After gaining popularity among teens practising extreme sports at the risk of their own lives in South Africa, Russia, Germany and other European countries; train surfing has arrived in India. Hanging outside the trains is not new to Indian citizens, as it is a necessity for them at times when the trains are overcrowded and next available train is not scheduled for hours. Train surfing is different in a way, that instead of hanging there with their hearts in their mouths, these youth treat it as wave surfing, skiing or bungee jumping and enjoy it to the fullest even at the cost of risking their own lives.
How far can they go?
The sport is mostly popular among the youth dwelling near the railway lines. Though there have been reports of injuries and even death, it is not enough to stop the youth from having a blast by either riding on the train roof like a wave, or hanging outside to the extreme from the side doors and clinging with by their bare hands or belts.
After the self filmed video of two youths from Mumbai went on you tube garnering attention and clicks; the craze swept among the bored teens who wanted to be in the picture regardless of dangers involved. For many youngsters in cities like Mumbai where the reality is scary, this dangerous hobby acts as an escape route into a fantasy world, where they are on top of the world, with their adrenalin shooting up. It is their own way of expressing their fearlessness and daredevilry, which they may consider to be a warning signal to those who dare to oppose them.
Stupidly dangerous train surfing in India
These youth are quite familiar with the trains; hence they feel no fear in playing around with it. It is like their home ground, where they expect no surprises to be thrown at them. Even with practice and safety measures, no one can rule out the risk involved and accidents that have taken place during the act, crippling and sometimes killing the teens. A slight slip would mean being crushed under the heavy wheels of the train. Other risks involve, falling off the train and being killed, electrocuted by the power cables, hit by railway structures and other unthinkable mishaps. “Where the thrill of extreme sport is, if it does not have danger involved in it?” asks a train surfer who is proud to be one. Although train surfing is illegal in most countries including India, the authorities fail to control it.
Should train surfing be banned strictly by government?
Can train surfing be included in extreme sports?Those people who are not in favour of the sport consider it to be outrageous and bizarre behaviour which poses danger not only to the people who are involved in it, but also to the passengers. Train travelling has certain safety rules which are to be followed by passengers for their own safety and smooth running of the trains. Though train surfing can be entertaining to those who are enjoying the ride, in reality it is nothing but illegal activity which is breaking every rule of train safety. Many people criticise it as stupidity by those youth who do not have good and definite goal to pursue. Unless the youths decides to give it up by themselves, there is not much others can do; as escaping the law and surfing the train will provide another form of challenge and excitement for those who are looking for it with banishment of the activity.
‘Why the question, it is an extreme sport’ says the train surfers in regard to the above question. Not everyone will agree with that though.
Every extreme sport though dangerous has certain sports equipment, safety rules, guidance, coaching and training involved before actual performance. The train surfing has nothing of that sort; therefore many rubbish it off as illegal activity rather than extreme sport.
The train surfers do not seem to be deterred by people who do not agree with them. They feel this is nothing different from people paying lots of money just to jump out of planes, fall of from mountain tops or building roofs by hanging on to rubber chords, or ride on the big waves which can engulf them.
From the view of psychology, it is not new for the teens to take social and personal risks to for the sake of some unique sensational experience. The thrill of being in control over an extremity will keep luring youth towards adventures that pose risk and dangers to their lives.
Training surfing in Soweto, South Africa
What do you think of these Indian youths practising this dangerous activity?