Newton’s first law states that an object will remain at rest or in uniform motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced external force. The law is valid for most matter affected by gravity but the question remains, what reaction can this ‘external force’ produce?
Knowledge was literally stuffed into our minds when we were kids leaving no room for inquisitiveness. We never questioned why the sky is blue or why we close our eyes when we sneeze. Practical tests didn’t aim at building empirical knowledge but a skill of reproducing verbatim what we learnt by rote. Hence, it became imminent to put this unused information to use and a question squeezed its way in to my mind.
What happens when this unbalanced ‘external force’ comes in contact with people who are self-driven?
I did find an answer but before that I met Tyler.
Like most kids his age, Tyler’s life in Tripura moved constantly in the same direction of getting educated, earning money and growing old. Heavy metal music was his escape. Listening to it was his ritual. He would often crank up the volume to a limit that would make his neighbors’ ears figuratively bleed. Dancing, especially b-boying kept him in his element. He enjoyed being lazy in the mornings and would often run away from school. Not because he didn’t want to learn but because there were infinite questions he wanted answers to. Tyler wasn’t your regular kid who would behave like a sheep in a herd. Something was different about him but life moved on.
In 2015, an ‘external force’ completely offset his life balance.
It was at a regular dancing jam session where Tyler found skateboarding or skateboarding found him. “I was into breakdancing and like all teenagers, I dreamt of being a skateboarder. Every week we used to have local competitions and there I met a guy who was a regular skateboarder. He introduced me to other skaters and that’s how it started”, says Tyler.
Skateboarding isn’t just a sport but a form of creativity, freedom, and expression. Your economic status, religion, race or gender doesn’t matter.
He was instantly hooked and tried to introduce others to the sport but discovered that not everyone was ready to experience the grind. Everyone was happier being stuck in the rut. Tyler explains, “For me it was different, after I started skateboarding I saw everything around me differently. In my opinion, skateboarding is different than other forms of creative expression. There is no catch with skateboarding. You’re on your own and no one is telling you what to do. It is more than just a sport; it’s more about self-improvement, building relationships and expressing yourself”.
Since the evolution of skateboarding, digital visuals have been instrumental in increasing the popularity of the sport. As more and more people picked it up in the west, India fought its more important battles of ‘roti’, ‘kapda’ and ‘makaan’. Being a developing nation, it never provided a conducive infra for the sport in the early stages. Agartala (Tripura) hometown of Tyler faced a more basic problem; there were no skateboards to skate. Tyler had to solve not one but two problems simultaneously. The solution was a long shot.
First his crew had to generate a demand for skateboards to procure gear at an affordable price. To attract audiences and skateboarding media they needed to create more content around their home scene. On asking why go through all the trouble Tyler said, “Skateboarding isn’t just a sport but a form of creativity, freedom, and expression. Your economic status, religion, race or gender doesn’t matter. I wanted to promote these ideas and establish communication among skaters in India.”
Tyler had a rough start. He had no background in film-making and had to learn the basics all by himself. Long nights were spent on the editing table. Hiring camera gear was expensive so he had to create ways to tell stories that would inspire others. His initial films were shot on one of the cheapest camcorders available in the market. Slowly, his work started to garner more attention. Active8sports, a Pune based skate company, started giving Tyler more work. While he was still in high-school his contribution to the skateboarding scene in India was very big. Amongst a small community of skaters, Tyler slowly began to stand out.
“I cannot take all the credit. Making short films wouldn’t have been possible without my crew. We worked on an idea initially where everybody pitched in 100 bucks and we went for a skate-trip on the weekend. People were often nice and didn’t charge me for their time or energy. We just wanted to promote skate-boarding and that was our common goal”.
Skateboarders all around India started to take notice of Tyler’s work. All and sundry participated and started creating videos to promote their local scene.
After school Tyler decided not to go to college. He was twenty at this time. His family wasn’t with him on this but what he did have was a clear vision. “Conventional education does not make you question things or rather, it doesn’t make you question at all. Skateboarding taught me a lot. I learnt not only how to land tricks but also how to persevere. It makes you accept that everything in life is connected. We see new things, get inspired which broadens our vision, and that’s how we should be working and educating ourselves”, says Tyler.
Tyler’s subsequent projects took him to Ladakh he made a small series of films around Adnan Zayed. According to Tyler, “Adnan was the only one skating in Ladakh and it’s a difficult thing to do when you have to stand against odds. In my opinion, skateboarding culture is built on a foundation of thirst for individual expression and non-conformity. And, I believe it to be the reason that psyched me to work on this particular project.”
Jiju, a French skateboarder later joined them to cruise on beautiful deserted boulevards.
The intimacy between Adnan and Jiju was flawlessly translated through camera on screen. They both have different ethnicities but speak a common language of skateboarding.
On this trip, Tyler had to shuffle between two part-time jobs. To make ends meet he worked at a local outdoor shop in Manali and wrote blogs for a living. He saved to travel and film. Eventually all his savings were exhausted. ”That was a rough-time but it helped me strengthen my resolve. I knew the direction I wanted to move in life and the rough times didn’t actually feel that rough”.
After a while Tyler landed in Bangalore where he started working with local skateboarders and started his own magazine called “Skate-Stark”. Tyler has worked really hard to create a space for skateboarding in India but with “Skate-Stark” he could finally reap the benefits. With the magazine’s launch more people started to join hands and come together. Tyler was unaware that he had given birth to a movement. Even before Tyler could realize it, artists were painting graffiti of “Skate Stark” in Delhi. A community so infinitesimal, that you could count it on fingertips, started to grow.
These are some of the many things that Tyler has built out of sheer will and determination to achieve what he believes in undeterred by the hurdles, life threw at him. A paradox, to how we are being conditioned through mainstream media. Soft drink corporates spreading the propaganda of becoming risk takers through consumption of highly caffeinated drinks. Preying on the credulous mind of the consumer, who wants to be cool and finds solace in adrenaline pumping advertisements.
We are all social misfits in one way or the other and there is a need to unite this family. We have a choice, get steered by external forces in our lives or devise an alternate direction we can head into.
Hence, Newton has everything to do with skateboarding. Agreed, his law is true and universal but what happens afterwards is open to infinite permutations and combinations. It’s up to you, how you respond.
So next time life gives you lemons, just squeeze the s*** out of them.
“Skateboarding is all about _____”
The blank has a different meaning for just about everybody who indulges in the sport. Tell us yours.
Author: Aditya Pande
A climber hailing from a quaint hill town of Kumaon, Uttaranchal. Focused towards staying healthy and efficient, in the mountains and in the cities.