We are sitting on the train on our way from Mangalore to Kochi, reflecting on how amazing the last week has been. Even on the train we feel elated, there are mouthwatering smells of biryani and samosas in the air and we are waiting with anticipation for the Chai Wallah to pass by. Above us there is a man praying whilst the women below reveal their lunch wrapped in newspaper and when we look through the bars on the window we can see palm trees, the ocean and an electricity pylon on fire in the distance.
This is the beauty of India! The country is full of diversity and emphasises what travelling is all about. It reminds us that traveling is not about the places we see it’s about the experiences we have, the people we meet and how it inspires us.
Nothing emphasises this more than The Shaka Surf Club. When we arrived we just expected to have fun surfing, which we definitely did, but it’s about so much more than that! It’s the place where we experienced the real India, we learnt to eat with our hands, had our first temple lunch and truly felt like we were part of the community.
The club is run by a beautiful couple Tushar and Ishita. The club started from humble beginnings when two students stumbled across Kodi Bengre whilst searching for some waves. It soon became their regular spot and the kids from the village would sit on the rocks watching them surf. This inspired Tushar and Ishita to share their passion and after speaking to a few parents they managed to get a few kids out on boards and their surf school grew from there. What makes this place even more special is the work they do with the community they teach the kids to swim and about water safety (a big problem in India) and empower them by bringing the community closer together through sport.
One part of Shaka we really enjoyed is the kids just walking in to hang out in the hammocks, take the kayaks out or practice their surfing skills. On top of this there is a different neighbour who cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner and another in charge of making the Chai. We are firm believers that people are brought together through food and Shaka emulated foodie India for us. Everywhere else we have visited we have always been given cutlery, eggs for breakfast and had the spice toned down and even though we’ve had amazing food we never felt like we were experiencing the real India. Well it turns out what we were missing was bhaji’s and coconut chutney for breakfast as well as scraping the cutlery and tucking in with our hands. After a quick lesson from Saurabh, the in house yoga teacher, we soon felt like experts. It made us appreciate the flavours, smells and textures of our food even more making everything an exciting culinary experience, I’m not sure we will be able to go back to cutlery again!
All of these things make Shaka feel like it is the heart of the community, they are bringing people together through the power of the waves. It’s safe to say that it was the surf that made our time there exceptional Tushar is an amazing, and in my case, very patient teacher and even though I didn’t manage to catch a wave he had Robbin surfing by lesson two! We were even lucky enough to see a few dolphins during our morning lesson which was a truly magical experience! We are both officially converted and left with a list of contacts so we can continue on our great Indian surf adventure.
When we originally arrived at Shaka we only planned on staying for a couple of nights but quickly decided this was no where near enough time and after five nights, when we eventually departed, we felt like we left a piece of our soul behind, in fact those were Robbins exact words when we drove away in the taxi. You can really feel that Tushar and Ishita have put their heart and soul into the club and Camp Namaloha, good vibes radiate from them and the place itself. But how could they not when you wake up to the sunrise over the backwaters, followed by Chai and a long morning surf, delicious food, maybe an afternoon kayak and sunset yoga. Then to finished off the day everyone sits around the bonfire with a guitar, a set of bongo’s and a maraka sharing stories and life experiences. We still have another month left to explore India but we will both be shocked if we manage to find a place as inspiring as The Shaka Surf Club.
For more information on The Shaka Surf Club click here