April 2017, Meghalaya- The weather suddenly changed; totally unfavorable for scuba diving.
April 2018, Goa- Well, that's not the right place for it.
August 2018, Philippines- The flight scheduled for Bohol got cancelled which is among the best places in the world for diving.
November 2018, Andaman and Nicobar Islands- What a joy it is to finally tick off something from the bucket list!!!
Ticking off scuba diving from my bucket list was long due. I was giving every shot to do it since 2017 but even after trying thrice, my dream of swimming underwater among fish was still unfulfilled. But last month, I went to the Andaman Islands with a friend of mine who was also been unlucky like me when it came to taking a plunge in the water. She had returned from places like Thailand and Mauritius empty-handed, without a single glimpse of sea life. Whatever was the reason behind our fate, we decided to change it because we both really wanted to be a part of the marine life even for a short time period. And for this, she especially joined me from Denmark.
Havelock Island (now known as Swaraj Dweep) is the best place in Andaman to do scuba diving. You don’t need to book your slot in advance. Havelock Island Beach Resort, where we were staying, took care of it. There were two variants in terms of slots for scuba diving- early morning and afternoon dive. The rates varied because of clear visibility and increased chances of finding breathing corals early in the morning. So, we took the first slot of the day which was from 6 am to 7 am.
After doing all the formalities and sharing our emergency contact number on the mainland in case something happens to us, we headed towards Nemo Reef- our scuba diving spot. We were loaded with the oxygen cylinder, swimming fins and mask, and weights (to keep us underwater) before the instructor started to train us. We were taught about the universal underwater signs for communication. The trainer said to me in a stern voice, “I won’t be able to solve your problem underwater without knowing what exactly the matter is. So, remember these signs. Also, you can come up to the shore only twice. After that, I will have to take you out.” I really didn’t understand why I would come to the shore. Anyway, I learnt the signs carefully.
After a bit of breathing practice and other techniques along with answering my unlimited questions, my trainer took me under the water and that was the exact moment when I forgot everything else what’s happening outside it. It was a whole different world altogether. There was total silence. The way I felt during those moments, without oxygen and fish swimming around me, is inexplicable. I was nervous but in a good way.
Going down further, I started seeing breathing corals. Most of them were bleached due to global warming. After that, a shoal of grey and yellow fish came in front of me suddenly. And yes, I also found Nemo!!! A childlike joy rushed into me when I saw that cute little fish in reality just in front of me swimming near a coral. I was so excited. I wanted to touch it but it’s a strict instruction not to touch anything inside the water as it may be poisonous.
What A Feeling!!!
We started going down and equalising after every meter. Initially, I was having pain in my ears due to water pressure but I started feeling comfortable after a while. I saw a shoal of fish swimming right in front of me. That moment was miraculous. Swimming further down made me realise that the ocean is everything that I aspire to be — powerful, mysterious, wild and free. Something happened to my emotions underwater. Neither because of the water pressure on my body nor because of the weightlessness. Exposure to an unfamiliar intensity of life was also not the sole reason. I was in a state of ecstasy with the endless blue world beneath my feet. The way I felt was because of a complicated mix of all these emotions together with a pinch of fear as well. All I can say is that life is better underwater.
I also asked the trainer to take me to a deeper level, which he did. During the training session, he told me that pressure inside the water is much more than the one you feel in a flight. So, he was the one to decide how deep we would go. Also, he kept on asking me at regular intervals am I fine, using the sign language.
After exploring the marine life for half an hour, we came to the water surface and I started breathing normally again. I saw my friend beside me, and all we could say to each other was, “It was amazing.” We both were smiling because we had finally earned that beautiful experience for a lifetime.
I am really fascinated with scuba diving, and I would love to do it again wherever and whenever possible. Before doing it, I was a bit nervous and telling myself to remember all the underwater signs correctly. But the feeling of letting myself descent inside the water was so good. I was completely weightless. I can barely explain in words how it actually felt to be in that zone. It was a mix of surprise, fear and adrenaline rush. It was like a perfect cocktail of innumerable and unforgettable memories in the right proportion.
If you ever get a wonderful opportunity to experience all of this and more, then grab it. It will be a great addition to your life. I am so glad that I trusted Havelock Island Beach Resort for my first scuba diving experience. Thanks a lot for offering me such a life changing experience!
And yes, I’ll never forget the first breath I took underwater.