Tag: India


Skating and charities have been playing around together for a while now, so when we got contacted by Julian Dykmans from Blam Studio about a trip in Europe by a charity skatepark in India called Janwaar Castle we thought we’d better check it out.

I got to the chosen skate destination a bit early so went through some of my notes to get the brain going and read a bit more on Janwaar Castle. Basically, it’s a Skatepark in India, in a small average village called Janwaar, population around 1200. The skatepark was founded by Ulrike Reinhard in 2015 to try and create a counter-culture, to the highly sexist and split tribal based culture, through skateboarding. Its worked. Now around 50 to 60 local kids go there at every possible chance and because of this, it has generated a coexisting space where kids of all tribes and genders can bond and enjoy together. Its even boosted school attendance by having a “no school, no skateboarding” rule and created a greater push for girls by having a strict “girls first” rule.

With these facts now in my brain, it was a pretty perfect time for Julian to show.
Julian rocked up with his camera team and we started having the classic ‘nice weather’ chat whilst waiting for the Janwaar kids to show. He was nice enough as well to give some more content explaining that he’d been talking to a couple of skaters who were working within Decathlon and they had been supplying places such as Africa and India with skateboards. That’s when he learnt of Janwaar Castle and was put in contact with them. He went out to India and was blown away by the kids. Kids with no shoes all sharing boards with no idea about the whole context of skating and the culture, just pure rolling. Pure passion.

The kids turned up, all big-eyed and shy unsure what they’ve got them self into. Sujan, Arun and Ramkesh. 16, 14 and 10. With new boards setups, they were eager to start and with the quick introduction over it was time to skate. It’s fascinating to see kids that have had almost no internet or video interaction skate. There is this level of unawareness and pure fun, with no idea whats on trend or whats been done. It’s refreshing to see a take on skateboarding with no care in the world.

Ulrik, the founder of Janwaar, explained that they skate like that because there is no coaching system setup, this keeps it a free place to explore and have fun. Just a bunch of kids learning together, through fun. Ulrik seems like a bit of an odd endorser of skateboard culture and on paper she is. But that what makes it interesting. It’s not a skateboarder thinking kids will enjoy skating, it’s from the view of skateboarding as more than an activity. She’s extremely passionate about the idea that skateboarding is a way to create change because of its strict adherence to cultural rules, and believes that any other sport wouldn’t work. “ It teaches you to fall and rise, take risks and most importantly, maintain balance.” She has a point.

And just like that, with some slams and lands they’re finished skating and ready to move on and it was my time to leave. Now with a little more appreciation for what a simple toy and a place to play can do.

If you want to learn more about Janwaar Castle, go here.

S/O to The Rural Changemakers, and to Decathlon for supporting this project.

Text by Luc Ferry.
Pictures by Conrad Bauer.

1 – Trying to imagine a motorcycle trip through one of the most exotic countries in the world, one would usually think of palm trees, lots of sun, friends, plenty of speed and a warm breeze brushing back one’s hair. None of which existed on a day towards the end of January 2012 when Michael Mackrodt, Jerry Hsu, Javier Mendizabel, Keegan Sauder, Joey Pepper and Jonathan Mehring left the capital city of Hanoi, embarking on a two-week trip that saw them travel more than 2,000 kilometers.

A very slight drizzle turned into heavy rain that lasted for hours, making everything wet and leading to misery when our bodies and hands were freezing from the cold wind. Not to mention getting lost, Jerry slamming, not finding food because it was Vietnamese New Year’s Day – it goes without saying that this day was a pretty miserable one. But waking up the next morning and putting back on my wet pants and shoes was probably even worse.

2 – When a couple of things go wrong in no more than 24 hours, it usually makes for a pretty shitty day. So when three non-related people tried to hurt us and hunt us down within said time span, it was worse than anything I could have imagined: This random day began in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, with a taxi driver wanting to beat us all up if we didn’t give him five dollars each.

Having managed to escape the situation, an older woman at the train station viciously started throwing rocks at us. And to top things off, a drunk Mongolian climbed up to the third floor of our hostel and broke the balcony windows, trying to steal things in our room, but when film maker Anthony Claravall turned on the lights, he jumped from one balcony to the next and took off. Welcome to Mongolia!

To be honest though, I was accompanied by nine Chinese dudes (Converse team), who are not really welcomed by the natives, which is hardly surprising: after all, they built that Great Wall to keep the Mongolians out…

3 – On most long-distance trains in China you can find cabins labeled as “sleeping class”, “sitting class”, and – a popular alternative for anyone trying to save some bucks, at least if you don’t mind standing on two feet – “standing class”. On a Trans-Siberian trip from Moscow to Hong Kong, we found ourselves almost towards the end in Beijing with only a couple days left until our next destination, Xi’an.

