They say it’s a man’s world. That is probably because they haven’t met Ishita Malaviya. Ishita, a Mumbai girl fell in love with the art of surfing after meeting a German exchange student while pursuing her graduation in journalism.
What started as a leisurely activity, rooted in her a dream of becoming a professional surfer. And when detractors told her she’d never make it big in a male-dominated sport, Ishita refused to pay heed. She made the sea her school by riding the waves with perseverance, practice, and a dream. The result? She launched India’s first bona-fide surfing school, called the Shaka Surf Club in Kodi Bengre, a small village in Karnataka. She runs the club for people of all ages-and-sizes with her boyfriend.
Ishita says, “When I started surfing, it was not looked upon as a respectable sport. I was constantly being told to get a ‘real job’, ‘stop wasting my time’. In those moments, I realised the only way to move forward in my life was to stay true to myself and keep surfing, living the surf lifestyle.”
“Being the first woman surfer in the country, I had no coach to show me the ropes, and no other women surfers to look up to. So, I put all my energies into teaching myself. I watched online videos, learned how to understand the sea, to read the tides, and how to move with the changes of the ocean. After every failure, I’d swim back to the shore, tired and frustrated. But I’d always paddle back out there, to have a go at it one more time. Again, and again, and again… until I could stay out longer than I did the day before.”
Ishita, by her own admittance, follows a simple mantra. She says, “It does not matter if you are having the best day or worst day of your life, once you step in the ocean with your board, it centres you, makes you live in that very moment. Learning to move with the raw power of the ocean brings to the surface all my strengths and fears. I now chase my dreams with the same vigour and passion as I charge into waves, even if it means wiping out and facing defeat once in a while, because the best part about surfing and life is that if you miss one wave, there is always another wave coming!”
Follow her Instagram feed to get inspired on a daily basis.
Title image: Huck