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Old 7th June 2011, 15:30   #1
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Default ‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!

I’ve been a rare blogger on 'team bhp' except for one odd query that I had posted a few months back. Though I am still a regular visitor of the forum, could not post any idea or my experience for a long time for 2 reasons – 1) I’m not technically gifted as most of the members in this forum are, therefore unable to contribute much 2) very important – for quite some time I was mulling whether I should make public one of my major failures in life. Although ‘technically’ it’s a failure, I still would happily spend my entire life on recollecting this experience of lifetime.

Why I’m posting this today when the actual journey started exactly in June 2005!!!!!

I know this doesn’t make much sense to anybody including me. Not to stretch anybody’s imagination (and compel them from moving away from this post) - whatever is being written in this post was covered to a small extent in a Marathi newspaper Maharashtra Times (Pune edition) on 8th April 2011. Many of my relatives and friends, who were earlier unaware of what we (me + 2 more friends) had done, called and congratulated us. We really don’t know whether we deserve the accolades because in our eyes it’s still an unfinished job. However those calls made me think – why not share this with fellow auto/travel enthusiasts. At least somebody thinking of doing something similar would learn from our experiences.

I am part of a small group of bikers from Pune (with all due respect and for no particular reason - we are not affiliated to any group) and also happen to be passionate about soccer. In fact, we didn’t know each other before we enrolled ourselves at a particular soccer club in Pune 20 years back.

We have our own share of crisscrossing across our beloved motherland – Pune – Indore – Pune in March 2002, Leh/Khardungla in August 2004 (Delhi – Leh – Srinagar – Delhi), Pune – Jaisalmer – Udaipur – Jodhpur – Pune in November 2006, Pune – Kanyakumari – Pune in November 2008, Pune – Pondicherry- Chennai – Pune in Jan 2010 and other several small rides in and around Maharashtra. In fact all these rides were the result of our Leh trip which was brought into reality out of nowhere. It happened over a cup of tea at our usual hangout in Pune (typically called ‘katta’ in Marathi) when we were complaining about getting bored to death with the routine life and in the few minutes we almost finalized doing a bike trip to Leh when honestly we didn’t have the faintest idea of its exact location and what it takes to do this to and fro trip. But some exploration on the net and we had our detailed plan ready ad we were already in the train to Delhi on the 15th day. (In fact 2 of us while applying for this 15 day leave had their resignations ready in the other hand). Probably the experience of this bike tour – sweet to the mind & heart and sour to some parts of the anatomy got us hooked to biking.

This happened after our bike tour to Leh. As crazy as we could think, we decided to combine our passions of Soccer & Biking and travel to Germany for the Soccer World Cup 2006 on our bikes. And that’s why one of the previous lines says that our real journey started in 2005.

Scene I - With countless hours on the internet and rising phone bills we had the entire day wise route mapped from Pune to Berlin. But being novices of the trade and not able to pull the right strings, the project fell flat on its face due to lack of funds. There was hardly any brand related to the World Cup (and not related to the World Cup), which we didn’t talk to (or email to) this also includes a few two wheeler manufacturers - Indian and non Indian. But they had different ideas.

An experience I would like to share – we were audacious enough to write to one Mr. Tim Hoelter, Vice President, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. At that time there was some news that HD was thinking of getting into Indian market. This gentleman was kind enough not only in writing a detailed reply to our email expressing their inability, but also the reason/logic behind it and also extending their best wishes. Our experience with the Indian 2 wheeler brands is better if left unmentioned.

Anyways, with all due respect to these experiences - It did leave us with a bruised heart but for sure with a stronger determination to bring it into reality the next time.

Why were we doing whatever we were doing - As a tribute to a few known and many other unknown explorers & inspired by those who dare - the explorers of the world, land, skies and ideas, those who dare to dream and challenge the unchallenged e.g. – 1) Mr. Karkhanis (Thane, across Africa), 2) Mr. & Mrs. Potnis (Pune, across Europe on a scooter) 3) Darayus Anklesaria (Mumbai, across Europe and then from Mumbai to Beijing) We three viz - Ajinkya Mohol from Pune, Dinesh Naik from Pune, currently in Shiroda, Goa and myself Rajesh Abhyankar, Pune - 3 die hard Soccer fans intended to embark on a motorcycle journey from Mombasa (Kenya) to Cape Town (South Africa) - Traversing through the world’s most beautiful continent and Six countries, Seventeen major towns and diverse cultures covering slightly more than 6000 kms.

