Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Scuba Diving in Pondicherry,India. Part 1: The Training Day.

I read somewhere that when you are diving underwater, once you get below 10 metres depth, you can't see the color red or yellow.Our Blood looks blue at that depth. In Pondicherry,India we dived to a depth of 12 metres and no I did not cut myself to check if the above stated bit of info is true.Far from it, I did not even remember that info.In fact I was completely lost in a state of trance.Surrounded by the green of the sea water and the sound of each breath I was taking echoing in my ears I was far away from the world.The scuba diving experience in Pondicherry turned out to be extremely thrilling and it all started out with a casual plan with my friends to just chill in Pondy for a weekend.

Abhishek my friend was the one who insisted we go to Pondy and along with another friend of mine Bhanu we spent a weekend in Pondy last month.We did not come with a specific plan to scuba dive but only had a vague notion to do it if the cost and time suits us. We assembled in Pondy at around 6 am in the morning and as all three of us were tired, we just slept till 12 noon. By 2 pm we were fresh and ready.The first thing we did was go to the agency offering the scuba dive experience, Temple Adventures. Their office is situated a few minutes from the beach in a small quiet neighborhood.We had hired out two bikes from our hotel and that made the search for the office easy. As we walked in we found a few people milling around the entrance. Heaps of scuba related equipment were laid out neatly on the cupboards near the door.We inquired about the scuba package.The shortest package they had on offer was the 2 day package costing Rs 7000. It would be starting that afternoon and would end by 12 noon the next day. The time suited us perfectly, the only thing to decide was if we were ready to spend 7000 bucks for that. It took us only 5 minutes to come to a conclusion and we booked ourselves a spot.

After filling up some forms and reading some informational booklets we had a 1 hour class where our instructor Leon explained to us a few basic pointers about scuba diving.After that theory class we had a practice session in a swimming pool.Now I consider myself fairly comfortable around water.When I was a kid my dad used to take me and my siblings to rivers and lakes for a bit of water fun.In one summer vacation he even took us to the River Godavari nearby my home in sweltering summer heat for 15 consecutive days to teach us swimming. These constant rendezvous with water made me a bit comfortable around water bodies. I thought I will be fine and go through the scuba dive experience like a hot knife through butter.I was wrong.During that practice session in the pool my instructor, after having checked all the equipment on me and giving me all the instructions, told me to slowly go underwater. As I lowered myself slowly into the eater with the regulator in my mouth,I instinctively stopped breathing even with the regulator in  my mouth.This is exactly why they have this training. I raised myself up and surfaced. I took stock of the situation and told myself to breathe through the regulator. The instructor told the same thing. Breathe.Breathe. Breathe.The second time I did okay and started breathing through the regulator.After getting comfortable it was time to learn some basic underwater signs and actions. We practiced a few signs like signalling 'ok',' go up','go down' and 'something wrong' which can also be called 'all is not well' sign. The 'something wrong' sign is followed by indicating the location with our index finger. We also learnt and practiced what to do in case the regulator falls out of our mouth. All this practice was over by 6 pm. By the time it ended I was confident of doing well the next day out on the sea. 

We headed to the beach after the practice to have some sea food as all that practice had made us hungry.To our dismay there was not one seafood stall anywhere from the north end of the beach all the way to the south end. Finally at the end point we spotted one restaurant which had seafood but it was full so we just had some bhel and fruit salad in a nearby stall. We spent some time at the beach and went back to our hotel by 9 pm. We went out again for dinner.We had to be at the office of Temple Adventures the next day at 7 am so though we wanted to stay up late we slept by midnight.
The actual scuba dive day on my next post.


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