As I stepped on my scooty, on the long ride from Madipakkam to Kovalam, the ride seemed beautiful. There was no sweat, there was no irritation from the heat, but nice pleasant winds and an overcast sky on the ride. As I took the turn at Sholinghanallur, the weather started to rain. I was starting to love the rainy ride to Kovalam Village. A sign felicitating for the former South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes, adorned the turn from ECR into the village. It got my attention as it said ‘Welcome Jonty-Father of India’. I thought that message was clever, since it got your attention, as your mind rewinded back to last remembering Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi of having the moniker-Father of India, but going by recent memory Jonty Rhodes had become father to a baby girl, whom he named as India. With that eventful introduction, I went and parked my bike by the festival parking area. The little gate that opened out was for some reason, looking like the gates to happiness as one could see the views of the Bay of Bengal, inviting for a dip in the rains.
The sun chose to play hide and seek for most part, which acted as a good marketing ploy for people to use the hot weather as the excuse for not coming over to the beach. I chose to sit on the sand, when the sun came by and observe the patterns the water was creating. It was beautiful and soothing watching the waves roar and brake as it hit the shore. Once you are on the beach, you have little reasons to head back, unless your phone is out of charge or your stomach is craving for food. I was in that kind of a zone, looking at the surfers strut their dare-devilry in water.
Surfing is actually about storytelling. The surfers seem to subliminally talk about the relationship they have with the sea, as they zig zag their ways through wave right to the coast, and then get back into the sea for repeating the routine. Some of the surfers whom I spoke to were from the village and for them, surfing was their life. Their life revolved around the sea day in and day out, and they say that they would never be able to sit at a desk and do a job. Then there are the ones who do a desk job, but need the adrenalin of the surfs to wade through and find their soul along with the sea. All of these people have a deep connect with the sea, and the adroitness of their moves to me spoke about the relationship they had with the sea. They knew the wave, they knew the curl, they knew the coast, they knew themselves and yet every new wave surfed was a new experience for them transcending the fear within. Looking at the waves grow in size as the day progressed, I was not sure what part of the wave scared me. Was it the size of the waves in meters or the increments of fear that it doused on the burning fire of adrenaline rush. It was scary and exciting to be watching people surf.
I was getting exposed to this sport year by year at Kovalam’s surf festival. I had briefly seen the Banana Surf school in Aswem(Goa) but not really kept pace with my mild interest that said, maybe I should put in the bucket list. The sea can scare people, and it sure did scare me, which is why I have preferred to be on its outer fringes. Surfing was beautiful to look at. It was perhaps a ballet performance in the high seas. There is something about the vast canvas of the sea, the excitement that is pregnant when the wave is a moment away that causes an urge to conquer it by submitting yourself humbly before the sea, so that you derive the energy and the vibe to ride the wave.
Chennai’s North East monsoon, kept peeking every now and then, causing the waves to swell up, and causing temporary breakages from the surf competition, which had surfers from across the world participating in it. The surfing world seems small, since everyone knows each other across the country and outside it too.
After a day out staring at the surfs, the attention went over to the evening music festival, which started in the evening. The hues from the setting sun had warmed an already humid day, with the rain clouds taking a break. The focus lights, the energy of the artists and the speakers by the beach, made it into a wonderful zone where you had peace and also could shake your leg when you wanted. MadBoy Mink (Imaad Shah and Saba Azad) performed along with FuzzCulture. It was wonderful watching the locals shaking a beat to music that they did not probably understand. Maybe the music and sea have their own language that the heart understands! Maybe!
The Covelong Surf Festival 2017 is happening this weekend in Chennai with musical acts and Yogashala for sessions by the sea. Know more at
Kartik Kannan is a travel writer who writes at and makes travel documentaries. He will be seen at this year’s festival making a photo documentary on The Covelong Surf Point Festival

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