July, 2009. It’s funny how you can exist in multiple spheres at one time.
Here I was, mid way through an MBA, in between assignments, Maggi and chai; a huge pile of books, fake balance sheets posing fake profits, the best drug for the worst sleep…My screen beeps with a new desktop theme and I wake up from my slumber. I see a 13″ screen full of blue, a dolphin bubbling by, an Orca gushing out in glee and a diver, a scuba diver a silent witness to the scene …
Well, most of that was my slumber driven imagination, inspired by a static desktop underwater picture, but my scene post MBA was set. I don’t need too many signals to hear the Calling.
Cut to September 2009, The Orca Dive Club Office in Mumbai. Anees Adenwala, an underwater videographer and my soon to be Scuba Guru handed me a ‘Scuba Diving Kit’ and a set of forms to be filled, Et cetera, Et cetera. All I’am thinking is, Comeon! Just tell me when do we begin!!
In all, it takes 8 practice dives to be certified as an open water diver. The first four dives are pool dives, done in controlled environments, so as to learn all the basic communication signals under water, correct usage of gear, fining technique and getting acquainted with the environment. This is followed by four dives in the sea, the exercises remains the same, but the experience is something else entirely.
Practice session, Day 1: Okay, so there’s the Buoyancy Control Device (BCD), a jacket that holds all your gear in place; the air cylinder, the mouth piece and octopus, your gills for the sojourn, a set of weight belts to help you sink and a pair of fins. To say the gear felt weird in the beginning is to state the obvious.
You have to learn to breathe in and out through your mouth. Your nose and eyes are covered in a mask . This is probably the only sport that encourages ‘bad manners’. You have to spit into your mask for a natural de-fog fluid. The constant breathing in through your mouth piece and sending out bubbles as you breathe out is called ‘bubble making’ in kid lingo.
I was amazed with the things you can do in your club pool! Ever played power frisbee under water? Han! Han!
Practice session, Day 2: “All you want to do is goof around,” says Anees, indicating towards the book and chart; yes I had to study. Way better than Balance Sheets I thought, and this was SCUBA, so what the hell! Terminologies, hand signals, a dive chart about interval diving, nitrogen levels and depth, session three and four went on thus.
Says he,”It’s vital to know the exercises I’am teaching you today,” as I slip into the heavy, heavy-duty (15kg) gear. As we descended into the deep dark end of the pool, he sits mid-water in padmasana while I struggle to float i.e. attain neutral buoyancy! “Oh not to worry,” he says, “you’ll be just fine in the ocean.”
A few head-first (instead of foot-first) dives, gulping a lot of chlorinated water, rubber sharks and Frisbee games later, I was set to hit the ocean.
As the cliche goes: or so I thought..