Arun’s involvement with the skatepark started only a while after the skatepark was built. This certinly has to do with the fact that it were the Yadav who dominated the first days of the park. It was surprising to see how he simultaneously developed both at school and at the skatepark where the kids saw him working tirelessly to improve himself. Arun inspires the other kids to improve themselves through his actions. Without imposing their authority, Arun’s mere presence provides the other kids with the confidence they need to act freely and enjoy what the skatepark has to offer to the full. And as the community of kids pushes him to new heights, Arun is really ready to face new challenges, explore new and unaccustomed ways of thinking, and by so doing, perhaps even without fully realizing what he is up to, he grows a little more day by day.
Arun, when did you start skateboarding?
I first started when the skatepark was built, only I wasn’t there much. Some foreigners came and started skateboarding. But at that time I didn’t know what they were doing. I didn’t even know what it was called. Some of them were from Delhi and talked in Hindi, so I could talk to them. I asked Saurabh what they were doing and he explained to me that they were building a skatepark. I asked him if he knew how to skateboard and he showed me how to do it. He gave me his skateboard and I tried. I fell a few times, but slowly I started learning how to stay on top.
How did you learn skateboarding in the beginning?
Initially only a few skateboarders came from outside the village but we didn’t learn much from them. In the village, Sepi and Shivraj started skateboarding first. Sepi was the best at that time. Salin and Shivraj were also good. I learned from them.
Now everyone calls you the best skateboarder. How did this happen?
I used to learn from everyone around me. I never gave up. I kept on trying. I never had second thoughts about doing anything. I never thought, I cannot do this, never got scared. Because of this I started learning little by little. So now the ones who once taught me how to skate are learning from me. Last November, during our first skateboarding competition, I didn’t win any skateboarding related award. But I did win the social award. So after that I really worked hard …
How do the other kids react?
Some of them are a little bit jealous, but they also admire me. They say that I’ve become really good and ask me what I’ve done to become like this. They listen to me. Earlier I used work for them, now they work for me. Earlier they used to say, we’ll do this, and then everyone did it. Now, if I come up with a plan, it’s them who follow. If I say, we have to clean the skatepark, some of them will bring brooms from their homes, some will pluck leaves, and we all work together to clean the skatepark.
How do you get them to follow?
If I tell others to do something and they don’t agree, I explain to them politely, and strategically, why it’s important that we do it. If someone is doing something wrong, I explain to them that we cannot do this in the park, that we should respect everyone, listen to the elders. If they don’t agree, then we have to take action. We ban them, and they have to comply.
How does this help you?
Now apart from skateboarding, I am also responsible for the skatepark, the kids and everything around it. I am friends with all the kids. No one gets involved in fights anymore.
Earlier it was Sepi, Shivraj, Salin, whom the kids used to listen to, now you’re there, they also listen to you. How does that feel?
It feels very nice. I feel very happy about how things have changed. Suddenly, since I’ve become a good skateboarder and since I’ve worked real hard, things have definitely changed.