From the fields of rural India to the shining city of Nanjing in China – no, not on a skateboard – but with a skateboard under my arm.
Arun, and I have come a long way. It’s only three and a half years since Janwaar Castle opened, the first skatepark in the heart of rural India, in our village. At that time we didn’t have the faintest clue about skateboarding yet only a few days ago Arun and I returned proudly from the World Skateboarding Championships in Nanjing.
The vast distance of 3841 km we managed with ease. It wasn’t our first time out of the country, we were used to the visa procedure and travelling. We flew from Delhi to Beijing, China, jumped on a connecting flight to Shanghai from where we took the bullet train to Nanjing. This train covers the 300 km in only 70 minutes – it was quite an experience for us inside this clean and well maintained racer. Just imagine Delhi – Khajuraho – our routine route – in less than 3 hours (instead of the actual 12 hours it takes)! That really would be something!!!
I was the first person in the village to get a passport and go abroad. This was no easy feat. As an Adivasi (indigenous people) AND a girl – there was nothing like a green card for the entire process. What a bumpy journey we had to overcome all the hurdles laid out on the way. From intrigues in the village to vicious slurs and defamation on various sides, all kinds of stuff happened which I never thought or even dreamed of when I was asked if I wanted to go abroad to learn better English.
I learnt a lot as I moved forward. Besides English and skateboarding what I learned the most is how to be myself. I became self-confident and learned how to stand up and fight for my desires and dreams. Even if this means trouble. I’ve taken responsibility for my own life.
For these championships I might lack a bit of passion and energy – but I believe that passion and energy are what I’ve seen plenty of during my time in Nanjing. I had this kind of all-important spark when I was standing with all the other female skateboarders at the Olympic bowl in Nanjing. When I saw how energized, fearless and passionate my fellow competitors were and how much they wanted to drop into this bowl and master a safe yet tricky passage, I felt the difference. I kept thinking until I understood that it was exactly this energy and passion that made the vital difference. My big challenge will be to keep this fire alive and burning and translate it into my daily activities.
I felt I was a cool skateboarding ambassadors for India. I represented my country proudly and with great modesty. It was my second trip abroad, so I made contact with others more easily. I engaged with the teams from Turkey, Brazil and China – using hand signs when words wouldn’t work. My English is now good enough for simple conversation and I understood that English is for many others a foreign language as well … This certainly helped and encouraged me to talk.
The skateboard has truly become my best travel companion.
Off to more!
Selection of Nanjing photos