I am not adventurous. If there is anything that is the opposite of being adventurous and is lower grade than being non-adventurous, that’s me. I am so cautious about shaking my mental equilibrium even a tiny bit that I avoid driving to work and take a cab or rick. (Rick is not adventurous unless you are in Bangalore. If you are in Bangalore, then a ride in the rick is the most adrenaline inducing activity that you can do. Forget bungee jumping). Recently, we went to Maldives for a vacation and I tried my first scuba diving. This is an exaggerated account of my experience. And remember, don’t let the facts ruin a good story.
We had done enough research about what to do in Maldives during our stay in the Paradise Island Resort. We wanted some adventure. So we decided that we will kick-back and enjoy the Sun from the lobby. Other than that, all of the travel sites recommended scuba diving. I was hesitant at first because (a) I do not know how to swim. I could drown in a bowl of water (b) It was expensive. Should I spend this much to go see a place that is practically unlivable and I don’t even eat fish. But the moment we landed and saw the beautiful turquoise water, where we could practically see White Sharks and Sting Rays swimming calmly, I decided to give it a shot. It is not logical – a person who doesn’t swim and is contemplating whether to go scuba diving or not should have decided against it after spotting the white sharks and sting rays. But the beauty of the water was so mesmerizing. I don’t even know if I will ever come back to this place. So, I decided not to have any regrets.
The Scuba Explorer program is for beginners and non-swimmers. It’s a two-hour program where they have some theory for about 20-25 mins, practice in shallow water for about 30 odd minutes and then one-hour of actual scuba diving. I signed up for it. The instructors handed over the pamphlet about basic safety norms. It had a questionairre about the list of health conditions to be wary of. Usually, I believe that I am healthy and I avoid meds like plague. I often brag that I do not get sick easily. The moment I saw the questionnaire though, I felt like I have every one of those health conditions. Including pregnancy. Universe consipiring to yell ‘Don’t do it!’ on my face. Not universe, my mind actually. I dismissed that notification and mentally checked the ‘Rememer this choice’.
So, the theory started. There were five people in total. The instructor said seven people signed up and five people have turned up. I felt suddenly proud in relation to the two people who did not turn up. I don’t know why they didn’t, but I assumed it should be their fear. Cowards! The instructor went on explaining the theory and it all seemed like a cake walk. After the theory, we were ready for the practice in the shallow water. First step, they added weight around my waist that would allow me to sink in the water. Next, they gave the mask and fins. Finally, they strapped the cylinder on my back and asked me to get down a few ladder rungs and into the ocean. This was heavy and difficult. Little did I know that this was nothing when compared to the other difficulties that were instore.
I got into the water and was easily breathing through my mouth as they instructed. There were few exercises to equip you in case of emergencies like getting the regulator back if you lose it, hand signals etc.,. There was this one particular exercise where you have to clear the water out from the mask. You have to inhale through the mouth and do a long exhalation with the nose to get rid of the water from the mask. It sounded simple. I tried first and I was exhaling short breaths through the nose. So the instructor was singalling me to exhale a long one. Ok, gotcha! Let me try again!. Nopes. Your mind does not listen to you. You have not mastered the art of mind control. I, again, exhaled several short breaths which worked the opposite way. It brought in more water into the mask. My eyes started burning because of the salt water. I suddenly inhaled through the nose. Water went in through the nose triggering panic. Some water got into my mouth as well. So basically, I was under the water with my eyes burning, nose watery and mouth salty. I signalled the instructor that I couldn’t take it any more and he inflated the jacket and I floated up the water. I started regretting my decision of having no regrets. I was breathing heavily. He was patiently explaining what I did wrong. I felt that he had a secret smirk on his face. Ok. Now, I can’t even go back for they have already charged my room for this. I decided to try again. Repeated the exercises and repeated the short breaths. Panic returned on my face and I returned to the surface. Now the instructor must have thought that I am hopeless. He asked me to hold the railing under the water and practice by myself for sometime. My nerves calmed a little bit after about 10 minutes. Still, I have not done that one exercise of getting the water out of my mask and I prayed I should not face that situation.
Now, the instructors asked me to hold the rope and start “swimming” using the fins. They had tied a rope across the trail. The actual scuba diving session had officially begun. For the first five minutes, I was just looking at the rope and trying to get comfortable. Then started looking around. It was mindblowing. The scene was getting increasingly beautiful as we were going further down. The colour and the variety of organisms were fantabulous. We even spotted a white shark and I do not know how I managed to keep my calm there. It should have been the view. Amazing. The instructors were constantly checking on all of us asking if we were okay, pointing us to some unique organism now and then. As we went deeper and deeper, my happiness was rising higher and higher. It was totally worth it. When we were at the deepest point, the instructor signalled me something that I didn’t want to see. He asked me to remove the water from my mask. Oh, fish! The last thing that I wanted now is to panic and be pulled back to the surface. I really started enjoying the dive. I tried and voila! I was able to get rid of the water without any incident/accident. Thank goodness! I started enjoying even more. And finally when our little tour under water was over, I came out proud. I started walking like I just bet Alexander, the Great, in a battle.
I have uploaded some pics and videos on my facebook page and here is the link – Scuba Diving Album.
To conclude, yeah it was great fun. I am happy that I took the plunge. The world under water is totally different and colourful. You should try once definitely so that you can tell stories about it.