We were all pretty shocked when we heard that we were supposed to stand on that train for 13 hours. On the actual night of our departure, half the crew bailed out and took a plane or stayed longer in Beijing, but Laurence Keefe, Kirill Korobkov, Daniel Hochman and myself took it upon ourselves to see how shitty one would feel after this experience.

I can’t really describe it, but after 13 hours of standing with a couple hours of painful kneeling between the aisles (which was almost worse than standing), both Daniel and I caught the flu, babies shat all over the ground and my body felt like the biggest pile of shit ever. “Never again will I stand again,” or some such thing I told myself after that.

4 – You know it’s not your day when you are in survival mode thinking, “If I collapse right here, right now, I might just perish amongst a million Hindus and no one will ever know.” In early 2013, the world had its biggest gathering of human beings along the Ganges in India for the ‘Kumbh Mela’, which is held every 12 years.

During an eight-week period more than 130 million people pilgrimaged to bathe in the Ganges, amongst them Mark Suicu, Sebo Walker, Nestor Judkins, Sean Malto, Jon Mehring and myself. Of course once again half the crew caught the flu and were out under the most stressful circumstances, with loudspeakers blaring 24-hour prayers at maximum volume and a flooding tin shack falling apart.

Since this festival is on only every 12 years, we had no choice but to wake up at four in the morning to witness the finale of all the sadhus and gurus bathing. My head was spinning and we had to walk some three or four hours to get to the river and back; during the walk back I felt so weak I was contemplating just passing out amongst millions of people, but the desire to keep on living was stronger. Not planning to go see the biggest gathering of humans ever again.

5 – I have had a couple bus rides in Indonesia and Sri Lanka where I told myself I would never ever enter a vehicle again, but when traveling from the Iranian/Azerbaijani border to Baku in a Mercedes-Benz alongside Michael Mackrodt, I didn’t think anything could go wrong in this equation. Well, I was wrong.

This might not have been the worst day, but probably the most intense and annoying transit. Our Azerbaijani driver of course didn’t speak English and then he picked up this random lady, which was already a bit annoying since we had paid for the entire car. To make things even worse, she asked the driver to stop by her house so she could pick up her baby. After a good 30 minutes she showed up again with a ten-year-old boy who wore ridiculously thick glasses and a suit. At this point Michael and I were pretty pissed off, but we were also glad to finally hit the road.

Minutes later we realized that we were in for an intense ride, seeing how the driver turned the Azerbaijani coastal roads along the Caspian Sea into a Formula 1 racing track, with speeds up to 160 kilometers per hour at times. I was stuck in the back with the lady and the boy, while she was telling the driver stories in Azerbaijani, non-stop for over two hours. By non-stop I really mean non-stop, there was no silence.

Even when a car in front of us hit a cow and we saw this huge creature sliding down the street on its back, she still kept on talking. I was wishing she could just somehow shut up… and since she obviously had photosensitive epilepsy, a few minutes later she had a seizure: There was foam coming out of her mouth, and so the driver immediately stopped and gave her some Fanta.

It was scary, I didn’t wish for her to die, all I wanted was some quiet for a minute. She was shook up for a while, but of course soon she started talking again. So that cow sliding on its back, that lady with a seizure, that insane driving – I mean I don’t see Michael Mackrodt scared too often, but we both felt quite relieved when we arrived in Baku in one piece.

Dieser Beitrag von Patrik Wallner findet sich in unserer Jubiläumsausgabe, die du hier bestellen kannst.

Drei Wochen lang haben sich Alex Ullman, Mocki Ellinger, Iwan Martaller, Jakim Poijo, Moritz Meyer und Philipp Schäfer von Jon Wolf mit der Videokamera durch Indien jagen lassen. Herausgekommen ist ein Skateboard-Dokumentation, in der es scheinbar unendliche Marmorspots, perfekte Handrails, nette Menschen und verrückte Tiere gibt.

Im Berliner Civilist Store wird am Samstag die Levi’s Skateboarding Collection gelauncht und der Shop lädt zum gemütlichen Come together. Doch damit nicht genug, es gibt Rahmenprogramm: Zum einen die Fotoausstellung “Holy Stoked – Skateboarding in India“, zum anderen ein Filmscreening – Hintergrund: Im Frühjahr 2013 half Levi’s den ersten frei zugänglichen Skatepark in Indien zu bauen. Wer hat, darf gerne seinen alten Skate Stuff mitbringen und damit die indische Szene unterstützen – Sharing is caring und so …

Levi’s Skateboarding Collection Launch
Civilist, Brunnenstraße 13, Berlin Mitte
Samstag, 17. August, 17.00 Uhr

Patrick Wallners Gurus In The Ganges kommt mit Teil drei und schliesst damit die erfolgreiche Dokumentation über einen Indien Trip, welcher für einige Teilnehmer eine Horizonterweiterung bedeutete; mit dabei sind Sean Malto, Mark Suciu, Nestor Judkins, Sebo Walker und 30 Mio. Menschen.