My first surfing experience – Hitting the Indian waves

by Ankit

Learning surfing is not an easy task, especially in India. The locations are few and the waves ephemeral. The lack of coaches and boards plague the Indian surfing community, which is surprising as India has a long coastline both on the west and the east. Some of the spots available where surf schools are popping up in Goa, Karnataka and Kerala on the west coast and Tamil Nadu, Andhra on the east. The situation is similar for diving in India. Having done an intense amount of research on the internet, through various phone calls and friend recommendations, we narrowed down a small village in the western coast of India to learn surfing with a small school called Shaka.

Kodi Bengre road beside the beach (1)
Kodi Bengre road beside the beach – photo by Ankit

We landed in the small town of Udupi, and hired an auto-rickshaw (Here’s a fun infographic describing what an auto-rickshaw is) to the fishing village of Kodi Bengre, which lies about 20 km away from the city. Reaching the Surf School was easy, thanks to the precise directions given by Tushar and the ever smiling locals (who incidentally never failed to wish us a happy new year)

The school consisted of a surf shop (with about 12 boards), a marvellous campsite, swaying Palm trees, the instructors Tushar, Ishita and Shibam and two really cool dogs, Marley and Stokey. Our days began with an early breakfast, followed by surfing lessons on the beach. We learnt about the different kinds of waves, how to spot them, how to paddle & jump, what to do in cases of emergency and other knowledge privy to the surfing community. Then we would grab our boards and take off into the blue waters, pushing our surfboards into the deep, till we could jump on and paddle further out.

surf boards in Kodi Bengre
surf boards in Kodi Bengre – photo by Ankit

Lying on our boards, we would paddle and paddle till our arms hurt, and then we would paddle some more. First we would paddle out to sea, wait for the perfect wave and then turn around and paddle back with full force trying to catch that wave. It was exhilarating and calming at the same time! The first day, we were lying down on the boards, trying to catch the waves. And the few we caught, we body boarded – which is surfing while lying down on the board. (It was a very rudimentary form of it, actual body boarding is really tough, graceful and physically demanding)

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Having mastered the technique to catch the waves, we then tried our hand at getting on our feet in one smooth, swift and graceful movement. Even after an entire day of practice, it wasn’t smooth, neither swift and far from graceful. In fact, wiping out is such a regular part of surfing, that after a while, it even stops registering. (And I was pretty proud of my ungraceful wipe-outs, in fact we were having a sort of competition of who wipes out in the most fantastic manner!) The instructors honed our technique and helped push our boards with the wave initially so we could match the momentum of the wave to actually ride it (Our paddling wasn’t strong enough to begin with). And oh the thrill of catching your first wave! You never forget it. The feel of the raw energy of the ocean coupled with the free wind in your face is just unmatchable!

Kodi Bengre beach and the ocean
Kodi Bengre beach and the ocean – photo by Ankit

At the end of 4 days, we managed to stand on our boards a fair few times, and experienced surfing. To become any good at it takes about a year of practice. We usually had two sessions a day, morning and afternoon, with a break at the surf camp thrown in the middle. During the break, we either slept (under the gorgeous coconut trees) in the hammocks, or played Frisbee or even walked the tightrope! Then our second session would start post lunch and we would be out in the water, the warm sun on our faces contrasting with the deliciously cool water underneath.

We didn’t want the days to end, and will always remember the extremely good times we had. Sometimes, when we were out in the sea, with nothing but the surfboards, the sun and the cool sea for company, the ever popular song would burst into my head:

Be, what you wanna be,

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taking things the way, they come,

nothing is as nice as finding paradise and

Sitting in the summer sun

Living live the easy way,

catch a wave and let it run,

nothing is as cool as drifting in the sun light,

Sitting in the summer sun

Standing with my board facing the waves
Standing with my board facing the waves – photo by Ankit

Bio – Hi, I am Ankit. I love adventures and the outdoors and am the go-to guy if you need a sparring partner in adventures or sports 🙂 I write about my travels on AlienAdv with a mission to inspire thousands to get off the couch and get going on lifetime experiences. I share my own travel stories (in the South East Asia and internationally) and my best tips and advice on issues like road-trips, scuba-diving nuggets, surfing, sailing and paragliding. You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter

 

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