Friday, March 10, 2017

Letting go, yet again

 In the earlier post I mentioned about letting go off the land beneath my foot and armed with that confidence, and overwhelmed with what I had just accomplished, we were herded to the next stop into yet another motor boat by our guide Lilly.
 
It took another 30 minutes to reach the next boat close to a small patch of reef that fringes Coral Island called the Koh-Lam in Thai. We all had signed up for the underwater sea walk, purely intrigued by the idea and Lilly handed us over to our new guide, an Indian who was multilingual. A well-built Indian who could speak in broken English, Hindi and Thai language (for the benefit of few south Asians who were with us).
 
He assumed all of us can understand Hindi, and though not very versatile with the language (shame on me), I managed to figure out the instructions he gave. Jay, having been brought in the north chipped in and helped. With all seriousness he gave us the instructions and with all our might we listened to him. I listened out of sheer fear. I was not comfortable with water and the awesome looking blue blue aquamarinish water didn’t look all that great, the moment he was saying you will all go under water and remember you cannot speak under water, so you need to know how to communicate.

We were given black gloves and he explained the whole process of communicating with our hands. He also assured that we need not necessarily know swimming for this activity. Quite a breather that one was. He further assured, all the better if you didn’t know swimming. You only have to sink in the water. Made a note to myself, Learn Swimming.
 
Communication.. Sounds pretty simple for someone who does that for a living. (Me) But under water communication?? the few butterflies that I had when I went for parasailing, multiplied manifold suddenly that they didn’t have space in my tummy to fly. I was desperately trying to hide my fear. The breeze that was blowing was making us feel cold and I found myself trembling. Difficult to say if it was the chillness or if it was the fear. But company the of four helped. We laughed and joked and took pictures (yeah we never missed that one).
 
Here we had to climb down from a platform on the boat, to metal stairs that went into seawater, like the ones that you see in swimming pools. When water is at your chest level, they instruct you to walk on one strip of metal to the guy who holds a heavy white coloured astronaut like bubble helmet. The bubble helmet is connected to a tube that in turn is connected to the oxygen tank, so that we get a constant supply of oxygen and also stops the seawater ingressing into the helmet.
 
I was second in the line, and as per instructions given, after the first person goes down, the divers on board would place the bubble on my head. And that moment I have to let go of my hands from the steel bars that I was holding onto. My biggest doubt was, if I will let go. I told myself, its too late now to back off, all others are doing it, none of them know swimming and there are scuba divers down there to help.
 
Then it happened. The bubble was placed on my head and I just let go. Yeah I did. First time ever I went underwater, followed the instruction of the Indian guide who told us to swallow saliva to maintain the air pressure and I was kind of fine. I kept going down until my feet touched the fine coral of the sea bed. I could see the first guy who was the only guy with our four member team, down there and I frantically held on to his hand. Tightly. I was floating and my feet would not stay firm on the sea bed. 

Have I made a wrong choice of opting into this adventure sport?
Did I pay for my own funeral in Thai bhats?
Will I die under water? Will I make it back home?
What if the water gets above the chin, after all, the distance between the chin and the nose is just a couple of inches.
If I am struggling for breath and what if none of scuba divers see?

Questions to myself and my initial thoughts under water.

By then a scuba diver held my legs and steadied it on the sea bed. The water pressure makes it unable to stand still and gives a feeling of floating. Like air pressure, realised the prowess of water pressure too. I repeatedly try and steady myself. In a few minutes all seems well.
 
I saw Jay coming down and holding my left hand. Relief writ large on my eyes, we could see eye to eye. A diver came in front of me and checked if all was okay. I communicated correctly, remembered my sign language and showed him the correct sign.
 
I could see Jay had some trouble with the air pressure and the body guard helping her. She is being steadied too. I didn’t let go of the grip of my right hand. Jay was holding my left hand. Things were falling in place. I could see a reef in the sea bed, fishes swimming a little far away. I could see the sea bed, and the divers clearly and a lot of organisms which I could not identify. We have seen these so many times in Discovery channel and didn’t give two hoots about what grit it involves.

Then the show begins. One of the divers comes close to me and pulls my hand and saves the first guy from my vice-like grip. He must have felt so relieved. He handed all of us a piece of bread and almost magically, a huge school of fish comes to feed from our hands. The fishes are just inches away from the helmets. Some are small, some big and all are colourful.
 
The fishes are cautious, hesitant but like us they are driven by the strength of a group. They are also smart and sometimes peck my fingers and it all feels so good. Some fishes are touching my legs too. I dare not look down as we were instructed not to bend down or look up. We can only look sideways through the bubble helmet. For the time being I enjoy the tingling feeling when the fishes brush past you. We are allowed to touch pieces of live coral and the whole thing is a fine display.
 
I cannot believe myself. I am amazed at what I am doing underwater walking on the south Asian sea bed. Fear takes a back seat (not completely vanished though) and I take in all that I can see through my helmet. The divers are hovering around.
 
We should have been there for 20 minutes. And we hear a long tap on metal from up above. The divers come for us and help us go up to the stairway that seems to hang in water. As I come out, the bubble is removed from my head and not a drop of water above my chin.
 
Four of us laugh, dance, chatter and rejoice – this was the best experience of our trip. The waters looked Cobalt blue now, fear replaced with ecstasy and the magic returns.

Letting go helped.

Post Script:
We had paid up for under water photographs, but particular day, there was some technical snag with the camera and they couldn’t give us our photographs under water.

12 comments:

  1. Double woohoo. You are a complete star Vincy. Its not easy to do what you did. It seems to have been a trip of a lifetime, for the things that you did first time ever. Bravo !

    Real pity about the photos. That would have been one big memory to be cherished again and again. Even more than the parasailing.

    I never knew "babes" can do such mischief :)

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    1. Thanks to our planning, we had literally no setbacks in our trip. This photograph thing under water, seemed to be the only one.

      and yes this one was not easy at all until I completed it. After you have said it, I would to believe what you said. Star, that is.

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  2. wow..apdiye naanay thannikulla poitu vanthapola iruku

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    1. I am so glad. To the four of us, the magic is still alive.

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  3. I totally and completely agree with Ramesh, you are a star and a super one at that.. I was on the edge of my seat while doing this, seriously I can not imagine doing anything like this, I have already told you the kind of constant worrier I am. But I am sooo proud of you and so happy. The absence of photos is a downer but what the heck! it is going to be a fabulous memory for entire life... you rock girl...lots of love..

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    1. The first few minutes of this activity, my heart was in my mouth. The magic unfolded slowly. At the end of it as i mentioned it was ecstasy.

      Thank you for making me feel so good. I wish I can accompany you in one such trip and help you do all that i did :-) :-)

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  4. I mean I was on the edge while reading this :)

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    1. I can imagine. No wonder these are called adventure sports

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  5. Wow Vincy, that must have been an amazing experience. I can understand your worries as I did not know swimming and went for Snorkelling in Hawaii but the experience is amazing. So glad you all had such a great time.

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    1. Thank you Seema.

      Snorkelling is in my To do list and your experience helps. next time for sure.

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  6. who needs pictures when you write it so well!

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    1. Awwww Ian thats a wonderful compliment coming from someone who writes so well. :-) :-) Honoured.

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