Surfing the Unknown [An India Surf Travelogue] Day 6 – 8/3/10 – Bureaucracy at it’s best.
Waking up early the next morning, we all had a craving to go and surf Break Water which we had found the day before. Kunja and Kirtan took their boards out for the first time and I prepared my camera gear for the shoot.
It was a little bit of a hassle to find a rickshaw at 6:00 AM but after a short stroll, we managed to find one and headed out to the break. When we arrived our enthusiasm was suddenly stopped dead in its tracks by a guard at the gate who told us that we needed a permit to enter. The day before we came through the same gate when we had checked out the beaches – but today we needed a permit!!!, We returned to the guesthouse totally bummed out – it had been almost a week and we hadn’t even entered the water yet…
After breakfast, we went to see John who was supposed to come and meet us and take us to meet the officials for our permits. We had already prepared a letter addressed to all the departments for our permits. It basically introduced ourselves, what we intend to do, and guarantee that we would not violate any laws or disturb the settlements around the island.
John arrived, made a few changes to the letter, and then took us to go and see the official from the forestry department who was responsible for the whole Nicobar division. John had a good rapport with everybody on the Island and when he met the officer he explained what we needed and what we intended to do. The official was very gentle and listened to us patiently. He simply mentioned a few things about what to do and what not to do and finally told us that all he needed was a permit from the A.C’s office and he would grant his permission after that. With relief, we immediately headed off to see the A.C. However, on the way John came to know that the A.C was attending an official function.
We drove to the place where the function was being held and remained in the car while John went to find the A.C. Meantime myself and Kirtan spent our time teasing Kunja by calling him ‘Babu Uchhado’ – as in the famous surfer Rob Machado. Kunja looks pretty much like him with his new hairstyle and he pretty much has the same build too.
The program ended soon and John came over to the car and we headed to the A.C’s office where we waited for 10 minutes for him to arrive.
Kunja had made several calls months before and had checked with the A.C about the Island, permits, etc. He had been very supportive over the phone and now it was time to see if everything would actually work out. As soon as he came to know that we were the same guys that had contacted him, he was happy to receive us.
After we introduced ourselves, told him our proposal and plans about going around the island, he was more than willing to grant us permission and gave us his full support. We also showed him some of our surf videos and man! – he was so excited that he had us show it to some of the locals also, who had never seen anything like this before. We left the office with everything we needed to access the island.
Around 4:00 PM we returned to Break Water, waving our permit in the guard’s face and walked through the gate to the old jetty. The surf wasn’t how it was the first time we had seen it – I guess the swell had gone down a bit since then. Anyhow, Kunja and Kirtan got a couple of waves for themselves. Later that evening, we met at John’s computer shop to further discuss the much-needed boat trip to take us to Indira Point and the west coast. The price that they were quoting was pretty expensive and everything seemed very vague.
We still hadn’t decided how many days we needed to hire the boat since we needed to know how much they would charge per day. At that point nothing was entirely clear – we needed to think things over. All in all, the day had been a curious blend of achievement and frustration.