I am still reeling from my trip to India – which you can read all about here if you like – which, although not the most ‘active’ three weeks of my life, helped me come one step closer to fulfilling one of my New Year’s Resolutions… to try at least three new sports. I tried one.
We headed down, in a rush attempt to beat the monsoon that was foiling all our plans, towards the east coast and a Union Territory called Pondicherry/Puducherry to hit the beach. It represented a lot of firsts for me, including my first dip in the Bay of Bengal (eee exciting) and my first ever surfing lesson.
I’m going to be a pro-surfer!
I mean, I’m not, but that was the first thing I text my boyfriend after reluctantly tugging my large, blue foam board out of the water at the end of my first session. It was a bumpy little auto ride down to the beach and at first glance it doesn’t look like much; a tangle of fishing nets, lobster pots and multi-coloured fishing boats take up almost the whole beach, fishermen weaving in and out on their own paths between the plant debris that is strewn everywhere, courtesy of the storm monsoon weather. Facing the shore are a few beach properties, low, light houses, so close to the ocean they haven’t even bothered with balconies, each with at least one moped slung on the concrete at the front. Kallialay Surf School is pretty hard to find at first glance, clearly it’s relying on reputation and web-presence, but we find the quiet little quadrangle that houses the surf shop, the store room (changing facility is a canvas tube that drops from the ceiling to shroud one from view), a bench and an outdoor shower.
I meet my instructor and get acquainted with my board. I was silly – I thought beginners learnt on the small boards and the big ones were for the experienced surfers. This makes absolutely no sense when you think about it, balance-wise, so my partner for the session was a large – much larger than I thought – blue, foam board. I practised the theory of standing up on the board on the beach so I could memorise the movement. I had one misconception completely squished at this point. I thought you had to jump or ‘spring’ up from lying to standing, which was a pretty daunting prospect. Turns out you only have to stand, one foot at a time; a much easier idea. Then I was strapped, firmly, by the ankle to my blue beast for the rest of the session.
The whole time I’m surfing I’m thinking ‘I’m just not cool enough to surf’. I’ve always wanted to but it definitely seems like something that is reserved for the cool, the chilled out and the brave. I am none of the above, in fact at one point the instructor said ‘just throw your brain into the ocean’, as my classic over-thinking had killed my chances on the last three waves. Why didn’t someone say that to me years ago and can someone please tell me this about once every three months? I think it does me good!
I loved the feeling of catching the wave and have it propel me towards the floor, I really loved it when I could stand up too – oh yea, I could stand pretty quickly! That’s when the first realisation came, that this is not as hard as it looks. The basics are, well, basic. I didn’t mind when I fell straight off either, I collected a few bruises and more than a few mouthfuls of water but, although damn exhausting, it wasn’t painful at all. It was just fun. Then there’s the second realisation – it’s not as glamorous as it looks on the movies, in fact, it involves a lot more snot sort of splattered across your face, quite a lot of spluttering and an a lot more hair plastered across your eyes than I’d imagined. Also the stance, which looks so cool when a tanned twenty-something surfer guy is poised in the distance as you watch from your seat at the bar, actually feels pretty bizarre, like a fencing pose in the water.
The next day, after no proper shower and a 9 hour night bus ride across a few Indian states, I was aching like crazy (debatable whether from the surfing or the bus though). Paddling yourself with just your arms right back out to where the waves break is an absolute killer. Not only my arms hurt to raise, a few bruises on my legs too, but also my ribs; somehow lying on the board had made me bruise in a nice neat curve all along the line of my ribs, and my stomach muscles were feeling a bit of a twinge too. It was an awesome workout, I really deserved my tea and lunch afterwards and I only wish I could have done more.
Surfing is recommended as calorie burner, all round great workout and very high on the fun-o-meter.
x J x
P.s. There are no photos of me standing – blame my friend!