Diving is fast becoming a recreational sport in India and a must-do on seaside winter vacations. Here are some tips on making your scuba dives scintillating events.
The first time I dived, I was at the deep-end of my honeymoon. The place was Andaman Islands and the dive was rather primitive. I had a stiff rubber hose to breathe from and my local Bengali guide warned me against going deeper than three-four feet. I could have sucked in a lot of sea water and may be even drowned in panic. But honeymoon adrenalin kept me going. It was an awesome world I saw there; as I floated around a coral reef.
Scuba diving is a safe adventure nowadays. You can actually dive down, even as a novice, to about 12 metres and stay underwater for a long time. I have done it a few times now and here are my tips on how to fully experience the magical moments:
- When you get into the water or rather jump in, let yourself go into a free fall. Let yourself submerge. Spread your arms like the wings of an eagle and soar to the prescribed depth. Use your flippers to turn sharply or even do an airplane double loop. The speed of water rushing past you will give you a huge high. And then, when you spot a school of fish or a quaint coral, hover over it like a guardian angel. It feels like God.
- Take time out to view the aqua roof over you. There is a strange liquidy feel about the 'sky' over your head; and unlike the boring uni-dimensional sky we see every day, this one churns and changes with the batting of the eyelids. The sun sparkles in a diffused way and the air bubbles shine like diamonds. If the water is particularly clear like in the Lakshadweep, you can see birds flying upside down. Trust me it is as fascinating looking up as it is looking down.
- A dive begins in chatter and suddenly there is silence. The world of cacophony is erased the moment you go below. There is silence. It soothes. You are alone with yourself. You can hear yourself think. The noise is silent. Your senses go into an overdrive. Indulge yourself.
- See the corals. Play with the fish. Look around in wonder at the marine life. But do not forget to soak in the magic of the beams of light as they bounce off the sand or rest on sea shells. If you look, you will see psychedelic rainbows and uniquely crafted colours dance on tiny waves. Sheer aqua delight.
- When you come to the surface, float a while on the gently lapping waves facing the sun. You will feel like a baby being rocked by Mother Nature. It is like being reborn.
- A boat to take you to the diving site.
- Scuba diving apparatus, including oxygen tank, suit, flippers, face mask et al
- Never dive alone, specially if you are you are a novice. Even experienced divers go down in pairs.
- Get your equipment from a reputed dive shop. All equipment is on hire.
- Listen to your instructor carefully when he briefs you on diving rules and safety tips.
- Never feel so confident as to ignore your instructor's brief. A single mistake can cause you acute distress under water.
- If you are not physically fit, don't dive. Asthma patients should be specially wary.
- The recreational diving limit (for people like you and me is 40 metres). However, most diving outfits restrict dives by amateurs and tourists to 12 metres.
- Children below 10 years of age should not be encouraged to dive.
- You can dive even if you are 80.
Ashwini is a Lucknow-based media professional who culls out travel experiences while on mundane assignments