Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head!

Tripoto
Photo of Mauritius by Anuj Tikku

Diving has always been a liberating experience. The beauty of the sea life below, the free flow, the breathing control - it is a rush, to say the least. I had a good few days of going underwater and it was my last day of deep see (pun alert!) and I wanted to make the most of it. I decided to go deeper into the sea. “Pawan, can we go deep today say to 22 meters plus?” I asked my new found good named diver buddy. “Yes we can but you will have to be careful my friend. Don’t touch anything at the depths like this, you get poisonous eels that can be very dangerous. Also, we will have to come up slowly so that you don’t suffer from decompression he explained hesitantly. But I was ready and jumped in with a neatly executed back flip.

Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku
Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku
Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku
Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku
Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku
Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku
Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku

As we reached deep, I started fishing for shells and Pawan got busy picking corrals. I wanted to get a beautiful orange shell back with me. As I held it in my hand, Pawan signalled that I had to leave it underwater. It is illegal to pick up shells and nature's bounty is to remain untouched. My thoughtlessness for a moment there struck me. Enjoy, why attempt to destroy the natural beauty of the place, I realised. We took a lot of photos of various fishes and sea creatures and spotted a deadly stingray, the type that kills! 22 meters was the deepest I have ever dived and a calm feeling washed over me. There was tranquil peace and I felt I could do this all day (the oxygen tanks permitting) as it is the most relaxing rejuvenating thing that I had ever experienced. There were no thoughts occupying my mind and it was like meditating.

Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku
Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku

After coming up from the deep where I had frolicked for an hour or two, I headed back to the Scuba Doo dive club. Louis and I got involved in a conversation about the caste system in India. “You see Anuj, you guys have a rigid caste system - the whole Brahman, the Kshatriya, Vaishya and the Chamar scene. My friend had a butler once who was thrown out by his family for marrying out of caste.” he said with amazement. ‘Surreal’ I thought being told about the caste system in India and all its attributes by a South African white man! But I knew where he was coming from and confirmed his feelings “I know I also married within my community because of family pressure and that marriage did not last long. She ran away with her lover and we got divorced. I am a Brahman and I was in love with a girl from Calcutta in the East of India who was not and well, my family was against it.”

“Here also in Mauritius, we have 52% Hindus, 24% Muslims and then the rest but the country has always been ruled by a man from the Vaishya community amongst the Hindus and that has been going on for ages.” The political overview of Mauritius from Louis made me hungry and I ventured out in search of food with Kaviraj - my new found guide, philosopher and friend.

Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku
Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku

We stopped over at Nando's for a chicken steak and periperi. On the drive back it started raining and two huge rainbows appeared in the sky crisscrossing each other. I asked Kaviraj to stop the car and took some beautiful photos with my phone. I repeated the exercise till I got what I thought was the perfect shot since I cannot honestly call myself a photographer! It is then that I spotted a huge mountain in front of us called the Pieter Both Mountain, named I realised, after the first Dutch Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies.

Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku
Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku
Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku
Photo of Diving for Shells, Chasing Rainbows and a Mountain with a Head! by Anuj Tikku

Kaviraj told me. “You know Anuj, legend has it that a shepherd boy once climbed this mountain looking for milk. He saw a few fairies having a bath here all wet and naked. They saw the boy and asked him not to talk to anyone about the incident. But the boy went back and told his mother. In anger and rage, the fairies turned the boy into a rock. That is why the top of the mountain looks like a boy with the stone as his head. See it carefully.” Indeed, the topmost peak of the mountain looked like the shape of a human with the head jutting out!

So there we had it, another great day at Mauritius comes to an end and the evening came together with a lovely Mauritian story and the Legend of the Mountain. More is certainly on the way!

Originally posted on TikkusTravelthon.in

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