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A blaze of colour under water

My visit to Maldives gave me an opportunity to discover a whole universe of natural creation. In fact witnessing the incredible burst of colours that swirls magically in an infinite, liquid expanse, it is difficult to escape the feeling that the quintessential charms of the living world lie under water, making everything else seem almost frivolous. This is a constantly moving universe teeming with life and yet, despite all the restlessness, surprisingly tranquil.

Snorkeling over a coral reef is absolutely an amazing experience. The initial fears disappear soon with good instruction, practice, the right equipment and a competent coach. My coach for the day is Ms Elisa, an Italian who has taken to marine biology driven purely by her love for the aquatic world.

Like neurosurgery where no two procedures are ever the same, life is never boring: in these gushing torrents new experiences unfold every minute, as a horde of living creatures connect and disconnect like so many charged neurons.

Within a short time we are in coral territory, teeming with a bewildering range of fish, of different colours, sizes and character all awash in an indescribable variety of sea life… weeds, sea cucumbers and of course the corals. It is breathtaking. I couldn’t ever have imagined that such compelling beauty lay under water. To me the experience paralleled feeling the human brain for the first time.

However, beautiful as they are, one must never forget that corals are in fact hard rocks, which can bruise your skin if you are not careful. Also, their tentacles secrete a gelatinous material that could cause allergy. Wading through the coral world is, therefore, nothing short of a real surgical feat. In the meantime, I sight a friend from my fraternity—the Surgeon Fish of course. However, instead of a white apron, these sea doctors come dressed in resplendent attire, armed with pairs of sharp blade-like features that extend from their fins, giving them their name.

As we continue with our amazing journey we see sharks knifing through water like giant warships surrounded by a countless multitude of tiny creatures in red, blue, purple and a thousand other spectacular colours. Turtles, star fish, sharks and sting rays—the entire spectacular marine exotica is on display almost as if we are in the middle of a gigantic aquarium. Underwater photography is an art, which requires the right equipment and special skills to capture the right moments.

The water is sparklingly clean and deep blue in these parts with touches of green that make for a grand spectacle of colours. So clean is the water in fact that it is possible to see right through to the sea bed, framed beautifully by white sandy beaches. The experience makes me wonder about the act of creation itself, including the known and the unknown. Not only the sea, but the whole phenomenon around it is unfathomable. So, appropriately enough, people compare massive tasks with oceans (sagara) and describe the journey of life as bhava sagara, full of beauty but loaded with tasks and tides

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