The gift of a surfboard has transformed the life of Murthy, a fisherman from Kovalam
When Murthy was gifted a surfboard by Yotam Agam, an enthusiast from Israel five years ago, he did not know what to do with it. Today, he gives lessons in surfing to around 25 youngsters in Kovalam, off Chennai.
A fisherman from the small village of Kovalam, Murthy is happy with his new profession. It's a break from fishing, his traditional means of livelihood, and for many other villagers too, for whom it has been their only relationship with the sea, a relationship handed down over the several generations. But, all that is changing, even if slowly.
The dependency on fishing has brought harsh times to Kovalam village. With the catch dwindling every year, their livelihood is threatened. This has led many fishermen to take to alternative avenues for sustenance.
Murthy's love for water is too deep to make him part ways with it. Without any professional training in surfing, he learnt to surf by trial and error. He says he's caught “the surf fever”!
Surfing is not a popular sport in India. But Murthy's passion is inspiring many youngsters in Kovalam to take the plunge.
When Yotam visited Kovalam again, he was surprised at Murthy's progress. Murthy told him about his dream — to open a school for surfing. But the obstacles before him were many, the biggest being the lack of surfboards and funds.
Murthy has collected some boards. In fact, his house is full of old boards, but he needs new ones if he wants to continue as an instructor. Opening a school, he confidently says, will attract more youngsters to the sport.
It's this conviction that has made Yotam decide to help Murthy. His organisation, EarthSync, is now setting up a fund to get Murthy's school started.
The organisation is trying to raise awareness among surfers, surfboard manufacturers and other organisations to promote the sport in India.
It's comforting for Murthy to know that he does not have to toil alone to realise his dream.