So, what did we do differently this time (i.e. for the Soccer World cup in South Africa in 2010)? The SWOT done last time really helped and one of our strong weaknesses was coming from middle class families with not so deep pockets. So, since 2005, we saved to our utmost ability trying to stuff our piggy bank as much as possible.

Scene II – Early 2010 – First we started with the World Cup tickets and had applied for several matches to try our luck (being a lottery system you never know what you’ll get). We were lucky enough to get tickets for 2 back to back quarter finals in Cape Town and Johannesburg respectively.

Secondly, we had the entire day wise itinerary mapped from Cairo (Egypt) to Cape Town (South Africa) and we believe we had made a decent job of it. We intended to traverse through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and end our journey in South Africa. We were constantly in touch with our friends/newly found acquaintances spread all across the African subcontinent for developments which could in any way influence our travel through those countries. One of our acquaintances based in Cairo updated us with some trouble brewing in North Sudan thereby making it difficult to us to pass through that zone. So we had to drop our plans of traveling through Egypt and Sudan and thereby Ethiopia too. That left us with the only option of shipping our bikes to Mombasa, Kenya and from there embark to South Africa. We also were in touch some of the ‘firang’ riders who had traveled across the African subcontinent on their motorcycles. Needless to say their inputs were very much valuable. But 2 things which stand out strongly – they don’t have a fixed itinerary, in the sense they have a start date and a route to follow but they rarely have a fixed end date e.g. two riders who we were in touch with were unable to understand us when we mentioned that we intend to do this in stipulated time as they had provided for 6 months to do almost the same route we did. Secondly – I don’t know whether this has to anything with the colour of the skin or nationality – most of the ‘firang’ riders can get a visa at the borders while for us it’s difficult to leave the country unless and until you have a visa of the other country and the process is really long and tiring. Another major setback for us was the ‘Carnet’ (bike’s Passport) thing – to get a carnet you have to deposit an amount equal to 2.5 times the bikes current valuation with the issuing authority and you get it back only when the bike is shipped back and cleared by the Indian customs with all the regulatory stamps on it.

After hours on the internet, chasing friends and acquaintances for Vitamin M and most important - respective families for full hearted nod to bike in Africa, after hours on the laptop scheduling our 6000+ kms from Kenya to South Africa, a few hours on ISD doing our bookings – whatever could go wrong DID GO WRONG!!!!!!

We had planned to bike from Kenya to South Africa (approx 6100kms) but eventually ended doing around 2500 kms in Kenya and Tanzania. Our bike shipment was more than a fortnight behind schedule and that toppled our entire plans before we could even ‘kick start’ the journey. But that’s LIFE!!!!! So, we had to immediately shift to Plan B (which didn’t exist earlier) – watch the World cp first and then bike in Kenya and Tanzania as per the time available. (Being an employee has its own shortfalls as I couldn’t extend my leave beyond a certain point)

So, we changed our itinerary, we first took a Mumbai – Johannesburg flight. On 29th June landed at Johannesburg at midnight where our newly found acquaintance Mr. Bedekar (Tata Motors, Johannesburg) was waiting for us with bated breath. Johannesburg is known as the crime capital of the world and killing somebody for a pack of cigarettes is no news over there. We were insisting that we would stay at the airport and at the break of dawn start our journey to Cape Town – we had decided to hire a car to our to and fro journey to Cape Town. But having faith in him, we heeded his advice and opted to stay over his place for the night. On the way, the way Mr. Bedekar was constantly referring to his rear view mirror and surroundings we could sense how tense he was to travel at night in the city he was staying for the past almost 8 years. The apartment block he had a home in was electrically fenced with every member having a remote key to enter and exit. The apartment block and his row hose looked like a massive fortress and that made us realize why he insisted on staying at his home and not elsewhere. Next day early morning after a sumptuous breakfast that Mrs. Bedekar had prepared, he dropped us back to the airport. Here started our actual journey in South Africa although in a car while our sweethearts were still locked in their cages, swaying somewhere in the Arabian Sea.

