part of the movies which wowed me cinematically! 

David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

I loved his last movie – The Fighter and this one was no different! The similarity between these 2 movies was the awesome lead cast! It is no easy task for a relatively young Director to line-up such brilliant actors/actresses for one movie! And read this: His next movie’s cast - Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, and Amy Adams.

Steven Spielberg – Lincoln

He is a legend, enough said! He brought back Lincoln to life in his period drama with effortless grace inspite of the length & pace of the movie! But then he had an awesome cast to help his cause! The tremendous DDL, TLJ and others too…He is a definite frontrunner for this award!

Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild

The Darkhorse of this category! A Debutant Director getting this nomination is a huge achievement in itself! It is a beautiful movie and very-well made! His chances look quite tough for this award but maybe he can win the Best Adapted Screenplay award where he is co-nominated!

Will win:                   Steven Spielberg
Could win:                Ang Lee
MY CHOICE:           Michael Haneke


                                     Best Actor

Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook

The most unusual choice for this casting considering his previous works but he did a tremendous job playing the Bipolar character! IMHO has no chance of winning this award but then the Oscar Jury have done stranger things in the past!

Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln

The clear front-runner for this award! He is pretty much one of the best actors of the current generation with 2 Oscars [My Left Foot (1989) and There Will Be Blood (2007)] already under his belt – definitely up & ready for a threesome!

Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables

Please give me a break!

Joaquin Phoenix – The Master

My clear choice for this award but sadly he won’t win it afterall! It was a demanding & excruciatingly difficult role and he did with aplomb! By far one of his best performances IMHO…

Denzel Washington – Flight

The most undeserving nomination of the Oscars I say! He was below average rather sleepwalking through the entire movie. I feel sad for John Hawkes (The Sessions) and Jean-Louis Trintignant (Amour) who missed out!

Will win:                   Daniel Day-Lewis
Could win:                Bradley Cooper
MY CHOICE:           Joaquin Phoenix

                                                                Best Actress

Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty

She is real nice in the movie but definitely doesn’t deserve the Golden Statuette! Many other actresses would have done an equally good job in her place! Deserves the nomination nod but not the Oscar IMHO

Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook

The Darkhorse nominee and one of the finest actresses of this generation – she was awesome in 2010's Winter's Bone and in this one too! To hold her stead in front of all those master actors was simply too good! 

Emmanuelle Riva – Amour

My clear choice for this award! Her 85-years age could not be even a minor hindrance in giving this masterful performance…minimal dialogues but maximum effect! She is simply exquisite in the movie and I am sure without her this movie would have been well…just average! Just read her latest interview:
"This adventure, this gift, in the last stage of my life - it's not easy to measure up - but it's the exact moment in my life when I could do it. Before would have been too early. Later might have been too late. But it's a great treasure to participate in this film.I am very calm in the face of all of this. I am 85 years old. I am not going to flop about like a fish. What makes me nervous is these hours on the plane. Frankly, it seems like a hell of a journey to me. It's so long. But I will do things to the end. I will fall in someone's arms if I need to."

Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild

The youngest person ever to be nominated as Best Actress & definitely a deserving one! An electrifying performance…Hushpuppy was the real life of this new-age disaster movie!

Naomi Watts – The Impossible

The weakest contender for this award – but I am clearly not undermining her performance! It was brilliant but the other 4 nominees were far better!

Will win:                   Too close to call
Could win:                Jennifer Lawrence
MY CHOICE:           Emmanuelle Riva

                            Best Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin – Argo

He definitely didn’t deserve his first Oscar in Little Miss Sunshine nor does he deserve to win this one! A good but nothing spectacular type of performance in this movie! There were far better ones in 2012!

Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook

My favourite actor of all-time and no other actor can match my levels of affection! Hope he wins again! This is his seventh Oscar Nomination (he has won twice already)! He was awesome in this movie – a role tailor-made for De Niro that’s why I think he won’t win it!

Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master

Another top performance from this master class actor – I love him to bits! He has already won an Oscar for “Capote” and has earned 2 other nominations in the past! He was ruthless in this movie and played the perfect foil to the crazy Phoenix!

Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln

One of the top frontrunners for this Award for his restrained and classic performance in this Period Drama! His role is one of the most instrumental ones after the lead character and he played it with effortless ease – like he always does!

Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

My clear choice! And yeah even without my Tarantino Bias! All we Hollywood lovers are so glad & lucky that Tarantino found him and pulled him out of the German Cinema! He was flawless, brilliant and crazily awesome in my favourite movie of 2012! His dialogue delivery class is unmatched IMHO!

Will win:                   Tommy Lee Jones
Could win:                De Niro or Seymour Hoffman
MY CHOICE:           Christoph Waltz

                           Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams – The Master

She has given much better performances in the past and is one of my top favourite female actresses but just didn’t deserve this Award! Was strictly good – nothing spectacular!

Sally Field – Lincoln

She would always remain Forrest’s Mother in “Forrest Gump” for me! Definitely got to watch her “Norma Rae” for which she won the Best Actress Oscar in 1979 and she was really nice in Lincoln for sure!

Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables

Please give me a break, would you? All this hoopla for that blink & miss role! She has won all those applause but in my books she just doesn’t deserve to be here!

Helen Hunt – The Sessions

Clearly the winner in my books for her unblemished & masterful performance in this awesome movie which sadly just got this solitary nomination – definitely deserved more of them! Definitely one of my top female Hollywood actresses; hoping she wins this one!

Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

Another deserving nomination – she was playing the wife of De Niro in this movie and that;s not a mean feat in itself!

Will win:                   Anne Hathaway
Could win:                Sally Field
MY CHOICE:           Helen Hunt

                Best Writing – Original Screenplay

Amour – Michael Haneke

Definitely deserves this nomination; for this simple yet so brilliant somber storyline!

Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino

I love the way he writes Boy! Enough said…

Flight – John Gatins

Really? I mean is this for real?

Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

Consolation Nomination by the Oscar Jury – this movie definitely deserved more!

Zero Dark Thirty – Mark Boal

WTF…such a recent event; it would have been the easiest script ever to be written IMHO! But on a serious note I am sure that is the deserving reason as well as he had all the more pressure on himself to maintain the authencity!

Will win:                   Django Unchained
Could win:                Moonrise Kingdom
MY CHOICE:           Django Unchained

                        Best Animated Feature

Brave – Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman

A thoroughly enjoyable movie...I loved the graphics and the background score...and the 3D Experience made it even better...a definite must-watch for fairytale lovers...and the movie is fast-paced as well; never realized when it got rating 3.5/5...

Frankenweenie – Tim Burton

Loved the Graphics& the storyline! The B&W definitely added to the experience!

ParaNorman – Sam Fell and Chris Butler
Lovely comedy horror animated movie with awesome music and a nice storyline! Very skillfully created in the Stop-Motion format.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits – Peter Lord

Funny, entertaining and skillfully animated! I loved the plot, humour and the graphics plus the Background Score keeps the viewer engaged all the time...definitely a must-watch for all animation genre fans! My rating 3/5...

Wreck-It Ralph – Rich Moore

I didn’t like this movie much except for the last 20 minutes or so! I am sure am the exception out here as it is one of the clear favourites to win this!

Will win:                   Wreck-It-Ralph
Could win:                Frankenweenie
MY CHOICE:           Brave

                        Best Foreign Language Film

Amour (Austria)

Definitely amongst the top movies of this year for me! a poignant tale of eternal love and with a devastating ending, this movie made me cry 2-3 times just to see those emotions pouring out of the female lead's eyes! The Cinematography of Darius Khondji is par excellence and he has captured the scenes of the house so well! Helmets off to the Director for he has got out brilliant performances from the 2 leads and his tight handling of the script which would have easily got too melodramatic! Full marks to the 85-years old Emmanuelle Riva for acting so well...I can’t imagine myself being so fit at that age!!! This one just can't be wonder it is sweeping all awards rating 4/5...

Kon-Tiki (Norway)

A definite watch for all adventure & history lovers! It is a 2012 Norwegian historical drama film about the 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition in which the lead character Thor Heyerdahl and his group of fellow "sailors" travel 5000 miles on sea in their raft to prove his theory! The Cinematography and the graphics are brilliant...the thrill element keeps you rooted to the seat throughout! I love watching movies based on real-life incidents and being a Travel enthusiast this was a lovely experience...It is also nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars this rating 4/5...

