It has been a few weeks now since I opened my third eye on a rock during my second day surfing on my first trip to India. Many things have come across my mind during this time, other than that fateful rock.
To begin, Edava, where I was surfing, is a left point break at a local fishing beach in Varkala. The wave breaks on a rock to the inside and then opens up to picturesque beach break full of boats, fishing shacks, fried banana balls, coconut trees, and a handful of people in boardies* drinking chai tea. With boats rolling in as often as sets you have to respect the local fisherman and keep clear when they drop to unload their catch. *Ladies also have to stay well clear of outfits that are too “bootilicious” for the locals out of respect.
On my second day with the Soul & Surf gang driving to Edava in our trusty pink steed loaded with surf boards and eager as a beaver surfers with fresh wood gradually wanking, (minus the 'n') on a morning bowl cleanse of coffee, bananas and the sweet melody of car horns at every corner, we pull up to the beach/scene of Rocky VI. On the walk down past the kids washing up in a sunken water well, it's easy to get over whelmed by the beauty of the beach, simplicity of life and local fisherman who call you over to help haul the boats up the beach by rope. This morning was no different and soon the fisherman had roped me and were singing a little chant to help muster up some calluses and ultimately the boats. The tune hit the right note and had me pumped for the glassy 3 foot sets.
First in the water while the others sipped on a chai I caught and couple and flailed, like a snapper trying to avoid being supper, and soon caught myself thinking that my surfing is about as pretty as the rubbish on this pristine beach, which I soon prove correct. And that I should be doing better to catch the eye of a Russian babe in the lineup, and to get some kerlala “kred” from my new found Soul & Surf family, and because salt water is more fun to stand on than swallow.
With my new found egotistic motivation I went deep on the next set, paddling further on the inside towards the take off point, aka got all Top Gunn on it, aka the Danger Zone, aka I caught a nice left and then quickly went stage right into the half submerged Edava rock. A wave of relisation came over me, quickly followed by another wave of water and then a wave of blood streaming down my forehead as I came to that I rocked myself in front of the fisherman, mother Russia’s hot daughter, the French kids charmant mother who happened to get a nice snap of me emerging like a wounded seal (above), and the S&S gang who quickly called SOS.
Dazed with a dash of guilt and stupidity I knew this Bloody Mary/Doug was soon to be the opposite of a hangover cure. Walking out of the water I was quickly enveloped by the love and concern of local fisherman with their wobbly Indian head shakes of concern. One of them picked a local plant rubbed it together and placed it under my t-shirt now turned turban head wrap. I wondered whether the plant was some kind of Indian inside joke, an ayurvedic version of rubbing salt/plants in the wound. It was no joke, something about oils in the leaves, not sure if it helped but I really appreciated their help before I quickly made like a leave and left to the local hospital.
I shared some jokes in the car with the S&S gang on the way to the hospital to help ease the pain of what should be a swell morning. I noted my soon to be resemblance to Harry Potter with my lightning bolt shaped wound carved centre on my forehead, all be it minus the magic, millions of dollars, a Ginger head friend and fictional on screen flame. Nick, the pommy chipper and super surf guide, soon chipped in and thought I’d get more chicks now with a new pop star scar. Covered in blood I acknowledged that this effect musn’t of kicked in yet as Miss Moscow hadn’t decided to jump me in the front seat…yet.
Soon we arrived at the hospital with fabulous hospitality. The staff were friendly, knowledgable and looked at me like I was Dennis Rodman; very tall, red in the face and odd looking .The doc informed me that the wound was deep to the bone but it should be alright as he would stitch me up with his finest stitching using light thread to lessen the scar on my “money maker” and hopefully increase my chances of appearing in the next screening of “From Russia with love”. So I layed my weary head down on a bed too short and hoped that I was going to get stitched up in the proper sense of the word. All in all it was quite pleasant experience, nothing Britney Spears, aka crazy. 8 or so stitches, a couple of injections, a few injections of humour and a positive prognosis that I would be back in the water in 8 days all going well.
45 minutes later I left the operating table with some dry cleaning, a weeks worth of antibiotics and some good snaps. On returning to Surf & Soul I thought I should quickly apply for insurance to cover the cost of surfing like a fool. Nick then came in with the bad/good news that I owed him 1,600 rupees for the lot! That’s like 30 bones/a really fancy salad/2 priceless tickets to Interstellar in 3d (see previous post), all for a wack to the bone #nobiggie. Nick also asked that I kept him up to date re concussion, dating more chicks, and auditions as a Daniel Radcliff double. What a guy...
My only concern now was keeping an eye on my new third eye for infection, delayed concussion and how to get an ABC+G (apple, beetroot, carrot + ginger) juice up to my room with a slice of carrot cake. To be honest, I quite like Taylor Swifts new album, and I wasn’t even that upset about missing a few days surfing. Sure it was less than ideal. But on the bright side I was in a parallel reality of paradise where I could happily read books, sip on fruity drinks, slack off on the slack line, and fall asleep midday readying Monocale magazine in 30 degrees. And then in this southern spice of heaven, arrived two angels/nicest people I haver ever met, who just happened to fly in the day after I shacked up with a rock. And by more luck they happened to seal their love with a local rock a week later. And by even more luck they both happened to be doctors; Tracey who studies hearts in Athletes, and Jon who had worked in Afghanistan and stitched people up in the George/jungle. Jon the Army Doc, quickly assured me of my stupidity, as he has a good sense of humour, and that I could be in the water in half the time than I expected, 4 days down from 8! #yolo
So a couple of days later, there I am, Happy as a Doug with a foam board for added sense of security, catching waves, shitting under a palm trees (pre surf from a bad case of curries, kerala rum/runs, and the morning laxative ritual of coffee and bananas), having a solid swell of a time at a less rocky break.
And so what conclusions do I draw? Well none because I typed them all. But beside the rock, the thing that really hit me hard was how lucky I am to have the opportunity to surf into a rock. Having seen thousands of people living on the streets in rags, old ladies in wheel chairs at the hospital, guys hauling nets in the sun all day, my sister too injured to surf, and talking to locals who can’t afford to leave India. I could only think thoughts of gratitude, sometimes food and that Russian dish, in between the sounds of my sisters crying as she asked if she could call mum back in NZ to let her know what had happened to me which I quickly replied no, "can't you see i'm lucky"?
Seriously. I’m never that serious and there I was sitting in a nice room with air con sipping on my Gin and Juice, minus the Gin and with extra ginger, talking to cool cats, patting dogs, and listening to podcasts for 3 days. One of those days I even went on a boat made of a tree through the back waters of Kerelala into someones house where we ate all their food made from trees and then listened to house music in an Indian Taxi. Most people would happily headbut a rock for such a day!
The reality is my Edava encounter could have been much worse/much better/much for muchness. Could of even included a snake. Actually it did. A close escape for my sister who nearly put her foot in it quite literally. But once you come to terms with the fact that the world will end, you will die, snakes sometimes snake there way to the dinner table, waves like Russian ladies will arrive one day and leave the next, and you could knock yourself out making pancakes, there’s not too much to worry about. And if you’re not taking some kinda of risk you’re probably not doing anything, not even making pancakes, let alone doing anything exciting, and by probably I mean you’re not.
Ultimately all happiness is internal and it's too easy to forget to be grateful. It’s not a new idea but neither is surfing. But I wonder why more people don’t know the benefits of both. And if they do then why they don’t do more of both.
Soul & Surf & Gratitude,