Outlook Traveller
Surfs Up Image Credit: Outlook Traveller
Surfs Up Image Credit: Outlook Traveller

Surf's Up

Manek S. Kohli visits Mangalore to witness a sporting event and ends up experiencing an entire culture


Manek S. Kohli

All we could hear at six in the morning was the crashing of the waves. Mangalore’s Sasihithlu beach, about 22km from the city, was pristine at this hour. Yesterday’s footprints had disappeared, though the crab holes had not. Discreet movements behind one of the breakfast stalls meant that we could now order fresh filter kaapi. We had shown up in the wee hours to watch surfers prepare for the final day of India’s biggest surfing event, the Indian Open of Surfing. And soon enough, men and women clothed in neon spandex took to the water, swift and elegant. We saw the paradisiacal Sasihithlu, which is also the site where two rivers meet the Arabian Sea, metamorphose from morning’s sleepy child to dramatic world stage.

The event, organised by the Mantra Surf Club, was held over three days between May 26 and 28 and saw over 120 Indian and international surfers and stand-up paddlers (SUP) participate. But more than any of that, the event, just like Mantra, has been the catalyst for India’s foray into the world of surfing.

It was the day of the semi-finals and finals. Footprints again dotted the sand as the crowds sought out the

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