Standing on a surfboard
Tushar Pathiyan and Ishita Malaviya were pursuing different vocations at Manipal University. Tushar was studying architecture and Ishita was doing a course in Journalism. Both were introduced to surfing by the Surfing Swami Foundation. They were hooked to the sport the first time they rode a wave. After graduation, they didn’t think twice about what to do next. They started the Shaka Surf Club in Kodi Bengre, Mangalore, and have been imparting surf lessons since its inception.
If I had read this story before my first-hand experience with surfing, I wouldn’t have understood why this couple made such a decision in their life.
I was on a vacation with my school friends in Pondicherry and my primary agenda was to experience surfing.
Kallialay surf club, situated in Paradise beach, was where we took the class. The instructor was an 18 year old from America and he drilled us on the series of steps for catching a wave, on the shore!
All of us were restless with the theory session as we all wanted to charge into the water and ride waves like Laird Hamilton- one of the biggest big wave surfers in the world.
We picked up our surfboards, leashed the leg rope around our ankles, and paddled to the middle of the sea.
The drill was simple:
- Position the surfboard parallel to the incoming wave
- Lie down on the board
- Stand up when you feel confident
I felt confident all the time, but since it was the physics-defying kind, I always kept falling.
I may not have managed to ride a wave initially, but there were plenty of opportunities to get my nasal pathway irrigated with saline solution- a fancy way of saying I took in a lot of water through my nose and mouth.
A couple of minutes before the session was about to end, I experienced the magical moment that made Tushar and Ishita start the surf club- riding a wave.
Surfboards don’t come with training wheels.
That means you get bashed around by the waves numerous times before you get to ride one. You may have an instructor, but you are usually alone in the middle of the sea and the wave is ridden solo. This makes the whole experience personal, and when you finally manage to stand up on the surfboard, there is a profound sense of accomplishment.
It wasn’t the victory associated with taking off that invigorated me. Instead, the level of alignment I had with another external object that made me feel triumphant; it was the perfect union.
My board toppled most of the times and some of the falls hurt my stomach. I was exhausted and remember having bleary eyes by the end of the session. But the one time I cracked the physics of surfing was all that was needed to crack my doubts.
The famous surfer, Nat Young, once said:
If in doubt, paddle out.
Thank you for reading!