Sub-Sea diving: profile of another young star Zeno Craig Luis
Air diver Zeno Craig Luis dives up to 50 metres under the sea to fix oilrigs and platforms. Luis uses a wet bell - a lift that takes him under sea to his workplace. Mini Pant Zachariah reports.india Updated: Mar 23, 2008 23:31 IST
His 12-year-old sister Anika thinks he is a scuba-diving instructor on a cruise liner, but air diver Zeno Craig Luis doesn't bother to correct her. "It is too much of an effort to explain what I do," he said.
Luis dives up to 50 metres under the sea to fix oilrigs and platforms. Just as a construction worker on a 50-metre high building would go up in a lift to fix something, Luis uses a wet bell - a lift that takes him under sea to his workplace.
Apart from his diving suit, Luis dons a heavy helmet, ironically called the Superlite 17, with all the connections - the air supply, video camera and radio or communication line. There is only that long one can stay under water, so the challenge, says Luis, is in quick, precise and efficient execution of a job.
At 15, Luis had decided he wanted to be a sub-sea diver when he learnt of the profession from his cousin Patrick Rodricks, a sub-sea-diver-turned-instructor. "For two years, I worked as a tender fetching tea and cleaning the decks. Basically, doing all the dirty work," he recalled with a smile. "It was clean, hard work which kept me busy the whole day. There was something new to learn every day."
Luis decided to back up his hands-on experience with a formal air-diving course from Underwater Centre in Tasmania, Australia, and his fee with a Rs 6.5 lakh loan he is repaying now.
Air divers work in 12-hour shifts. Occasionally, when the sea is choppy, they get pushed against the underwater marine growth and get some cuts and gashes. But that is a small price to pay, says Luis, for what he loves: being underwater and getting paid for it. "Of course it is exhausting, but at the end of the day I can look back and say 'I've earned my keep today'," he said.
To that is the added pleasure of swimming with exotic marine life. "This is the best time to be under water. The fish are breeding and there are so many of them and in so many brilliant colours," Luis said.
After the rigorous work, it is timeout. According to rules, divers are not supposed to do hard work after deep diving because it can lead to decompression illness. "So, I sit out on the deck and just chill looking at the sunset and soaking in the fresh air," said Luis.
Born in 1986 on Republic Day, Zeno owes his name to a mis-spelt name of Saint Zeon in a calendar. His mother was a radio personality in Muscat, his late father a technician with the Royal Oman Police and brother Zeon an employee in the hospitality business.
What does he do when he is off work? "Hang out with friends, play basketball," he said. "In Muscat I spent hours on the beach swimming and snorkeling, but there are no good beaches in Mumbai."