As soon as I complete my studies, in New Delhi (India), I start working in three different companies but don’t feel satisfied. I always feel like I should do something else, something independent, by using my own initiative – related to my hobbies, like sketching & painting, traveling & camping and SKATEBOARDING. Everyone knows what traveling & sketching is and that is kind of the same among India and western countries, but when we come to skateboarding it is very new, here in India, compared to the west.
I can say, that as a skateboarder, I am among the first generation of the skateboarding community here in India.
Even now, in this fast communication age, people don’t know much about skateboarding around here; either they have seen it in some movies, serials or video games but never an actual living person is doing it. Whenever people see us skating they get amazed and forget whatever they are doing or wherever they are going, they stand there and just watch.
Many of the people who watch us for a while get back to whatever they were doing, but some have doubts and questions – since most of them have never seen a real skateboard in their life; like:
- How are you doing this?
- How much time does it take to learn?
- Why are you doing this?
- Are there any competitions here in India?
- Is this your work and how much do you earn from this?
- From where did you get the skateboard?
- How much does it cost?
and last but not least the best of all the questions:
When you jump how does the skateboard go into the air with you … Does it have a magnet in it?
All this bombardment of questions can give you the idea that skateboarding is relatively new in India. I think that I don’t have to tell you about the reaction of the kids: They go “crazy”, most of them remain speechless. We are usually happy to answer most of their questions, but when it happens every day, from time to time – even for us – it simply gets too much and therefore, we try to skate in the middle of the night. Although, on some specific days, when we are full with energy and enthusiasm, we are able to clear all doubts and questions from all different kind of people, some who want to do it and others who simply hate it at first sight.
Now I am going to give you a brief idea about me and my skateboarding history: Let’s go back to the year 2005, when I am 14 years old and just pass my junior high school (10th standard). During this period I get a lot of time ahead, so I desperately start to look for some recreational & creative things to do. I draw and paint and I am also very much involved in hobby projects etc., but I need something outdoor as well, to invest my time in physical activities.
Frankly speaking, I don’t synchronize in with the kids of my age, since most of them play cricket. Playing cricket is a big big deal here in India and everyone likes it, most of the parents love that their kids are playing cricket. There are other sports, like basketball, football etc. but they are also not ”my cup of tea”; all these sports don’t satisfy my needs – I need something more indulging, something individual, something different but I don’t know what and where to look for it.
It is a usual day and I go for running in another block, where they have a community gym and an outdoor skating ring. I go inside the gym for a trial and exactly 15 minutes later I get to know that I can’t do much in there. I get the feeling of uselessness and boredom; the feeling that I really can’t do this stuff daily. After feeling disappointed and depressed I went out in the park and see some kids doing some amazing roller skating, so I go to a grown up fellow to ask some question about roller skating. He says that he will teach me in nominal fee but that I have to bring my own skates. I am thinking: “Perfect!” and say that I will arrange something and get back at him.
Now, I exactly know where I should go, since I know that the friend of my elder brother has a pair of skates. On the same afternoon, I ask him to lend me this pair for some days, so that I can learn and get a bit of an idea what to buy exactly and if this thing is meant for me or not. I am super excited for the next day but as soon as I wake up, early morning, the friend of my elder brother shows up on my doorstep and wants his roller skates back, he says that he is resuming skating from today itself and I can’t really argue with him – after all he is the owner – so I return them without even trying; this incident is very frustrating for me.
In the afternoon I find another plan: I call my friend and go with him to a big sports market (sports bazaar), where I can find nice and good quality roller skates or maybe roller blades, which I am really thinking to buy. My friend and me look around and suddenly we both see something really out of this world – something so beautiful and so breathtaking: a SKATEBOARD.
You can almost say that it is like ”love at first sight”.
Nowadays, a skateboard might not be a biggie anymore, but in that time zone it definitely was. For the first time in real life I see a skateboard and the next thing we do is to buy two of those and start trying it right there on the spot, on one of the busiest streets of Delhi. For your information: India is the second most populated country in the world, with a number of 1.252 billion people, so just try and imagine how full the streets are. If I say “busy street”, then I mean that hundreds of people are packed in a small confined street (just so you get an idea, see the picture below) and over there, on these busy streets, I take my first fall in skateboarding.
Later on we keep going deeper into the sports market and I see another amazing thing: an even BIGGER skateboard. I get to know that the previous one we bought is for kids; now we have to go back to the shop and request to return at least one of them in order to be able to buy the bigger and proper version of a skateboard.
We get the “real and proper” skateboard but we don’t know how to use it. In India, in the year 2005, we have internet but not very fast and not in an abundance. My friends and I still manage to read about how to Ollie (an expression used to describe the most basic and necessary jump in skateboarding), do the foot placement and some more basics. This basic normal skateboard becomes a kick start to our future skating life, we start trying each and every thing, everywhere and whenever possible to us: in parking areas, on rooftops, roads, parks, government bus parking places, in front of banks, temples and schools.
Anywhere we can find a nice and smooth surface, our perception towards the place changes; we start looking for smooth surfaces, ramps (which is the cherry on top of the cake) and while walking as well at the ground- through the eyes of a skater. Everything has changed. Apart from tricks – we don’t learn many tricks, most of the time we are just like monkeys – having fun while doing anything which comes through our mind. I learn many other things too (for example life lessons), which I think, could have taken longer period of time without skating.
Skateboarding is a sport in which, first you isolate yourself from your surrounding world or maybe you can say society, then you get into your zone by learning one or two things about skateboarding and about yourself, basically you extend your physical and mental capabilities with your own will, using things around you in one or another form to represent your different perception towards the life and human behavior. By this I mean to say, that 10 different skater will use the same place to skate, in a different and unique way or style, since everyone is showing their inner self and letting emotions out while skating.
