Scuba-diving, an experience of a lifetime

Published: May 17, 2014

Witnessing the depths of the ocean is a life changing experience. PHOTO: SARAH ADIL

What can be a more frustrating start to a day, than to be stuck in heavy traffic for an hour, chasing endless deadlines and shuffling from meeting to meeting? Nothing. All of us go through these ups and downs that trigger bad days. One really can’t make time for themselves in this busy busy world!

With such perplexities, our inner batteries need to be re-charged, once in a while. Going out for a walk, swimming at a breathtaking beach, feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin or even breathing fresh air is enough to achieve a little peace of mind in an otherwise busy life.

Work is a never ending process but we have to realise that this time lost will never come back.

In this juggling scenario, we often mistakenly prioritise stress induced situations over our ‘me time’ and give up on moments of ‘now’. At the end of the day, you will only have memories to cherish. You may remember the first time you bunked class or played a prank, but may not remember things like how well you scored in your exams.

I am an adrenaline junkie, a nature-enthusiast and a devotee of peace. I love getting away from the demanding city life and taking on experiences filled with goodness of nature. To experience the height and depth of the earth, I decided to go Scuba-diving and Sky-diving. And boy was I excited!

After a successful sky-dive experience, the very next day I was ready to explore the underwater world. With sore muscles and a body deprived of sleep, I left my hotel at 7am and reached the Pattaya Dive Centre.

Since this was my first time scuba-diving, a professional trainer, Anne, took me under her wing. She prepared the scuba gear bag with all the basic equipment and then all the other 12 divers, including myself, left together for the islands. I was actually the odd one out being the only first-timer, while the rest were professionals.

It took us about 40 minutes by road and a two hour boat ride to reach our first island. As soon as we arrived, all the divers jumped into the water, knowing exactly what to do. Although I knew that they were professionals and this was my first time, I still felt left out when they jumped straight in while I had to practice scuba-diving in shallow water. I wore my scuba gear, all the equipment and necessary weights on my waist. Although, it was difficult for me to walk in those weights, I had the captain hold my buoyancy bag until I reached the end of the boat.

It took me a while to take my first jump. Meanwhile, Anne, kept guiding me to make sure my anxiety did not show in the camera. She then took me into the shallow water, about 15 feet deep.

Photo: Sarah Adil

We dove off the boat and slowly sank into the sea. There is nothing like breathing underwater. You feel your throat dry up and try blowing air from your nose but you can’t. In the struggle of breathing from your mouth, you can’t help but swallow the salty sea water. And then you make a conscious effort to try and convince yourself to breath from the mouth. Anne taught me all the basic gear handling techniques and the emergency tips to stay alive in emergency situations. What fascinated me thoroughly was the sound of my own breath underwater – it was hypnotising.

After approximately 30 minutes of practice and adding more weight to my waist to make sure I could swim better underwater, we moved back to the ship and waited for the other divers to come back. We left for the next island after two hours. This is when I encountered my first bout of motion sickness. Being thrashed around by the water was definitely not an ideal situation, but I was given medicine that helps make a person throw up. This was to flush my entire system so I could handle the rest of journey. Within a few minutes, I felt much better.

Photo: Sarah Adil

With my stomach flushed out and all set, I took my first deep dive and jumped smack in the middle of the sea. This, I felt, was the most difficult part. We kept swimming, deeper and deeper and my trainer kept on communicating through hand gestures to make sure I was alright with the water pressure. For someone like me, who is impulsive, hyper and over-excited, I had to get used to the slow motions of the water. Everything moved at a snail’s pace. Once we got to the bottom, we took pictures, moved around plants and rocks, tried to swim after schools of fish, and explored the deep waters as much as we could.

Photo: Sarah Adil

The experience left me feeling serene and mellow. Being submerged under water, with heavy weights pulling you down, I was surprised to note that there was absolutely no gravitational pull, despite the heavy weights and gear I was wearing. You can keep yourself in total control, regardless of what level of water you choose to stay at. All I had to keep in mind was that I had to continuously blow air to neutralise the water pressure but I hadn’t had enough. I wanted to explore the greater depths of the ocean and, on my insistence, my diver decided to take me down a little deeper than usually permissible for a newbie.

Photo: Sarah Adil

Swimming deeper, I suddenly saw the three professional divers waving at me. It was so quiet though, that the only thing I could hear was my own breath. But when I looked around, I was amazed at the infinite lengths of the ocean I could see. Unlike in big cities, where your vision is hindered by numerous obstacles, underwater all I saw was clear-cut beauty. I was in awe of the sheer magnificence of it all and just wanted time to stand still. I wanted to stay there and take it all in until I was rudely interrupted by my cylinder indicating that I was left with low levels of oxygen and so, hesitantly, I swam back up.

Photo: Sarah Adil

Exploring nature is a meditation in itself. The feeling of power that you experience rejuvenates your inner self again. It’s like a dream you do not want to wake up from; swimming with a shoal of bream, plants tickling your body with the smallest touch and the limitless vision of water all around you.

If it were up to me, I would want to live this dream again and again and again.

Sarah Adil

Sarah Adil

A senior strategy planner at IAL Saatchi & Saatchi Pakistan and a volunteer at Pakistan Youth Organization.

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