Malaviya, who is sponsored by surfwear brand Roxy and runs the Shaka Surf Club on the west coast of Karnataka with her partner Tushar Pathiyan, first started surfing in 2007 after a chance meeting with a German exchange student at the university she was attending, who had a board.
afford to stay at the ashram and the lessons were too much for us, says Malaviya. But we made a deal with them to bring groups of students from the university in exchange for a group discount. That s where we came up with the idea of the Shaka Surf Club.
According to Malaviya, too many Indians think of the ocean as a dumping ground . I want people to have a healthier relationship with the water, she says. Once you start spending time in the water you develop a respect for it you want to keep your beach clean.
On the west coast of Karnakata, this is the spot where Malayvia and Pathiyan set up the Shaka Surf Club. The beach is a great place to learn to surf, and, if you re lucky, spot dolphins. We rent out boards and have been doing a surf camp since Christmas, says Malayvia. We ve got a campsite and one side looks over a river and the other the sea. It s mainly a spot for beginners, and the waves are normally 3ft 4ft but in the pre monsoon season the waves can reach 10ft 15ft. Over the monsoon season we close.
I m not expecting it to become a Bali: we don t have such epic waves, says Malaviya. But I m just happy with things starting out slow and growing organically. My hope is just that there will always be a nice vibe.
Of course, finding ways to get more women into surfing is always something on her mind. I just couldn t believe that in a country of over a billion people I could be the first woman surfer, she says.
Thornburg Homcy adds: I think when other women saw Ishita in the ocean that was really eye opening for them. She was breaking a lot of cultural boundaries.
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Indians are terrified of the sea, says Malaviya, pointing to the thousands of drownings that occur in the country every year. But now all the kids in the village surf with us. Before, none of them were even swimming. They re conscious of the environment and know how to rescue people from the water. That s the kind of change I want to see.
Indians as well as tourists.
Now, Malaviya and Pathiyan give lessons to travellers and most importantly to them the local villagers in Manipal. Over the new year they opened a surf camp Camp Namaloha that they hope will support their work to build a sustainable surfing community that s shared and enjoyed by Nike Uptempo Retro
For the next two years Pathiyan and Malaviya shared one surf board between them, learning to surf by watching videos and picking up tips from the Swamis. We d take turns; when Tushar was in the water I d just sit on the beach and clap, says Malaviya.
Malaviya, who grew up in Mumbai, was inducted into the surf lifestyle after visiting the Surf Ashram in Karnataka, founded by American surfer Jack Hebner and run by a group of surfing devotees who have since become known as the Surfing Swamis .
I think surfing can be a very positive thing for India, she says. For the girls who start surfing it s opening their eyes to a whole new world. There are so many barriers for them especially once they reach puberty and their interaction with boys can become very limited but when they re in the water it can break down some of those barriers.
Catching waves from coast to coast
When Ishita Malaviya first picked up a surfboard, she could count all of India s native surfers on her fingers. Now, as interest in the subcontinent s untouched beaches begins to swell, India s first, and only, professional female surfer is at the heart of a flourishing scene she hopes can bring real social change to the country.
Set to premiere at festivals this spring, the film, Beyond the Surface, looks at the ways surfing can be used to empower women in India and support positive change in the country. It was very different to what we were used to, says Thornburg Homcy. Women are often not allowed in the ocean for a variety of reasons: such as their dowry can be affected if they are injured or that families don t want their girls to have dark skin. The cities Nike Air Vapormax Persian Violet are a bit different, but this is what we found in the villages, she says.
But Tushar and I made a trip along the coast to meet other surfers at all the different spots and we asked if any other girls were surfing and they just said no. It s very humbling. Now there are other girls surfing, I was just lucky enough to live near the beach so could go a lot; most of the girls don t get the opportunity to come so often.
Pathiyan is keen to set up a Shaka Surf Club in India s other surfing states, such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and they are also in the process of putting together the first Indian surf team. Last December, with the help of Quicksilver India, the pair released a short documentary: A Rising Tide. It tells the story of surfing in India and features many of the key characters who have contributed to its development.
By the time the couple had graduated from university in 2010 they were completely smitten. Our parents were like what? What is surfing? says Malaviya. They said, you can surf, fine, but don t expect us to pay for it.
While the Shaka Surf Club already runs surf lessons and hires boards, the camp now offers a place for visitors to stay in the otherwise remote location, with tents Adidas Prophere Price
The growing community of surfers in India (Malaviya estimates it is only 200 300 strong, excluding travellers) has steadily been catching the attention of pros from around the world. In 2013, Malaviya was joined by a group of female surfers, including Crystal Thornburg Homcy from Hawaii, who travelled there to make a feature length documentary about the scene.
and a beach shelter where travellers can enjoy barbecues and bonfires in the evenings.
Both Thornburg Homcy and Malaviya expect the coming years to see even more growth in the sport in India, as more businesses see the potential in surfing as an attraction for travellers, and more locals head out to the waves.
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