By Ozzie Hoppe
In Bangalore, a swiftly growing city in India known for its tech industry, skateboarding is increasingly popular among young men and women.
Atita Verghese (Atty), 23, learned about the sport while taking a year off after high school. Atty didn’t have enough money to buy a skateboard, so she would often wait for the boys in her neighborhood to finish skating and use their boards.
After she got started, a Bangalore-based skate collective, Holy Stoked, gave her a board as a gift. Several years later, Atty now teaches skate classes.
Atty is active in championing girls’ skating in India. In 2015, she organized an all-girl skate tour that traveled by bus to four different cities in India. During the trip, the crew built ramps from scratch and conducted local skate workshops for girls while helping to break down the stereotype that skating is only for guys.
After participating in track and field in high school, Atty turned her passion for sports toward skateboarding. With full support from her mom, she keeps up a steady routine of skating daily. She has inspired countless girls in India to skate by making the idea more accessible and giving them the confidence to get started, regardless of what other people think. Atty performed at a TEDx talk in April 2016 called “Skateboarding Today, Revolution Tomorrow.”
Elsewhere in the city, the above-mentioned skate collective, Holy Stoked, holds events for skaters at Swami Vivekananda Road metro station. The station itself is a buzzing center of activity — packed buses, cars, motorcycles, rickshaws and a stampede of pedestrians regularly pass through it. People often stop to watch the skateboarders, as skateboarding is still an uncommon sight in India. Passersby ask about the equipment, and whether lessons are available.
Kids of all ages and levels of experience frequent this public skating location, and often borrow boards from the older skaters to give it a try.
A curious metro station employee in Bangalore, India, checks out a skateboard.
Kevin (above), originally from Kerala, started skating after he met the Holy Stoked crew in 2013. He now lives in Bangalore permanently, and says his skating community pushes and motivates him. Holy Stoked has supported him over the years by providing him with boards and shoes. His day job is teaching classes to young skaters.
Though resources are scarce and the concept of skateboarding is still a novelty in India, the scene is picking up. Skateboarding can also pave the way for other creative pursuits, including rapping, B-boying, BMX riding and filmmaking. As more people step up to support the scene, they’re creating great opportunities for the next generation of skaters in India.
Ozzie Hoppe, a documentary photographer and artist from New York City, took these photos while documenting the up and coming skateboard scene in Bangalore. You can follow him on Instagram here.