Guru Khalsa Roll Call

Words by Mackenzie Eisenhour

Guru strikes me as an old soul. Chalk it up to his deep life experiences, extensive traveling, or spiritual upbringing-it’s probably a mix of all that. The end result is an impressively grounded individual, wise beyond his years and calmly humble in his composure. By the time you read this, you may or may not know him through his highly anticipated inaugural Inhabitants part from the good people at Habitat Skateboards. If that is the case, you will also surely be aware that he absolutely rips on a skateboard. Or maybe you already knew that. Regardless of the present state of your knowledge of Guru, peruse through the following conversation he embarked on for his TWS Roll Call. And along the way, note some of the finer points chalked up in the past, present, and future of the man we call Guru Khalsa.

Explain what being Sikh is comprised of.
Actually I’m not a Sikh. I never took my vows. But being a Sikh has some basic guidelines like not cutting your hair, not eating meat, believing in one God, and believing that God is part of everything. Sikhs essentially follow the teachings of the ten “Gurus.” I follow some of the guidelines because I grew up with it through my parents but I’m not practicing.

According to my extensive research, Khalsa means “pure” and was the name given in 1699 by founder Guru Gobind Singh to all Sikhs. How did you get the name legally?
Actually a Khalsa is a Sikh who has taken his or her vows. In America, with all the legal issues and everything, when my parents took their vows they also took Khalsa as their legal name. Most American Sikhs do that. So I inherited the legal name but never took my vows and don’t know if I’ll ever do so. Guru Gobind Singh was the founder of Khalsa. Another guy founded Sikhism. Every time I do an interview, they ask me the same questions about this stuff.

Oh sh-t. So I’m the dude asking Duffy about the double kinker?
It’s all good, man (laughs).

Where were you born?
In Houston, Texas.

What ultimately led you and your family on this path to India?
Well, my mom basically decided that she wanted to be a teacher at this boarding school there. So she brought me with her when I was in first and second grade. We came home for the summers the first few years, and then after that my mom just ended up staying out there. I kept going back because I had a bunch of friends over there and enjoyed it.

When you first went, did you trip out?
Well, when I was really young I didn’t even really think about it. But, when I got older I started noticing how crazy certain things were. Each time I would go and come back, after a certain point I would get hit with some serious culture shock.

Was the school pretty americanized?
It was an American boarding school, so it was all in English. A lot of the teachers were Indian, but all the students were either from Europe, the States, Mexico, or Canada.

Did you have any local Indian homeys outside of the school?
I definitely immersed myself in the culture. I don’t know how deep into it I got, but we were good friends with a lot of the shop owners and stuff like that. We’d hang out with them on weekends when we went into town.

Where exactly in India was it?
It was basically in this city called Amritsar in the state of Punjab. Punjab is in northwest India, right near the border of Pakistan.

So that’s how you could talk to the dude who ran the Internet cafà‡ down the street from us in Barcelona?
Yeah. He was Punjabi, so that was cool. I barely speak any. I can kind of just say basics like, “Hey, what’s up? How’s it going? How much is this?” I think he was pretty tripped out, though, to have an American kid walk in and start talking to him in his own regional Indian dialect.

So you’re really never gonna cut the locks?
Well, my parents never cut it while I was growing up, and by the time I sort of decided I wasn’t necearily that religious, I still didn’t cut it because it’s been growing for so long. Sometimes I have urges to just chop it, but I never really can muster the willpower. We’ll see.

Brennan Conroy referred to you as the “world’s unhealthiest vegetarian.” Does that mean anything to you?
He’s probably talking about my cooking when I stayed at his house (laughs). I would pretty much always throw a pound of butter on anything I was doctoring up. But I’m not that unhealthy.

When did skateboarding enter your life?
When I turned eleven, my mom sent a board out to India, actually. It was a Tom Penny board with like pink Grind King trucks, and these 62 mm Spitfire wheels that were this purple, psychedelic, tie-dyed pattern. It was funny because one of the older kids came up to me when I first got it, grabbed my board and brought it over to all his friends, then screamed out, “I got first dibs on this board!” Luckily, he let me keep the board and the wheels, but he kept the pink Grind King trucks. For the first half year I had to ride one used Indy truck and one used Venture.

