Life of a Scuba diving Instructor

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I met Subhash C. Pillai during my trip to the Andamans. If it were not for him, I would have probably come back without a diver certification. I was curious to know how he ended up being a scuba diving instructor. Here are some excerpts of my conversation with him…

BBD: A little bit about your background? Where were you born, how did you discover scuba diving? Which all locations have you dived at?
SCP: I am a typical Mallu who grew up in Kollam, Kerala. I enrolled for a graduation course but left within a month. From there on I tried my luck in various fields and acquired various skills like driving a petroleum tanker, yoga, being a masseuse and even did odd jobs like aluminium fabrication and fitting granite tiles.

I discovered Scuba Diving through a close friend Ivan Robert (married to an Indian woman) from Belgium living in Bangalore; where I used to work in a hotel as a spa therapist. He is the one to give me this path. He was an old diver who was running an underwater construction company in various countries.

One fine day I happened to discuss with him about me leaving my job as a spa therapist and trying my luck in Dubai to work at a supermarket. He advised me to try Scuba Diving as a profession instead. He sent me to Goa where I did my first course in diving called the Open Water Course. I really enjoyed the experience and then decided to go for further courses. I left my job and with the diving equipment that Ivan gifted me, I shifted to Goa. I worked in the dive school there and acquired my various certifications and life enhancing experiences. This happened in the year 2009. Since then there has been no turning back despite the challenges and setbacks that came my way. Now I am an SSI Dive Instructor working in Neil Island, Andamans. I have dived in Goa, Netrani and the Andamans.

BBD: What is it like being a diving instructor?
SCP: What more can I ask for – ‘my office’ is the underwater world of myriad of fishes, corals and eccentric marine life. Nothing else is as refreshing as being a part of this ecstatic world. No monotonous paper work, shuffling boring files, no formal clothes. Life is out of the ordinary and simply remarkable. And it is always good to teach the same to enthusiastic students. Every day, I meet new people from across the world; we exchange stories about life experiences, about passions. Not a single day passes by as mediocre.

BBD: Who is your mentor?
SCP: I have three mentors, Ivan from Belgium, Yannis from Greece and Marc from France. They have played a very important role in my life and my career. While Ivan gave me the push to enter this profession, Yannis was my Instructor and promoter. Marc has always been there to support me through every phase of life. So I owe my life to them.

BBD: What is the best part about your job?
SCP: My job is my passion. I love what I do. Making people happy at each and every moment while they are diving with me gives me immense satisfaction. I am able to pass on something that I love to others.

BBD: What is the not so good part about your job?

SCP: Becoming a certified Scuba Diving Instructor requires a lot of investment and it takes time to give returns. But, it’s totally worth it!

BBD: For how many years have you been diving? What is the deepest depth that you have been? Did you experience narcosis and/or decompression illness?
SCP: I’ve been diving since 2009. The deepest depth I’ve been to is 42 meters. And, nope, haven’t experienced narcosis yet.

BBD: Which was your most challenging/dangerous dive?
SCP: Most challenging dive was around Barren Island, the only active volcano in India. It was quite challenging as the currents were pretty strong and only experienced divers can manage to dive there.

BBD: Do you recall any funny incidents while diving?
SCP: Yeah, during a deep dive, a friend of mine went though narcosis what is famously known as raptures of the deep. He behaved all weird, like taking out his mouthpiece and giving it to the fishes around him because he thought they needed air.

BBD: Your advice to aspiring scuba divers…
SCP: Dive safe and dive responsibly. Follow the instructions of your instructor. Respect marine life and the environment. Happy diving!

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