Though I was never a horrible student my folks often thought that I was not sincere enough… and even after 5 long years I still remember that 2 months before my 3rd Semester MBA exams they forced me into studying while they took Manu (my kid sis) to Andaman for a holiday… Among the other fun things that she did there she also snorkeled in Andaman Sea, she loved it and often told me that it was one of the most wonderful experiences one could ever have, she is much braver than me, but the fact that she proved it, used to prick my conscience! On various occasions I got chances to have that ‘wonderful experience’ but I never even showed an inclination simply because I never thought I could handle it. I am scared of practically everything involved – water, depth, fish, water current, the motion of the boat…I knew I would never snorkel and this was a done deal!
A couple of weeks ago we decided to do something fun and exciting to break the routine of our mundane life of paid slavery and hence sprang the idea of snorkeling – of proving my mettle! Now when you watch people snorkeling it looks easy you just float and see the beautiful life in the ocean but for a fattu like me its nothing short of a BIG adventure… after a lot of contemplation we signed up for a ‘snorkeling tour’ in which the hotel guy would take us in a boat to some place and we would snorkel there for an hour and would get back – sounded quite simple.
We reached the pick-up point (i.e. the point from where you board the ferry, you perv!) A lad took us to a dark and dingy room and asked to pick and check our equipments – both Ashu and I had no clue what to pick and definitely no idea what to check, we looked at others and picked up a pair of fins, a snorkel with mask attached and a life jacket each. Once we took these we were in the boat and now I saw the mix of our team except us there were two ladies and two guys – the ladies were from Ireland and the two guys were desis. The guide howled “How many beginners?” male ego jumped in and none of the guys raised their hand, Ashu had to when I gave him a “look”. Then I asked the other guys “Oh so you’ve done it before?” reply “Nah all of us are beginners actually” one of the chicks said “We aren’t, we’re experts” For me the fun had begun!
We started on the boat and reached a spot where I could see some heads with colorful pipes floating in the sea. Then there was a briefing – put the snorkel in your mouth; don’t breathe with nose breathe with mouth; if the mask gets dirty just dip it in water and clean it; that’s it! One of the chicks (in a bored and frustrated voice) screamed “hey can we jump now” and before the reply off they went! Now the desi dudes geared up and jumped… Ashu and I were still tying our jackets and adjusting the equipment then finally Ashu jumped… I however sat at the rim & looked around, the land was far far away, suddenly the guide held my jacket and said “you jump on 5, I count now 1, 2…..” in those couple of seconds my whole life flashed in front of me, weird thoughts came to my mind – is this the last thing I am ever going to do? I did not even call my parents before coming here! Will I ever see them again?… “5” and off I went into the water, in panic I forgot everything and gasped for breath and in the process gulped some sea water then I held the boat as tightly as I could took a few deep breaths but I did not give up, once my breathing restored the guide held my hand and just asked me to float and keep breathing through the snorkel.
What I saw after that can not be described it was a whole new world of colors and life – hundreds of colorful fish swimming by me; beautiful and colorful corals, no aquariums can bring out the beauty of the ocean as I saw there, nothing that man makes can capture the beauty of this world. I counted at-least 12 different types of fish. After a while I was comfortable and the guide left me to wander around myself. It was bliss! Then I held Ashu’s hand and we were floating effortlessly looking at the wonderful ocean while we swam back to the boat… Ashu went down and picked something he handed it to me, it was a crab shell… trust me it was more romantic than the most beautiful flowers he has ever given me… Then he pointed at something and I found Nemo!
The 60mins which initially looked like eternity to me passed in a jiffy and we were signaled to come back. Without a doubt snorkeling is the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had – it’s as close to nature as you can get – its nature itself! I do not swim and I feel very uncomfortable in water I do not go beyond 1.2m in the pool yet I jumped in the middle of the sea and enjoyed it!