That Was The Week That Was: 12th to 18th April 2023

The one in which I tried to surf and got angry at how huge the IKEA store was.

Delhi, India

I was on holiday last week. I had to attend a close friend's wedding in Bangalore and used this trip as an opportunity to visit someplace new as well.

A good friend had recommended trying out surfing at a place called The Shaka Surf Club. Located on the Karnataka coast in a place called Kodi Bengare (कोडी बेंगरे) about 16 kms from Udupi and 70 kms from Mangalore, a visit to Shaka fit into my existing plans easily. The photos and reviews on their Google Business listing, Tripadvisor, etc. looked perfect and signing up became a no-brainer.

No amount the internet-based research could have prepared me for the beauty of this place. It was a sight for sore eyes after hours of sleep deprivation and fatigue due to my red-eye flight from Delhi to Mangalore (with a layover in Hyderabad) and the long cab ride from the airport to Kodi Bengare. This remote fishing village is located on a thin piece of land sandwiched between the Arabian Sea and the Suvarna river, a rain-fed river that flows through the Udupi district. One end of this area connects to the mainland at a village called Hoode (हुडे) and the other witnesses the Suvarna river meeting the Arabian Sea through an estuary at what is called Delta Point (contrary to the name, the Suvarna river does not create a delta when meeting the sea).

The surfing experience was even more exciting than the place. Initially, the thought of going into the sea was making me feel quite afraid that I might drown (and I was wondering if I should share crucial passwords with trusted friends while I was still on land) but the instructors at Shaka put me at ease. We found out that we would only practise in shallow waters and that the waves carry people back to shore in any case (except in the Monsoon season—so stay away from the water during the rains 🙅‍♂️).

It took me just one incursion into the water for all the fear to turn into joy. I felt like a kid in a water park and only wanted to have fun. The goal was simple—we had to stand up on our surfboards when our instructor told us to and maintain balance while the wave under us carried us towards the shore.

The reality, of course, was different. No matter how many times I tried, I kept falling into the water the moment I got up. But even harder than staying up on the board was getting back in the sea after reaching the shore. The key was to get to a place beyond where the waves broke so that I would not be immediately swept by them and then bring myself into position for my next attempt to surf. But that depended on how fast I could move in the water, how quickly new waves were coming in, the timing of my jump if a wave came, and the position my board was in at that time. Needless to say, this was tough. I got thrashed around a lot, got dragged by the surfboard, bruised my elbows and knees after scraping them in the sand and once even hit the board on my head. I got sand and saltwater in my eyes and nose. So many places in my body were hurting either from cuts and bruises or from the strain on muscles that weren't used to being strained. But I didn't feel like getting out for even one moment—it was simply exhilarating!

And after more failed attempts and silly falls than I could count, I finally managed to ride one wave out just before the session ended! It was a crazy-good feeling that lifted my mood for the rest of the day.

The second day saw a lot more success from everyone. We were now almost going in with the expectation to ride the wave a little before eventually falling. This was our final session so we were also working harder to make the most of it. By the end, I was able to ride a wave 6-7 times that day. I did not feel like leaving at all (I was having that Essel World feeling) but the tickets to Bangalore were booked and onwards I had to go.

I went back to my room, rested a bit, packed my stuff, and got started with the journey. But I've been missing that experience ever since. Surfing has been able to create a little place in my heart and I think I will go back sometime soon for more. 🏄🏽‍♂️

Other Notable Stuff

  • I met someone from Lakshadweep for the first time—one of our surfing instructors, Asif. He's a chilled-out guy who chases big waves to surf and is extremely patient with n00bs like me.

  • We went kayaking on the Suvarna river. Asif took us around private islands (that are sometimes used for partying) and into a serene mangrove forest. I wish I had taken my phone with me—it was beautiful! If I were more comfortable with nature, I would have loved to just park the kayak somewhere in the mangroves and read for hours. It was that peaceful.

  • We saw someone jet-skiing while we were kayaking. What a sight! I want to do that next.

  • I lost my swimming goggles 🥽 during the first surf session. As someone who can't even see 3 feet ahead clearly without glasses, it felt imperative that I take my powered swimming goggles with me into the water. The sea gods were not amused. I got thrown off my feet by a powerful wave and soon realised that my goggles were gone. I'm not making this mistake again. 😭

  • I had the one ghee roast that I had not tried before at Maharaja Restaurant in Mangalore—Paneer Ghee Roast. Vegetarians. 😒

  • I attended a friend's traditional Orthodox Christian wedding (please forgive me for any incorrect terminology) in the outskirts of Bangalore. It was quite different from my expectation—there was no "coming down the aisle", no exchanging of rings or vows, and no "I dos". Instead, the priests standing in front of the altar blessed the bride and the groom and put rings on their fingers themselves. And here I was wondering if there would be a "you can now kiss the bride" moment. They didn't even let the groom touch the bride!

  • The Chicken 65 at my friend's wedding reception was amazing! I might have eaten a bucketful. 🤤👌🏽

  • I went to IKEA Bangalore with a few friends. This was a pretty big deal for me as I've wanted some stuff from IKEA for ages and the first Delhi NCR store will not open for at least 2 more years. This store was huge! We ended up spending most of the day there but still didn't feel like we covered everything.

  • I had plans to go to a few microbreweries in Koramangala and Indiranagar but they got thwarted because IKEA took so much time and tired us all out. I was really upset about it.

  • I visited Leo's Pizzeria in Vasant Vihar to compensate for my beer and pizza plans getting ruined in Bangalore. Sure, the beer could not be as good but the pizzas were fantastic. I would highly recommend every pizza we had—Classic Pepperoni, Bacon and Onion, and Burrata Pesto (veg). 🍻🍕

  • I spent Tuesday afternoon assembling my first IKEA purchase—a small trolley for the washroom. I now believe it's true that you end up falling in love with stuff that you put in the effort to assemble yourself. 🛠️

  • Chelsea crashed out of the Champions League. What's left to say? 🤐

Random Thoughts

  • A side effect of spending a lot of time in the sea was that even when I was napping later, I had a subconscious feeling that the bed under me was gently rising and falling as if floating on the waves. And it turned out that I was not alone—many others had the same experience! 😲

  • Encountering terms like delta, estuary, etc. took me back to Geography class in middle school. In case you're trying to remember, an estuary is a partially enclosed water body where freshwater from a river and salty water from the sea mix to create brackish water (which is less salty than seawater). A delta is a triangular piece of land created out of sediments that a river deposits before entering the sea. A delta can also exist inside an estuary—they are not as mutually exclusive as we were sometimes taught in school (and entities like Byju's still do 🤦🏽‍♂️).

  • I found out that Anurag Maloo, a well-known person in the startup ecosystem and a mountaineer, had fallen into a crevasse on Mt. Annapurna and was missing. He was a speaker at the second edition of the BEL Conference that we had started at NSIT and was someone I had met, so this struck home much more than a piece of news otherwise does. He had been missing for a couple of days by then so I was fearing the worst and was not expecting him to be found alive as he was (thank God). My mother, meanwhile, had him in all his prayers and had faith that he would be found. This was, again, a reminder that miracles do happen and that we should sometimes keep trying even if the odds are massively against us. I hope he has a full recovery and gets better soon. 🤞🏽

Content Consumed

Stumbled Upon

  • Literally stumbled upon a sharp seashell (yeah, the same thing that she sells on the seashore) at Kodi Bengare beach and cut my foot a little. 😒

  • Indian Skincare Addicts, a subreddit dedicated to in-depth discussions and recommendations about skin care products available in India. I regretted not taking enough sunscreen along on my last beach trip (in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka) and I was not going to make the same mistake twice!

Last Week in Numbers

  • 2 deep work hours. I was on holiday, duh.

  • 4000+ kilometres travelled in 6 days.

  • 3 minutes spent in a state of panic when our kayak got stuck between two mangrove trees.

  • 8 times, I was completely wiped-out by incoming waves when trying to get back into the sea.

  • 4 meals eaten without cutlery. There was no concept of eating with a spoon in some places. Ab kya karein?

  • 6 kgs of IKEA stuff carried back to Delhi 😅

That was the week that was. But before ending this, I want to say sorry to my friends from Bangalore who I could not meet during this trip. We hardly entered the main areas of Bangalore and were occupied with the wedding (plus IKEA screwed things up). Next time, pakka. 😀

Here are some photographs from last week. I've not yet been able to create a decently-designed photo gallery component for this website and am thus putting them at the end (lest they ruin the flow of text). Also, I'm not good with photographs (neither in front nor behind the camera) and will let others show you more of Shaka Surf Club and Kodi Bengare.

See you next week!

Dusk at the Kodi Bengare beach
Dusk at the Kodi Bengare beach.
People sitting on surfboards watching others coming out of the water
Waiting for the others to come out of the water after our first surfing lesson.
People posing for a photograph at the Shaka Surf Club
People posing for a photograph at the Shaka Surf Club
Two people sitting in a kayak
Kayaking on the Suvarna river.
Priest blessing the groom at a Christian wedding
My friend, Dinu, receiving blessings from the priest.
People posing for a photograph outside a church
A couple posing for a photograph in front of a tree
At Dinu's wedding reception.
People having a pizza and drinks
At Leo's. Picture credits: Riyanka Roy.