Roller Skating in India: Eshna Goenka

by Marta
roller skating in india

Eshna Goenka is 27 years old and from Mumbai (though most people still call the city by its old name Bombay) in India. Eshna is super driven but she’s been skating by herself for a long time. Roller skating in India especially in skateparks is quite an unknown discipline. For several reasons it’s hard to get proper skates. Custom fees make it too expensive for many people to order and lacking skate shops don’t fill this gap, yet. We are stoked, Eshna had time to answer some questions for our “Under the Radar” series to give us some insights on roller skating in India.

Eshna, you are the first quad skater we discovered in India shredding parks. How long have you been skating and what inspired you to start?

I’ve been skating almost all my life, so much that I feel weird walking or running. I started roller skating when I was about four years old when my mom took us on a trip to Dubai where me and my sister got our first skates. I think that if I had bought my first skates in India I wouldn’t have come so far because we only had those metal skates that we have to kind of wear on top of our shoes and is so sketchy. Almost all of the kids at that time had those and didn’t really go beyond learning more than just cruising around. Either that, speed skates or inline skates were more easily available. The funny thing is that even today if you look at buying skates in India you’ll find the same options that were there 20 years back. It’s hilarious how things have just not changed. So, I had proper dance skates as a kid and got really good at skating fast. As I grew older I started skating the streets and got really inspired watching freeride videos although the truth is that we don’t really have that infrastructure to support street skating but we still make do with what we have. Street skating is still pretty risky here. Around 2015 I started to realize there is a lot more that is done on quads than just skating normally. I started following these amazing skaters like Max Mead, Ragnaroll, Candice Heiden, roller bean and Estrojen to kind of learn different things. I also started to realize how I need to invest in good skates because the skates you get in India is not really made well to support park skating. I used to also watch a lot of skateboarding content and follow a lot of skateboarders so my style is hugely inspired by them. Watching videos everyday made my urge to try out grinds and things in a bowl much stronger and now the only thing I think about before I go to sleep is the trick that I’m going to get next. I’m addicted/obsessed, whatever you’d want to call it.

Tell us a bit about the roller skate scene in Mumbai.

In Mumbai, before all the other open public skateparks there was a bowl but in a private society and people who don’t live there aren’t allowed to skate. I’ve been kicked out multiple times but that’s where I had my first drop in. Then after that they constructed a baby bowl in a pub called SOCIAL in Bombay that was the first one open to the general crowd but you can’t call it a park though because it was just a small bowl. That place for me was like a dream because I didn’t have anything else I just kept trying to increase the height of my airs and worked on my flow,180, and 360 jumps. because I didn’t have the right skates yet to lock or grind. Then I finally invested in my Karma Pro which was quite expensive for me because in India for some reason we have to pay almost 40 – 50% customs fee and shipping over that. It’s so sad and this is the reason why we don’t see many quad skaters in the scene. There are a few kids that show up at the park and just cruise around with some speed skates. The aggressive inline scene is picking up really fast now but I’m trying hard to figure a way to make quads available to Indians at a lower rate by constantly trying to contact distributors. hopefully things are going to change very soon. A lot of people message me about where and how they can buy skates and most of them just don’t want to spend that big amount of money. I’m also teaching a few people now, how to skate in the park whenever I visit the park and also pushing them to buy park skates so I’m on the way to build a community of park quad skaters. it’s definitely going to start picking up this year. Many people also don’t know that this style exists and so many come and tell me I should invest in inline skates because apparently, they are better? I love my quads and I think the kind of tricks we can do on quads with toe stops and trucks is just another game altogether. I’ve recently made a few aggressive inline skater friends who are also trying to push the scene and make people aware of the possibilities and that is changing a lot of things already.

How big is roller skating, specifically park/transition skating in India (I know it’s a huge county)?

It’s actually a very small community as of now because people don’t know much about it. The people who are really good now are the aggressive inline skaters. I am the only quad skater in that bunch. But they are pushing it and learning things to take part in competitions which needs to also happen with quad skaters soon.

I read that the first skatepark in Nerul, Navi Mumbai was built only in 2016. How is the public park situation now?

This was built a bit earlier but it took time to officially open up so everyone who knew about it used to sneak in by climbing a tree and getting over the fence. I was one of them. I still remember the first morning I saw that park. I was so happy I just didn’t know where to start or what to skate it was a big park for us and we were so excited.  There are so many people who have gotten into skateboarding after that park opened up and then so many more after the one at Carter Road was built. It’s crazy the amount of people that show up. The more we skate in those parks we inspire more kids to try on skates in a bowl. One visit to a park can bring a lot of kids to go crazy wanting to try it out. Recently, I’ve been seeing kids enter the park with speed skates and that makes me so happy I just instantly go and help them learn how to go up the transition and if I see their parents with them I advise them that they need to invest in park skates. I’m hoping the scene picks up this year and we can finally form a community of quad skaters.

What skaters should we watch and follow?

There are some good inline skaters here now but I don’t know of any quad skater skating the park. The only park quad skaters that I follow are the ones that live internationally. I’ve always loved Max Mead and his flow, Ragnaroll for his creativity and style, Mike Teixeira is my new favorite he’s crazy with his switches and manuals and I absolutely love his tricks. many more skaters like Bomba Hache, Peach Sampras, Barbie Patin and so many park skaters that inspire and help me learn.

What does your skate-travel wish-list look like?

There are so many countries I’d like to visit because I’ve made some amazing friends through roller skating. I want to try attend blading camp for sure this year or next year and I’m so excited to skate with other quad skaters. I have never park skated with any other quad skater and it will definitely help me level up so much faster. I’ll also get to meet my favorite skaters and skate with them. I just can’t wait to that to happen.

Favorite tricks you go for everywhere you show up?

I like to do some airs and grabs and then all the grinds that I know. Then move on to learning a new trick.

What do you do if you are not skating?

I have a full-time job at believe music so I keep working on artworks for musicians. It’s been a bit tough for me to find time to skate so I wake up super early around 6am, go skate and then get to work. It’s just always a rush for me. so I’m tired all the time but I can’t avoid skating. I think about it all the time. I’ve also loved music since I was a kid. I play the classical guitar and drums well so I give that enough time in the evenings at home. Music is a very important part of my life apart from skating.

One thing everyone should know about you?

I’ve changed so much since I started park skating generally. I stopped going out with friends to drink because this is my party. I prefer this more unless it’s a special occasion. It’s so much fun learning tricks and the skateboarders in the skate park are such good friends of mine because we kind of share the same love. We play music at the park, give each other challenges, look for street spots and it feels like they are the right people for me to hang with because it’s so much fun.

Interview by @octopolly
Images by @eshna.g

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