Revivalist Nate Zoller finds enlightenment in India!
We’d been traveling nonstop for 5-days. Enfield’s stalling through dense Chennai traffic and unloading onto the open highway towards mental salvation, the fickle point break of Mahab’s. We pulled up to the hotel running on Kingfishers and samosas, dust in the eyelashes and leaches on our socks. The crew sat at the bar and ordered a round; I snatched my beer and skipped out to the end of the point to get my first sight of the ocean in India. Onshore, afternoon crumble, but there was a guy out! Indians surfing in India! The jetty point was built to protect the Hindu temple built in the eighth century, forming a groomed sandbar out front of the jacks.
Next morning I was up at dark, knocking on Dylan Gordon’s hotel room door like a kid on Christmas morning. I’d researched the swell information on the Internet and it was chaotic at best, nobody really knew what the waves were going to do the whole trip. It was more of a wake up and check it type thing. Running up the point that morning we saw our first sign of surf, a 3-foot set melting under the sun rising in the east. Fishing boats with weed whacker engines lined the shore awaiting the daily grind. On the other side of the boats we could hear kids giggling, as Dylan and I came to find out they were holding hands, pooping side-by-side, right there in the shore of the point. You’re not in India until you see someone shit in public.
The monsoon winds would clock up at 9am every morning. And that first day, during the high tide walk back to the hotel, shit logs were splashing into the Mahab’s breakwall and splintering into and liquid stench so toxic we were at full sprint within seconds. Dylan coined it Doo-Doo point at breakfast that first morning. The point reminded me of waves I had found in Sri Lanka in the past, jacking up outside the jetty for a barrel section and opening up into a long playful wall. We didn’t really know what to expect and so far, we were happily pleased with the surf.
On our last day in Mahab’s we surfed until the winds clocked onshore and grabbed breakfast. After we ate I noticed the wind switched back offshore and immediately kicked into froth overdrive. Two minutes on the bike later and we pulled up to ruler-edge right point break perfection. Best waves we had seen all week, nobody out and every bit world class. I ran and grabbed my Shiva, sprinted to the end of the point and didn’t take a breath until I was in position for a set. A few tubes behind the rock later and the wind clocked again. I was talking to a local Indian surfer in the lineup and he gestured, “Every day at 10am the wind goes offshore, that’s when I surf.” I couldn’t help but laugh, we had it all wrong, the internet had it wrong, and there were logs of poo floating next to abandoned sandals on either side of me. India takes grit, a strong stomach, and more than a little luck. But if you play your cards right everything falls into place for a couple moments of Zen.