If there is any skateboarder or even a sports person reading this article right now then he or she can connect to my feelings and emotions and understand what I am trying to say.
While skating, approximately in one hour, we take so many bails that sometimes numbers raise up to hundreds or more. This act of falling and getting back on board repetitively helps you to achieve a different state of mind and to get a different perspective towards life. I can observe behavioral as well as physical changes among some skater and I want to call it a “balance in life”.
Teachings of Buddha also say that you have to achieve a balance in life in order to be happy and get out of your own misery, a balance between body and mind.
To execute a specific trick, initially, you have to design it in your brain and then it takes a lot more to transform it from the imagination into the physical world. From the first step until the end, the so-called execution of the trick, we take multiple falls and experience different injuries to the body (some of them heal quickly, but some can take months or even years). All these injuries are not permanent – the body will heal with time – but if you fail to execute the trick that you imagined to perform, you will injure the psychological part of your brain and that injury is much more dangerous than a physical injury.
This is the reason why, with time, skateboarder learn how to take a hit and get back to their work/training immediately after. I believe that it’s all in the mind, because even when your body gives up, but your mind is still working, you can make your body work against the physical capacity of the body.
I think that the ability to have such a strong mind, is the greatest achievement acquired by skateboarders worldwide.
Skateboarding can also suppress your anger and gives you some good reasons to channel out your emotions in one or another way. All these sudden and magical changes in one’s psychological behavior, the change of actions and reactions, the altered way of thinking or just feeling the pain when going to bed gives you something indescribable in words, something simple and pure like happiness and all these things lead to something positive in life, as well as for society.
The process is that you start with isolation, then self development and finally you return back to society, in a more positive and happy form.
Almost seven years after I first started to skate, a lot of positive changes happen: A small skateboarding community has formed itself and we are even lucky enough to get sponsorship for the very first indoor skate-park in India, located in a basement in the southern part of Delhi (in my next article I will explain it into details).
Almost about two years ago, back in 2014, the skate park is running beautifully and is able to generate ample amount of revenue; everyone is happily enjoying and learning new tricks. This is the time when our skate community decides to bring back some positive changes to this part of the world and to do something good for society – through skateboarding -, and what better way is there, then by starting from the societies new blossoms – the kids. Since our skate park is located next to the main street, in the basement, it is easy for anyone walking in the street to see what’s going on; it is especially easy for the kids, since the top windows of the basement are on their eye level.
Usually we see many kids which are glued to the window panels and even when we go out in the street to take food and beverage supply, these kids follow us and ask many questions (in Hindi), like for example:
- Bhaiya kahan se Layi? – From where did you get this?
- Kitne Ka layi? – How much does it cost?
- Kaha Karti Ho? – Where do you skate?
- Kaun sekhata hai? – Who teaches you?
and many many more questions. We can see the enthusiasm and interest of the kids but, at that time, there is not much we can do to help them in chasing their dream to skateboard.
Most of these kids are not fortunate enough to get proper education and instead of living the life of a normal kid they have to do some minimal job in order to become a financial provider at home. The age group of these kids varies between 8 to 16 and already at this age they are forced to fight for basic necessities of life … So we decide that on every Sunday morning we want to share our skateboard, skate park, time and everything else that we can offer, to them. We call all the kids who are enthusiastic about skateboarding but don’t have the necessary resources to pursue their vision.
On every Sunday morning we try to provide these kids with something every kid should experience during his childhood: simple and pure happiness, by teaching them how to skate, giving them a good perception about education, offering our help (if required) and by letting them experience a positive feeling in life …
We use to call these kids SUNDAY MORNING KIDS.
Most of these kids speak only Hindi, which is the mother tongue of India, but in the skate park we mostly use English since we are always having one or another international skater among us. Every now and then I can see some changes in the kids; initially they ignore if anyone is speaking English, but slowly they are getting more into it and even trying to understand the language. At the moment they are not speaking much, mostly listening, but they are learning new things every day.
At the beginning these Sunday morning kids are kind of wild in a way, not respecting the rules and very focused on themselves; but with time, my friends and me observe some positive changes in the kids, we see that they start respecting their fellow skaters, letting them skate and complete the turn or trick and appreciating each other and many more things. As more time passes we also try to do some outings with the Sunday morning kids, we take them to the heart of the City – the so-called Connaught place – where we have enough marbleized surface to skate and to do one or two tricks.
The first time we do this was a little difficult for us since we have to do so many arrangements by ourselves, like taking permission from their parents, giving them brief ideas about the area, safety, arranging food and water, bus and car for every one and many more things. The outing goes really good, many people who attend the weekly Sunday morning sports festival around Connaught place, are amazed by the skills and talent of the kids.
People are literally glued to these kids and we even have to experience a little accident situation: A grown up man wants to try skateboarding, but we already let the kids know that they should not share their skateboard with anyone, for safety purpose. This man although just takes the skateboard from a kid and falls straight to the ground with his back, he also twists his ankle very badly.
Another skateboard and a bag with a laptop get stolen on that day as well, but the rest of the things go very well. All the kids are safe and happy, including us. It is a great learning experience for the kids and for us as well and it was just awesome to have the possibility to put a smile on their face and offer them a normal day where the kids are allowed to be kids and live their childhood freely and smilingly.
This is how it should be every day but unfortunately the reality is different. In my next articles I am willing to share more about our skater community, the Sunday morning kids, and about how I get the idea to take this positive movement to the next level:
To the kids on the street, who are doing all kind of different drugs (mostly sniffing glue) and who are trying to sell cheap forms of heroin.
Meanwhile I thank you for reading this and I hope you enjoyed it.