You may already be familiar with Atita Verghese, she featured prominently in a recent Vans campaign alongside Lizzie Armanto, those of you with your finger more keenly on the pulse may be familiar with her work with both HolyStoked and Girls Skate India. Either way read on to learn more about what it’s like growing up skateboarding in Bangalore, how skateboarding can help empower women, and why it’s important to be yourself and channel the DIY spirit inherent in skateboarding.
Portrait: Owen Roberts
Can you tell us a bit about what it’s like growing up in Bangalore?
It wasn’t always a favourite place of mine but I’ve grown to like it. It’s changing a lot now, but when I was younger it was pretty rigid and uniform. It’s a big I.T hub so the corporate culture dominates. In India that means having little or no time for anything outside of work or education. It’s a big city, full of traffic, and it’s not well connected which cuts off a lot of access for people.
It was also challenging growing up with a single mum and no extended family. India has no support systems for its citizens or single parents, it’s either you make it on your own or you end up on the streets.
Sport kept me going for the most part, it gave me something to do that I enjoyed. I remember always giving up one sport for another other after a while, nothing really stuck for too long. I’ve been skateboarding since 19, so that’s the longest I’ve been into any sport.
How did you first find skateboarding? What was it that attracted you to it?
My friend Abhishek from Holystoked found a skatepark in Bangalore, built by Nick Smith, it was one of the only parks in India back then and he used to go there a lot. One of those days I tagged along with him and I went to my first ever skatepark. It was that feeling that helped me feel closer to home personally – the freedom, the community, the weird shit, the laughing.
“The important thing is to not pay too much attention to what other people think of you skating.”
What were people’s reactions to you skateboarding when you started?
Nothing too important to remember I guess. Some people thought it was rad, some people didn’t, some thought I was a dude and wanted to believe it more than anything. Some people laughed, some people clapped. The important thing is to not pay too much attention to what other people think of you skating.
Has there been any noticeable change in attitude over time?
I personally think it’s going to take far longer for attitudes to change here, India is rigid and soaked with traditional barriers. But hey, without wanting to sound too proud, I became the first skater in India to get paid for what I do and the first rider for Vans in India – so that’s definitely something!