Monthly Archives: March 2010

DIVE INSTRUCTORS

Trust is one of the most difficult things to first develop and then maintain in any relationship-siblings, parent-child, student-teacher, or couples. Ask anybody who’s ever been cheated on by a partner, emotionally or physically. As Shakespeare said, “Love all. Trust a few”.

Given the lack of knowledge people have for a developing sport like scuba diving, it is only natural that the most common fear that people diving for the first time have is “How will I breathe underwater” or “I’m gonna definitely get attacked by sharks” (No thanks to Steven Speilberg)

Thus, Scuba diving instructors, have NO problem gaining the trust of their diving group or students.

So, anyone adventurous enough to give scuba diving a shot expects that he is with someone who knows more than him! Trust is never an issue for instructors. Students join a dive course assuming that their instructor knows more than them and can guide them  safely through an underwater expedition. This phenomena puts a great deal of pressure on instructors as expectations are already high and its up to the instructor to make diving either an individual’s passion or his worst experience ever!

As GianRico Murredu, Course Director at the ADA(Andaman Diving Academy) puts it “ Being an instructor is not about being an underwater tour guide. Instructors already have their students’ trust. Dive instructors should be empathetic enough to understand each student’s needs and find a way to impart the same information to a heterogeneous group making sure that each student can clearly understand each concept.”

Loving what you do vs. getting paid big bucks

“There are three ingredients in the Good Life-Learning, Earning and Yearning”, said Christopher Morley.

A brief interactive session with the graduates of the second IDC batch at Planet Scuba India’s Andaman Diving Academy got me thinking What is more important? whether I like what I do or how much I get paid?

A very wise young woman I know who prefers being anonymous said,  “The MONEY-That way even if you hate work at least you can afford the plastic surgery to put a smile on your face!”

Our new instructors had no such questions in their heads though. As Madhu says, “Diving is not work for me, it’s my PASSION!” Bring up the financial aspect and he just smiles and says, “When you do what you love the money comes!”

Other interesting instructors I have met include a former member of the Queen’s Army, and a  software engineer from Bangalore who started off as instructor by teaching part time.

So, I have surrendered myself to the idea of doing what you love-excelling at it and making the big bucks as opposed to having to love what I do and affording the plastic surgery for that smile that wont reach my eyes!

The Dive Instructor Potential in India

It was thanks to Madhava Reddy’s initiative of opening India’s first instructor development centre, The Andaman Diving Academy, that a whole new career option has emerged for the driven and adventorous youth of our country who want to spend their time as one with the environment as opposed to being hunched over a desk from 9-5 and watching their bellies grow.

Moreover,the 5-star training facility is right here at Port Blair in the Andamans and you don’t have to travel abroad to learn how to be an instructor!

I had the opportunity of meeting with Mr. Gianrico Mureddu , Course Director(India’s first) at Planet Scuba India’s Andaman Diving Academy.

His observations of the Indian diving industry were very intriguing and are as follows. He sees great potential in the Indian market for instructors.

“The large population helps in the increase of numbers if the course is promoted well. Currently, the majority of instructors in India are foreigners. The only cause of concern is that only about 5% of the total population of India will be able to afford the IDC (Instructor Development Course)”

Our latest graduating batch from ADA has a mix of enthusiastic youngsters looking for an exciting and satisfying job as well as marine biologists and those looking for a change in profession.

Mr. Mureddu even added that instructors trained here will easily be employed even by foreign dive centres as ” Indians have a better command over the English language compared to other nationales. Good  communication skills is always a plus-in any job!” He cocluded that, “I do anticipate that by the first quarter of next year(2011)we should be able to double if not triple the number of Indian instructors in the Indian dive industry.”

SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND!

What I love about life is that you don’t have to look too far to find inspiration. As Madhu Kumar BM, my current role model says- Shahrukh said it best in Om Shanti Om “Agar kissi cheez ko dil se chaho tho puri kayanat use tumse milane ki sazish me lag jaati hai” (If you desire something with all your heart, then the whole universe conspires to deliver it to you)

The first time I met Madhu I was very fascinated to know how someone from Mandya, a small town in Karnataka, was now working with a 5-Star Inland Dive centre (Planet Scuba India)

Given how “knowing people” can help get your work done in our country, this is one young man who has come up the hard way-taking one step at a time-and is today the youngest employed PADI dive instructor in India with Planet Scuba India.

Ask him about scuba diving and this international level swimmer will relate how his first experience with diving was at the Santosa islands in Singapore. He saw a poster at the aquarium and his innate love for water told him diving is something he HAD to try!

Since then, there’s been no looking back.

With a smile on his face he’ll recall every hardship- the move from Mandya to the big city-Bangalore- where he had to live on his own and manage college and work as a swimming instructor (the youngest instructor in the city) and his own performance in swimming meets-“There were 2 people who used to always say-what will you do in 5 years?”

Today, Madhu Kumar BM is the youngest gainfully employed PADI certified dive instructor in the country.

He says ever since the trip to Singapore all he wanted to do was dive and then in 2008 he met with Madhava Reddy, CEO Planet Scuba India, the only inland dive centre in India.

Madhava offered Madhu a whole new life- the opportunity to be a a dive instructor at Andaman Diving Academy (the only dive instructor school )and thereafter the option of working with PSI providing him with the flexibility to teach swimming, as teaching has always been a passion for this fighter.

“When the road is tough its not like you stop walking. There’s more satisfaction in overcoming the hurdles” is what he has to say about his journey thus far.

THE “DISCOVER SCUBA DIVING(DSD)” EXPERIENCE

The Discover Scuba Diving Course is like the introduction to scuba diving-the bumper cars rush for a first time driver- and the perfect step one experience for any beginner apprehensive to block a lump sum for their PADI license.

Prior to signing up, our instructor explained to us the 4 thrills of scuba diving-weightlessness, breathing in an unfamiliar environment, observing different life forms and the aquatic beauty in general and donning equipment that resembles a space suit!- adding that we will get to experience only 3 of those in the pool. Also, that all NASA astronauts have to be certified divers.

The DSD is a 5 hour session- an hour in the classroom and 4 hours in the pool.

Diving with me last Saturday were Shyamala, Prasanna, Narayan and Shirley. Of the 5 of us Shyamala, Prasanna and Shirley are non swimmers and had only ever dipped their legs in a pool upto their knees!

The most fascinating reactions to the DSD for me, were those of Prasanna and Shyamala as both otherwise claim to suffer from hydrophobia.

“It was amazing” was Prasanna’s one line summary.

“I was initially scared that I wont come up in the water with my equipment on, but I am now inspired to learn how to swim”

“It was my first time underwater. This is an experience that I would love for my son to have!” is what Shyamala had to say.

Diving came naturally to Narayan, who only had to say “I fully enjoyed” and is on his way to pursuing to be a dive master.

Shirley claims that she did initially panic, but was soon enough fascinated by how easily one could breathe underwater. She went on to say that “This is something thrilling that I will encourage everyone to try at least once”

On the whole my last first time is something I’m always going to remember. Considering my left arm is paralyzed, it was a blessing that our instructor was always at an arm’s length. I do now realize that diving isn’t as physically demanding as I imagined it would be. “If I can do it-you can do it!” Also, you get to lose 900 calories while you’re enjoying yourself underwater-it doesn’t get any better than that.

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