India’s first woman pro surfer turns dream into startup

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New Delhi | April 6, 2015 1:17 PM

For Ishita Malaviya, moving from metropolis Mumbai to Manipal in Karnataka was an impulsive decision...

Mumbai,Ishita Malaviya, Manipal, Karnataka, woman professionalsurfer, The Shaka Surf Club, surfing news, surfing in Karnataka, German student exchange student, skateboard, 'Adventure Stories', Taj Safaris, The Outdoor Journal, Ibex Expeditions, Hari Dang, mountaineer, luxury wildlife travel Malaviya co-founded The Shaka Surf Club with school friend Tushar Pathiyan in a small fishing village of Kodi Bengare in Karnatka. (Courtesy: The Shaka Surf Club)

For Ishita Malaviya, moving from metropolis Mumbai to Manipal in Karnataka was an impulsive decision, given the crowded and polluted spaces in the big city. Little did she know she would be living her dream and emerge as the India’s first woman professional surfer.

Malaviya, who co-founded The Shaka Surf Club with school friend Tushar Pathiyan in a small fishing village of Kodi Bengare, some 20 minutes from Manipal, has also initiated change in the lives of the local community through a symbiotic alliance with them.

The club currently offers customised packages to people seeking a getaway or training and provides camps to stay right at the beach while outsourcing the food to local families who get free surfing lessons in return.  Malaviya is part of the industry, little heard of in India and belongs to a growing number of surfing enthusiasts.

The 26-year-old said she was in her the first year of university pursuing journalism when she and Pathiyan had a chance meeting with a German exchange student and was awestruck by his surfboard.

“I always was in love with water. I always dreamed of surfing… but like many others, I wondered where do we have waves in India?” Malaviya said.

The student told the two about ‘surf gurus’ and a ‘surf ashram’, where one could learn surfing besides indulging in a complete ‘ashram experience’.

They gradually received training there on weekends by sharing a skateboard, which they bought second-hand for Rs 10,000. Interestingly, the urge for a separate skateboard led them to establish a club that is now fully equipped for 16 people.

At the 6th edition of the ‘Adventure Stories’ held here recently presented by Taj Safaris in association with ‘The Outdoor Journal’ and Ibex Expeditions Malaviya shared stories about her journey.

With almost 7,000 km of relatively unexplored coastline in south of India, Malaviya urged people especially women to take the plunge.

The surfer said her personal experience of growing up in India, where many girls are forced to limit their interaction with boys after reaching puberty, made her want to break the barriers all the more.

“Surfing for me is meditation. As long as I have that sense of peace and satisfaction, that is my purpose in life,” she told a gathering at The Taj Mahal Hotel that included people from all walks of life, including businessmen, naturalists and architects.

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