• Adventures in India: Part One

Written by Lauren Hill as she travels through India for the Beyond the Surface Film.

Travel is a mirror that reflects us back to ourselves. The stripping away of creature comforts, routine and familiarities creates opportunities for revealing our truths.

India is a country steeped in contradiction; it is confronting and perturbing, but also deeply moving and magical.

India's myriad saturated colors hint at the variety of cultures and philosophies that call the subcontinent home. More than one billion people live here; a seventh of Earth's human population. Christians, Muslims, and Hindus all dwell amongst one another, and mostly peacefully.

The surfers here are patient and full of stoke. They wait with baited breath for swells to finally filter in. India's young surf scene is sweet and endearing. Although our cultures are so very different, surfing brings us together and automatically bonds us a sea kin.

photo 4 Indian schoolteachers stop to throw a few shakas with myself and yogini Kate Baldwin.

photo 2 Ishita Malviya is India's first female surfer. She has defied many traditional Indian cultural and social norms to follow her passion for riding waves. Her enthusiasm and cheekiness are contagious. We've been traveling together, with five other women surfers, along the Indian coastline and she's been giving us insight with her local knowledge.

photo 1 In a relatively sleepy Indian West Coast town we happened to stumble upon an elephant procession on a felicitous evening surf check.

photo 3 In India, deities dwell all around. Taxi cab Ganesha statute, the remover of obstacles.

photo 5 Like humans, elephants are left or right handed, only they have a predominant tusk.

photo 6 Billabong team rider and founder of Beyond the Surface International Emi Koch, cross stepping in Kerala.

photo 7 Women in India are never shy to accessorize or combine bold colors.

photo 8 The intricate shapes of architecture here go far beyond the boring squares and rectangles that characterize most of our buildings in the US.

photo 9 Getting comfy in my bus seat as we make our way to the southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent.

photo 10 Women communing on the front porch in Tamil Nadu.

photo 11 Taking in temple culture

photo 12 Fisher folk on the hunt

photo 13 We brought lots of toys to India. Local surfers say that they've never really seen traditional logging in their homeland.

photo 14 Driving in local style for a South Indian surfari.

photo 15 Behind the scenes of shooting the Beyond the Surface film.