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Skyping with India's First Female Surfer, Ishita Malaviya

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  Well, I bet you didn’t know that India also has a new and growing surfing community, AND a first female surfer!  I know – how cool! Hooray!  


(Ishita Malaviya, India's first female surfer Photo Credit: Shaka Surf Club)


I can’t describe what it’s like being a Desi female surfer trying to find your way as a surfing “immigrant” here in America and then learning about a fellow sister on the other side of the world pioneering surfing in her own country.  It’s like finding part of your tribe.  My dad is from Barisal, Bangladesh and my mom from Lahore, Pakistan but technically it was all India when they were born.  I was born here in the states, but since nobody in my family ever surfed, I sort of feel like a surfing immigrant at times.  So it feels good to find connections with others in my culture doing something that so few of us do!    


When I learned of Ishita, India’s first female surfer, I was excited to learn more about her and she was excited to have made contact with a Desi surfer in America.  So we set up a Skype call (ain’t globalization grand?) last week.  Below is a short video I made of the call.  I figured it would be fun to capture the moment, me brimming with enthusiasm looking all ready to take your Big Mac and vanilla milkshake order.  I apologize but I’m technologically challenged and couldn’t figure out how to record her voice at all on the video.  Next time.  




Anyways, I was stoked to speak to her for about 45 minutes.  Of the cool, highly top secret, renegade surfer girl ninja things we chatted about, these were the most interesting highlights of our conversation:


  • Though she grew up in Bombay, Ishita moved to Manipal after getting the surfing bug.  It’s a quiet fishing village on the West coast of India, where she is building up her surf school and surf club with partner in crime Tushar.


  • There are only 70 surfers total in the entire country of India.


  • According to Ishita, most people in India do not swim and there is a general culture of fear around the ocean (except maybe in Goa and Kerala). 


  • There are 60,000 drowning deaths a year in India.  So she is trying to teach people water safety and how to swim, in addition to building an actual beach culture where she lives.


  • Many people in the nearby village view the beach and ocean as a place to dump their trash.  So she’s also trying to promote awareness around the affects of ocean pollution on our environment. 


I know – pretty interesting, huh?  And guess what!? I’ll be traveling to India in December with Professor Krista Comer of Rice University to meet this surfing sistah and to bring you the full scoop.  Dr. Comer spent 10 years studying local female surfing communities in different parts of the world and is a brown girl surf TM partner as well. Together, we hope to bring you interesting stories and insights about Ishita and her emerging surfing community in India.  Keep following!


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Brown girl surfers

This is quite fascinating. Browngirlsurf herself being a unique and interesting individual, putting the spotlight on a fellow surfer is a wonderful gesture. Ishita's venture quite remarkable...wishing both these surf riders all the 'wavy' best ;)
Mona Vijaykar

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