No (Chile)
A Royal Affair (Denmark)
War Witch (Canada)

Could not get hold of the other 3 films so this award selection is incomplete! Nonetheless my say:

Will win:                   Amour
Could win:                Either of the other 4
MY CHOICE:           Amour

So these are my prediction and winners; didn’t list the other categories as I have minimal technical knowledge about them for example Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, etc etc!

And now the sad part; clearly looks like that I won’t be able to watch the Oscars Ceremony LIVE as we would be vacationing in Dubai and as per DST it would start at 3 AM – no chance I would be awake at that time! Would check the updates once I get up and then DL the ceremony for a proper view! Last 4 years I have watched the Ceremony LIVE so it is going to be a big & sad miss!

Nonetheless 2013 has started on a grand note; not even 2 months have passed and I have already watched 60 Non-Hindi movies! Augurs well for the remaining 20 months! Watched 271 Non-Hindi movies in 2012 – hope to match this number in 2013!

Thanks to Wikipedia for providing me with almost all the inputs for this Blog Post; just can’t thank Wiki enough – it is almost a lifeline!

So till the time we meet again……..

Cheers to life…

Till then ride safe and have safe sex…

Hasta la Victoria Siempre…

Jai BoP! 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The BoP Mandawa Mausers ||| November 2012

Yeah this is how happy I was…before the ride, during the ride and after the ride too! Happiness inside and outside…everywhere: D Thanks to Varun Doegar for this pic and capturing this expression in his big bandook!

Because it wasn’t any ordinary ride; it was Bulls on Parade – BoP’s 5th Anniversary Ride…we have come a long way since November 2007 when “Gurgaon Cruisers” was born…40 rides…31,210 kilometres together on the road…so many comrades…and unlimited moments of fun, bakar and most importantly the BoP Style camaraderie…

As you all know BoP maintains and follows its traditions religiously…in 2008 we decided to celebrate our Anniversary with a Ride to a destination in Rajasthan and we have stayed true to our promise…

And in 2012: The Mandawa Mausers…

Each of these 5 locations have the grandeur, history and traditions of Rajasthan engrained in them and we tried our best to explore them and most importantly except Pushkar none of these locations are not the routine tourist Rajasthan Destinations like Jaipur-Udaipur etc …be it visiting the Forts & other monuments, sampling the local cuisine or enjoying the hospitality of the people in the limited time we had on our hands…and we did GOOD!

Mandawa as a location was unearthed by me earlier this year; a quaint town in the Shekhawati Region with a small fort and some not-so-old Hawelis…perfect place for us to conquer as it wasn’t a routine Touristy Destination and that’s what we don’t prefer…

I sent the Ride Invite very early – on 30th of July 2012 to give ample time to BoPians to apply for a solitary 1-day leave and confirm for the ride…after many confirmation and last-minute declines we were finally a group of 9 Comrades who conquered Mandawa…

We had a rollicking pre-ride BBB Session at Vedant ki Dhaani, Gurgaon – another tradition of ours! And one of the last-minute defaulter (read: dhokhebaaz) Ankit Sheoran also attended that session; the Ride Guns were also duly tested in the night…as always the session got stretched; it’s impossible to finish BBB sessions early! We reached our homes – well prepared and fully excited for the 3 ride says ahead…Pics of the Session:

This was going to be a special ride in one more sense; I had pre-decided to ride a little slow during this ride and stay together with the group…it was going to be real tough for me as I enjoy riding fast but I was determined to change my style this time….read on to find out all the gory details of the Mausers!

