I was always quite spirited about SCUBA diving and have been wanting to do it for the past couple of years. But several unforeseen challenges, mainly rough tides, cancelled tours and flights, completely washed away the slightest chances I had to experience the life underwater.
Last year, I resolved to get SCUBA certified, come what may, and made the rock-solid decision to explore the magnificent oceans. Coincidentally, I got a call at my office from both ReefWatch and Lacadives at the same time, for a marine biology and SCUBA diving program in the Andamans. And it dawned upon me that some of our Pugmarks’ volunteers were also very keen on learning to dive. So eight of us packed our sacks in November 2018 and headed out to experience our first SCUBA dive trip in Chidiyatapu, South Andaman.
And we have not looked back since.
The whole process was both very profound and easy to comprehend, beginning with the very first theory sessions in Mumbai to our last dive in the Andamans. At Chidiyatapu, we were split into three groups assigned to three different dive instructors: Rahul, Shaurya and Myra. Rahul quizzed us to test our knowledge and was subtly crestfallen as we didn’t seem to recall anything!
The underwater world is serene, slow motion, tranquil and unreal.
A few minutes into my first open water dive, I was sure that this was the most surreal thing I had ever experienced. I was so comfortable with the instructors who did their best and encouraged us to put our best foot forward so that we didn’t feel like fish out of water (hah!).
Life underwater is beautiful. And the marine life – both tiny and moderately sized (turtles and eagle rays!) –meandering their way around you, makes it even more magical. Fairy-tale like, perhaps! Exploring nature is a meditation in itself. The feeling of contentment that you experience underwater is reviving. It’s like a dream you do not want to wake up from: swimming in a beam of light and life at the surface, plants tickling your body with the smallest touch and the limitless expanse of water all around you.
I recently returned from a dive trip in Sri Lanka, and the one thing that stayed with me are the lessons from the PADI dive courses in the Andamans. Diving in Sri Lanka was more or less effortless and that was because of the Lacadives team.
Not a day passes by where I don’t surf through diving pages, plotting my next escape. That is the thing about the ocean: it keeps calling you back. I cannot wait to dive in the Andamans again, everything else is just surface interval!
- Mrigank Save, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, COO at Pugmarks Holidays