Salt in my Hair – Surfing in Mulki

Letting go is hard, but being free is beautiful!

This is one of the many lessons that my surfing experience taught me!

I am someone who has never been in water much. Never done swimming, never done any water sports or activities much, never even gotten much further in water on beaches, not even till the point where the water covers the knees. So, directly going to learn surfing was never a pre-decided thing, it just happened. My friends asked, and I said why not, let’s do this.

The first day was overwhelming, even overwhelming does not cover it. Turned out the first day was not at all about surfing for me, for me it was about getting in the water, as high as my height, without any life jacket, drowning multiple times, and being totally ok with it. It was when as I like to call it ‘I had my Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara moment’.

I remember that moment as if it had just happened yesterday. My instructor asked me to take my first break. There I was, sitting on the sand, looking at the beach, and I had teardrops flowing down my eyes. But these were not tears of sadness or happiness, these were tears of peace and serenity, of feeling that sukoon that being in the water offered me, feeling and absorbing that feeling for the very first time in my life.

The entire experience was so enthralling, that I would have left my job all over again if I hadn’t already done that five months ago. That very moment, I knew why I was there, I knew why I traveled, I knew why I went out seeking for such moments, I knew why I found solace in discomforts, I knew I was not just alive but living, I knew what BEING ALIVE really meant.

Well, even if I refused to admit it to anyone back then, the entire experience wasn’t easy at first. Those first few times when I fell off the surfboard and was drowning and couldn’t make my feet touch the ground, and realized I didn’t even have the time to even process it or stop for a second because I am here to learn surfing and not swimming, it felt incomprehensible. As much as on the outside I put on a smiling face, on the inside, there was an entire turmoil going on. 

And the second day, it did not get easier, rather more difficult. With bruises all over (less due to surfing, more due to my own clumsiness), and knowing now that every failed pop-up on the surfboard meant drowning all over again, I was initially scared to do the pop-ups, to the point that when the third day was approaching, and one of my friends suggested that I should wear a life jacket while surfing because he couldn’t fathom how I was surfing in the ocean without knowing swimming at all without wearing a life jacket, I was willing to consider it.

Of course, I didn’t wear it. But I am glad that conversation happened because it made me realize that I was getting a little scared of water and made me ponder about it to that point where I let go of this fear completely. And as I surfed the third day, I realized that even though letting go is hard, being free felt so beautiful that I, no more wanted to take breaks, I no more wanted to stop, I just wanted to surf and surf and was ready to fall as many times as it took.

This day, my third day, I can never forget, for two reasons.

First one being, that I just let go. It’s hard to describe in words how amazing this feeling is unless you have experienced it personally. Whether you have let go of the left-over feelings of a hard break-up, or let go of your fear/phobia of something, it is such a beautiful feeling where you get ecstatic and feel so proud of yourself.

Watching sunsets is one of my favorite things on the beach, but while mostly everyone stopped surfing and sat on the beach to gaze at the sun, I was still out there surfing, trying, giving my all, and feeling so delighted. I knew at that moment that I am not leaving this place for another month, that I would like to come back every day and surf and feel what I am feeling at that very moment.

But it seems like life had other plans. And, here comes the second reason, my injury.

Well, who would have thought my last pop-up for the day would end up becoming my last pop-up for the time being? As I surfed and excitedly half fell half jumped off the board as I reached the shore, I twisted my knee, fell on it, and then got dragged by it because of the leash. Withering with pain, I tried to get up, but I couldn’t. I tried to drag my surfboard, but I couldn’t. There was so much pain that I couldn’t understand what had really happened. Everyone was sitting right in front me of, but me being me, I didn’t want to ask for help.

