Yudhajit and me (both known as "Arko") are the ones who first started practicing Parkour in this region back in early 2007. Like a lot of us, we came across some show on the Discovery Channel and the documentary "Jump London". Being always interested in thrilling activities, we were immediately fascinated and were already jumping off things by the end of that week! The Banhi Math in Naktala became our primary jumping spot. We used to do a range of crazy activities there despite ridicule form the para people. Didn't matter because we had the typical teen-rebel "f**k society" attitude on. I remember carrying out Yudhajit's study table on to the field to practice kong vaults on. Good times.
We'd also practice on my rooftop. Now hold on, not across rooftops - on my rooftop, safely! There are walls and stuff there which are pretty helpful for beginners. I wasn't always this concerned about safety. I'll be honest. We used to jump off heights and be reckless, again, like a lot of us in the beginning. It wasn't until 2008 that I came across articles and videos showing the true meaning of Parkour and its philosophies. I learned how Parkour is not about being reckless and although it's an extreme activity indeed, it takes years of practice and steady progression to do what they do in the awesome videos. Safety is an important aspect of Parkour. I realized how Parkour gives you control of your environment and breaks the stereotype of human movement. All these connected me even deeply with the art. I personally am more inclined towards parkour because I find it more practical and faster than freerunning.
Yudhajit doesn't practice anymore but it has been prophesied that he'll return. Somewhere in between, for a small period of time we had Amlan and Ani - a couple of crazy, athletic dudes. Unfortunately they couldn't continue their practice for their own personal reasons. I've been training with Indra and Rahul for the past couple of years, more seriously for the last one year. They (especially Indra) are really enthusiastic, daring and fun to train with. Got to mention Arnie who's more a brother to me than just a friend, and the days at "Crappy Park" - a local park where me and Arnie played around in the early days. He's in Toronto right now training at 'The Monkey Vault'. Recently a lot of new people have joined us. So the community is growing. The lazy Bengali youth could really use a positive outlet like Parkour.
We're still amateurs though, especially compared to guys in UK or Russia. Partly because we don't practice full time and partly because Kolkata lacks necessary infrastructures for such activities. Then there are social constrains. But parkour is not about competition, it's about self-development. So we're under no pressure. We're taking it slow and steady and are determined not to stop, given our problems. I personally wish to keep pushing the limits of my body and mind for as long as they're capable and most importantly - keep 'playing around'. As someone wise once said: "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."
- Diptarko Bhattacharya (Arko)