…breathe underwater for the first time and you’ll have one of the best experiences in life :) I guarantee it!
Last weekend, Suraj, I and a friend enrolled for the Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) programme offered by Planet Scuba India, in association with Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). This was being conducted at the ‘Swimlife Swimming Academy’ swimming pool, within the St Joseph’s School premises on Mallaya Road, Bangalore.
I got to know about it through Nikhil, and even before I got the details, I was all happy and thrilled. I had pictures of me swimming amongst the beautiful sea life, a few coral reefs passing by, a school of fish standing in line, waiting for me to pass… sigh! I could barely contain my excitement. And that’s when I asked him if I’d get to see sharks and dive with the dolphins and all. “For that, you need to go to the Andamans”, was what he said. I immediately stepped back into my dreamworld, where I was in Andamans with Suraj, bro, buddy sis, dad, mom and Pumbaa, of course!
It then struck me that none of us knew swimming. And we had no diving gear — not even swimming trunks, obviously! :P “We’ll provide all the gear. Just be at the pool by 11”, he assured me.
Crazy about water, despite being non-swimmers, we decided to go check the event out and then decide whether to go in or not. When we reached there at 11, expecting a crowd of wannabe divers, we were surprised to know that we were three amongst the only 6 wannabes who had turned up! Yey! That made things even better. We had the whole pool to ourselves — just the 6 of us :) Within no time, we were all at ease (and I had already begun planning for an actual deep dive into the sea :D. Yea, so I have a dreaming disorder. So what!? :P)
Our instructor — Angshuman — was the coolest ever (and let me also mention that his body is completely covered with colourful tattoos! This maybe what inspired Nikhil to get one done too :D)
He got us acquainted with the gear: including a mask, snorkel and fins, a buoyancy compensating jacket that also carries the scuba tank, a scuba regulator to breathe from and instrumentation to monitor depth and air supply. We were also given suitably sized wetsuits.
He introduced us to our diving gear, gave us a few basic instructions, and asked us if we dared enough to take the deep dive (at the 6ft end of the pool) or just dip in at the 3 ft end. Except for one dainty little lady who looked like a Barbie that had come to life, we all chose the former. At the count of three, one after the other, we dived in — and was it cool baby!!
He taught us how to sink, go deep, swim, clear the mask if water goes in, using the alternate regulator for air, the basic signs to use in case of emergency or even to just communicate underwater, how to balance weights, how to pose for pics underwater (which I didn’t learn well, and that’s evident in the pics :D :D )…
That very feeling that no matter what happens, you wont drown, gave us all a boost of confidence! I’ve never EVER gone anywhere near the 6ft end of a swimming pool: not even with a life ring around me! I did face a few issues initially: there was something wrong about my weight-belt — no matter what he did, once I went underwater, I kept turning over to wards my right, finding it impossible to swim ahead. Finally, he took off my weight-belt and just put one weight each in my two side pockets. I was fine after that, and took to it like I was diving forever :) I swam completely underwater, from one end to the other, without anyone’s help! Yey!
I can’t explain what a wonderful feeling that was. I really, really can’t! I wish I’ll be a fish in my next birth, if there is one…and while we’re at it, God, I’d like to be a dolphin :D
Agreed, we didn’t get to see any coral or fishes or aquatic life in general; none of the sharks to frighten the life out of us; no school of fish calmly swimming by, going about their business; no dolphins to hang on to; no blue whales who tossed us up in the air as it squirted water…none of that. But this was definitely a humble starter to life under water — I literally went 6 feet under ;)
Being able to go underwater without having to take a deep breath and hold on to it, being able to actually breathe under water (!!), without water getting into your eyes and making everything blurry and into your nose and getting you all wrecked up, without being on the verge of panic and without actually panicking if you lose your footing…
It was simply fantastic! :)
And of course, like the time we went parasailing in Goa, Suraj, who had to literally be begged to join for the adventure, was the one who perhaps loved it more that I did! He was glad he did it; it was thaaaaat good. (See, this is why you should TRY things out, darling! ) And he’s now determined to learn swimming. Double Yey (yey yey! :D) to that!
I’m now dying to learn swimming — and then go for the Open Water course — and head to Andaman to meet some aquatic friends ;) Yes, that’s my next trip plan ;)
Thanks tonnes, Nikhil, for letting me know about the event and helping us experience something we’d never have otherwise done! :)
And we’re going again tomorrow — with my brother and more friends :D