I turn to the sound of bubbles and see my instructor pointing at something that looks like a soft rock. He asks me to look closer and in another 3 seconds I see an Octopus unraveling its tentacles from the rock and moving ahead to another. Struck in awe, the underwater surprised me yet again as I saw 7 stingrays just gliding past the Nemo Reef. I almost have to hold my palms together to keep from involuntarily touching the resplendent marine life.
Diving had been on my bucket list for the longest time but having lived in the North of India, it always seemed like a “process” to do the course. In 2015, I finally told myself, it’s now or never. Before I could contest my own thoughts, I went to Orca Dive Club in Worli and signed up for the PADI Open Water Course. And thus began the journey…
You get a year to complete the course, although if you go to a dive site directly you can finish it off in about a week, depending on how well you perform in the water.
Choosing a dive site was easy as my instructor was already in the Andamans and he suggested I come there to complete my dives. By the way, from my experience, scuba diving is tremendous fun when you have a buddy you’re comfortable with. I was thankful that I was doing my dives with him. I quickly googled some images and was left astounded by this paradise!
Feeling thrilled, my mother and I boarded the flight from Mumbai, reached Port Blair and took a ferry to Havelock. This was a mother-daughter trip and my God, am I thankful it happened! For all those who think taking a trip with your parents is a bad idea, my mother will absolutely change your mind! She is by far, the coolest mother ever! Not that my father is any different; him and I recently took a trip to Amsterdam, but that’s a different story.
We rented a beautiful hut next to the sea, while I hired a cycle, and my mother hired a scooty to explore the rest of the island. The island life will amaze you and make you fall in love. Apart from the natural and breath-taking beauty, the locals are some of the kindest souls you will ever meet. My instructor even introduced me to other divers on the island and we would all meet late in the evening next to the beach telling diving stories.
My diving would start early in the morning by 6, and go on for a few hours, including giving the exam. Every day I would spot new fish, reefs and be just as amazed as the first day. My instructor would dive with me and keep a check for trash on the seabed and bring it back with him when we resurfaced. For all divers, it’s an ingrained teaching to be environmentally responsible and it’s almost muscle memory to follow these instincts of keeping the sea clean.
If you think you’re looking up to your highly educated, top of the class friends and family for inspiration in life, let me stop you right there. I have never been more engaged and exhilarated than I felt listening to these divers talk about the sea. They do this out of pure passion and love, which is incredulous considering we mostly live in a world of pretence. To know that there is genuine and unadulterated kindness, care and concern for everything and everyone around you, fills me with happiness.
My instructor was an absolute sweetheart to have planned my last dive for my birthday and I couldn’t have asked for a better celebration!
The experience left me so thrilled and spell bounded that I’m already applying for the remaining courses to be an instructor; I guess the ocean got through to me.