Nikhil Chinapa gives you a heads up on the upcoming Underwater Festival Pune which will have activities like scuba diving, underwater hockey, slacklining and other diving games
Nikhil Chinapa is hosting one hell of a party this September. Where you ask? Underwater! The ex-VJ-present-DJ wants to introduce more people to the magical underwater world he has experienced. Puneites (age 10+) can have this magical experience at the Underwater Festival Pune to be held at the Divisional Sports Complex, Yerawada, on September 10.
“Over the years, if there’s one thing I’ve loved about diving, it’s being able to share the joy I feel with first-time divers. It’s so hard to put into words, but when I look at someone who has just had their first underwater experience and see the sparkle in their eyes and glee on their face — that’s an indescribable feeling for me,” says Nikhil, whose first stint with scuba diving was in Phuket, Thailand, in 2011.
“I had gone there to interview a group called Destiny’s Child (which Beyoncé was a part of) and I had a few extra days to kill. I had never done diving before and this seemed like a great opportunity to try it out,” he recalls.
You’d think the man was having the time of his life, but the experience changed the way he understood life, and the world around him.
Nikhil’s first dive
“On my very first dive I was hooked to the feeling of being weightless and seeing a completely different world than anything I was accustomed to on land. I also saw a school of cuttlefish and till today, they are one of my favourite underwater creatures,” says Nikhil.
His life-changing moment did not happen when he was under water, but before he dived into the ocean. Talking about it, he says, “During my training, I did a pool dive and what blew my mind straight away, was being able to breathe freely while being completely submerged underwater. My brain was telling me it wasn’t possible and I shouldn’t be able to breathe with my face underwater, but there I was doing it anyway and it felt great!”
Apart from scuba diving, underwater hockey, slacklining, and other diving games will be organised at Underwater Festival Pune. “The games are going to be a lot of fun for people who know how to swim or already have a little diving experience. “I’ve never played underwater hockey before but I am really looking forward to trying it out,” says Nikhil, adding, “We are also setting up an underwater selfie station where you can take selfies with a ‘shark’ and that’s something open to both swimmers and non-swimmers as well.”
Grub and groove
Wherever he goes, he brings the party. Such is the case with this festival too. “The dive instructors at the festival are putting together their favourite music and we are going to be playing their playlists through the day. I might put together a playlist as well. So the music should be a collection of fun tunes — both esoteric and eclectic,” says the DJ.
With so many water-related activities, participants are bound to get hungry. Keeping this in mind, the organisers are making the required provisions. Nikhil shares, “We are working on the food trucks right now and will have more details closer to the event. I always recommend diving with some food in your tummy as it can get tiring and being well nourished is important. However, avoid very heavy food, don’t overeat and alcohol is an absolute no-no!”
Don’t know how to swim? No problem
People who can’t swim are skeptical about trying scuba diving. Even when they’re told that the activity is safe for non-swimmers, they find it hard to believe. Encouraging non-swimmers to take the leap, Nikhil says, “I always tell people that if they are comfortable getting into waist-deep water in Goa, they will be fine as a scuba diver. We have incredibly experienced and globally certified diving instructors whose main role is to make sure you are absolutely safe at all times and equally important that you are comfortable and at ease.”
He informs that all non-swimmers start off in the shallows. “In the beginning, they will be standing in the pool, with the water well below their chest. Only when they feel comfortable and have the right amount of training from our instructors, will they be asked to try dipping their heads below water. It’s crucial that they do this at their own pace and when they feel comfortable but when they eventually do take their first breath underwater, the thrill is amazing,” he says.
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Underwater Festival Pune will be held at the Divisional Sports Complex Swimming Pool, Rahim Shaikh Road, Shastrinagar, Yerawada, Pune, on September 10, from 9 am to 5 pm. For passes visit www.underwaterfest.com/tickets