“It feels as a beautiful dream that I dreamt & had it my way all through….”
To classify myself I’m a girl in her mid 20s who like everyone loves to travel .I have made a “Bucket -list” for myself where I have written some of the things that I wanted to do in my lifetime & one of such things was: Scuba Diving.
With certain desire we also get some least important (priority wise) desire fulfilled and that was what I got with scuba –diving: to spend a vacation with myself.
I always wanted to travel alone & this time my pocket gave me the green signal. I was thirsty for a break as from the last 3 months I was continuously appearing for exams each Sundays. It has left me frustrated & I realized that I had stopped growing spiritually. It was not a planned trip even though I did little bit of research only one month before leaving. I choose Havelock Island for my vacation; it was a nearby island, a 2 and half hour ship journey from the great Andaman’s & Nicobar Islands and as my younger brother was pursuing his higher studies there, I could have just drop & say “Hi” to him.
My flight schedule was early in the morning and I was not able to sleep the previous night. Usually whenever I was about to go for my Nationals I used to be very excited from a week ago but this time my expectation level was very low.
From Guwahati I landed in Kolkata & three of the passengers including me were taken to the flight to Port Blair & in this process I felt an emotional rush----“finally I’m living one of my dreams”. My brother came to receive me & the very next day I went to book my tickets for the “exotic” Havelock Island. I spend the next two days with my brother & his friends & when the day came for me to head for Havelock, I felt a kind of sadness, I don’t know why, I literally didn’t want to go ……but I had to. I took a bus headed for Phoenix Bay jetty& after reaching there I climb the steps of my ship M.V.RANGAT. After finding my seat I didn’t spend a minute inside, instead I went to the deck & enjoyed the scenic beauty.
Finally after two and half hours of journey I reached my destination. Travelling alone comes with a lot of baggage; you have to manage everything, decide on everything, checking out for the cheapest yet comfortable place to stay etc. In one word it comes with lots of responsibility. But the important part here was that the island was small & a safe place. The place was a semi-town with one relay centre of Door-darshan, a market, two main road -one leading to the best resorts of the place, the Elephant beach, Kalapahar and the other headed towards the famous Radhanagar beach.
Keeping my luggage in a Resort, I hired a cycle & went to check out some other resorts that suit my taste and finally “Vinnie’s Island (Dive India)” caught my heart. I shifted my luggage there, negotiated the price & finally talked with my Dive instructor .He was very welcoming & he said that my Open Water Diver Course (OWD with the maximum depth of 18 meter) would start from the next day and will be followed by an examination where pass mark was 80%.He also added that I will be getting a Diving license with which I could dive in any Ocean /Sea of the World & pursue my course further.
The next day our class started with the theory & video sessions followed by the practicals, on how to assemble & dissemble our Buoyancy Control Jacket (BCD), check the air in our cylinders, test the regulators, check the time gauge etc .
The next morning at 7.30 am in a motor boat we were taken to the shallow waters where our 1st practical skill session was held. With all the BCD, cylinder, fins, masked, weight belts put on, we were given briefing on all the skills & later asked to descend. The first time I descended, I started to feel uneasy regarding the inhaling & exhaling of the air (we have to inhale & exhale through our mouth), salt water was stuck in my throat & I was constantly telling myself…I’m not that adventurous as I think…I was signaling my instructor to ascend but he didn’t gave me the permission. Later when we ascended he told me that its normal for a 1st time diver to panic, but we should be calm & solve our problems underwater. Next we went officially for our 1st dive, there were lots of corals, fishes were swimming nearby in groups but I was not able to concentrate as I was too busy with the equipments around me. Gradually I started to enjoy my dives, it was a very beautiful experience, you are in the depth of the ocean with only silence everywhere, the only sound you hear is the sound of your breathe. Every breathe of your counts. The life underwater has a life of its own, the varieties of fishes swim with you, there are groupers, shinning fishes, puffer fish, pipe fish, swippers, sweet lips, nemo etc all having their own unique feature, it feels as if God have taken immense time to make them . One just cannot express it in words. After my 3rd dive I was sure that I will continue diving later in my life.