Were there a lot of other skaters out there or were you pretty much solo?
A lot of my friends had skateboards, and we had a little crew that would skate. We built a launch ramp and stuff like that to skate. The older kids also had a halfpipe right when I started. I would come back to Texas for the summers, but I went to school out in India for nine years. I basically went there every year except fourth grade, tenth grade, and twelfth grade. There were a couple years where I would only skate in the summer back in the States. I was always super into it, but it was just real hard to get magazines or videos out there. I really started skating hard by about tenth grade.

Was it a trip to go back to high school in the U.S. after all those years abroad?
Yeah, it was definitely weird. You see all these differences that would never have occurred to you if you stayed put. Basically, the kids in Texas really don’t look out for each other the way I had been used to. At school in India, everyone was there together for the whole school year, so we pretty much had to be pretty close. But then in the States, if you wanted to borrow two dollars for lunch from someone, like, “I’ll pay you back tomorrow,” they would be like, “Hell no.”

What about the country in general? Did you notice major differences?
Yeah, the usual stuff. The cars and roads are so much bigger, and there’s air conditioning everywhere here. India was always so hot with no AC and just a lot of bugs. If you were sitting in traffic, you were basically boiling up and covered in flies. I did go back recently, though, on a skate trip and it was far more developed. They have a lot of the modern amenities now.

I noticed you’re a Shorty’s Steve Olson fan. What got you hyped on the Monk?
I don’t know, man. I was just always psyched on his stuff. Just how crazy he was and how he would seriously try anything, the gnarliest rails and stuff, and a lot of the time he would somehow pull it off. Then later on, we both rode for Creation together and we’d go on tours. Steve’s kind of out there-in a good way. He’s a trip-that’s all I can say about Steve. He’s pretty smart, too. He’s seriously read up on all kinds of philosophies and religions. Eventually I guess he just moved on for his own reasons. He did some gnarly sh-t on a skateboard in his day, though.

Like that crazy roll-in on the roof to drop to boardslide on a wooden rail in Fulfill the Dream (1998)?
Yeah. That was nuts! When that video came out I was blown away. But actually, given how hard they were to come by at times, I was pretty much psyched on every video I managed to catch, even ones that sucked in retrospect. It’s funny because the first video we watched in India was this old copy of Propaganda (1990). One of the older kids had a copy of it. This was in like ’96. So instead of watching Mouse (1996) or something and freaking out on Guy (Mariano), we were watching Frankie Hill and trying to huck methods off launch ramps. It was pretty funny looking back.

I also noticed you’re a Lennie Kirk fan. You seem drawn to some of the more eclectic skateboarders out there.
(Laughs) I’m just psyched on the guys who are out there and skating crazy stuff. I was always into Lennie, too, because he lived in Houston and a lot of my friends here used to be good friends with him. It’s sick, though, Brennan just showed me some footage on his computer, and it was a brand-new clip of Lennie doing this super-long, tall, huge boardslide that nobody else would probably ever do. I don’t know him at all but I’ve always been a fan.

How long did you live with Brennan here in Barcelona?
Probably about two and a half months. But we traveled around Europe to a bunch of other spots too.

What happened in Croatia? You want to tell that story?
Brennan, Ganush, and myself were heading out there for a week to film. We had a stopover in London to get our cheap flight out there. After skating London for a day, we got back to the hotel and Brennan needed to charge his camera batteries but didn’t have the adaptor for the UK plugs. I had been brushing my teeth and noticed there was a U.S. compatible socket in the bathroom and told him he could charge up in there. He plugged in the charger and next thing I knew the whole thing just popped and the fuse blew. So we basically were headed on a seven-day trip to Croatia with one working battery and no charger. Needless to say, tons of skating went down that will not be in the video. Croatia is sick though.

I heard you were a big fan of Moscow when you went.
Yeah, I just really liked it. I had a great time when I went there, but a lot of other people told me they didn’t like it so much. I just thought it was a really interesting culture-it’s kind of similar to America but super different at the same time. There are pretty girls everywhere and tons of marble skate spots.

