Skate India Expedition (SIE), two guys - 1 skater & 1 photographer touring their bikes across 20 states in India in the hopes to skate all the spots, meet all the skaters in the scene, and impart some knowledge via workshops and interactions. These aren't just any two guys though;
Gautham Kamath aka Happy has been skating for about 5 years now and loves riding as well. Happy's riding a Hero Impulse with a 230cc engine. Gautham Nalasingu aka G has been doing photography for about 14 years now and skateboarding photography for about 5 years too, since the time it's been there in India and as long as we know. G's riding a Royal Enfield standard 500cc.
Both of them are from Bangalore and closely involved in the skateboarding scene in the country from the beginning. Being among the best at what they do in their respective fields, the community is pretty eagar to welcome them in their cities and take them around. Here's more on the expedition when the duo stopped over at the Active8 HQ;
How do you both know each other?
G: It was one of those perfect love stories, like starts off romantically, actually how did we meet?
G: No I met you first in Ooty. So before even skateboarding was there I met this guy in Ooty, when I was studying photography there.
Happy: Yeah! So ya that time I was not skating, and I went on a ride on this same bike, it was a brand new bike back then, the first ride I went to was Ooty and that is when I met G.
Awesome! So when did you guys start journeying on the SIE?
Happy: We started off from Bangalore on 5th Jan, almost a months time now.
And what was the first spot you guys hit?
Happy: Hampi! Hampi was the first spot!
Did you meet any new skaters? Tell us about the Hampi stop.
Happy: Hampi was pretty chilled out, initially what we thought was the spots weren't there anymore. Actually I got to know that the ramps and bowl was broken away, because of some reason. We were sceptical about it, but we went and then we saw the ramp and bowl was still there! We got very excited. We met a couple of skaters from diff countries, from Finland I think &...
Happy: We met two skaters and went to some spots around, Hampi is a pretty chilled out place. So it's more of nature and exploring than skating, of course skateboarding was there but not many of them skate there locally.
So hit Hampi and then set out to Goa?
G: So after Hampi, Goa again is a very chilled out place. So we went from very smooth energy to smoother and calmer energy. Did a little bit of off road riding. And yea of course Goa is the home of Sian Rebuffe. He's a kick ass skater and was really happy to meet us and we were also really happy to meet him and skate with him.
How many spots in goa?
Happy: Morjim, Cirrus, Panjim ... 5 to 6 spots. Yea 5 to 6 spots and we did a workshop in Panjim.
How many budding skaters in goa?
Happy: I think 15 to 20 easily
Tell us more about the Goa stop.
Happy: 12 to 14 days!
G: Kisko pata kitna din?
Happy: the highlight in Goa for me was not just to skate but to surf as well, so did little bit of surfing, not much. Ya and meeting Velu again, it's a different thing all together. Spending some time with him.
G: Velu is a kickass surfer. if you guys don't know.
Happy: He is the surfer! So right now he has a family, just went to meet them in Agonda. And then ya skating the jungle bowl was another big highlight. We got to session it enough before we got thrown out from there and we got really kick ass footage from there. Morjim bowl was fun, we stayed at a place called Shree, this is like my home in Goa. I think that's the place that made us stay for a longer time.
Then the next stop?
Then finally we headed to Pune. we thought Pune we'll stay for 4 days, we ended up staying here for almost 12 days. Because skaters were out on the Holy Detour, now all the skaters are back. Had a very good session in Pune. Last few days were a lot of fun, because all the skaters were here and we hit a lot of spots.
How many spots did you'll hit?
Happy: We don't have a count or anything but yeah we hit some new spots like Agakhan Palace, luckily we got permission to skate that ramp for 5 minutes. Within minutes we were thrown out but we still got to skate that ramp which was built centuries ago. There was some new spot in some society, more of streets in Pune than ramps and bowls. And even skating at Montreal with the Freshpark set-up and Harshdeep's mini ramp. it's good, Pune skaters, they are really doing good. The level of skateboarding is going high because I meet them often and I see the change in their style and maybe tricks or the level of tricks that they are landing. It's growing rapidly, it's good to see them skate and shred and it's good to skate with them as well.
G want to add anything?
G: Shubham, Karthik, Harshdeep - these are all new surprises for me, never knew these guys skated so well. I met them before but never really sessioned or seen them skated. This was the first time, it was like completely new, that was cool. For the first time I felt like Pune has a skateboarding scene. Otherwise I always felt like Bangalore has a scene, Mumbai has a scene, but now you can say Pune has a scene. So you know congrats!
Growth of the scene in Pune?
Happy: Ya, there must about 20/15 budding skaters. I met around 10 kids, but I know a lot of them didn't make it because of some reasons.
Where are you guys heading after this?
Happy: we're heading to amchi Mumbai. It's our next destination, excited to meet all the skaters there, and skate there for few days probably 4 to 5 days not much. And then head to Panna. So we'll be spending more time in Panna, which is almost like a week or something. And then we go up north, which ever direction the wind goes.
Tell us a little bit about the tour that's ahead of you?
Happy: I think till now we've finished about 15-20% of the tour. we'll be at our 4th destination which leaves us with about 15 to 20 more spots. We are planning to go to north east as well. So from Panna we go to Delhi and then towards to eastern India. Northeast- which will be like Varanasi, Sikkim, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, and then probably try to enter Bangladesh just to get the shortcut. If not then we have to come back and then hit the east coast. Ranchi also has a mini ramp, so Ranchi and then Orissa then Visakhapatnam, then Hyderabad, Chennai, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram, and Kovalam, and ya our last destination Ooty, the place where we met. So we'll chill in Ooty for 1/2 days and then head to Bangalore and that will probably be in April I guess.
What do you guys hope to get out of this?
Happy: Skate, explore, meet all the skaters, get to know what is the scene about, how is it going, try to get in support, and try to make it easier for those skaters.
G: Enjoy! Guide the skaters who need direction, who want to know what to do now, what will work out better, we have a little bit of experience.
Happy: See most of the places has a scene already, but they don't have proper guidance or direction. So we being from Bangalore have experienced this kind of stuff and have gone through all kind of things.
Shoutouts to the skaters you've met and will meet?
G: Hi! To guys we've met already- keep it up, don't lose focus, always remember why you are doing this. Its because if you take away all the fun in life what is remaining? So we are lucky to skate and lead our life's. So you know work for it hard and to all the skaters who I am going to meet it's the same message. It's just one message for us skateboarders. Let's keep this going!
Happy: Keep shredding and try to support each other because skaters are the ones who'll help skaters, there's no one else.
G: And there are so few of us..
Happy: And it's like a very small community, family. It's very new and it's good to be together, to skate together.