INDIA: Making Beyond the Surface

“Unite those with positive minds and compassionate hearts and good things happen…” I thought to myself, after meeting Emi Koch in San Diego and chatting with Crystal Thornburg-Homcy about her idea to make a unique surf film in India early in 2012. She and her husband, renown filmmaker, Dave Homcy, planned to document Emi’s work in India under her NGO, Beyond the Surface International, and other such inspiring cases of youth and women’s empowerment through surfing, yoga, and ecological creativity. 

On a scouting mission in December 2012, they serendipitously met, Ishita Malaviya, India’s first female surfer and a powerful voice for Indian women, who happily agreed to accompany us on the adventure. Shortly after, Damian Handisides of Free Theo Productions joined the team and the project’s momentum became unstoppable. I was honored to be a participant, along with Lauren Hill (founder of The Sea Kin), and Kate Baldwin (yogini extraordinaire). 

We all met in India from our various points on the globe this past April with the hope of exchanging Light and Love with the people we met along the way, especially those facing poverty, gender inequality, and social disparity. At the same time, the adventure would be a platform of growth for our own individual paths of self-realization. Our three unforgettable weeks abound with surprises, beauty, surf, and new friendships while touring and filming in southern India. We explored together in search of a deeper connection to our fellow humans and Mother nature.

Look for updates and release info for the film at www.beyondthesurfacefilm.com.

The following is a story from my first few hours in India…

It didn’t seem real until the Indian official stamped my passport and waved me toward baggage claim at the Trivandrum airport in Southern India at three in the morning. The speed of air travel still confounds my sailor’s mind…Instead of watching lights slowly appear on a dark horizon, I found myself huddled around a whirling belt of boxes and bags elbow to elbow with Indian air commuters returning from Dubai. After long flights on multiple airlines, my travel companion since Brisbane–surfing’s extraordinary ecofeminist, Lauren Hill (Check out her fantastic blog/Zine: The Sea Kin), 

and I were relieved to find our belongings amidst the chaos and head for the exit.

 

The sliding doors opened to reveal a sea of families lined upon a railing awaiting home-comers. The fluorescent airport lights eerily illuminated the throng against the black of night. Whites around dark eyes, teeth exposed between open lips, the flash off women’s shiny fabrics, ashen blessings on foreheads, and dazzling gold jewellery all blinked at us like navigational beacons on a horizon of humans. India. We had arrived!?! The air was a thick mix of humidity, exhaust, sweat, and spice, and I sliced through it with the vertical load of my Prolite Rhino Series 6′ 4″ boardbag on the airport trolley…

Where the crowd thinned we found, Uddi, our driver, holding an 8 by 11″ paper scrawled with “Lauren/Liz”. He bobbled his head from left to right and we took that as a sign to follow him. We strapped the boards atop the classic Ambassador taxi and hopped in.

The old headlights spat weak light on the right side of the oddly busy two-lane highway. Behind the wheel, Uddi was possessed–honking excessively and using the middle of the road like we were in a game of PacMan. We passed and dodged oncoming traffic in a series of what each felt like near-death incidents. My body stiffened. I clenched the velour cover on the backseat, fixing my eyes on the road from between the headrests, as if it might help us avoid collision. Twenty minutes into the ride, the fatigue of the 30 straight hours of planes and airports hit me. “Relax,” I told myself. “You’re not the captain now…” I closed my eyes and heard ‘Bharat Mata’, Mother India, whisper…

“Lesson One. You are not in control. You never really are for that matter… People come to India for many things. But what I give each of them are opportunities to open their minds and hearts ever wider…chances to grow from within…to loosen the stuck places…nourish their souls with the notion that everything is possible… Welcome, my Dear, and enjoy the ride…” — Captain Lizzy

 

LIZ CLARK (text + photos): Liz left California aboard her 40-ft sailboat, Swell, in 2006 and has sailed over 18,000 nautical miles in the Pacific exploring for remote waves to surf, learning new cultures, seeking truth, living simply from the sea, and writing about it on her blog: www.swellvoyage.com. As an eco and spiritual activist, she hopes to inspire people to live their passions and reconnect with nature and our inherent Oneness.