Gum for My Boat

Gum for My Boat

Meet the young members of the Bangladesh Surf Club, an oxymoron in a country with plenty of beach, but a conservative Islamic culture that frowns on swimming. (Telegraph21)

Many of the boys and girls in the Bangladesh Surf Club are poor street children who had never heard of surfing until Jafar Alam bought a board from an Australian tourist in 1991. Alam taught himself how to ride the board, and for ten years, surfed by himself. When Tom Bauer, director of community service group Surfing the Nations, took a crew there five years ago, he met Alam and realized that he had been surfing all that time without the slightest understanding of the sport’s dynamics. “Gum for my boat,” is what Alam asked for when he wanted wax for his surfboard. Since then, approximately seventy boys and girls — many who can’t swim — have formed a club that surfs together, escaping oppressive crowds and crushing poverty to enjoy the freedom of riding the waves.

Professional surfer Kahana Kalama narrates this Wuss Productions video, describing his impressions of the “crazy place” that is Bangladesh. A montage of colorful street scenes and portraits begins the piece, and interviews with club members punctuate the surfing action. The camera accompanies the group as they ride to the beach with their boards in a pedicab, and follows them into the Bay of Bengal where they show off their surfing skills and socialize while waiting for the next wave. Kalama points out that almost nothing the club members do follows traditional surfing mechanics or etiquette — but nobody really cares.

The video was a staff pick at Telegraph21.com, an online “video magazine featuring the best documentary films and art videos from around the world.”

CHANNEL: Telegraph21

Length: 9:37

By Russell Brownley, The Wuss Productions

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