We woke up early at the ashram to drive over to a beach cottage for some surf and SUP display. I consider most of the beach accommodations around here more like mansions than cottages. This particular cottage belongs to a famous Bollywood actor. He doesn't live there, but uses it to entertain or let friends stay at. I’m still continually astonished with the amount of wealth in this country.
Back home we see all of the pictures of slums, garbage, and beggars, and we want to help. What we rarely see are the million dollar beach homes with 4 servants. This country is completely capable of helping itself, but lacks the will. There are more millionaires in India than there are people in Australia; mull that over for a second. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how this country and it’s people function and think…
Once at the beach cottage, we unloaded our boards and headed for the beach. The stairs leading down to the beach drop off into rocks (therein lies the difference between a Hollywood beach cottage and a Bollywood beach cottage), so it took some teamwork to get down there with the boards. At one point a ladder was added to the end of the stairs, and the legs precariously perched amongst the rocks. Of course, when I went down the ladder it slipped. Luckily, it caught between other rocks and I didn’t go far.
In the water, I couldn’t help but notice how cloudy it was. It also had an oily sheen and an odd smell. I paddled out with my mouth shut tight, and even closed my eyes into a few of the waves. Closing your eyes is a bad idea if you want to know where you’re going; I went down. Wow, did that smell terrible. It was difficult to stop spitting, and I almost lost my feminine grace and composure with a near-gagging coughing fit. When I surfaced, the water was bubbling with the oily residue. Turns out there is a fish processing plant up the beach – did I mention that I’m allergic to fish?
After the initial wipeout, I was alright for the remainder of the session. Although, I made a lot of, “eww, that stinks” faces, and spit constantly. I did not want the water in my mouth. I dreaded falling in, and did my best to stay on the board. It actually ended up being excellent balance training. Numerous times I was able to stay on the board out of sheer disgust for the water, even defying gravity at times. If it weren’t for the fishy water it would have been a beautiful morning. In the end, it was worth it. I caught a few really great waves and got to eat a delicious Indian breakfast on the back porch of the cottage overlooking the ocean.
The man that invited us to watch us surf had also invited a few of his big-wig friends. Another interesting difference in the social structure of India compared to back home is how they view athletes and actors. In India, the cricket players are the wealthiest and the most popular. Actors are below athletes. Being a surfer and sand up paddler in his country has been interesting, especially since I’m paddling around training for the WPA world championships in Cabo. I am constantly treated very well here and a bit like a celebrity. I’m always meeting people from the upper echelons of society. I don’t think they understand I don’t make as much as the cricket players… in fact, I don’t make anything at all!!