D is for Deep Sea Diving

Imagine an aquaphobic having the least knowledge of swimming yet planning picnics and excursions by the seaside, waterfalls, rivers, lakes and the deep seas! Well that bold person would be yours truly. After all they say, “Don’t fear the Fear – Let it drive you!”

And as I can recall, the most memorable outing trips that I’ve been a part of were to islands and waterfalls!

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In the year 2015, we planned a trip to one such island which involved hiring a boat and steer it for about 45 minutes to an hour to reach our destination. Well the journey was literally rocking I say. With strong waves jolting our mode of transport – an old wooden boat, from every side, leaving my restless brain dizzy and in thought as to which position to occupy and which posture to adopt when it finally topples over us all. Unlike an alert me, some of my friends had chosen their position – some of them on the stern and others near the bow! Well, apparently they felt the most relaxed at these ends. En route we stopped at a spot where the sea was deep yet calm. It reminded me of ‘Deep Blue Sea’, and I kept a watch out for sharks. Some of my friends, having mastered the art of swimming dived right into the sea fanning out their human fins. The guide accompanying us gave out snorkeling equipment for those who were not interested in diving and ushered us to explore the underwater from the surface of the ocean. After persistent coaxing by my friends and my alter ego, the terrified me, took a gulp and slid slowly with my snorkeling attire into the sea green waters.  I was left mesmerized by the underwater world – amidst the clear sands I saw coral reef with loads of algae and colourful fish scrawling away sensing us humans. I wondered what it would feel like to get closer and live amongst them in the underwater world and by then my hazy thoughts were interrupted by this touchy guide who pulled me back up without warning as I struggled to breathe normally through my nostrils.

Cut to the year 2018, while on this particular holiday to the Coral Island in Pattaya, we group of friends deciding to go deep sea diving! I was reluctant at first but then persuaded myself thinking that this tour would be handled by professionals and trained personnel and safety would be priority. And so we set out on a journey into the clear turquoise blue waters sailing comfortably in a white motor boat. Finally on reaching the spot we were escorted onto a stationary floating plank where the ‘so called professionals’ gave us instructions on how to dive down about 5 meters deep into the ocean onto the seabed and then do the walk! Well, the training lasted for just 5 to 10 minutes and all they taught us is how to pop our ears in case of pressure built up underwater and the sign language. Thumbs up – meant ‘end the dive’ read – “I need to be pulled out immediately”; while Okay or the ring gesture – meant ‘I am feeling fine’. After this they handed us a single glove each and we were set to drop dead dive in.

As I stood in the queue for my turn, my heart started doing the discotheque and my entire life flashed right before my eyes. I was deaf to everything surrounding me including the encouragement from the chirpy friend.  My guys friends (even though scared themselves), started mocking the so called ‘daring me’. Suddenly it became a do or die situation and there was no turning back! Finally, my turn was up, the heavy metal helmet with a vision panel, connected to an oxygen compressor was positioned on my head and I dove down  guided by a diver in a matter of seconds. Water being denser than oxygen ensured that I am able to breathe freely underwater as long as I held my head up. But the aquaphobic in me kept me perplexed as I kept popping my ears! Finally they gathered our group and dropped some bread into our gloved hand. It was then that I noticed the serenity of the underwater world, the marine coral and the school of fish that were picking at the bread in our gloved hands. I tried to find Nemo, the clown fish but couldn’t spot one.

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That Deep Sea Dive and the sea walk was one enthralling experience as I was introduced to Ariel’s life under the sea!

C is for Chai

More than half my life, I have been a coffee person. That earthy, nutty aromatic waft eludes my senses with its bitter, tobacco like taste; instantly kicking in energy onto this gray matter with every sip.

Well, but this post isn’t about coffee though. It’s about the humble beverage Chai – translated Tea which was discovered by the Chinese and introduced to India by the British.

Years ago, I adapted into this Chai person because my concerned partner wouldn’t allow me to touch coffee since I was on homeopathic medications and strong flavours such as coffee would interfere with the treatment. And so I began drinking chai to restore my regular intake of caffeine. I had particularly developed a penchant towards ginger chai and masala chai.

While, I was in Mumbai struggling as just another job hunter, I discovered the Cutting Chai! Along the streets of the City That Never Sleeps, I came across this tapri aka tea stall, which offered freshly brewed hot chai flavoured with Indian spices, poured in these engraved shot glasses in quantity of just about a few sips, enough to give you that needed boost. It was then that I realized how the name cutting chai came to existence.