And here it begins…

The Mausers were:

  1. Diptinder Singh Chhabra aka Vinamra on his Black RE Electra 4S
  2. Sumit Vijayant Singh aka Anna on his Red/Maroon/? RE Standard
  3. Varun Doegar aka Photugrapher on his Black RE TB350 4S
  4. Ajit Singh Bhullar aka Indian Traveller on his RE 500
  5. Sandeep Singh Chadha aka Legend on his Black RE Standard
  6. Rohan Kaushik aka Sunny on his Green RE Classic 500
  7. Ankit Gupta aka NoteDhaari on his Grey RE Classic 350
  8. Vihans Gupta aka Jaanu as the Pillion
  9. Che on “The Mighty One”

Day 1 – Friday 9-November 2012 – (Gurgaon - Dharuhera - Rewari - Narnaul - Ranwa - Singhana - Chirawa - Jhunjhunu – Mandawa)

I goofed up with the Alarm and didn’t wake up at 5:30 as planned! Finally woke up when Vinamra called me and asked my whereabouts! Hadn’t felt guiltier than that moment in quite some time as I am amongst the first ones to reach the Ride starting Point and this was one of those rare moments in my Riding History in which I overslept & didn’t reach on time! I quickly got up and also woke up Ajit and Vikas who slept overnight at my place (Ajit was a Mauser but why Vikas slept at my place is a long & gory tale of drama, tragedy and a lot of growling – rest is confidential!) We quickly got ready with our Riding Gear, loaded our stuff on the bike, got some Sandwiches & Juice packed (Thanks to Bandita) and started for the rendezvous Point – Leisure Valley Park – another tradition! Reached LVP at 6:45 AM where some of the Mausers were already waiting; I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw Vihans-Ankit-Sunny missing too! They came the last! At 7:15 AM we finally started the Mausers Ride with the loud chants of “Jai BoP”…Vinamra had come back to India after his UK MBA & it was great to ride along with him after quite some time! My last long ride with him was the Chittorgarh Ride in November-10…Another reason!

At sharp 8 AM the hunger demons hit us and we decided to stop for a Breakfast Pit-Stop at an NH-8 Highway Dhaba…could not follow the tradition of stopping at our routine NH-8 Dhaba – Prem Pavittra Dhaba as that was out of our route map… The first Bandook Shot was fired at this very point & the indications were quite vivid & clear – this was going to be a fiery ride! True to it’s name!!!

Paranthas, Dahi and Chhole were duly ordered. We all got silent once our order was served…but just for few moments…the bonhomie was not to be missed! Chadha Paaji was asked to take over the Financial responsibilities of the ride & he came out with his excel sheet – well prepared Mauser! Though this time the surprise element was missing…

After the pet-pooja we took the road towards Rewari in Rajasthan where the town was waking up gingerly which meant very less traffic & an easy way-through for us…soon Narnaul was passed too…then the Aravallis started and I stopped for the customary shot! Can’t miss that opportunity you see! Then we entered Rajasthan and witnessed the amazing transformation in the quality of roads – it was almost surreal…the roads suddenly became butter-like and the colour of the soil changed too…from a dull brown to a fiery & much-darker rusty colour! We knew that the remaining ride was going to be a smooth affair plus the short distance meant that we would reach Mandawa much earlier and we would break all previous records!

At 11 AM we stopped at Ranwa where the bemused locals watched us all in awe! We also opened open with our Ride Bandook much to the shock & awe of the sparse crowd which had built up! Banana shopping & consuming was done too…healthy Mausers you see! The weather was perfect for riding – a pleasant breeze and not too harsh sunlight…all perfect ingredients for a perfect ride!

Even though I was riding slow I didn’t shirk away my self-assigned responsibility of leading the pack of Riders and I stopped at all the major turns so that nobody gets lost…I am such a responsible Group Rider; it has to be seen to be believed!

We made frequent stops as for a change time was on our side and it gave ample opportunities to the “Photugraphers” of this ride…noteworthy to mention – Chadha Paaji who recently bought a DSLR and Anna who bought a pseudo-DSLR; Doegar was busy in his own Bandookbaazi as always!

We reached Mandawa exactly at 2 PM and treated us to a bout of Kesar-Pista Kulfi! I had 3 of them – it became tough for the vendor to match-up to our pace; the way we were gobbling up Kulfis it looked like his stock would have ended soon! Chadha bought Jalebi & Rasgullas for the Lunch-Dessert session…once again the sleepy town was shocked to see a group of weirdly-dressed motorcyclists in this part of the world…each decked up and fully loaded! We spent the next 20 minutes in finding our place of stay – Hotel Shekhawati as it was located within the narrow by lanes of the town…when we finally reached the owner of the Hotel – Mr. Pramod Pareek came out to receive us & helped us in parking the bikes as well…the rooms were well-appointed, neat, cosy & spacious and the alleys were spacious enough for our mini BBB sessions too!