South Africa (30th June to 5th July 2010) – we had hired Nissan Livina, the cheapest car we could afford and started our journey from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein (just short of 400 kms from J’burg). For all the documentation to happen and before we could get in the car it was almost 11am in the morning. With a detailed map to assist (we didn’t opt for the GPS feature as it added to the cost), we started for B’fontein. Since we had a day to spare and a distance of only 398 kms to cover we could really explore and experience South Africa. We reached B’fontein around 5 pm and the owner of the Hotel, a lady, was expecting 3 guys and their bikes and couldn’t stop laughing when she saw us driving a car. Although she sympathized & extended her apologies when she heard our story, we could really understand how expectations are high at the mention of you traveling such distances on a motorcycle. Anyways after a lazy morning on 1st July we started for Port Elisabeth (677kms) and managed to reach PE in the evening. Thanks to our earlier hotel bookings, otherwise we were sure to have tough time finding a place to stay. We could see scores of people staying on the streets, shivering through out the night but looking forward to the next day to cheer their respective teams playing their hearts out. A thought which strongly came to our minds at that time – we Indians claim to be cricket fanatics, how many cricket fans would go to some obscure country, travel on shoe string budgets and (if required) stay on the streets and cheer their teams the next day. To experience what ‘Passion’ is all about one has to experience the Soccer World Cup.

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to be continued...

Last edited by padikpanther : 15th June 2011 at 15:31.
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Old 16th June 2011, 13:21   #2
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Default Re: ‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!

Thread moved to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 16th June 2011, 13:45   #3
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Default Re: ‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!

Ek Number!!!

I just can't imagine myself doing this, with so many strings pulling me back all the time. But, Kudos to you, Rajesh and your friends. I can feel the immense dedication and extreme enthusiasm in you guys.

The experience on the streets of Johannesburg must have been a tensed one. Never thought this city has so much crime. I used to think this is the ONLY place in the whole African continent which is safe for tourists and in general. BTW, What is Tata Motors doing in Johannesburg? Did you get a chance to talk to Mr. Bedekar regarding the same? Would be interesting to know.

Fantastic photos. What road is this? Some major freeway/highway connecting 2 countries or something? The huge truck has "Not allowed to drive in yellow line", but it is actually in yellow line. Also, I can see a nice black VW Polo 1.6 look-a-like or is it really Polo 1.6?

Waiting for the continuation of the travelogue. Keep it coming.

P.S. I agree with you 200% regarding the passion part. Cricket is not watched and played too (with few exceptions) with any passion. I wonder when India will come out of this Cricket mania. There are so better things to do in life rather than watching cricket match. Sorry, going OT. Pause.

Last edited by ajay_satpute : 16th June 2011 at 13:52.
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Old 16th June 2011, 14:13   #4
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Default Re: ‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!

Whoa! That's an unbelievable plan.
Hats off to your passion and determination!

Looking forward to more fantastic snaps and the continuation of the amazing story!
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Old 16th June 2011, 14:36   #5
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Default Re: ‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!

When I read the thread title, I thought this is some Safari or a Scorpio travelogue.
And when I read through it, I was glued to it, for it has entirely different and surprising content to it.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of your life with us, is the first thing I would like to say to you!!
It was heartening to read that you guys were saving for this trip of a lifetime from a long time and to continue with your resolve, sticking to it for such a long time and slowly working to achieve is something what blew my mind.
Only few can achieve what you guys did. Never mind that you could do only 2500kms.
It is a amazing story with equally good photos to complement it.
Please share the complete story asap. Looking forward to it.
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Old 16th June 2011, 15:10   #6
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Default Re: ‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!

Hats off to you three - that is some real passion. When i read the title, I thought this will be some travelogue to a farmhouse or something like that, but I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the thread.

Glued to this thread for the updates and the biking experience.
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Old 16th June 2011, 15:51   #7
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Default Re: ‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by padikpanther View Post
I’ve been a rare blogger on 'team bhp' except for one odd query that I had posted a few months back. Though I am still a regular visitor of the forum, could not post any idea or my experience for a long time for 2 reasons – 1) I’m not technically gifted as most of the members in this forum are, therefore unable to contribute much 2) very important – for quite some time I was mulling whether I should make public one of my major failures in life. Although ‘technically’ it’s a failure, I still would happily spend my entire life on recollecting this experience of lifetime.
I am glad that you decided to share your wonderful experience! Crisp writing with nice pics. I am privilaged to be in a group of such die hard bikers.

It's because of the people like you we get to hear, see and enjoy these kinds of expeditions, hats off to you guys! Waiting for updates. . .

