I have never been known to love anything adventurous. I find happiness in my cup of coffee, immersed in a book while I feel the breeze on my face in my balcony. A lot of stars had to align for me to agree to go scuba diving in Goa with my husband. It was his birthday and scuba diving was always something he spoke about trying, and so, I couldn't say no.
We chose a Try Dive instead of a proper course, mostly due my apprehensions. Little did I know that I'd dearly regret not opting for anything more than our 20-minute dive as soon as it was done and dusted.
We met our instructor at the Calangute beach where he ran us through all the safety guidelines and training. My nerves stopped me from easily remembering all the instructions but I eventually got around it. Soon, we were on the boat, on our way to Grande Island.
As the boat halted at the dive spot, I shot a prayer and jumped into the open water with my eyes clamped shut. I was too afraid to open them - what was I supposed to expect? Darkness? Creepy crawlers? Emptiness? I slowly opened them when I felt my husband nudge me and I was awe-struck, to say the least. Everything around us was spectacular. Colourful fish, bright corals, sea urchins, lobsters, turtles all floated around in the bright, sunlit blue waters. We spent the next 20 minutes exploring the nooks and crannies of the underwater world, before coming back up to the surface, hoping for more.
We had to head back to the mainland, which was a bittersweet feeling. We were leaving something magical, but we knew we had a few days of exploring the city and its beaches as we celebrated my husband's birthday.
We left from Goa after some truly memorable days spent there, but we didn't head back home to Ahmedabad. Instead, we went to Mumbai to pay an old friend a visit over the weekend. I felt like I was back in my college days as we chatted our way well past bedtime, reminiscing the good old days. She was surprised when I told her that I had gone scuba diving in Goa (“Who are you and what did you do to my Kiara?” were her exact words, if I'm not mistaken). I said that I may be turning over a new leaf, slowly developing a penchant for adventure. That was when she decided that a quick drive down to Kolad would be perfect for a newborn water baby like me.
Her plan was to take me river rafting in Kolad. The old me would have groaned and sulked, but now I couldn't wait to see what other things I had been missing out on.
Saturday morning, the three of us made our way to the rafting site in Kolad at 8:30AM, our energies nothing short of electric. We were to camp in Kolad for the night, so we checked in and got ready to go rafting. At the banks of the Kundalika river, we got briefed about the session, geared up and hopped into our rafts.
Rafting in Kolad, although a water sport just like scuba diving, was a whole world apart. In Goa, I was enjoying swimming with the fish and admiring the corals, feeling more at peace than ever before. But here, in Kolad, I forgot what serenity meant for the next two hours.
We rocked through ravenous rapids, got drenched in the chilling river water and let out collective hollers as we fought the river. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before, my adrenaline was coursing through my body a million times faster than the speed of our rafts. Finally, after the 12 km stretch was over we entered calm waters. With the instructor's green signal, we dropped our paddles and jumped into the serene river, floating on our backs and slowly coming down from our high.
I remember feeling that same peace I felt in Goa - water all around me, staring at the open skies and overgrown trees, listening to the shrill tweets of hundreds of birds, and smelling the fresh forest air.
Nature, whether way above, below or around water, always has an astonishing ability to soothe you, be it calming your nerves after your first dive or slowing your heart after two hours of rigorous rafting. Both these experiences have changed the way I look at adventure; it's not always about doing something dangerous, it's about being right there in the moment and living it to its fullest!
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