In an event where speakers were talking about the meaning of ‘passion’, it was Kaustubh Khade who had me sync a beat with his. I was so glad to have heard his speech. He talked about dolphins and dangers which were a part of the splendour of his passion.

Khade has been Kayaking for five years and has many accomplishments to his name including having represented India in two Asian Championships; finishing 5th at the Asian Sea Kayaking Championship for solo kayaking and winning two silver and one bronze medal at the Asian Dragon Boat Championship. In March 2015, he achieved an exceptional feat by Kayaking (Paddle Hard) from Mumbai to Goa to raise money for Magic Bus, a non-profit organisation for underprivileged children and youth.

I couldn’t let go of the moment to fuel up my passion with an account of his journey.
Here is what I asked, and what he said:

Question – 1.) When did you happen to come across kayaking?

It was in 2010 when I went to Goa with my friends. We took a motorboat because we wanted to see Dolphins but, then we realised that the motorboat was scaring away the Dolphins. So, we decided to take a double Kayak. It was then that I had it in me, I started liking it. Although, I never saw the dolphins, but my friends did.

Question – 2.) Kayaking doesn’t seem to a layman anymore than just a source of recreation. But, how was it that you started pursuing it as a sport?

During the same trip to Goa, I happened to see a boat shore with Kayaks in Panjim. So, I went there and decided to buy one for myself. I wanted it to be delivered to Bombay. However, everyone was taken aback and they asked me, “Do you even know how to kayak?”
And so, they suggested a centre in Bombay for me to first learn kayaking.
Now that I come to think of it, I think that I was lucky enough to make an acquaintance so quickly. I started it off as an experiment but it blew up into a whole new array of passion.

Question – 3.) When you pursue your passion, you need to convince a lot of those who are close to you, especially your family. Your passion for Kayaking was both risky and dangerous. It is a very rare kind of passion. How did your family respond to that?

I have been lucky to have parents who have been very supportive. They are really pro sports. In fact, when I was studying in IIT, they used to ask me to give some time to sports. As far as Kayaking is concerned, in order to convince them I had to fake it a bit. Initially, I did not to tell them how risky it was.  In fact, it is only when they saw the videos of my expeditions, that it had them exclaim, “Oh! It looks like it’s dangerous!”
But then, they have been with me through this and have been really supportive.

Question – 4.) Indians are very passionate about cricket. Do you think you faced some problems because of the uniqueness and rarity of the sport you were pursuing? How well did the government support you? 

Most of the sports which are not cricket need attention at the grass-root level. Yes, to some extent bureaucracy and corruption eats up the sport. And indeed, we need some recognition for Kayaking. People are not aware of it. However, trends have changed too. Comparatively now, more people are showing interest in Kayaking.

Question – 5.) Pursuing mainstream jobs will lead you to mainstream success professionally. Passion is not considered to be feasible unless it makes you meet certain ends. In this context, is it important for your passion to fund you?

It is quiet tough to answer that. I try to keep my passion fuelled up and I think that’s something important. And also, it comes down to a certain mind set. You really need to weigh what is more important to you. For me a 9 to 5 stable job wasn’t as important as kayaking.

Question – 6.) Even after being an IIT-grad, nothing could keep you from following your passion. What is your message to some of those students who have their minds elsewhere? Those of us who are probably reading a book which they never wanted to read and would rather have their lives doing something they love? 

The students should realise that it is okay to be different. It is very important at the academic level that you realise your talents and interests. Because, it is at this level that some students are staled-off. Hence, we need to discover a lot. In college particularly, exploring is imperative.

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