It is very hard to remember when I first fell in love with the water. Literally and figuratively.
Definitely not when my father forcibly pushed me into the deep end when I was 5. Most definitely not when my coach made me do 50 laps without taking a break, sometimes with my feet tied. But maybe when my sister and I would dive in to find coins on the shallow end of the pool floor or try to see who reached the bottom of the deep end first.
I was always a curious child. How do the fish sleep? What do the fish do when they feel lazy to hunt - Do they have an option for a takeout? “Honey, there’s a new Chinese joint opened a few miles west, fancy some lobsters tonight?” said one dogfish to another never(or maybe not?). But I always wondered what it was like to live in the sea. What it would be like to be submerged in crystal clear water, swimming with hammerhead sharks and looking up to see the sunrays hitting the surface and just almost making it to you? To actually listen to the sound of silence that would envelope you.
But it was never really feasible, was it? I mean, you only see that on BBC documentaries or on Discovery. “Today’s special in Man vs. Wild, Shark Attacks Docile Wanderer”.
After observing my television habits, Mumma and Papa would be a teeny bit apprehensive to let me step into the deep blue. Even if they did- where would I get the money to fund my travels? Lucky for me, I started saving, and like every supportive parent, they encouraged my new habit
“It’s 9 ‘o’ clock on a Saturday, and the regular crowd shuffles in..” are the lyrics of the popular Billy Joel song “Piano man”, but the lines also describe life at a point. Drowning under piles of excel sheets which I wasn’t exactly excited about, I leaped out for a breath of fresh air, packed my bags and went to get my Open Water Scuba Diving License in Goa. Funnily enough, I got it before my driving license! And I have never stopped exploring since.
You don’t need to go to space to feel what zero gravity is like.
Being suspended in water, breathing like the fish around you, just experiencing the now- you could have that if you dive! Hyper reality- the feeling of being in the moment. Not thinking of the past, nor what lies ahead of you- unless if you’re really looking forward to seeing a manta ray. Speaking of which- I had the utmost pleasure of bumping into one just last month! At my most favorite dive destination yet- the very remote Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia. A 6 metre wide Manta just floating in to to say hi to us like a huge spaceship, or as Mr. Trump would say, “it was YUUUGE”!
This is what makes diving special for me. You never know what you’re going to see. It is different each time you jump in.
You could bump into a cute Ridley Turtle
Or maybe the behind of a Leopard shark!
The Sheer amount of wildlife under our waters is incredible- and is something that excites me most.
But it's not just the creatures that fascinate me- to me, the thrill of descending down to the wreck or to see a bed of corals stretching out under the sea is unsurpassable. It's the sheer majesty and serenity of the ocean that appeals to me. “Here’s our special menu for today”, said the sea to the diver, “Stone fish, damsel fish, cuttle fish, Banner fish, Black tip sharks, white tip sharks, pygmy sea horse, nudibranchs, turtles, great trevallys- the list is endless! So what would you like to see today, buddy?”
Being a travel junkie, I have scuba dived in quite many beautiful places since. It is really the reason I got my license- to give more meaning to my travel, to use the license as frequently as possible, and to dive around the world.
Hence, when I had an opportunity to go to France for work I took it a step further, to go where I had always wanted.
The Beautiful French Riviera, Nice, my second dive destination.
Yes, Beautiful should be a part of the name and not just an adjective. That is how nice it was to dive here!
As we climbed into the boat and headed back to shore, with Rose wine from plastic cups, “Sweet home Alabama” playing on the stereo, and in the most wonderful company, I couldn’t help but reflect upon what I had seen down there.
I cannot even begin to explain what I have witnessed- night dives where the water is glittering because of the bioluminescent phytoplankton- you feel like you’re in a fantasy novel! Wreck dives of ships more than 60 years old! 5 white tip sharks all together, a puffer fish all puffed up, a school of Great Trevallies hunting - all the things I had only seen on the telly - it seems trivial now, but I HAVE FOUND NEMO MULTIPLE TIMES!
As I write this article, I am also reminiscing the good times I have had while not underwater.
The diving community is like a small family that shares all your interests. You meet the most amazing people and listen to the most interesting and almost always funny stories! “I am not delirious guys, I’m sure the shark winked at me!” A great way to have a network with crazy people all around the world, listen to where they’ve been and start planning your next travel.
Till then, sea you when I see you!