An abandoned ramshackle warehouse, a skateboard and a young heart full of dreams. You never can predict how an inspiring story begins in the City.
Here is the story of the boy who made his dream breathe and thrive, and continues to nurture it with his single minded passion and enthusiasm. Perfect ingredients for a Calcutta story. That is why the focus is on this young Calcuttan and his untiring efforts!
Meet Anup Parida- a 20 years old affable and extremely cordial Calcuttan studying management.
He has been incredibly spearheading the Skateboarding culture in a City that is conventionally associated with trams, Tagore and typecasting.
Skateboarding is a western sport. It has the conventional association of being the casual pastime of teenagers. Popular culture from the western world beamed into our rooms every day, project it as such. But it is more than that. Much more.
A conversation with Anup will leave one with full of wonder and thrill at how this young Calcuttan with meagre resources has managed to keep skateboarding alive in the city and make it a perfect way to reach out to the underprivileged kids in the neighbouring area.
Anup’s story has its roots in the time when he saw his friend skateboarding. His friend was connected with an American gentleman Aaron Walling …. who out of pure philanthropic motivation, initiated skateboarding amongst the local kids in the area he was staying. Being a lover of sports, Anup took to skateboarding like a fish takes to water and realized he simply loved it.
Once Aaron left the City, the practices came to an abrupt halt. Anup kept visiting to find the kids had stopped coming and so had the few others who had taken an interest previously.
He found it in himself to resume the practices and carry the passion forward. Having no trainer, he mentored himself by watching Youtube and practising endlessly. He used to go and clean the entire arena himself before practices, store the skateboards and ramps in his house, travel with them, and set them up. Even an ankle injury did not keep him away from his dream. He funded the practices by training the kids from economically well placed families for a nominal fee, so that skateboarding could continue to exist. At a time when there seemed very little to keep it going, he kept the dream alive.
This was about 2 years ago.
Today, skateboarding in the city is beginning to thrive. Just about though. Anup makes sure the local underprivileged kids continue to get to train in it, as it keeps them away from the evils around them. The warehouse buzzes with sounds of the wheels landing tricks or just practising how to ride.
Anup also trains others who are interested in the sport at another location in the city.
He is part of the Kolkata Skateboarders community and it has its own social media presence.
But let us return to this Calcutta story. Anup shares a beautiful incident which needs a mention here. The location for the practices is a vast one. There is a homeless lady who has found refuge there. Anup makes it a point to give her something every practice day. One day, he found the practice arena spic and span. It was her. He was so pleasantly surprised. In the course of a conversation with her , he noticed the unusual way she grasped the packet of biscuits he had kept for her. It was then she revealed to him, that she was blind. But that had not deterred her from doing her bit for the skateboarders. This heart-warming tale makes Calcutta who she is we believe.
In the country there are only a select few individuals like Anup who lead skateboarding initiatives seriously. Anup took the onus of organising a one of its kind workshop in the city last year, when along with skateboarding, one could come, watch and learn other offbeat skills such as b-boying too. All those who offered their skills up that day, did it out of pure love for it and the City.
Today the greatest challenges are financing the dream and procuring a permanent space for practices. A skateboarding arena needs permanent ramps and also skateboards for practices. Children who cannot afford need shoes that last. Anup is working hard at it. He keeps the dream alive by keeping the faith alive.
Calcutta engenders dreams every single day. Some live, others fade. The City which boasts of heritage and legacy, is pulsating with a young and vibrant culture that does not get talked about too often, but is very much existent nonetheless.
This is what makes Calcutta an enigma but an adorable one at that.
Individuals like Anup make the City who she is- they add character to her and strengthen her fabric. We sure need more of his kind in the City and of course, in the world.
You can follow the skateboarding story on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/anup.parida.963
Acknowledgements : Anup Parida