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Surfing through troubled waters- (A memoir of the India Surf Festival)

People said that the world will end in 2012; Ironically that was the year some people in India decided to celebrate surfing and “India Surf Festival” was born. However, the popularity of the festival reached the masses only after the event. It became the talk of town owing to the fact that the sport of surfing is foreign and exotic, and also it was one of its kind, offering a breath of fresh air from the typical all-night-party culture that everyone usually associates with the beaches. My curiosity got the better of me and I decided to participate in it the coming year, even though I was a total neophyte as far as surfing was concerned. So when in February 2013 I saw the event listing, I checked on the dates and braced myself to go for this unusual experience. Although things got off to a slow start, the Surf Expression event and Stand Up Paddle (SUP) races were a complete hit. This event also marked the premiere of Yoga On SUP Boards, a very novel and fantastic concept. As the name suggests, surfers showcase their ability, the power of will and exercising control to perform yoga on SUP surf boards. This event was spearheaded by SHIHO from Japan. Surfers came from all over to be a part of this and showcase their skills. As a member of the Shoes On Loose family, I have always been on the lookout of new sports and adventures. I dare say, I was fascinated with the surfers and their agility and moves. Surfing had finally found its way to the hearts of the adventurers of this country.

Once there, I felt like Alice in wonderland – everything was so new, the feeling of being in an  unfamiliar territory. SOL had inculcated the spirit of the unknown and unexplored in me and yet I was thinking to myself that I must not have thought this through- My fear for the water sport made me nervous and I sighed that I would have to appreciate the event from the shore, see other people on the surfboard, and perceive the event through their eyes, trying to feel what they experience. But the race courses varied between the elite, amateur and relay categories depending on their skills, in a way that everyone and anyone can participate. So thanks to the surfing lessons, given by the Surfing Yogis, for greenhorns like me, even I  could experience what I thought I could only imagine in its truest spirits.

It was truly incredible to see others  like me, all nervous yet enthusiastic, people who had just learned how to paddle, to show up for the race. As the race kicked-off, that’s when the romping began and you could make out the  smiles on everybody’s faces: those were priceless. We were paddling as hard as we could, and some were busy trying to keep balance; it was astounding to espy.

Surfing through troubled waters- (A memoir of the India Surf Festival)-1 The entire experience was a dream in itself- Surf and SUP dominated the mornings of the festival, but each night, after all of the wind and the water, there was live music and art on display for guests and participants. It included some very talented artists who we were fortunate enough to hear play. Bands including Bahh band, The HARGO and Ez Riser, were some of the few who caught my fancy. What I thought was totally awe-inspiring were the many expressions of art forms that I got to experience and witness including instillations, visual, performance and film.

Surfing through troubled waters- (A memoir of the India Surf Festival)-2 We had Shoes On Loose arrange a bonfire for us by the beach on the last evening of the event, and I had an incredible time chatting up with amateurs and experts alike. As we talked late into the night, about Surfing coming off-age in India, how travel is being pursued by enthusiasts like me, and how very important good food is to keep the momentum alive, I felt a tad bit nostalgic about all this coming to an end with the next sunrise. The feeling of Incredible India was palpable and overall, I can vouch that this was one of the most life-changing experiences I had. After all, conquering a fear and then enjoying that very fear is not something one does everyday.
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