Mumbai's Fledgling Surf Culture

To claim there is a surf culture in Mumbai would be missing the point: there is a surf culture in Mumbai, albeit a small number of amateurs with boards. But I wouldn't expect any major surf magazines to cover these stories nor would I expect any major surf events to be held along the shores of Mumbai any time soon - or ever.

Mumbaikars will point to the obvious reasons: the waves are too small (excluding monsoon high tide - which isn't surfable), the water is too polluted, and no professional surfer in his or her right mind is likely to visit Mumbai to put it on the map for international surfing for these two reasons. Why? Because it's a waste of time. No one will come to Mumbai to exclusively surf. But there is a surf culture, a Mumbai surf culture. You can't deny it. The same young men are grabbing their boards year in and out, navigating the small waves, learning the best they can to stay up on their boards. They don't look like your typical surfers. They don't act like your typical surfers. But they're doing it.

I photographed one of Mumbai's few surfers standing proudly next to his board at Versova Beach. He had been watching me photograph he and his friend for roughly ten minutes before he approached me. He had seen me there before photographing them. I showed him some of the pictures and he was off and on his way back into the Arabian Sea to seek out the next four-footer. I had to ask myself, is it perhaps only a true surfer at heart who would seek out the pleasures of the sea when just about every obstacle was against him?

Originally published on Instagram.

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