We had our dive timings from 7.30 am to 1.30 pm & usually after that my fellow divers have their lunch & go to sleep until 5pm when our instructor call us for briefing for the next day. But I didn’t waste any of my time taking a noon nap, instead I go to the beach, listen to my I-pod and take long walks towards the sea, usually at that time the tide is very low. During those walks it seemed as if it was “self-relaxing process”, all my worries were far somewhere & when one is under the blue sky & the vast ocean one’s soul is automatically elevated. Really travelling alone makes one spiritually grow and mentally calm.
I didn’t feel alone as such, but when I used to go for lunch or dinner I felt a sense of emptiness. Maybe it’s a part of travelling alone. But I miss my loved ones terribly.
By my 4th dive I started improving & was more aware of my surrounding, I had lot of rashes in my legs & hands and whenever I go in the water it starts to itches ,but the beauty of the underwater makes me forget all those things, I started to explore more beauties around me. Whenever I’m above of one of my buddies (diving partners are referred as buddies) in the deepness of the sea I try to catch the bubbles exhaled by them, they are big and you see your images reflecting on them, but fishes hate bubbles. Our instructors instucts us to do “passive interaction”, we are not allowed to touch any kind of aquatic life as we don’t know their defense mechanism & its consequences. It’s very easy to turn around in the underwater as you don’t have to turn your head but the whole body; the sun from underneath the Ocean looks fabulous. It is a kind of experience that should be experienced by all once in their lifetime.
On my 5th day stay in there when I was walking in the beach, I felt a kind of sadness, a thought ran in my mind, it felt as if this would be my last beach walk “alone”, now I really wanted to travel alone in my coming days, but I also feel that travelling with a partner is also not a bad idea but I must insist that the charm of travelling alone in an exotic island is very different.
My last dive of the course & the last day of my stay arrived; we were taken to a location called M.V .Mars where there was a ship-wreck. At first we did a backroll & started to descend to the bottom , as we descended further we saw a “live” ship wreck, for a moment I thought I was witnessing the “Titanic”, but it was smaller but an amazing site. Never in life had I thought I will witness such a grandeur, we made round and saw different parts of the ship, from the outside the ship appears to be dead, dull and full of green mosses but as we peep inside we saw a huge amount of life swimming here and there. As we move towards the deck of the ship, our instructor signaled us to lay our fingers in the railing of the ship & guess what! Some little red shrimps slowly came up and started to eat our dead skins from our nails, it was an experience. Actually we were previously told in the briefing that we might get lucky if we can make the shrimps to eat our dead skin. So we didn’t panic and made the shrimps had their way.Finally the time came for us to ascend. The journey back to resort was beautiful; there was a pocket full of rain & a little sunshine. But I didn’t had much time, as I was leaving by the 4.30 ship, I got to freshen up quick & then appear for the exams .Finally I passed the exams & was proud that I was a Certified Diver . Life gives us lot of unplanned moments & surprises.
I finally packed my back, bid goodbye to my instructors, buddies, and the people who worked in the resort & finally to the beach. This time I was really feeling - “Havelock-sick”. I didn’t want to leave Havelock so early; but time didn’t permitted me .A car came to pick me up & took me to the jetty. In the 5-10min route I was lost somewhere in my thoughts; I was in “deep melancholy” .But still I had to go. As the ship arrived I saw people climbing down and thought, this was the same scene which I encountered on my “first coming” & today I’m the one who is leaving. I climbed up, found my seat & came straight away to the deck because I wanted to witness the beautiful virgin island as I left. The ship started, little drops of rain started to fall, and slowly & steadily the sight of Havelock Island began to disappear. A kind of satisfaction was there in my mind as finally my scuba diving course was done & my wish of travelling alone to an island was fulfilled.
It feel so strange that how we meet so many people in our life & make such beautiful relationship like friendship & suddenly we have to move away from them with no connection, just thinking to meet them by chance somewhere someday & on the contrary we go towards the (our loved ones) who are waiting for us. Really strange!
When our ship reached in the middle of the journey I somehow forgot the feeling I had when I was leaving Havelock, now I was starting to think about the remaining two days in Port Blair & was happy about that.
I have travelled more than half of my country but this journey to Havelock, I repeat will be one of my most treasured one, I will cherish this forever in my heart .Whenever I close my eyes & think of Havelock, I see myself sitting in the corner of the beach, looking at the serene blue Ocean & somewhere in the corner of my heart I think I have spiritually grown a bit.
Published in Seven Sister's Post 20th Jan 2013