Chai has now become an important daily ritual – every morning and evening a cup full of hot chai equips me to face the storms of the day!

B is for Biking

There was a time when I was a terrified pillion rider. The mere thought of sitting on the passenger seat of any bike (geared especially), behind even a familiar person left me petrified. Probably, it was the fear in my sub-conscious mind left behind by an unfortunate accident in my childhood.

As so during the summer holidays, whenever my friend would coax me to learn the bicycle with her, I often pushed away making excuses. Finally, one day she did manage to convince me to sit across her brother’s tall black Atlas whose seat we couldn’t manage to adjust while she attempted peddling along a rocky path. And as fate had it, we fell off the next moment with her under the weight of the mighty Atlas and my leg stuck between the spokes of the behind tyre! I vowed to myself from that moment, never would I try to attempt riding a bike!

Nevertheless, 14 years later, I was forced to learn the two wheeler to travel to and fro these horrid school tuition classes. Eventually, I did manage to ride a non-geared bike and from then on my love for bikes augmented! Though, I must admit it was a tough learning experience, from falling off for the nth time to finally learning to balance without dangling my feet above ground half in air. By the way, I still can’t ride a bicycle, I mean not without the supporting wheels! (*smirks*)

And as my love kept growing for motorbikes (especially geared ones), I began learning to identify any bike by hearing just the sound of it’s exhaust. Well, I had a biker boyfriend back then who was often forced to be my tutor in this study. I was fascinated with biker movie, talks, racing, stunts, sports, motogp, et al. My favourite superbike was the Honda CBR Fireblade 1000RR. I had associated myself as a biker girl having posters around and constantly learning to perform easy stunts like wheelies and stoppies with my mother’s humble Honda Dio which were not very accurate at the 90 degree angle I confess. My puny self once rode a borrowed heavy geared bike but couldn’t manage the weight and I did promise myself to buy and own a superbike someday. That day still awaits..

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As college approached, my fondness towards the British Bullet bike began and I ogled at all the bullet bikes parked in my college campus and wondered how it would feel like to ride one of those.

Riding a bike to me is not merely a means of transportation but a journey, an experience that only a bike lover can contemplate. It gives me a sense of freedom, thrill and power as I race along roads and undiscovered paths, cornering at turns and vrooming ahead through rain, fog and sunshine moving my soul through Neverland!

A is for Adventure

Growing up as a kid, I have been a voracious reader of adventure and mystery books; particularly of those authored by Enid Blyton. Her writings have the capacity to teleport the reader into the story scene; making oneself a part of the adventure that is magically weaved.

I clearly remember this particular book, Hollow Tree House, which after devouring the literary adventure, left me craving to build and start living in a tree and have my own real adventure. And so during the summer holidays, I set out searching for one such huge tree with a hollow trunk amidst the hills at my mother’s village home. Sadly, I couldn’t find any tree hollow which would accommodate a whole grown child! And disappointed with no findings, I convinced my best friend to build a tree house together atop an old bent drumstick tree standing solely in her backyard. And so we did build one with strewn wooden planks and old pieces of rags. Well, at least we could sit safely, eat and chat (without falling off) if not live completely in the tree house as I wished to. It became our club house or adda where we planned our future mischief, until one day the neighbours alarmed us off citing that – ‘a drumstick tree is one among the weak trees’. And that was the end of the rickety tree house stay!

Well, there are many such instances and memories where I have longed for adventures and ate, drank and dreamt of living an adventure. At the age of 9 as I recall, I had designed a book which had a list of essentials when on an adventure or when erm.. lost – it included rope, matches, pocket knife, biscuits, and other such stuff that I don’t remember now. Secretly, I always had a backup kept aside with this gear. I kept reminding myself I need to be prepared, an adventure might drop by anytime anywhere! I even had a theme song written where I recall only the chorus lines:

“Adventure, Adventure in my eyes,
Go on, go on..” – (2)

Another, popular and loved book series was the Famous Five, where the book Five Go to Mystery Moor had me on my toes, completely engrossed giving me goosebumps when the five children were stuck on the misty moor. This story left me thinking; I should head out one night with my backpack to the hillside close to the village that I lived which is kind of a moor and have my own wild escapade. Nevertheless, as destiny had it, that night never happened.

Now I think and chuckle at those days, where I was so desperate to escape reality and the mundane life.  And as years slipped by, I understood that Life itself is an Adventure; with all its twists and turns and surprises. And the gear that one needs on this fateful adventure is Hope, Courage and Love. As Eleanor Roosevelt truly says – “Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.”