Testing the Waters at Kavaratti – The New Indian Express


Express press service

KOCHI: Mirzana Beegum, a 17-year-old who lives off the coast of Kavaratti, the capital of the Lakshadweep Islands, has always been a fan of adventure. She has always found venturing into the depths of the sea liberating. Even while her friends are busy making plans over the holidays, Mirzana had her eye on scuba diving. His dream? To see a shark up close. Class 12 pupil Kendriya Vidyalaya Kavaratti is the youngest Lakshadweep diver to have taken a 40m dive in recent years.

The crystal clear waters of Kavaratti Beach are rich with coral reefs and colorful fish. She started with snorkeling, but her thirst for diving deeper led her to take up scuba diving at the age of 13. “Nearly 95% of the population – men or women – of the island can swim. But then, only less than 10% of the island’s natives attempted to explore the deep waters. I aspire to inspire more people, especially women, to try this,” says Mirzana, who holds a certification from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).

The youngster, in addition to making her mark in a sport dominated by men, also aims to inspire young gadget addicts to take a step back and marvel at nature. “I believe humans are blessed. We are the only creatures on earth capable of traveling in the sky, on land and under water. As the sky is full of blue shades and clouds, the deep sea has its own abundance of beautiful things. It was a dream come true for me to see a shark. Believe me, they are not dangerous creatures unless we irritate them. I wonder why young people are wasting their lives on drugs and suicide instead of exploring activities that strengthen the mind and body,” says Mirzana who wants to become a diving instructor at Kavaratti.

She started scuba diving with an 18m open water dive and has now completed two scuba courses including a 14m night dive. Apart from scuba diving, the training also raised awareness of underwater species for Mirzana through the theoretical lessons of her diving courses. The youngster’s favorite act is cave diving as she says diving in the dark makes you confident, especially a woman, to face difficulties. Her biggest challenge was not diving into the depths but overcoming the skeptical comments she faced as a Muslim girl.

“Over the years I have learned the techniques of diving, including deep diving, night diving, open water diving, etc. under the guidance of my PADI Lakshadweep Wing Instructor, Najemuddin Poovammada. It was my dad Shahabudeen who helped me dive and when others asked him about our community he said he is my child and it is my duty to support his dreams and not restrict. It was the first confidence for my first five-meter dive when I was 13 years old. Later, during the 18 meter open water dive, I was surrounded by darkness. But I imagined it as a struggle that we witness in our lives. It gives us the courage and the will not to fear the darkness of the roads at night or the stress of life. Moreover, diving is also a meditation to quiet the mind,” says Mirzana whose ultimate dream is to set a scuba diving record by covering the deepest depth of the sea that a human can cover.

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