Oliver Barton was saying you’re really methodical and patient when you go to shoot a photo, especially on something big. He was saying how you walk around the spot for a long time checking it out, and then out of the blue make it real quick once you feel it.
Ollie said that? Seriously? I feel like every time I’ve shot a photo with Ollie it’s taken me a million tries. Then, somehow with my last straw of energy, a miracle will happen and I’ll ride away. Maybe on certain things, if I don’t feel like it’s working, I’ll stop myself and just try to feel out like, “Okay, what am I doing wrong here?” I’m not really sure. Maybe a lot of it is unconscious. I definitely have a little bit of madness sometimes. I might pace back and forth. I also bash my board down once. I only do that stuff if I’m scared though. If I’m relaxed, which I like to be, it just happens.

You and Silas Baxter-Neal seem like the next great hope for skateboarders who won’t be watching themselves in the Olympics. Do you ever skate contests?
I entered Tampa Am once, but I probably got like last place. I don’t mind entering contests. I just get really nervous when I have to skate in them. I give props to the people who can enter them and win. Most of those guys are just so good anyway. If I could do it I would. The Olympics thing is kind of a weird idea to me though. But hey, whatever works for people.

Talk about your Satori trips.
Oh man, I love Satori. Those were some of the first trips I went on, so they seem all the more memorable. Even though they were super ghetto-four people to a room, and basically two people in each bed. But then we would eat at the most expensive restaurants because everyone on Satori wanted to eat organic vegetarian food. I’m actually about to go out to S.F. right now and hang out with those guys.

What do your parents do for a living now?
Well, my dad is an acupuncturist. He has his pracor something and freaking out on Guy (Mariano), we were watching Frankie Hill and trying to huck methods off launch ramps. It was pretty funny looking back.

I also noticed you’re a Lennie Kirk fan. You seem drawn to some of the more eclectic skateboarders out there.
(Laughs) I’m just psyched on the guys who are out there and skating crazy stuff. I was always into Lennie, too, because he lived in Houston and a lot of my friends here used to be good friends with him. It’s sick, though, Brennan just showed me some footage on his computer, and it was a brand-new clip of Lennie doing this super-long, tall, huge boardslide that nobody else would probably ever do. I don’t know him at all but I’ve always been a fan.

How long did you live with Brennan here in Barcelona?
Probably about two and a half months. But we traveled around Europe to a bunch of other spots too.

What happened in Croatia? You want to tell that story?
Brennan, Ganush, and myself were heading out there for a week to film. We had a stopover in London to get our cheap flight out there. After skating London for a day, we got back to the hotel and Brennan needed to charge his camera batteries but didn’t have the adaptor for the UK plugs. I had been brushing my teeth and noticed there was a U.S. compatible socket in the bathroom and told him he could charge up in there. He plugged in the charger and next thing I knew the whole thing just popped and the fuse blew. So we basically were headed on a seven-day trip to Croatia with one working battery and no charger. Needless to say, tons of skating went down that will not be in the video. Croatia is sick though.

I heard you were a big fan of Moscow when you went.
Yeah, I just really liked it. I had a great time when I went there, but a lot of other people told me they didn’t like it so much. I just thought it was a really interesting culture-it’s kind of similar to America but super different at the same time. There are pretty girls everywhere and tons of marble skate spots.

Oliver Barton was saying you’re really methodical and patient when you go to shoot a photo, especially on something big. He was saying how you walk around the spot for a long time checking it out, and then out of the blue make it real quick once you feel it.
Ollie said that? Seriously? I feel like every time I’ve shot a photo with Ollie it’s taken me a million tries. Then, somehow with my last straw of energy, a miracle will happen and I’ll ride away. Maybe on certain things, if I don’t feel like it’s working, I’ll stop myself and just try to feel out like, “Okay, what am I doing wrong here?” I’m not really sure. Maybe a lot of it is unconscious. I definitely have a little bit of madness sometimes. I might pace back and forth. I also bash my board down once. I only do that stuff if I’m scared though. If I’m relaxed, which I like to be, it just happens.

You and Silas Baxter-Neal seem like the next great hope for skateboarders who won’t be watching themselves in the Olympics. Do you ever skate contests?
I entered Tampa Am once, but I probably got like last place. I don’t mind entering contests. I just get really nervous when I have to skate in them. I give props to the people who can enter them and win. Most of those guys are just so good anyway. If I could do it I would. The Olympics thing is kind of a weird idea to me though. But hey, whatever works for people.

