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Written by Nilesh Telkar
Nilesh Telkar, affable and soft-spoken is one of the most well-respected bikers in the community. This weekend, he with his group, the Flying Squad, rode to meet the veterans at the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre at Kirkee, where they unfurled the flag on the Independence Day.
It was the first time he had organised something of this sort, and here is what it was like.
Meeting during the wee hours on 15th, Nilesh and his seemingly endless procession of bikers started out from the Kalamboli Toll Naka from Mumbai. In spite of most of the bikers having had very little sleep, they were fresh and sprightly.
The proud riders rode in a single-lane formation, all the way to Lonavala, where they met up with the rest of the group. The fog, the soft thrum of their bikes, and the merry smiles of the fully-clad riders was simply majestic.
Their next stop was at Dehu Road, where they were escorted by local riders into the PRC, at Krikee.
The PRC, was a sight to behold. Though it was operated and run by soldiers diagnosed with paraplegia, the warmth, enthusiasm and energy with which they welcomed the bikers was special. They lined up in a neat row and saluted the bikers as they rolled into the beautiful parking lot.
A little while later, the National Anthem was played, and there was a round of photographs. Famous bikers from all over the country were present, and the proud soldiers were more than happy to click selfies with them and share it with their families.
Next up was a basketball match, which was one of the best ever organised. The competition was fierce, the passes were lightning-fast and the co-ordination was similar to a battle formation. It was evident that these men were experts at whatever they did, on and off the battlefield. The match went right down to the wire, with the winning team eking ahead by 2 points to clinch a well-deserved win.
After the match, there was a tug-of-war competition between the attendants followed by a thundering “dhol tasha” performance by the wonderkids of Rudragarjana, a local musical troupe.
The bikers then lined up for a revv-salute. A revv salute is an orchestrated revving of engines, and is a sign of great respect among bikers. Once the bikes lined up, they roared to life, and the combined roar sounded like a storm. Louder and louder, until it was deafening. Then, on their bikes, they slowly did a guard of honour past the saluting veterans. It was a moment of extreme pride, as these men had laid down their lives and more for the country. Being recognised by them was an honour par none.
Nilesh and team had planned a surprise for the veterans. As a gesture of thanks, they had each contributed and bought sweets and mementoes for the proud men.
Nilesh and his gang were changed people when they came back. It was the first and only experience of its kind.