Diving - A Start Up
By Bina Bakshi
Dolphins with a smirk on their faces glide alongside your boat & when you see them you know why they are called the Mona Lisas of the ocean. They have an enigmatic smile plastered on their faces perpetually! Diving is a transcendental experience. The silence & the colors of the deep beckon you as you sink down at a speed determined by the pressure you can feel in your ears. You are hit by the vastness & the shadows of the ocean as you begin your descent...you finally realize what it means to be completely alone yet serene!
Although the sport appears to be risky & adventurous, only the diver can harm himself underwater. Due to ignorance & being in a hurry. Before you don your diving suit & air-tank, you check your basics to see everything is functioning as required. You are made aware of life underwater, the personality (poisonous, angry ones.), & appearances of the objects you will encounter underwater. The Sea Cucumber, though a pretty black & orange in color is poisonous, so no one touches it. But on the ocean floor, a lot of us divers play football w/ it, when there is a lull in activity. Sharks though maligned by the film JAWS never accost you, infact they keep so much distance that you end up chasing them to get a closer look!
The leftovers from your lunch (fish bones, chicken pieces) go into the doggy bag around your waist. When you are down below you use these to attract schools of fish to shimmer around you as you frolic with them. Or the bones are held out to coax the fearsome but shy More Eel to come out from behind the coral rocks. The scorpion fish is a strict no-no. Looks like a colored rock & if you stamp on it, it stings you a shaft of poison.
It is required of every diver that he educates himself about life underwater...so he can enjoy & be cautious too. The only time divers are vulnerable is during the descent & ascent in the ocean. Since there is difference in pressure as you begin going down, you sense out your speed depending on the reaction of your eardrums.
Once you reach the ocean floor (which is at 15-20 Mts. for beginners) the instructor tests you. He may close the valve to your breathing apparatus, pull off your mask or give you signals to see your competence in a tough situation. When the mask is pulled out water rushes into your eyes, but if you are calm you can find your mask, pick it up & wear it again. All this at a depth of 10-15 Mts.! If you panic and start shooting up, or stop breathing you are never certified as a diver. Besides being brave one learns never to panic underwater. You are also taught how to help your partner (one always dives in pairs, never alone) incase she is having a problem or she signals for help.
There are times when one has had to abort a dive ...while the rest of the pack continues descent, which is a heart-breaking situation for any diver. You go up & wait in the boat & fry in the Sun till the divers come back o tell all the gorgeous things the saw down below! Because only today they saw a Shark or Stingrays or a Turtle!
You have the Oriental Sweet lips (w/ lips like Mick Jagger's), Napoleon Wrasses, Parrotfish, Lionfish, and Clown Triggerfish & Pillow Starfish who abound the coral Reefs. When you come back up you can see the sun filtering down to you, a beacon on the surface.
Diving is a lifetime experience. The beauty is preserved diligently by each diver, who never litters the ocean & picks up debris, which is non-bio degradable, bringing it to the surface to be taken back in the boat. The bonding between divers world over is deep because they consider their sport as sacred!