BTW, rated 5 * already!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordmanchau View Post
When I read the thread title, I thought this is some Safari or a Scorpio travelogue.
And when I read through it, I was glued to it, for it has entirely different and surprising content to it.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of your life with us, is the first thing I would like to say to you!!
It was heartening to read that you guys were saving for this trip of a lifetime from a long time and to continue with your resolve, sticking to it for such a long time and slowly working to achieve is something what blew my mind.
Only few can achieve what you guys did. Never mind that you could do only 2500kms.
It is a amazing story with equally good photos to complement it.
Please share the complete story asap. Looking forward to it.
+1 to that! Exactly my thoughts.

It's not the distance that is of importance as you rightly pointed out. It is the courage and passion which took those guys to this journey. It is heartening to know that these guys are like many of us middle-class people who mostly depend on our jobs and can only dream about such daring attempts and they risked their jobs!

I don't know how many more people get inspired by reading this wonderful travelogue, I am surely one such person.
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Old 16th June 2011, 16:02   #8
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Default Re: ‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!

I am glued to this one. This surely going to make a superstar travelog. The effort, dedication and as you rightly said "passion" is what it takes to achieve what you did; KMs dont matter in that case - what matters is satisfaction.

Keep that coming Rajesh.
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Old 16th June 2011, 16:09   #9
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Default Re: ‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!

Respect!

Having done Harare to CT with full logistical support and adequate finances, I can imagine what you've been through. Bravo!
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Old 16th June 2011, 17:34   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Thread moved to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks a lot GTO. I know I did try somebody's patience before being able to post it propoerly

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajay_satpute View Post
Ek Number!!!

I just can't imagine myself doing this, with so many strings pulling me back all the time. But, Kudos to you, Rajesh and your friends. I can feel the immense dedication and extreme enthusiasm in you guys.

The experience on the streets of Johannesburg must have been a tensed one. Never thought this city has so much crime. I used to think this is the ONLY place in the whole African continent which is safe for tourists and in general. BTW, What is Tata Motors doing in Johannesburg? Did you get a chance to talk to Mr. Bedekar regarding the same? Would be interesting to know.

Fantastic photos. What road is this? Some major freeway/highway connecting 2 countries or something? The huge truck has "Not allowed to drive in yellow line", but it is actually in yellow line. Also, I can see a nice black VW Polo 1.6 look-a-like or is it really Polo 1.6?

Waiting for the continuation of the travelogue. Keep it coming.

P.S. I agree with you 200% regarding the passion part. Cricket is not watched and played too (with few exceptions) with any passion. I wonder when India will come out of this Cricket mania. There are so better things to do in life rather than watching cricket match. Sorry, going OT. Pause.
Thanks a ton Ajay for the kind words. Feeling overwhelmed. The roads that you see are the ones connecting J’burg – Blomfontein - Port Elisabeth. I admire your keen observation (the truck and the VW Polo part). In fact initially looking at the cars we were feeling like kids in the toy store, so many cars and so many brands, but after some time it all got diluted by the scenery around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by figo_united View Post
Whoa! That's an unbelievable plan.
Hats off to your passion and determination!

Looking forward to more fantastic snaps and the continuation of the amazing story!
Thanks a ton Figo United for the kind words.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordmanchau View Post
When I read the thread title, I thought this is some Safari or a Scorpio travelogue.
And when I read through it, I was glued to it, for it has entirely different and surprising content to it.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of your life with us, is the first thing I would like to say to you!!
It was heartening to read that you guys were saving for this trip of a lifetime from a long time and to continue with your resolve, sticking to it for such a long time and slowly working to achieve is something what blew my mind.
Only few can achieve what you guys did. Never mind that you could do only 2500kms.
It is a amazing story with equally good photos to complement it.
Please share the complete story asap. Looking forward to it.
Thanks a ton Ford Manchau for the kind words.We also thank our respective families for their sacrifices and our beloved friends for standing like rocks behind us during the entire experience


Quote:
Originally Posted by theexperthand View Post
Hats off to you three - that is some real passion. When i read the title, I thought this will be some travelogue to a farmhouse or something like that, but I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the thread.

Glued to this thread for the updates and the biking experience.
Thanks a ton experthand for the kind words.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whitesquall View Post
I am glad that you decided to share your wonderful experience! Crisp writing with nice pics. I am privilaged to be in a group of such die hard bikers.