We took an hour to freshen up and settle down before we started the first BBB session of our Ride…we didn’t stop enroute which was a break-away from our traditions but then we knew that we would reach early and planned to enjoy Beer in the Hotel itself…Mr. Pareek helped us by ordering his staff to get us Child Bear and some snakes to go with it…truly a courteos gesture! We also ordered a light Rajasthani Lunch which was duly served in the Rooftop Restaurant – even though the lunch was not too great but it perfectly satiated the hungry Mauser Souls! The meal ended on a high with the sweets bought by Chadha…Chadha & his penchant for packing “desserts” go a long way! From Ladakh, Chakrata, Lansdowne to Mandawa!

All of us decided to take a short Sleep Break…the late night BBB Session and the early start were the culprits you see! We got up fresh and rejuvenated…ready to roam the streets of Mandawa…there was nothing much to see though so settled for some Jhaalmuri – Bengali Snake Item & a walk across the dim-deserted streets of Mandawa. We also checked out 2-3 “Heritage” Hotels and Lonely Planet “recommended” Restaurants which were obscenely over-priced & had nothing much to show against the high prices! Our Hotel was by far the best VFM Property of the town with superb service as well to boot! Also visited the Fort to get a feeler about the place & checked out the entrance fees as well…while we were exiting from the Fort Chadha Paaji spotted a shop which was featured in one of the songs of “Jab We Met” – and that too for a fleeting second; what memory boss! All of us were once again impressed – infact this has become a habit for BoP…Getting wowed by Chadha Paaji’s histrionics!

Came back to the hotel all charged up for the upcoming BBB Session on the rooftop about which Mr. Pareek had told me earlier “Sir Jee saara intezaam kara denge aapke liye chhat pe – maze se enjoy karma”! Before the Bakchodi began he took us on a guided tour to 2 of his most-special rooms of the property – with the exquisite & amorous wall paintings! His excitement & pride was all too visible while he told the stories behind them! The best ones were hidden by curtains and once they became visible oohs & aahs were heard across the town! Yes that’s how special they were…the numerous cameras started clicking like there was no tomorrow! The set of paintings were in a particular order; starting from wooing to meeting to engagement to wedding to the first night and then finally the baby! Talk about Life Cycle of a Love Affair!

After getting wowed by art during a ride for the first time we all reached the rooftop and started the main agenda of the night! Glasses were lined up plus I had bought a bottle of Ardmore “Highland Single Malt Whiskey” from the Doha Duty Free especially for the ride to celebrate our 5th Anniversary in true BoP Style! I also got 2 cans of Red Bull for me – my trusted beverages partner on rides these days! Pegs were made without wasting any further time, loud cheers were made wishing more glorious years for BoP and loud chants of “Jai BoP” reverberated in the not-too-chilly air of Mandawa! Many gun shots were fired as part of celebrations by us and exploration by the Hotel Staff – they also revelled in the Gun Culture ;)

And then it rained! How could it not! The BoP Anniversary Ride was blessed by the Rain Gods & our BBB Session felt complete too! We scurried for cover & went inside the Rooftop Restaurant before getting wet in the raindrops, finished the remaining drinks session and got ready for the dinner!

We had pre-ordered the Rajasthani speciality “Laal Maas” for the special Dinner plus Pakodas, Egg Bhurji and Namkeen was served as the “Snakes” items…the service was as expected prompt and we thoroughly enjoyed the session…even though the Laal Maas wasn’t anything special we didn’t mind that much – gobbled up whatever was served with love! The session ended and we soon hit the bed with another glorious day planned ahead of us! Well-deserved sleep I say!

Day 2 – Saturday 10-November 2012 (In & around Mandawa)

We all woke up to a clear, sunny & glorious morning. The agenda was set for the day as advised by Mr. Pareek but before all that we had to visit the “Highway on my Plate”-recommended “Jodhpur Sweets Home” to sample the “Pyaaz ki Kachoris”…though when we reached the shop they were not ready but 2 boys were promptly sent to get the first fresh lot of the day – he dared not to disappoint a bunch of hungry motorcyclists who had come all the way from Delhi! The Kachoris were decent & nothing special but they served their immediate purpose - they satiated our hungry tummies!

