“For someone who had spent the major chunk of his childhood in boarding schools, staying away from the house, Madras to me felt like a welcoming community. Beyond the initial inhibitions, I understood that the city grows on you and this shared connectedness with a place is what makes people love the city so much. Even to this day, Madras to me creates a sense of nostalgia. It’s such a beautiful name even with the way it sounds.
This love eventually translated into setting up ‘Madras Wheelers’ on the outskirts of Chennai. It so happened that my son, having become completely enticed with a skateboard he saw in one of the stores, wanted to try it out in a safe place but there were none in Tamil Nadu, leave alone Chennai.
What initially began as an idea to start a badminton court, eventually transpired into this idea to open a skate park. Skateboarding is a very individual and stylish sport where each individual has a different style of their own. Being a visual sport it’s almost the equivalent of art. Thus began the operations for a highly equipped state of the art skate park in Chennai.
However, skateboarding as a sport is largely unknown by the majority of the population and some often misunderstand that as being similar to roller skate. Having established a place in the city, we drew in a mixed crowd of kids and adults alike, mostly out of curiosity and interest to explore this unique sport.
The place as such received humongous appreciation for its originality of thought and I have even had people from other countries applauding the intricate design and the details of the place. But for what it’s worth, the challenge in bringing to sport to the larger population still remains unfilled for a lot of reasons.
For one, skateboarding is often misunderstood as a sport that is largely injurious. While most of them use it as an adventure sport, the park is equipped well and the kids are trained with protective gears as well. And secondly, the world is after training kids in sports that will eventually allow them to compete at different levels. But skateboarding as a sport in India needs a lot of work; even when it is recognised and played at the Olympics too, it would take several years before it takes up that shape.
My main idea in launching this service was to bring back the joy in sports. Skateboarding is a fun sport and while we are running after our trophies and medals, let us also remember to have fun in the process. Not all games need to be won and any sport can be picked up for the sake of learning a new skill. That is my honest wish for this generation as a whole.”