Talk about your Satori trips.
Oh man, I love Satori. Those were some of the first trips I went on, so they seem all the more memorable. Even though they were super ghetto-four people to a room, and basically two people in each bed. But then we would eat at the most expensive restaurants because everyone on Satori wanted to eat organic vegetarian food. I’m actually about to go out to S.F. right now and hang out with those guys.

What do your parents do for a living now?
Well, my dad is an acupuncturist. He has his practice and his own little office for that. He also teaches yoga for fun on the side once or twice a week across the street. My mom used to teach yoga as well, but I’m not sure if she still does.

Have you been in for acupuncture and yoga?
Yeah. I’ve had acupuncture a couple times. You definitely feel crazy, like this pulsing through your body, or something like that. I don’t really get it done that much. I’m a little weird about needles even though they don’t hurt at all. It actually feels great. Maybe I’ll call him up today. I used to do a lot of yoga when I stayed at my parents’ house, but I’ve kind of slacked on it a little. If I’m heading out to skate though, I’ll definitely do some yoga stretches first, along with the breaths and all that. I know that it works even if I get a little lazy, and I would recommend it to everyone.

Talk about some of the misconceptions people have about Texas.
First off, I would say probably about 80 percent of the people don’t have accents. Maybe even 90 percent. I do have friends that seem like they’re straight out of the boonies though. Other than that, it’s pretty much like any other state. Austin is a super liberal city and the whole state really isn’t this republican, Bush-loving land.

Do you take a stance politically?
I’m definitely against the war. I don’t pretend to know that much about politics. But for the most part my views are completely liberal. I vote, and I’ll vote for democrats. I do get into some of the crazier conspiracy-type stuff, which is probably true. I don’t go into it that deep, but I do believe that pretty much every war for the past couple decades has been over things that were hidden from the people. Like a cause was manufactured to hide the real reason from the public. Hopefully one day, people will get wise and there won’t be any wars anymore.

Are your parents psyched on the path you’ve chosen?
Yeah. They understand it and see it as a positive thing. Especially now that they see me traveling all over and stuff like that. When my mom was young, that was always her dream. So they support me in all that I do.

Parting words?
Enjoy life. It’s all temporary and short on this planet. Whatever you want to do with it, go for it. That’s all.











practice and his own little office for that. He also teaches yoga for fun on the side once or twice a week across the street. My mom used to teach yoga as well, but I’m not sure if she still does.

Have you been in for acupuncture and yoga?
Yeah. I’ve had acupuncture a couple times. You definitely feel crazy, like this pulsing through your body, or something like that. I don’t really get it done that much. I’m a little weird about needles even though they don’t hurt at all. It actually feels great. Maybe I’ll call him up today. I used to do a lot of yoga when I stayed at my parents’ house, but I’ve kind of slacked on it a little. If I’m heading out to skate though, I’ll definitely do some yoga stretches first, along with the breaths and all that. I know that it works even if I get a little lazy, and I would recommend it to everyone.

Talk about some of the misconceptions people have about Texas.
First off, I would say probably about 80 percent of the people don’t have accents. Maybe even 90 percent. I do have friends that seem like they’re straight out of the boonies though. Other than that, it’s pretty much like any other state. Austin is a super liberal city and the whole state really isn’t this republican, Bush-loving land.

Do you take a stance politically?
I’m definitely against the war. I don’t pretend to know that much about politics. But for the most part my views are completely liberal. I vote, and I’ll vote for democrats. I do get into some of the crazier conspiracy-type stuff, which is probably true. I don’t go into it that deep, but I do believe that pretty much every war for the past couple decades has been over things that were hidden from the people. Like a cause was manufactured to hide the real reason from the public. Hopefully one day, people will get wise and there won’t be any wars anymore.

Are your parents psyched on the path you’ve chosen?
Yeah. They understand it and see it as a positive thing. Especially now that they see me traveling all over and stuff like that. When my mom was young, that was always her dream. So they support me in all that I do.

Parting words?
Enjoy life. It’s all temporary and short on this planet. Whatever you want to do with it, go for it. That’s all.











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