After spending more than 10 years of his life in Bangalore and Delhi for skateboarding, Amit Subba has recently shifted back to his hometown in Namrup, a small village in Assam to help his parents renovate their house and at the same time whenever he finds time, he gives skateboarding, drawing, and English lessons to kids. Amit told Inspire Crew that these days it's raining in the village and we thought why not talk more about his skateboarding journey and his work towards the community.
Amit Subba is one among the early skateboarders in India and he is the guy behind the "death slide" which he had seen in Jay Adams's pictures. He aims to revamp the education system, promote local languages, learn more tricks, and make skateboarding accessible to people especially the kids.
Amit has been skateboarding since a pretty young age. He says, " at 14 when I first saw skateboarding on TV at the X Games, that moment I knew this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I was so excited, I started sharing it with my friends and family. "
Some of my friends supported me but my family didn’t understand in the beginning. So I started planning for it. I knew that I had to start travelling to find what I wanted to do. I started saving money from the drawing classes that I used to teach. And finally, at the age of 22, I found the first pro-skate-park in Bangalore known as Play Arena which was built by Nick Smith.
In his initial days of skateboarding, Amit used to practice at home in Assam inside his house with the toy board that he could only find at that time. "I got my first actual skateboard from an online website called skate warehouse. But the size was too small and I didn’t have any idea of the size," says Amit.
Amit says, "I started travelling all over India after I turned 18 and started looking out for wherever my friends used to say if they had seen a Skateboard or a skater. Then finally after a lot of travelling, I planned to stay in Delhi as I couldn’t find anything. After staying in Delhi for about one and a half years, it gave me the freedom to travel and make money. Another reason to choose Delhi was that it’s in the heart of India so going anywhere would have been easier for me."
"I saved some money from my painting classes and travel to different places, sports shops, stadiums and enquire about skateboarding and after a few weeks I come back home without anything."
And then finally on my third trip to Bangalore a guy who told me that Nick Smith is building a skatepark in Bangalore, I texted Nick and he said, "it's not done yet but I will still invite you to me to skate with me". That was a dream come true.
Nick Smith, described by people as the" godfather of Indian Skateboarding" designed and built India's first skatepark In Goa, 2003. Amit says," I kept on searching online about skateboarding in India, and finally I found a video on YouTube named Rumble in the Jungle which was a video from Goa in 2003. In those days, a lot of skateboarders from the UK came to Goa and built a skate park. And from that video, I got to know about Nick Smith who was building a skate park in late 2010. And then finally I came to Bangalore."
Back then in 2010 when we started there were very few skaters in India. We were 5-6 of us in Bangalore and few in Delhi and Mumbai. Now there are so many skaters in India and we can even host big level skateboarding contests, events and much more.
The skaters have started travelling abroad to compete. Jugaad is one of the biggest competitions which helps the kids to skate at their best. And 100ramps has built some amazing skate parks around the country which is also helping the skaters to improve the skaters at a great level. Holystoked is one of the companies based in India and has been pushing the skateboarding scene at a great level.
When we asked Amit about what it is like to be a skateboarder, he said: "first few years when I started skateboarding, I was completely into learning tricks and all the time just wanted to skate".
But then when we first built our first DIY skatepark in HSR, Bangalore in 2013, we saw a lot of kids hanging around there looking at us skateboarding. We knew there were so many more kids who wanted to skate. So we started giving free classes and providing free skateboards and shoes to the kids with the help of our European skater friends.
In between all this, Amit managed to earn and we asked the same questions and he replied," I used to give skate lessons to beginners and worked with Holystoked which was formed to promote skateboarding culture in India.
“ Drawing has always been something that I have always loved since I was a kid. And I still manage to get free time to sketch. It has helped me to grow, learn, and help kids in different ways. A lot of times it really helped me to make money. And for at least a year and a half, I gave drawing classes for the kids around a church in Bilisivele, Bangalore.”, he adds.
But talking about this particular concept, one day I woke up from my sleep at 3 AM and I started thinking about why there are so many kids and people struggling to get what they want in their life. I realized there is a problem in our education system entirely. We were always taught to study books but not our life, we were always made to realize by other people that there is a problem somewhere but were never taught how to solve and succeed. So I made a drawing. This image speaks all about why we should change our education system which will help us to take responsibility for nature, help us to understand how population affects our environment, how a good education system gives us practical knowledge, and creates employment and cultural awareness.
"My dream is to open a school where I want to create an education system that gives them the courage to dream and fight for it."
Do people in sports in India lack core skills as I have seen a lot of good athletes who are so much into something, they struggle to manage themselves, and later in the future, the situation overpowers their passion and they are forced to quit? Amit replied, "I don’t think we lack core skills in India as I have seen really good athletes. But I believe that we start late which is what affects the athlete’s career and eventually they are bound to choose between passion or family responsibilities. If athletes get to practice their passion at an early age they will be able to give their best. As they will have a lot of time and still be learning about their body. Also starting at an early age helps the athlete to grow with the sports and show a better path for the upcoming athletes."
"I like pretty much going with the flow. Like at the present moment what I feel like doing at that particular spot. But then somehow flamingo is a trick which comes pretty naturally to me. There are so many places I want to travel with my skateboard but in my recent list I want to travel Madhya Pradesh, Varanasi, Delhi, Leh, Himachal Pradesh, and few more North-East states" says Amit.
Amit is someone who is a rare soul in the skateboarding community in India. And after doing all this when you know that your family also understands you and supports you then this makes you even stronger. And the same question we asked Amit that did his parents accept his love for skateboarding beyond typical professional ideas, he said, "yes they did. In fact, now my parents talk about building a skatepark in Dibrugarh where I am recently staying. And once my dad took permission from the security and took me to a stair set next to his workplace. I was so surprised because he didn’t tell me this earlier. And when he came back home from his work and told me “pick up your skateboard I want to see you jumping stairs in real life. I was like what where? That definitely is one of my best days. I cried and hugged him."
Amit also talked about his worst fear and accidents and how he overcame them. And it means for him, he replied, "I think every fall of mine reminds me no matter how much I learn about skateboarding I am still a human being who can get hurt and there is so much more to learn. So now I try to teach how to fall at the beginning of my skate class. As it is important to learn how to fall.
But the one in which I fractured my leg, I guess it was one of the biggest lessons which I have learned because I took the kicker ramp too easy and just to show off I went in full speed after I had a beer. For a long time I was scared of kicker ramp even after I recovered. It took me a year to jump off a kicker ramp again. I stayed in bed for 3 months and kept on thinking the same thing. Why did I take that risk and was it even important? I think that was definitely important. Imagine I got out of that accident with a minor fracture what if I had to learn it much harder. So equally we have to respect and give our body rest for it to recharge.