As I somehow managed to drag my board and get out of the water, I immediately fell to the ground. I realized I couldn’t get up at all or even fold my right leg anymore. All I could think at that moment was that it might detain me from surfing for 1-2 days but I will be alright soon enough. As people started coming to look at what had happened, Adrika, my friend, came, looked, examined, and said with a shock on her face ‘This is exactly what happened during my ACL tear’. My heart broke. I knew her story. I knew how many months she was on bed rest, and I just couldn’t fathom right now that happening to me. I had just let go and started feeling the magic of the ocean, this can’t be happening.

My friends picked me up, cleaned off the sand, and took me to the doctor. On the way, I thought of the worst scenario possible (something I do so that I don’t get hurt by whatever the results say). I thought the worst-case scenario would be that he would tell me that I can’t surf or do any other adventure sports for a month or so, and I thought I will just go backpacking across Goa, Gokarna, etc., and after a month come back to complete my surfing. That’s the worst that could have happened, right? Wrong. What I didn’t know during that car ride, which I was so happily enjoying, was that I was going to be in for a shock.

ACL tear. MCL sprain. 2-3 months of bed rest. Knee brace. No walking, no applying pressure on the knee, painkillers. Well, these were the only few words I could absorb, the rest was pretty much blurred. 

Background for those of you who don’t know, I left my flat just a few weeks back before this trip because I decided I will be traveling full time, and I didn’t want a place or city to hold me back. While it felt heartbreaking to leave the home that I had created for myself in the past two years, I knew I just had to do it. During the car ride back, all those faces that had told me it was a bad decision to leave my flat started flashing across my eyes. But I didn’t listen to them back then, in fact, I hardly ever listen to anyone when it comes to making decisions.

Well, as my plans to learn surfing, backpack Northeast, doing a snow trek on my birthday fell apart, I felt quite hurt. Initially, I was very optimistic and started listing down all the things that I could do now instead, one of the major ones being focusing on my writing, something for which I was not able to take out time since I was traveling so much. But gradually I started feeling dependent on my friends for the smallest of chores, I started feeling helpless, and both these feelings really didn’t go well with me. The reason I am telling you all of this is because I want you to know how letting go on this trip for me was not just about letting go of my fear of water and being free to surf as I like, but something much more.

When all these emotions started penting up, I initially refused to accept them, I refused to accept that I am not feeling ok at times, that feeling helpless and dependent and even at times guilty for bothering everyone so much, was not working well with me. But it was when I finally accepted that not being ok is actually ok and I let go of these emotions, that I was finally free to be happy again to the point that I spent another 10 days in the surfing school happily even after being injured. After which, I finally decided to come back to my own house, first time to live here by my own decision, the first time since I left it two years back, and here I am sitting here and writing this blog and sharing all my feelings with you all so easily.

Even after the injury incident, my time in Mulki was very enriching. Everyone was so nice and I met a lot of new people and travellers in the coming days just the way I prefer it. Every evening on the last three day, I walked to the backwaters since it was hardly 200 meters away. It was a long walk, to be honest, and a difficult one, but it felt so worth it when I got to lie there, watch the moon, the sky, the stars, and just feel the serenity that surrounded that place. On the last day, I even somehow went to the beach to see the sunset, something which I cherish even more every time I see it, something that is so beautiful to watch, reminding me all over again how endings can be beautiful too. 

And, as the sunset, just to rise again the next day, and bring new hopes and light, I decided to take the next 2-3 months of the bed rest in my stride and promised to create magic for myself each day even if it would be without traveling, my ultimate passion.

Hope this little story of mine inspires you to not only go out there and try surfing (that is a must, ok?), but also take whatever difficulties life brings to you in your stride and make the most of them. Because someone rightly said, while what happens to us is beyond our control, how we react to it is always in our hands!

See you next week! Because I have decided now to post blogs every weekend ?


Disclaimer: All these injuries that happened were more due to my own clumsiness and had little to do with surfing. Yes, you do get little bruises here and there while surfing but that’s about it. So, don’t you dare skip this beautiful experience due to the fear of injuries. Okay? Okay.

Hi! I’m Kajal and I love to travel. Follow along as I travel around the globe and share my favorite places.

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