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Sub-Sea Diving: attitude over aptitude

I learnt that while physical fitness was a must, being good at this kind of work had more to do with one's ability to withstand pressure, writes Mini Pant Zachariah.

india Updated: Mar 23, 2008 23:55 IST
Mini Pant Zachariah

The year was 1969. Man had just taken his first tentative step on the surface of moon. As a little girl then, I was fascinated most by the image of these men looking like some stuffed toys floating around the spaceship in a zero gravity environment.

The excitement returned recently when saturation diver Arjun Shetty called me one afternoon from the saturation chamber sounding like a Walt Disney character.

At first I thought it was someone playing a prank. Then Shetty reminded me that the voice changes most dramatically in the sat chamber.

Before I meet Shetty and other divers, I thought these must be huge muscular men who can withstand the strenuous job. But I soon learnt that while physical fitness was a must, being good at this kind of work had more to do with one's ability to withstand pressure.

Days of isolation from family and living in a sat chamber can be trying. "What you need more of is the attitude than the aptitude," says Jai Thappa vice president technical of Dolphin Offshore Enterprises that specialises in sub-sea projects.

And in many ways, having to handle such responsible jobs at such a tender age, sifts the men from the boys, adds Thappa.

These young men - who are not yet 25 - are self-assured, cool and unruffled.

Because it is so little known, very few who enter this field are aware of what sub-sea diving is all about. Often people enter this career through personal contact, because some friend or family member is in the line so they get interested. Shetty learnt of the career from his swimming coach. Luis heard abut it from his cousin who was a diver.

The same goes for job contracts. Contacts help. But right now because there is such a shortage of skilled manpower, there are opportunities. And because this field is inhabited by men alone, there is a great camaraderie among the team members.

Shetty and Luis asked me what other "Hot, new careers" were being featured in the series. When I rattle of some of these, they exchange glances give broad smiles and tell me, "Sub-sea diving is better".

After understanding what this field is like, I understand why.