After the breakfast session we headed towards the “Poddar Haveli” in the Navalgarh Town which was some 20-odd kms away. The moment we reached the Mandawa outskirts the clutch cable of Dips’ Bullet broke; luckily I was riding just behind him but the others were much infront of us…so it gave me a golden opportunity to ZIP! Blessing in disguise as they say…The Mighty One roar like a Tiger again & off I went to get the fellow Mausers! I must say even though I ride my bike so infrequently now it is still in prime shape & form – all thanks to Zaheer Bhai’s maintenance skills! Never leaves me high & dry even after all these years of being my road partner….

Shockingly Dips wasn’t carrying a spare Clutch Cable and Sunny gave his spare one as the replacement! He started the long & arduous replacement process while some of us danced the “Gangnam Style”; it was an impromptu performance & well captured by Ajit! Both the Sunnys also went for a little Sand Off-Roading adventure of their own, ensured that a lot of dust flew all over the place and gave many shots to the ever-so-eager Ajit to click! After this unplanned & not-too-long break we headed towards the Poddar Haveli; after all the parking hooplah we entered the very well-maintained Haveli ably guided by Rahul – our guide who took us around giving extensive details about the various courtyards & the mini-Museum rooms – the best ones were the models of all the major Forts of Rajasthan & it was heartening to see that I have covered a lot of them; definitely gave me a lot of pleasure & motivated me to visit the not-visited ones in the near future! The wall frescoes were also exquisitely painted & one of them caught out attention – Rahul explained it as GOD - Generator, Operator, & Destroyer, never knew this full form! We also got clicked ourselves in the Traditional Rajasthani Pagdi & I also gave the customary BoP Tee pose!

After the long walks through the Haveli & the Kachodi-filled breakfast earlier in the day the time got ripe for a Dump Session & I duly honoured my commitment! How could I miss an opportunity to dump in the Haveli Premises – another first for me! The next agenda was plain & simple – LUNCH! Rahul suggested the “Ganapati Food Court” for the hungry Mausers & we trusted his judgement…after roaring our Bulls through the narrow by lanes of Navalgarh we reached the restaurant & faced a lot of trouble in parking our bikes in on the sandy parking lot! Rahul & his friend also joined us for lunch which could be best defined as Oily, Spicy and majorly tasteless!

Post the lunch session headed towards the Dundlod Fort after a minor mis-navigation when some us missed the cut & went ahead! This is another fort converted to a Hotel and this is a special ones as it organizes exclusive & very expensive Horse Safaris spanning 10-15 days to as far as Pushkar! Entry inside the main fort wasn’t allowed to non-residents so we just spent time at the reception & deliberated about buying Beer or not –decided not to owing to the high price! Some of the Mausers got into the clicking mood & mode again!

The customary Motorcycle Formation pics were clicked just infront of the Main Gate of the fort and they came out really well!

Beer was on the mind of all us after we had done the sightseeing & we did the needful! As Vihans was riding as my pillion he took the responsibility of carrying the Beer Carton to the Mandawa Baoli Point which was spotted & duly chosen as the BBB Point when we were going towards Navalgarh! But then Destiny had some other plans………me & Vihans got lost in our tender moments, kept riding & riding while the others abused us waiting for the beer! I blame the road & weather for this misadventure though! And then it started to drizzle! An unbeatable combo to get lost! We realized our mistake after riding for some 40-odd kms & headed back expecting a lot of abuses waiting for us….finally reached the Baoli & were greeted to oohs & aahs and a lot of happy faces!

The BBB Session as always was laughter & Bakchodi filled which was followed by another photo shoot of the Sunnys! The sunset was just round the corner, we didn’t waste much time & headed towards the last attraction of the trip – The Mandawa Fort...

