Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sweet Lime the Skateboarder - Bangalore Mirror

An 8-year-old boy living in a hut has picked up a passion for skateboarding and become so adept at it that American print and online magazine Top Grom, devoted to celebrating young achievers in the sport around the world, has named him Grom (young skateboarder) of the Month for February.  But despite the acclaim, and the fresh pair of wheels gifted to him by the magazine, the boy does not have a place to practice because the only free-for-all skating park in his neighbourhood has a stay order slapped on it. 

Meet Shrishaila, aka Sweet Lime, son of a construction worker and a maid from Gadag district in North Karnataka, residing at a shanty with a plastic cover for roof at Sector 2, HSR Layout. Life changed for him a year ago when he ran into a band of cool-looking youngsters who rode bikes and big wooden boards with wheels. 

When curiosity got the better of him, he strolled in and asked the big guys what they were doing. MR Somanna, who taught the kid everything he knows about skateboarding, said: "Shrishaila became very curious about the stunts we were doing. So we took him under our wings and taught him everything about the board itself and are now teaching him different tricks and stunts he can do with it." Somanna and his partners Abhishek and Poornabodh N run HolyStoked Collective, where they have created a large community of skateboarders from the city. 

These youngsters in the 20-30 age group have jobs in different companies, but find time to practise their passion as well as help underprivileged children learn the sport. As part of their initiative, they set out to build a skate park on a property that belonged to one of the partners at HSR Layout. There's an interesting story behind how Shrishaila got the moniker Sweet Lime, and how his achievements with the board got noticed by Top Grom. 

Abhishek said, "We built the park ourselves with cement and construction materials. We received a lot of help from friends, most of whom were foreigners. One of them was Troy Roberts, from Australia, who was shooting photographs and making a documentary on us building the park. He spotted Shrishaila and since he could not pronounce his name, started calling him Sweet Lime. Troy was touched by Sweet Lime's commitment to skateboarding, so he wrote a story on him and posted it on Facebook." 

And the rest, as they say, is history. Sweet Lime's story of how he battled his financial odds to skate using an old board one of his 'annas' (elder brothers) had given him, got picked up by a foreign artist who made a video on the child. That video was in turn seen by Top Grom magazine owned by Top Grom Inc — a merchandising and marketing platform for skateboarding. The magazine selects one child under the age of 13 every month as the Grom of the Month — part of their initiative to promote skateboarding . 

The Los Angeles-based privately held organisation describes a grom or grommet as someone who "isn't necessarily a beginner skater, but a young skater usually aged 13 or under" on their website. 

Somanna added, "We were told by them that Sweet Lime's determination to skate was inspirational, and had to be told to the rest of the world, and that sometimes finding a board to skate is a big thing in itself. They also sent some fresh wheels for his board, but that got lost in the delivery process, so we are pooling in money to give Sweet Lime a fresh pair of wheels soon." 

Life goes on as usual for Sweet Lime who is completely unaware of the international acclaim he has received. A shy boy with a sweet smile, he sits in a corner and watches the older boys skate on the road. Sometimes, he brings his little blue toy car to play on the road, or otherwise borrows his friend's tricycle to go for a spin. If asked to demonstrate some skills, he picks up the board reluctantly. But once he is on it, he forgets that there are people around him. 

Twists, flips and turns are all he can think of while on the board. But his older friends have great regard for him. Abhishek said, "The child has talent and has picked up all these stunts in just six months. Our heart goes out to him since he cannot practise in the skate park we built, where we were teaching kids like him, because a neighbour filed a case against us and now there is a stay order on the park preventing anyone from using it." Sweet Lime looks on, his expression unreadable. He now finds solace in a small ramp that he and his friends have built along a quiet road for everyday practice. When asked whether he was excited to skate again, he said, "I miss these slopes and I know that I cannot skate in the park anymore because the neighbour will come and shout at me." 

Sweet Lime's mother Gangamma said, "My son joined a government school a few months back, but he had taken up the sport much before that. I would have to shout at him every day to change his school uniform at least before going to play on his board, but now he is too scared to even touch it." 

When a team from Bangalore Mirror went to photograph the boy, his parents, neighbours, and friends, along with Somanna and Abhishek, had to plead with him and promise him new wheels just to get him to pose for the camera dressed in his finest clothes. 

Sweet Lime lives in a hut, but the world fetes him for skateboarding - Bangalore Mirror:
'via Blog this'

Also see :

No comments: