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