In Water, At Peace.
Updated: Jan 9, 2018
When presented with the opportunity to get in the water, I had to jump on it, even if it meant buying a last minute plane ticket to the other side of the country.
My "home base" in India is an extremely populated, industrialized city with constant car horns, rickshaw motors, and Hindi music creating an odd city buzz. The streets are littered with trash, and there is no place to paddle that wouldn't give the participant a severe illness. When I first learned that I would be moving to India, I reached out on Facebook to the only person I could find: Sampu Samantaray, or Sanjay as he is locally known. I was informed that he would be having SUP demos shortly after my arrival, and that I was welcome to come visit and participate. After settling into my home base in Pune, and realizing that if I stayed there I would never paddle (and never train for the WPA Championships in Cabo), I decided to join Sanjay and the Surfing Yogis at the SUP demo event.
I packed up my 8'6" Hobie Torque and my new Quickblade paddle and took a 3 hour car trip to get to the Mumbai domestic airport. I arrived at 2am for my 6am flight. I checked in and paid my 1000 Rupees to fly with my board. That's only about $20USD, so I consider it a deal. The part that isn't a deal is carting the board back and forth for oversized luggage screening, fragile sticker sticking, and loading. "Fortunately" there were some Jet Airway employees to help me, who were very straight-forward about mentioning how much they like tips. I took the hint and tipped them well to ensure that my board was well cared for. My board and I arrived safely in Bubaneshwar only 2 hours later.
I'm realizing that bringing my 8'6" Hobie was my smartest move yet. Anything larger or heavier would be impossible. Considering I must make extensive travel arrangements to get anywhere, and shoving the board into a van is better than strapping it to a rack due to corrupted cops. Moreover, HUGE kudos to Hobie and ProLite. I don't know if it is the board bag that is doing so well at protecting my board, the construction of the board itself, or the tips that I keep giving to the attendants!! Whatever the case, my board is traveling extremely well! (Knock on wood)
Sanjay was at the airport waiting with his intern Spandan; the flight I arrived on was the same flight taken by the representative from Vanhunks, the company doing the demos in Puri. They had shipped the SUPs for demos, but carried with him a surf board so I was able to pick him out of a crowd. Although, if we hadn't been carrying board bags, I could have still picked him out because we were the only pale folk. We loaded up and made our way to our beachfront lodgings somewhere along the coast between Konark and Puri.