As a teenager my memories with the ocean are minimal yet significant. My trips to Goa and Chennai had me wallowing on the beaches in shallow water, trying to teach myself how to kick and propel myself inside the water. It is through such experiences it was that I came closest to what could qualify as swimming. But the process of actually working with a professional and learning the strokes happened only after moving to Doha.
Qatar, like most countries in the Gulf and the Middle East is a place where villas are very common. Just like apartments are the usual fare in Europe or Asia huge villas with gardens and private pools are the norm here. And so, up until December at least, we have access to one such pool in our villa. One of the first things we did when we got here was hiring a swimming coach who could help us get our strokes and underwater techniques right. Even as I write this I am in the midst of getting my freestyle and breaststroke in order. It has been an exhilarating experience to put it mildly.
This is the closest I have come to letting that force of nature called water wrap me up like this. When I am underwater there is a transcendental moment of surreality. It is as if all I can hear and see there is part of a world that is so different from the one above. There is stillness and hope there. When I struggle to kick sometimes and push myself ahead, there is some force in that blue which holds me, reassures me and keeps me going. When I blow bubbles from within the wish to come up for a breathe of fresh air actually is small. Instead I wish I could just live in that blue world where the body can always be nimble and the mind can always be so relaxed.
All my life whenever I would watch nature shows I would often wonder about the lives underwater creatures lived. What it could feel like to just live out an entire life span in water. Today I feel as though some of that wonder is receding. To let the limbs span out and part the water, or to cut through the dancing mounds as I make my way to the deep end … the experience is nothing short of a revelation.
As we move to a VIP style community compound in December we will no more have access to private pools. One Olympic sized pool will be our only access point to the wonders of underwater delights. But I look forward to that too. By then, I hope, I would have mastered the nitty gritty of the basic strokes and let my body and mind constantly become one in blankets of water.
Our swimming coach (a total professional) always tells me to 'Relax....!' whenever I struggle to get around the strokes. Yes – I must. But I also realize swimming is more than just an activity to relax. It is one of those few processes where one has to let go of the body's control to gain more control of it. Having had no experience with letting myself go this way I am quite excited about the prospect of letting the underwater currents take charge of my movements and guide me to much deeper ends than what our pool currently has.
Just like I recommend everyone should live on their own for at least one year in their lives, I now add mandatory swimming as another important aspect to that process of knowing oneself.
Go, take a dive with zeal and zest. The blue within shall heal, shall take care of the rest.