It is cold and dark. A bluish glow emanates. Deep in the water – thick and gray, as eyes turn to the side, a long, gray shape swims into vision. Eerily calm, moving swiftly, the whole thing now comes together. It is a shark, the tips of its fins and tail bright silver. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? Except, it is not. It is a dream come true for Dinesh Dayal as he along with his buddies watch in awe.
Today, they have swum with a huge group of eagle rays mottled with white spots glowing like stars, observed a gray stone unfurl to reveal a marble ray swimming away, and the shark has been the cherry on top.
The numerous schools of brightly colored fish, turtles in the waters pierced by shards of light and other sights of today are just a regular feature.
The group returns to surface thrilled and exhausted. It has been a great night of scuba diving for Dinesh Dayal and his fellow members of the Orca Dive Club, Mumbai.
The First Dive
Dinesh Dayal is the co-founder and former-COO of L’Oréal India and currently, runs his international venture ‘LaTerre Growth Advisors’ .
With demanding positions like these, Dinesh has been able to keep his stress at bay and stay icy-cool.
Much credit goes to his off-chance encounter with diving. While vacationing in Maldives in April 1992, he opted for the much-touted discovery scuba-diving. It is basically an introduction to scuba diving for newbies with quick instructions on what it takes to be underwater.
Dinesh has always been a water-baby. He has been a swimmer since school and absolutely loves the water. The first experience left him wanting for more.
The very next time the seaside beckoned him to Indonesia for work, he took a week off in Bali and enrolled for the Open Dive Certification (entry-level certification for recreational scuba diving). He was now certified to begin diving into the open sea.
Trumping Work, Nurturing Passion
As is usually the case, in mid-thirties when you are gunning the accelerator in both professional and personal life, your hobbies take a backseat. Dinesh too stayed away from diving till 1995, focusing instead, on his kids. Few night dives in Goa post 1995 gave him a fresh impetus.
A couple of years down the line, he was now able to carve out time for this diving bug. Of course with a jam-packed schedule, this meant meticulous planning. He would plan leave in advance, marking some for family, the rest for diving. He managed to dive 2-3 times a year.
Sometimes the pressure of work meant he couldn’t take multiple vacations. Here, his wife stepped in and joined him along with their little kids as he went diving to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Naturally, the kids got to see all of this up and close as they grew up.
His elder daughter also caught the bug and is now an accomplished advanced diver accompanying her father on several dives.
Learn the Technique stresses Dinesh Dayal
Like any adventure sport, scuba diving comes with its set of challenges. Dinesh stresses the importance of right training and the right technology and gear. “ Learn the sport with full concentration, ” he advises. Getting your buoyancy right is the hardest part to master but is key and with can be achieved with focused practice.
Another important aspect, especially relevant for scuba diving is of safety. “You must have the right attitude to safety,” he emphasizes.
During buddy dives, where you dive with another member, it is critical to remain HUMBLE, maintain eye contact and listen to your guide.
Whatever be the number of dives you have notched up, each dive requires the same amount of caution and respect. The right gear is also critical for scuba diving. In the beginning, Dinesh would go with rentals but he now has invested in a complete set from the jacket, regulator to the basic mask, fins, and wetsuit.
He advises newly certified divers to invest in the mask and fin for starters .
However, when they start diving frequently, the investment should extend to include the rest of the gear too.
“Just do it,” says Dinesh Dayal when asked about scuba diving. “It will enrich your life in so many ways.” Scuba diving lets you delve into multiple dimensions at the same time. The underwater world is fascinating with its stunning natural beauty.
It is the world completely silent and separate but buzzing with scores of large and small fish in bright hues, corals, and flora as they go about their life making a mesmerizing scene. At the same time, it poses the challenge of being in the current maintaining your buoyancy.
The sense of weightlessness and the absolute silence that pervades makes the entire experience extremely meditative making you live in the present. No wonder Dinesh Dayal has been hooked on to this for over two decades.
For him, it has been a passion that fills him with energy. Seeking to recharge and hungering for more, his passion for diving has taken him deep in the waters around India at Maldives, Lakshadweep, Andaman’s to further East Borneo, Indonesia, Papua, Similan Islands Thailand, Rangiroa Tahiti, Galapagos, Chuuk, Palau, Malapascua Philippines and even Red Sea Egypt.
The list resembles a travel brochure of the most exotic seaside places to be and fills you with awe as he rattles it easily. Mostly into solo dives, Dinesh would travel alone and sometimes meet up with his French dive buddy.
However, in 2006, he discovered the Orca Dive Club in Mumbai and since then he has enjoyed several memorable dive trips with this group. His sorties into the sea have given him a treasure house of memories.
Remember how you sometimes close your eyes to imagine your “happy place” and unwind.
For Dinesh, it would certainly be a challenge to pick one. Recently, he had a close encounter for several hours at night with the elusive but gentle 18 ft. whale shark in deep, south Maldives as he coasted gently along.
Another time, he played audience to a parade of over 50 hammerhead sharks splicing the current at Wolf Island, Galapagos. He has flown with the sharks at Tiputa pass and has watched the extremely rare and poisonous blue-ringed octopus in the Philippines.
He has explored the best preserved World War 2 wrecks in Chuuk.
In another surreal encounter, Dinesh witnessed the mating ritual of the chromatic mandarin fish, easily one of the most colorful and charming fish in the sea, as the female gently rested on the male’s fin while seahorses gracefully glided on the other side. A 360-degree visual treat!
Passion breeds passion
As Dinesh has now ventured into his own firm, he has been able to further increase his diving. “I plan to keep doing this till I’m 80 years old …Hopefully,” he pronounces. “There are many 70+-year-olds who dive frequently,” he adds.
He obviously is aiming in the right direction having clocked over 550+ dives including rescue diver and wreck diving. “I still have so much more to do. There’s the Coco Islands (36 hours from Costa Rica by boat). I want to return to Galapagos and Tahiti. I am yet to see giant Oceanic Mantas and the Tiger shark,” he lists enthusiastically.
Along with scuba diving, Dinesh Dayal has also started biking. At 50, he fulfilled his long-cherished dream of owning the Royal Enfield Classic. His younger cousin and friend are both passionate and experienced rides and indoctrinated him into the world of biking.
With the same disciplined approach, he also went to motorcycle school on a race track to learn the essential skills and techniques of leaning, turning, riding fast and SAFE. With numerous trips to the sea, he is now foraying across on ground with trips to Kalpa and Sangla in Himachal, Srinagar to Leh and Turtuk and Pangong in Ladakh.
Last October, he ventured into Uttarakhand and visited the remote village of Malari in the Nanda Devi sanctuary. “I want to deepen my skills in riding, especially trail riding,” says Dinesh.
So, ticking off scuba diving, adventure biking, is that all? “I would be open to learning to fly a plane and to jump off a plane…,” he quips and signs off.
Worthy dreams and concrete steps – seems the perfect combination to take it all.