Thursday, March 10, 2011

A hidden world that i wish was mine!

Scuba Diving: The first time Rakesh mentioned this to me, it scared me. It freaked me out. I can't swim. I love the water. But i can't swim, leave alone hold my breath under the water and dive! But in my head, i hoped it won't be so scary.

Fast forward, rather rewind to that one lovely day in October. We were in Havelock, Andamans for our honeymoon. (Now you know why i said this post is long pending!). The beach, the sand, the surf-it was my idea of heaven! I think it was the second or the third day that we got up and headed out to Elephant Beach from Havelock Island.

After being asked to sign a agreement and being informed the basics about Scuba Diving-(maintaining pressure, the signs for SOS, going up etc), Rakesh and I had the very uncomfortable task of zipping into a scuba dive suit. Zipped up, we got into the jetty and waited for the ride to begin.

The boat ride was awesome and breath taking...and finally we reached Elephant Beach. The beach is lovely. The water is shallow and so clear. So clear that you can actually see the fish swimming between your feet. Yes, you can actually see your feet underwater! Believe me that is such a luxury in today's era of pollution!

As we waited for another couple to finish snorkeling and scuba diving (an hour's wait!) we began chatting up with Steve, a teacher from U.K who was on an year's sabbatical so that he could travel around the world (Isn't that cool?).... After that, Rakesh decided to be my swimming coach and to teach me how to float in water. (He claims it's much easier to float in saline water!) After almost drowning (yes, in knee deep water!) i managed to master how to float and it was such an awesome feeling.

And once i saw the schools of fish floating around in gay abandon, i had forgotten that i couldn't swim! I enjoyed snorkeling so much! Just seeing the varied fish in their environment is something that i can't even describe...Soon it was our turn to go scuba diving.

By this time, i was over my initial fear of drowning and was a little confident of doing this. The trainer, a very patient one at it (I think her name was Angie) helped me gain confidence first by taking Rakesh and me through some exercises. The toughest was holding my breath under water! It was so difficult. I felt so claustrophobic! But i decided to fight it out. Perhaps it was the curiosity of wanting to experience scuba diving or the longing to do something out of the world, but the fear became secondary at that point..

Soon we set out for scuba diving. I had this wonderful trainer with me holding my hand as we went under water. The scuba gear is very heavy but the minute you drop a few feet (We went down over 20 feet i think) it becomes light as feather. And believe me nothing, nothing can beat the beauty of the life under water. The first sight of the corals, the amazing variety of fish around the corals and the different plant life is something that nothing can beat. The schools of fish which look at you and pass by you nonchalantly or the big fish which look at you as intruders, scuba diving is one heck of an experience.

If you are the kinds who loves watching documentaries about ocean life or simply stare endlessly at aquariums, then scuba diving is definitely your thing. I still remember the awe i was in, as i was diving. The fear that i could drown, the fact that i could not swim or the fact that i was so many feet underwater had vanished. All that i registered from that experience was the beauty of it all. The beauty of this world that exists parallel to all the madness above it, the boring monotonous city life.

It's a world that you don't ever want to disturb once you experience it. It's a world that you wish you could be a part of but are scared at the same time. It's world that never ceases to surprise you, please you, amaze you and leave you in wonder. For instance, as we were moving from one coral area to another, we saw this school of blue fish (wish i knew the names of all the fish!).

They stopped and when i saw 'they' it was a school of over 50-odd fish and they all stopped for a brief moment and in unison and perfect coordination turned. It was such a smooth turn. Or the time when i accidentally touched what looked like a stone and it moved much to my shock. It was a crocodile fish!

Or the time when suddenly out of the clear still sand, a ray fish came out of no where to simply glide away-it almost feels like its flying inside the water. Then there was the time when i saw an oyster and i almost shrieked in joy (of course when you shriek underwater you can't really hear yourself!)

And Rakesh, the romantic that he is, didn't pass the opportunity to give me an underwater flying kiss which had me laughing (when you do that underwater-it sounds like gurgling!)... I was under water for 40 minutes till i could not handle the pressure any longer and decided to float up..and after that i didn't want to stay up. As i floated up and felt the sunshine beating down my face, i felt a deep sense of regret that i was leaving this world and that i might never see it first-hand again!

I loved Scuba diving and everything about it and i strongly feel it is something that everyone of us must and should experience. I know, i want to do it again!

All geared up to take the plunge!
Elephant Beach!
The lighthouse enroute Elephant beach
Best friends, lovers, life partners and honeymooners for life! :)