It's because of the people like you we get to hear, see and enjoy these kinds of expeditions, hats off to you guys! Waiting for updates. . .

BTW, rated 5 * already!

+1 to that! Exactly my thoughts.

It's not the distance that is of importance as you rightly pointed out. It is the courage and passion which took those guys to this journey. It is heartening to know that these guys are like many of us middle-class people who mostly depend on our jobs and can only dream about such daring attempts and they risked their jobs!

I don't know how many more people get inspired by reading this wonderful travelogue, I am surely one such person.
Thanks a ton Whitesquall for the kind words. Feeling overwhelmed by the 5 star rating . I have my doubts whether somebody would get inspired by what we have experienced



Quote:
Originally Posted by advaitlele View Post
I am glued to this one. This surely going to make a superstar travelog. The effort, dedication and as you rightly said "passion" is what it takes to achieve what you did; KMs dont matter in that case - what matters is satisfaction.

Keep that coming Rajesh.
Thanks a ton Advait for the kind words.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steeroid View Post
Respect!

Having done Harare to CT with full logistical support and adequate finances, I can imagine what you've been through. Bravo!
Thanks a ton Steeroid for the kind words. I must say you are damn Lucky. But in hindsight what we’ve realised is support or not support taking the plunge is what matters. The net spreads beneath you once you take the plunge..
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Old 16th June 2011, 17:40   #11
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Default Re: ‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!

Congratulations !! , That is one ride for a life time. waiting for your ride details with lots and lots of pics.
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Old 16th June 2011, 18:18   #12
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Default Re: ‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!

Awesome , awesome awesome ... awesome is the word for this . I too , like many others thought , this must be something to do with SUVs but this is amazing and am gonna grab my shrewsbury biscuits that I have been saving for long to read the next entry . Awesome man !
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Old 17th June 2011, 10:43   #13
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Default Re: ‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!

@padikpanther
Congratulations!
Excellent begining. Hats off to your passion and determination. I am eagerly waiting for the further details.

The picture with bicycles hanging on car's boot was awesome. Highway pictures are fantastic.
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Old 17th June 2011, 16:24   #14
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Default Re: ‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BulZire View Post
Congratulations !! , That is one ride for a life time. waiting for your ride details with lots and lots of pics.
Thanks BulZire for all the compliments and encouragement


Quote:
Originally Posted by gautamkhadse View Post
Awesome , awesome awesome ... awesome is the word for this . I too , like many others thought , this must be something to do with SUVs but this is amazing and am gonna grab my shrewsbury biscuits that I have been saving for long to read the next entry . Awesome man !
Thanks Gautam for all the compliments and encouragement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Night_Hawk View Post
@padikpanther
Congratulations!
Excellent begining. Hats off to your passion and determination. I am eagerly waiting for the further details.

The picture with bicycles hanging on car's boot was awesome. Highway pictures are fantastic.
Thanks Night Hawk for all the compliments and encouragement
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Old 17th June 2011, 16:58   #15
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Continuing from the previous post:

The next day morning – 2nd July, Port Elisabeth woke up to a different atmosphere. The city was literally divided into two halves – one was the Brazilian Green & Yellow and the other half was totally Oranje!!! The atmosphere was electrifying with the samba beats being heard everywhere and the fans storming the streets of PE.


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(L to R) Myself and Ajinkya Mohol
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(L to R) Ajinkya Mohol, Myself, Dinesh Naik
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Needless to say the match was one to remember where the Samba kings were ousted by the Orange army.

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People were interested in our outfits as we were wearing kurtas and also carrying the tricolor. During the J’burg match we saw another tricolor fluttering, but it was at the other end of the stadium, so it was difficult to reach and connect with fellow countrymen on the other side of the stadium.

AND HERE THEY COME....Holland at the nearer goalpost and Brasil at the other...
‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!-dsc01189.jpg
Maarten Stekelenburg of Holland warming up...
‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!-dsc01190.jpg
No.2 - Gregory Van Der Wiel and Kung Fu champ No. 8 - Nigel De Jong warming up...
‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!-dsc01192.jpg
The only dull moment during the match when we woke up from the trance to snap this one...
‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!-dsc01193.jpg
Dinesh with the beloved tricolour
‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!-dsc01195.jpg
(L to R) myself, Dinesh and Ajinkya with the beloved tricolour
‘Who let the Bulls out’ and look where they been!!!!!-dsc01203.jpg
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