Neptune was never my favourite god, perhaps because he only blessed me with middling aquatic skills. As a child, it was the thunder of Saturn V rockets that gave me goosebumps, not the silence of the Ohio class submarines. I came to scuba on a whim; something better to do over Thanksgiving Break than a trip to Las Vegas, and boy, was I glad!
My first dive trip was to Cozumel, Mexico. My initial trepidation eased somewhat when I found out that the dive suit itself was buoyant enough to keep me afloat. Then, as I descended past 20 feet I first felt…tranquillity. Not the lonely sort you might find on a mountain top, but a rich, integrated sense of peacefulness, of oneness with the world.
The only sound was my own Darth Vader-esque breathing as the spectacularly blue water enveloped me. Fish swam right past, as if I were merely a plant or rock; a few feet below, a turtle was snacking. I was almost weightless, floating over the edge of an underwater cliff. It took me half a second to realise I wouldn’t fall! I was switched off from the world, its emails, phone calls, and tweets. I might as well have been the only person on the planet; or a guest on my own.
I could go on, but it is ultimately an experience to be had in person. Much like summitting a mountain or imbibing a good wine, it cannot fully be described. Few activities propel you into a different world. Short of space flight, scuba is one such adventure. If you are a little hesitant, I can assure you it is very safe unless you do something stupid. You can start your adventure by signing up for a course with PADI or NAUI, two of the most popular scuba programs in the world.
Getting started in India:
The Andamans offers India’s best mix of clear water and rich marine life. Goa is popular but look for dive shops that add Netrani Island to the package, where the water is better. Lakshadweep has stellar dive spots but is the hardest to access of the three.
This was written as part of a larger article on adventure sports for Business Today’s Lifestyle supplement and appeared on April 14, 2013.