Thrills

Paradise Lost and Found: Discovering the New Wave

THE MOOD

Some mornings, you don’t need a cup of coffee to wake you up; the comforting roar of the sea, does the job well. Waves. Hope, you feel our drift. Sound check. Crisp morning winds. Where are we? Time will tell. Let’s slot this story as one with a sweet, slow, agonising build. Excitement mounts in wind weathered tents, made exactly for this purpose, to wait it out. But time and tide beckon, so does the soundscape and so, just like that, we step out of our make-shift homes, parked beneath a coconut grove, zip up and with boards in tow – turn seaside. Yes, the kind of morning where coffee has no role to play.

NEW HOME

Spill the word on surfing and you’re bound to hit a few mental notes of someplace in Hawaii or flash cuts of California. So what if we skipped a few stones over mainstream and told you that you didn’t have to go all that far to get your own taste of untouched tides? Would you believe us? What if we told you, that we’ve found our very own rendition of a parallel paradise, right here in India – a mini Hawaii of sorts? Would you care to listen?

Hope you liked the video. Aloha. The children featured above are local kids who have made their way of life into the cultural norm on this remote patch, blessed with coconut groves, sandy shores, blue waters and very few homes. On a map, they’re located in a little nook, someplace down south. But down by sea level, the waters here pulse so deep, that idle thoughts reveal themselves and you begin to switch over, to a higher calling.

NEW FOLK

It is here, in this lost paradise, down by a quaint fishing village, a lifestyle – so enticing, thrives. One that finds most urban quandaries, petty. Ishita Malaviya and Tushar Pathiyan, residents and guardians of this special place, silent crusaders of all things surf and pioneers of The Shaka Surf Club – found both their home and purpose, right here, riding these very waves.

NEW DAY

The first wave you catch, some say – can change your life forever. Surfing is pure, sacred even, to a lot of people in these parts for it fosters community and brings nothing but joy and learning to this little corner of the world. The rush of riding an ocean tide and the undeniable truth that all are equal before her; the absence of petty rules in surfdom and the awakening that we are all children of the sea – are all but few of the reasons why – a new wave rises across the Indian ocean culture scene. And it is through Tushar and Ishita’s life, that this spirit is mirrored best; good enough reasons and incremental life lessons led to them opening The Shaka Surf Club in this tiny secluded village, 5 long years ago. And just as they got it wind-and-wave worthy, the few who paid attention came calling. Enter the good folks over at White Collar Hippie, doing what they do best. Together they riddled over surf, sweat, sand and swag to wash ashore, Camp Namaloha – an unprecedented collaboration that breathed life into ocean / surf culture across the country.

NEW LIFE

A portmanteau of local greetings from India + Hawaii (Namaste + Aloha) and tucked away from the eyes of the world in some corner of Udupi, Karnataka, this gorgeous parallel paradise is home to the lucky few. On being asked a typical question, India’s first female surfer, official GoPro athlete and ‘that girl in neon’ from Nike’s Da Da Ding commercial –  Ishita Malaviya, smiles and hums back, “A regular day? A regular day at the camp.. is anything but. No, we don’t do the ‘regular’ here (laughs).” And folks, honestly, we can’t help but back her up on this because despite being so remote, you will find that Namaloha is indeed thrill-seekers’ kingdom come. And yes, there’s a reason why we haven’t yet told you where exactly this place is at. The Shaka Surf Club + Camp Namaloha sits alone on one of the last few (pristine) beach strips left in the country. Theirs is an inclusive tribe, mistake us not; everyone is invited but their invitation remains gracious, only as long as you treat their strip and its residents, right.

Also, experiential travel, anyone? Camp Namaloha offers a beautiful blend of cultures, both new and old, as we join locals on excursions out in the open sea, fishing for shells, power up on some freestyle callisthenics at the community park and learn how to prepare a traditional seafarer’s meal from old cooks whose sea-brushed faces speak of entire lifetimes stuck between flame and salt. Harsh winds and the passage of time may have taken its toll on the outside but it is the promise that adorns their grandchildren’ smiles, that makes all the added hustle worth it. The same reason why, the folks over at The Shaka do all of it and more. And well for the conscious traveller in you, they’re willing to throw in a few hammocks, technicolour sunsets and an endless ocean pro gratis. Camp Namaloha is the perfect place to invoke the “God of all things laid back” and when you do visit this holy of holies, we encourage you to pay tribute whole-heartedly. Not because you’re supposed to but because here you will see, much like us, that no matter what life throws at you, there’ll always be a new wave. Nama-loha.

NEW SPIRIT

Why, so? Well, community living sets the spirit of this place and pardon the wordplay here, but it takes a village to run this enterprise. No one speaks your language here, but everyone seems to understand you nevertheless and that’s how they make it work. Tushar says it’s the power of the Shaka, the instantly recognisable hand-sign that surfers helped make famous in the 70s. Today it features even on your chatroom emoji line-up. Such is surf. Such is culture. Nothing to appropriate here, the ocean is everybodys’.

And so, why would one be uncouth here? For here, young kids sit on rocks and cheer you on as you get ready to catch a new wave while others in the gang, most of them personally trained by Ishita and Tushar make you feel like you’ve been whiling away your life. These kids are lifestyle pioneers in the making and they barely average 12 years in age. What’s even more interesting is that their families split the labour that is involved in this act of love, helping out in and around the club’s daily operations.

The Shaka Surf Club community has outreach programs that make way for the entire village and their neighbours to pitch in and make dividends. They teach every kid that’s willing – how to surf and more importantly, become children of the sea. This way the kids stay out of trouble, get enough sun and exercise, develop a skill, learn to love their roots and foster a lifestyle. Sounds like kids everywhere these days, are busy chasing greatness. When some of us were their age, we were busy throwing rocks. Here they’re grooming a self-sustaining ecosystem and getting equipped for the future and they’re not doing it alone. Be it grandmothers who have to toss up a home-cooked meal on a guest’s whim, or the mothers that take turns to prep, manage and maintain the back-end or their better halves who handle chores, maintenance and repair – here, everyone’s got their little part to play.

NEW EXPERIENCES

Camp Namaloha is an old sentiment powered by dreams of a sustainable future. Few among us take to the streets each time we demand change, while few others find ways to make progressive lifestyles flourish in quiet corners aided by nothing else but unmeasured acts of real goodness. Our setting for today’s story is no less. Camp Namaloha neither shies away from calls to adventure nor its utopia-like ambitions. When you’re not paddling out over the choppy blue, you can choose between eco-tourism, kayaking, skateboarding, long-boarding, wake-boarding, and a few other homespun twists (longboard+wakeboard).

NEW WAVE

Also, experiential travel, anyone? Camp Namaloha offers a beautiful blend of cultures, both new and old, as we join locals on excursions out in the open sea, fishing for shells, power up on some freestyle callisthenics at the community park and learn how to prepare a traditional seafarer’s meal from old cooks whose sea-brushed faces speak of entire lifetimes stuck between flame and salt. Harsh winds and the passage of time may have taken its toll on the outside but it is the promise that adorns their grandchildren’ smiles, that makes all the added hustle worth it. The same reason why, the folks over at The Shaka do all of it and more. And well for the conscious traveller in you, they’re willing to throw in a few hammocks, technicolour sunsets and an endless ocean pro gratis. Camp Namaloha is the perfect place to invoke the “God of all things laid back” and when you do visit this holy of holies, we encourage you to pay tribute whole-heartedly. Not because you’re supposed to but because here you will see, much like us, that no matter what life throws at you, there’ll always be a new wave. Nama-loha.

©️ 2020. Gut and Flow Media Pvt. Ltd.


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