Jumping into a bottomless body of
water, with nothing to cling onto, had been a dreadful thought for me. I am
sure that I shared this feeling with many of you. It is said that the best way
to overcome your fear is to face it. But, it is easier said than done. The
longer you let the fear rule, the harder the resolution to overcome it becomes.
My abilities in swimming is
limited to crossing the width of an average size swimming pool. Yet the thought
of going scuba diving was toying in my mind. I had explored the wilderness of
the hills through trekking to a maximum height of 16700 feet in Ladakah and
Sikkim. But when it comes to water, I was stopped on my tracks by an unknown
fear. I could not do it the first time I went to Andamans. Though couple of
snorkelling trips boosted my confidence. It also stroked the desire to scale
the next level – scuba diving. On my next island trip in Phi Phi Island,
Thailand, I almost jumped into the sea, retracting the steps from the diving
board of the boat.
Then came a second trip to
Andaman early this year. Well before reaching the shores of Havelock, I was
determined to dive this time. It was kind of now or never situation. I felt
being guided by a strong inner voice. I was all set to explore the underwater
world – both physically and mentally. After checking in at the resort, I called
up my old contact Sanika and requested him to come over to discuss my plans for
next couple of days.
Sanika had grown his business of
renting cars and bikes in these intervening years. He is a full-fledged tour
operator now. Knowing about my interest in diving, he took me to the office of Ocean
Tribe, a dive centre next door and bargained a good price for me. The rate
offered was lower than what was available on the net and my research. We were
offered a product named Introductory Diving that would last about 45 min. I
filled up the forms telling me about dangers and that I was aware of the risks
etc. This is the point where 20-30% tourists drops out. Some drops out even after
paying up. The fact that each one of us would have an individual instructor boasted
|Getting ready for the dive|
Finally the day of reckoning arrived
with lovely sunshine. We reported at the dive centre at our specified time. We
slipped into the diving suit. Mr Farhan, our lead instructor led us to the boat
that was to take us to the dive site. With few excited souls on board, the boat
sped off tearing into the turquoise water of the Andaman Sea. When we reached
the dive spot, we could see a few more boats already moored. The dive team
helped us to wear the oxygen cylinder belts and weights. I realised that it is
difficult to go under sea water without the weight belt and cylinder kit,
forget about drowning. Another confidence booster realisation. With the kit
belted to my body, the training of about 15 min started in shallow waters. The
first thing asked by my dive instructor was whether I know swimming. I said a
little bit. The instructor told me to forget that I know swimming, adding that
I should not try to swim during the dive session. Whoa! I could not believe it.
To prevent you from going astray, the instructor will control your movement and
buoyancy. Hence you are not supposed to swim during the dive. All of us
successfully cleared the training session. Excitement was at its zenith. Final
equipment and breathing check was done. I signalled to indicate all OK. Next I found
myself under the sea!
|All OK....lets explore|
The journey into the sea bed was
like a game of computer. Level 1 of the entertainment. Max depth may be 15
feet. A magnificent world started unfolding before me. Colourful fishes was
swimming across and over me. Corals of myriad colours were welcoming me to
their world. After spending a few minutes, the instructor asked me whether I
was comfortable and want to go further down. I signalled the OK sign and then
thumb down to indicate that I was ready to go further down.
Level 2 was another 10 feet
deeper. It was kind of cascading bowls of corals. From a bowl in level 1, you
swim to a new bowl further down. Corals and fishes increased in number and
variety with depth. They seem more beautiful and colourful here. I was enjoying
every moment of it. So was my family, whom I could see occasionally. After
spending few minutes at this level, the question of whether I was comfortable
and want to go further down was thrown at me again. Except for the fact that
the ever increasing pressure of seabed blocking my ears, I was not having any
problem. We were taught how to clear the blocked feeling in ears during
training. I signalled thumb down go further deep.
|the world of fishes|
Level 3 is the final frontier for
introductory diving. It was another 10 feet or deeper into another bowl. It was
more beautiful. I felt like a small fish swimming in a giant aquarium. There
were colourful fishes and more colourful fishes. Occasionally a fellow diver
would cross your path. We were under water for more than 30 minutes by now.
Besides choking of ears, I had to encounter a new problem. The throat was
drying up due to prolonged breathing through mouth. It was getting increasingly
difficult to keep the throat wet. But the thrill of the moment kept me going. I
thanked god for giving me courage and opportunity to explore this world.
|Swathi observing the world of Nemo|
We were awestruck even as we
slowly emerged out of the sea. It was simply a wow experience. Those 45 minutes
of life had been one of the most wonderful experiences of my life till date. I
explored a new world – the underwater. I overcame a fear for life. A desire to explore
it further waits.
Labels: Andaman, diving in andaman, Havelock, introductory diving, scuba diving, Travel
posted by Rupankar Mahanta at 12:54 PM
Please DO NOT post comment with url. If you have an url, then you should request for a link exchange.
Translate this post into:
| || || || || || || || |