Naveen Chandra, Head, International Business, Times Network talks about his love for diving and recounts his recent diving experience in Maldives, which turned out to be his most memorable experience yet


By Naveen Chandra
Head- International Business, Times Network


I took to deep sea diving a few years back and out of the various adventure sports that I have been into - like sky-diving in Sydney, sky jumping at Macau, bungee jumping in Thailand and scuba diving - I have found the greatest thrill in diving. Diving isn’t transient like the jumps from altitudes, and since it isn’t controlled by a tandem jumper or a jump controller, it requires skills and training. You are deep in the ocean on your own for extended lengths of time, maybe with a buddy, managing drfits, currents and witnessing the great beautiful marine life in all its glory. As there are many levels of certification, you can keep diving forever as you go from being an open water diver to a scuba dive master and even take up professional technical diving as a dive instructor and more.

Having dived in a few countries like the Maldives, Seychelles, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand over the years, I recently had my most memorable diving experience in the Maldives. It was my second trip to the archipelago, and I did 10 awesome dives living on a boat over five days. Each of the dives had a specific purpose – either to watch giant manta rays feeding on plankton or getting themselves cleaned, to see reef sharks, sting rays, turtles, whale sharks, to dive through ship wrecks, or to experience varieties of dives in drift current, deep dives at depths of 30 metres or experience extensive coral life. Seas around the Maldives have crystal clear visibility, almost like a spotless swimming pool cleaned in the morning.

The boat aptly titled ‘Princess Rani’ served delicious Maldivian sea food at mealtimes including bid keemiya (egg & tuna samosa), garudhiya (fish soup), theluli mas ( fried fish), boshi mashumi (tuna roll) and the yummy red snapper caught by the chef. The island mojitos with fresh coconut were a fitting end to great days spent diving. Talking of seafood, may I recommend the interesting shark burger, which I had a few years back at the Richards beach shack in Trinidad, where the signboard read ‘Eat shark before shark eats you’!

Back to the Maldives - just after our last dive and before we hit the no-fly time, the diving captain spotted the elusive giant whale shark and as he swung the boat around, everyone jumped  back into the choppy ocean, snorkelling  furiously after the beast, amidst a swarm of over 50-60 divers from different boats around. The elegant giant swam in the deep, mindless of the fuss on the surface. Just spotting it in motion made our trip worthwhile.

Since we were at sea on August 15, our dive-master planned an Indian flag-hoisting ceremony 30 metres deep in the ocean, on the shipwreck of Japanese shipping trawler MV Kudhima, that had sunk in 1998. It was a terrific experience.

Now, my diving wishlist includes swimming in Norway with the killer whales (Orca) and in the Galapagos islands, 1000 km from Ecuador’s capital, the amazing diversity of ocean life here was apparently an inspiration for Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species’ thesis.

The thrill of the ocean is unmatched, and once you are hooked, it’ll draw you back again and again.

Feedback: naveen.chandra@timesgroup.com

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