Konark, Orissa

Photographers and Guides of Konark. Orissa.

Ramchandi, Puri

India Surf Festival - 2
The First Wave.
Portraits of the first generation of Indian Surfers.

Surfing took a baby step or the first dip at the first India Surf Festival in Puri this month. Indian surfers, from states along India's long coastline, came together for the first time, in one place. From fishermen's sons to professional surfing instructors, they do not fit the classic, global image of surfers we have. They are uniquely Indian.

Meet the first generation of Indian Surfers. Some day, if the sport takes off India, these guys will be the one's responsible for making it happen, sprinkled as they are along our coastline.

Ramchandi, Puri

India Surf Festival 2012: Sampu and Friends.

"If you want to be part of the festival, you have to become friends with me. OK?"

That was Sampu aka Sanjay Samantray talking to a company representative who wanted to be have a stall at the India Surf festival that was held between 7th and 9th February in Puri. It clearly led to a long silence on the other side of the line from what I could gather. But that incident told me why the first India Surf Festival got off to a start without much noise.

It was not the usual sponsored festival. It was the creation of one man and his network of friends. Surfers, artists, musicians and Orissa Tourism. Orissa Tourism because, they were there as friends too.

The main reason for this very non commercial attitude was because of the nature of the sport. Surfing. It is at its infancy in India. There are only a few dozen hard-core surfers in India. Sampu was afraid that if the sponsors and the entertainers come in, they would demand a bigger audience and once the janta comes in, the surfers would be lost in human wave. That's one wave they will not risk taming.

Since it was the first time such an event was held, he was not sure how the surfing experience would be. So he relied solely on his friends to organise the festival.

It finally was Small and beautiful.

Sampu and Surfing Yogis.

The Director of Orissa Tourism calls Sampu, a Dreamer. Sampu, who runs an tiny restaurant, and a resort with a few rooms, surfboards and camps, 20 minutes walk from a protected beach with surf, is a lone ranger. In fact, his resort is called Rangers. The Director thought that the Surf festival was not a good idea. But then, he had nothing to lose, so he agreed to play along.

The surfers who hang out at Rangers and with Sampu are called Surfing Yogis. There's usually someone from around the world there at any time of the year. Many of them came back last week to be part of the festival. To surf, to set up the stage, decorate the place, sun around and spread the word.

I was there too as a friend. I met him first in some BB or Chat room over a decade back. However, I only surf the net. He wanted me to come so that I could document what was happening and since I had never met him before, I thought this could be the best reason to go meet him.

Hands and minds.

The surfing community is a very small one andSampu is not the pioneer of surfing in India. He is also not the main propeller of growth. That title belongs to a group of young boys from Karnataka called Surfing Swamis. The other surfers include groups like boys from Chennai called SWAT.

They are all friends. At the ISF, they all got together and chalked out plans. For instance, there is a now a Surfing Federation of India which will oversea the sport in India. The there were discussions about setting up of state groups, the necessary steps of setting safety standards, etc.

It was a great place to see the birth of a new sport in India.

If they succeed, you will see surfing and surfers a lot more in India. Especially in what the TN boys call the Bay of Life, south of Chennai up to Pondi. Kovalams in Kerala and Chennai, Mulki and Gokarna in Karnataka.

There was a team of art directors, artists and volunteers from Mumbai who decorated the whole place in an eco friendly manner. (more about them soon)

There were musicians from Mumbai and Israel to add magic every evening and Orissa Tourism sent a troupe of traditional dancers too as their contribution.

And there were the local boys. Led by Sampu himself and the first local Surfer boy named Prathap who made the whole event happen.

And the unofficial-official media were the bright sparks who run Broken Scooter. An online magazine run by students from Bhubaneshwar.

Meanwhile, the entire festival venue and events were organised by these friends from all over. So it should be called - an International Festival.

A few friends:

Yogi from Sri Lanka. Originally from Japan and Hawaii and regular at Puri.

Spandan from Mumbai and JC from Australia.

Local boy. Prathap.

The Art Director Sachin Shetty and friends from Mumbai.

Helping hand from Scott. He's cycling from London to Sydney and stopped here.

The Brotherhood Language of the Surfers.

The Indian surfers, except for the ones from Mumbai, and the British born Indian residents from Goa speak the Universal Tourist Language. The English of the European and Israeli tourists in India. But they get along well. Talk too much to them and you will forget English.

The European born surfers from Pondicherry/Auroville speak fluent street and beach Tamil. Their Otha De has bite.

The South Indian surfers talk to each other in Tourist English and Tamil. The fishermen Surfers from Chennai also speak fluent Tourist English.

They all love nothing else except for the waves, the tides, the current.

And like magic, all the friends of Sampu came together, like the ocean, the wind, the tide and the sand to create the first India Surf Festival in Puri. It was held from 7th to 9th February, at Ramchandi, North of Puri.

I 'll try and post more stories from the festival here.

Puri, Orissa

On the turtle beach.

Every morning, you can see a few turtles that are washed up on the shore these days. The bottle is probably from a tourist who had came here to party from a nearby resort.

No. Surfing has nothing to do with the turtles.

This time of the year, the turtles are slowly migrating south. And these are supposed to have lost their way and have been washed up the shore. But I do not know if that is the real reason.

It's our best friend, the dogs who clean up the beach along with our other companion, crows. The dogs are sniffing and scratching around the turtles to see if there are any eggs.

Meanwhile at the India Surf Festival, the surfing happens on the sandbar opposite the Lotus Resort. The events are on the resorts sands and there are no flex boards.

It's interesting to note that they are losing out on advertising because it's not easy to paint a logo or a board anymore. It's so much easier to flex.

Plastic is not allowed. And all signages, etc. are being made with wood and cotton cloth.

And finally a couple of images of the East Coast's favourite tree. And it's flowering season now. The forest (yes, this is from a protected forest) smells like a honeycomb.


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