I had the opportunity to go to my first pleasure-trip abroad recently. Since I had never done anything which is considered exciting or cool, so to say, and basically wanted to brag about something (like I am doing now), I decided to go for diving in Male, Maldives. Now, as most things I do in my life, I do not have a convincing answer to the question why a portly fellow like myself wanted to dive, except that I really wanted to. Also, after four days of thorough enjoyment and merry making, I am now an international, lifetime licensed scuba-diver, verified by P.A.D.I.!
Diving is a costly affair – no second thoughts on that, but the experience is totally worth it, especially if you get a license like I did. In the words of a cheap person (yours truly) – it is worth every single paisa. The instructors and diving buddies at Male are amazing. They are very friendly and adjusting so that you overcome every fear and boldly dive down, safe and amazed.
To earn my license, I completed a series of tests, a bit theoretical and a lot underwater. It included taking out my breathing regulator deep down and after a short while, retrieving and reusing it. At one point I had to stay still for a minute at a given depth without bobbing up or down. During this exercise, I was cross-legged, holding my fins (still on) with my hands, looking like an underwater ascetic of sorts. I took a total of six dives, including instructional and those for pure pleasure. Anyone who has dived in Male will know these areas – Maagiri, Bandos Reef, Coral Garden, Manta Point and Fish Tank.
And now, on to what I experienced. Although all the amazing witnessing I did was at very close distance, I obeyed the instruction of “looking, no touching”. We always started our dives near coral reefs, which are complex and delicate ecosystems, and they contain schools of fishes and a few mean-tempered Murray Eels. Schools of different fishes roamed around us like I had seen in the videos of divers on TV. I saw three Black-tip Reef Shark in different dives; the last sighting was at a distance of three feet. As my instructor had pointed out, they were harmless. I was fortunate enough to witness 8-10 Sting Rays up close. In one of the instructional dives, I saw four Napoleon Wrasse together. I wasn’t aware of their existence and their size startled me so much I nearly soiled myself. I saw a Sturgeon fish and at one point, four Maldives Anemone fish (NEMO!!). I could even take a video of a school of 30-40 dolphins who crossed paths with our boat one day. Even HD versions of Discovery, NGC and the rest can’t compare to the four days I lived there.
I had a ball of a time. I spend over three hours and twenty seven minutes being forty feet underwater. Here is what I have concluded about life after this euphoric experience – Coming out of water to evolve into land dwellers was a waste. It is so amazing underwater and I was so comfortable that I never wanted to end any of my dives.