The summer season in India is usually at its peak in the month of May. What could be better than beating the heat by going underwater for scuba diving! I enjoyed being part of a weekend jamboree organized by the India Underwater Festival team in Mumbai earlier this month.
The Mumbai Underwater Festival was a mixed bag of snorkeling, scuba diving, underwater sports, outside water activities such as skateboarding and slacklining, photography exhibition, movie screenings and so on. This ensured that the entire day at the festival was full of fun.
Briefing with instructors before the dive
My eyes were only set on scuba diving. My first time was also with the same team of instructors from Finkick Adventures who were running the show at this festival. The joy of getting back into the swimming pool for the first time after my spinal cord injury was priceless. The memory of my first scuba dive is as fresh as ever.
Once I am underwater – in the pool, disability takes a back step. I don’t have to worry about balancing my body, not able to move my legs or no triceps, finger and wrist movement. I am still able to enjoy an adventure sport such as scuba diving by doing the bare minimum of breathing and moving my arms slightly.
All set up for scuba diving with oxygen cylinder on my back, buoyancy control device (BCD) which looks like a life jacket but is more advanced. Here I am in the process of wearing my mask.
At Mumbai Underwater Festival, I was first one to take the dive on the first day. This time I was hoping to do better at navigating by myself underwater. I won’t say that I turned into a mermaid, but there was a slight improvement. I was able to stay underwater for a longer time without getting tired or panicking. Cheers to that 😀
If you are wondering about how can a Quadriplegic scuba dive, check out my short video below:
P.S. TIP for watching the video: Turn your volume HIGH before clicking PLAY. I don’t want you to miss out on the bud bud bud bud sound of bubbling underwater.
Note how Kshitij Mittal (from Finkick Adventures) & the rest of his crew keep a constant watch on me. Kshitij is a certified DDI (Disable Diving International) Scuba Diving instructor and has trained many people with disabilities.
Kshitij constantly maintained eye contact and cheered me to keep going. He would ask with a thumbs up if everything is okay; if I nodded up and down then continue. If my head goes left and right or I move my hands rigorously making a cross, then this was my signal that something is wrong and he would bring me up to the surface.
Selfie with my instructor Kshitij Mittal
One of his best advice is that you must behave like an extremely lazy person when scuba diving – relax – breathe in slowly – and breathe out even slower than that. No haste is required.
The only thing I had to say after it was done is ‘I want more!’ 😀
To my friends with spinal cord injury, mobility impairment or any other kind of disability:
If you are still worried about your safety, or fear drowning or questioning how can I do it or struggling with self doubt….. just trust these guys & dive in. Ping Adventures Beyond Barriers & Finkick Adventures will take care of the rest.
Drop in a comment if you have any questions about scuba diving or how to prepare for it. I will be more than happy to help 🙂