The lion fish gets its name from the rays of its dorsal pectoral and pelvic fins which stand up like a lion's mane. This beautiful and attractive black and white feathery lion fish can be quite a temptation to touch. But the beauty of this fish can be deceptive and it can inflict painful wounds with its venomous dorsal fin rays.
Shraddha and I borrowed bikes from the boat boys and went for a ride on the one solitary main road, which runs from one end of the island to the other. We could not go for a long ride because we had to meet again at 7pm for our theory class.
On our way back, Anees saw us returning our cycles and immediately warned us that we should not do any strenuous exercises after our dives. We would learn more about why, later in our theory class.
7 p. m.
Session was on signals and safety procedures and filling up our dive log book. The session first started with a de-briefing session in which the instructor discussed with each one of us our experiences, and problems during the dive. The session went on till 8:45 and before we knew it, it was time for dinner. How quickly the day had passed. Before I came for the trip I thought I'd get plenty of time to just relax and do nothing but the course was hectic.
6th November 1997
Got up at 7am and made it for morning tea. Breakfast was omelets and toast. Could not eat too much since the dive was at 9.00 am. This time the dive was going to be from a boat - the instructors had to take each one of us alone in turns. My turn was at the end so I took some photographs. We descended well and I felt good under water. I tried the mask filling exercises and did them fine. But when I was asked to remove the mask completely, I got nervous and declined. Seeing my nervousness, Pari took me for a little cruise. I saw beautiful corals, pink sea anemones and a lizard fish sitting next to it.
I kept sinking to the sand-apparently I have to fin properly to be buoyant or fill up air in my jacket. I guess I still need to feel comfortable with my gear and control my buoyancy. The dive ended. There was still time for lunch so we could actually laze around for a while.
This time we were to graduate to the Eastern side of the island. We went by boat to a lagoon site called Kindergarden by the instructors. The depth here was 5.5 Mts. The instructors took everyone down one at a time. The basic exercise was toequalize ear pressure regularly as you go down. I was hesitant to dive but the boat staff talked me into it and I decided to attempt it. This time Anees was going to take me down. I was a little nervous to change a familiar instructor but managed to calm myself down. Pari said diving is like Yoga.
Concentrate on your breathing and you have to take control of your senses, deviate your mind from the panic and be logical and in control. So I took control of myself and said- just do it!
Anees was really supportive while going down - he kept really close and maintained eye contact so I felt secure. Every few feet I was told to equalize and sign OK. I managed to reach the bottom quite easily. We tried to fin a little, but I couldn't fin properly - I was scared of cutting myself on the corals. Added to this the visibility under water was quite poor. Anees spotted a four feet long Moray eel and wanted me to go closer to take a look but I didn't want to go anywhere near it. Pari came close while Anees went really close to the Moray eel. They asked me again if I wanted to go any closer. But I insisted that I didn't want to see it from any closer - Eel yuks! Show me pretty fish and corals anytime but these snake like creatures-yuks!
We finned around a while longer and then Anees slowly proceeded with the ascent. I was fine. We headed back to shore - I was the only one left - everyone had already gone back. I carried my equipment back, washed it with fresh water and hung it for drying.
You have to wash yourself too as soon as possible as tiny sandbugs sit on you and suck blood. If you scratch the itch - it becomes an open wound.
Went for a bath and got ready for tea. Chatted with Adarsh during tea. He is just 24 years old. Adarsh got into diving through Prahlad. He was doing Film Production earlier. Adarsh is from Bangalore but worked in Bombay.
We went for our Theory class on pressure. Quite interesting. Explained the Boyles theory. Did a few problems-took longer than Gauri since I didn't remember my tables. After theory we hung around the dinner table-dinner was delicious - continental selection for a change. Tuna, baked beans and macaroni-baked with sprinkled cheese on top. After dinner we headed for the jetty. Adarsh put on the music loudly from a hut near the jetty.
It was beautiful: gentle breeze, stars, moon and silence.
The next morning dive was going to be at 7:30 am.
I overslept-I had to kit-up in a rush, but made it. The morning was beautiful. Since the sun was not very high it was not hot and the weather was perfect. The dive instructor with me was Pari, she said we would be first to go down. The Dive site was again Kindergarden. We had to equalize our ears by holding your nose and breathing out while descending and by swallowing to release air from the ear air pocket while ascending. It all felt a lot easier to remember after we had learnt the theory about expansion and compression of air because of water pressure. The dive was very comfortable and I was quite happy to cruise on my own. We saw plenty of colourful fish-Parrot fish, Pirate fish... so many more.
Gauri and Shraddha had also had wonderful dives. Breakfast was delicious dosas which we ravenously tucked into. Later we just chilled, in Gauri's lingo- and then went for our theory class on Barotraumas.
11.30 am Adarsh explained various diving accidents and different traumas while diving. It made so much sense after understanding what pressure does to the air in our body - very illuminating.
After lunch we headed for our room for a short rest before the next dive at 3pm. And I fell off to sleep and overslept- and missed the dive- I felt terrible.
Any way when we woke up, Gauri and I went for a walk on the beach to the Southernmost tip of the island - a sandbar surrounded by the sea on all sides. We watched the spectacular sunset and took photographs. Gauri picked up a shell in which a Hermit crab had made his home- It kept popping his head and feet out and looked amazingly like Sebastian from Disney's 'Little Mermaid'.
At the jetty in the night we had a nice chat with Anees who was leaving in the morning for Kaviratti, where they were starting another diving school. Later at night while we were chatting on the jetty, we saw small glowing spots on the edge of the water - like glow worms.
Adarsh said that the sea weed nutrients react with sand and water to create this glow called phosphorescence. Adarsh told us that on some nights he had seen a band of glow extending the whole length of the beach. Sounds amazing. I hope we get to see a similar sight some night.