A trip abroad to the “other side”

This year in September/October I’ve taken three young skateboarder from Janwaar and Kovalam, India, to Europe. Ramkesh, 10 years old, Arun 14 years old – both from Janwaar, and Sujin 16 yeras old from Kovalam. We’ve spent five and a half weeks touring Germany, Belgium, France and Spain. Our goal was to interact with the local skateboarding scene, to skate and to explore new surroundings and cultures. It was quite an experience …. as one can imagine.

When Arun saw his mother at the airport in Delhi after he returned back home he was always speaking from the “other side”. He never said Europe, he said on the other side. I found this quite remarkable and it gave me just a glimpse of an idea of what they must have been experienced on this trip and how much different it must have been for these kids to go on such a trip – when you’ve hardly been out of your remote village. Ramkesh packaged it in some very nice words – when he was asked in Berlin: “When they asked me if I want to go to Europe, I thought I’ve never been away from home and now I will go so far away. I was so scared to sit in an areoplane. I kept on thinking and thinking about it … and then it all happened!” …

Here is a short video which provides some impressions from Heidelberg and Berlin … Thank you Decathlon for documenting this and making the video possible! Thank you Blam Studio for bringing these lovely memories all together …

Only recently we asked Ramkesh about his memories … here is what he had to say:

How do you feel about Europe?
Very good!

And how do you feel now that you are back in Janwaar?
Since I am back, I felt the village is deserted but it also felt good to be back.

… deserted?
So many people have left the village for work in other places. No one is in the houses. The village seems to be empty.

What has changed for you?
What has changed for me is that earlier I used to just roam around in the village and do nothing. I didn’t go to school regularly. In Europe we had a routine. We kept on doing things. Coming back, this has become my habit. When I sit at home I think why not got to school instead. So now I go more to school.

So, what about school?
Much better than earlier. I study at school even during break time. I hang out at the school with the kids and play. After school I go to the skatepark. Then I go home and I do the work I have to do there. That’s it!

What is the difference between your village and Europe?
In Europe there were a lot of cars. My god! At one place there were so many cars I thought they could not even fit into Janwaar. I never thought that this could be possible. In Janwaar we don’t have many cars. And it was colder there. When I came back it was really hot. In Europe it was raining. Here, we didn’t had a single drop of rain.
And the time difference. When it was 11 am in the village it was very early morning in Europe. So whenever we were talking back home, I would ask what is the time back home. They said 11am. We told them we had just woken up and it was early morning. Everyone wondered, the sun comes up from the same side, but why this time difference …?

So when you came back, did you wake up in the middle of the night?
In Europe I would wake up at night, here in Janwaar, no. When I sleep here, I only wake up in the morning. In Europe you could call me any time at night, I would always answer. In Janwaar I sleep tension free.

Whom do you remember from Europe?
The best person was the guy who drove us in France, Jerome. The guy who had this funny dog, Choko. I got sick in Biarritz. I was crying a lot and I don’t remember what was actually happening. He really took good care of me. Finally when we reached our place Barcelona, I rested and immediately got better 🙂

Choko – best skateboarding dog in the world!
Choko – best skateboarding dog in the world!

Do you want to live in Janwaar or outside?
Outside. Outside there are so many different things to do, places to see. For example, here it will be like going to Panna one day, to somewhere else the next day. I can live anywhere.

What do you like about Janwaar, that you didn’t like in Europe?
Food 🙂 The fish, chicken – everything was different. I didn’t eat much (remark: still he gained at least 3-4 kg).

What do you think about Deepa’s and Priyanka’s trip to Australia?

Now they already know that the food will be different. So they’ll be prepared.

If you have to tell them something, what would you say?
I’d tell them that there must be a different currency there. So they should bring some of those to show it to the people.

…something that helps them?
The better should learn English so that they can interact with more people. Arun was pretty good. He would talk more to people than me.

Who will bother us the most in between Deepa and Priyanka?

Priyanka for sure. She talks a lot, fights, runs, you’ll go mad 🙂
Deepa won’t bother that much. She will bother in a different way. For food, calling home, these will be her issues 🙂

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