The pristine sunset view from the fort rooftop was going to be the highlight  Our guide once again was quite knowledgeable & courteous and gave us all necessary information about the History of the Fort and the current Royal Family relationships! The fort was equally divided between the 2 brothers while one had converted his portion to a Heritage Hotel the other was lying in shambles! The difference was quite stark…the other interesting thing we got to know was when somebody from the Royal Family was in the Fort the Royal Flag was always hoisted!  While some of us were getting these history lessons the Photographers amongst us were fine-tuning their camera setting to get the perfect sunset shots! And they did come up with some stunning ones – especially Doegar! I also used my humble Lumix Camera to capture the mood of the evening! Once the sun finally bid us goodbye we were taken to the most exclusive room of this property – The Honeymoon Suite which was exquisitely designed & crafted! The best part was the open Bathroom Lounge – imagination of the Mausers knew no bounds & all of us dreamt of a stay here just for the Bathroom! We also visited the Pool & Wedding Lawn area – once again very well designed!

The History Lessons got over, the guide bid farewell and we headed towards the lounge area to redeem the entry coupons…after extensive discussions about what to order the Beer, Snakes and my glass of juice were served! As with majority of the Rajasthan Hotels this property was also full of rich & old Western Tourists who had come to enjoy the luxury of this Heritage after paying hefty room tariffs! We were definitely the odd-ones out in the guest list! But that has become a habit for us by now & we don’t mind the side & surprised glances of fellow guests ;) Finished this Session little early as we had to leave early the next day plus the next BBB Rooftop Session was also waiting for us!

Dips brought out the bottle of “Wild Turkey Bourbon” – both of us had been looking for this across various continents but were unable to find it; Dips finally achieved the Holy Grail in a small liquor store in the UK and duly bought it for this special night! As I don’t take alcohol now all I could do was to get posed with the bottle which was definitely a memorable shot for me as the hunt had finally ended!

I finished my dinner early and headed towards the room as I had to start really early the next day & that too solo! I had some office work and could not afford t reach later than 11:30 AM IST! Chadha Paaji – my room partner also accompanied me for good measure to the bedroom! I finished the packing & slept like a child……..

Day 3 – Sunday 11-November 2012 (Mandawa - Chirawa - Singhana - Narnaul - Rewari – Gurgaon)

This day was going to be another special day for me and in a totally different manner! My longest Solo Ride! The longest Solo ride before this has been the Gurgaon – Panipat stretch which I did during my Amritsar Ride with Gyan in September 2011 which was almost 100 odd kms one way! And this was going to be 230 kms long…I have never done a solo ride in my life nor do I intend to! Any ride without the BoP Camaraderie & Bakchodi sounds completely baseless & incomplete to me!

I woke up at 6 AM and by 6:45 was ready to leave; Chadha Paaji came down to bid me goodbye & wish me luck plus he was deliberating whether to join me or not but finally decided not too and ride with the other Mausers back home! Inside me I was also happy by his decision as it is impossible to ride along with him – he rides at a constant 60 kmph and you know my riding style & speed very well!
The Sun was gingerly coming out of its sleep and gave me perfect sunrise shots which I gleefully clicked! After riding for 100 kms I stopped at a roadside shop for my light break fast – Chai & Parle G, believe me nothing tastes better than this combo! Rode for another 60-odd kms and then stopped for a stretch & piss break…clicked the pristine “Bike on the Highway” shots and decided to ride straight till my home non-stop which I did!

The Odo read 232 kms since I had started from Mandawa and I successfully completed my first Solo stretch and till date the longest! It took me just 4.5 hours to complete this stretch – luckily faced no mis-navigations, breakdowns or Traffic Jams and this definitely helped my cause!

My family was shocked to see me home at 11:30 AM as they are used to seeing me coming back at late in the night during our return rides! I took a well-deserved bath and then had a heavy lunch!

The 5th BoP Anniversary ended for me but for the rest of the Mausers it was still underway! They reached Gurgaon at 6:30 PM after their mis-navigation & Manali Travails…

Another anniversary was well-celebrated and as always in grand style – in the Majestic Rajasthan in a non-descript sleepy town with gunshots sounding all across…Hope I can make it to the 6th one as well and follow the traditions all over again…

The Ride Details:
Total kms on the road – 570 kms
Route Taken - Gurgaon - Dharuhera - Rewari - Narnaul - Ranwa - Singhana - Chirawa - Jhunjhunu – Mandawa
Hotel where we stayed - Hotel Shekhawati -


Cheers to life…

Che would be back on the road again…

Till then ride safe and have safe sex…

Hasta la Victoria Siempre…

Jai BoP!