Pursuit of Happiness

Deep dive

The vice chairman of Setco Automotive is besotted with another world — the one under water — and hopes to become a diving instructor some day

When Udit Sheth needs a respite from being the vice chairman of Setco Automotive, he knows exactly where to go to unwind and surrender himself–into the depths of the underwater world of graceful turtles and camouflaging octopuses.

“It’s a whole different world underwater, and it makes you realise how much of the world you’ve not seen,” he says and likens it to a state of trance. “Seeing so much diversity up close is meditative and hypnotic, to say the least,” Sheth adds. As he speaks with wonder and amazement, he struggles to encapsulate his experience of over a decade in measured words.

It all started 13 years ago, when he went for a dive in Maldives with his cousins. “To be in a completely new environment was breathtaking, literally. I was so excited that I couldn’t control my breathing and had to come out in 20 minutes,” Sheth says. However, this one 20-minute dive soon turned into several seven-day tours with four one-hour dives a day. Today, Sheth has completed the advanced course in diving and gone on over 100 dives in the waters of the Caribbean, Indonesia and Philippines, to name a few. “It is like going on a safari, only with 20x more diversity,” he remarks.

However, his favourite waters remains the one closest to home. “Indian Ocean and the stretch around Maldives have been the most magical so far. I realised that I don’t have to go too far for a dive and can take a quick trip over the weekends,” he says. With these short trips, Sheth is certainly going to complete his 1,000th dive much earlier than a deadline he had set for himself, of 20 years.

For his yearly diving trips, Sheth prefers a week-long tour with a group of professional divers, where they take a dip two to three times a day. “I encourage my employees to take a couple of weeks off and go diving, especially during April and May, right after we finish our annual accounts,” he says. The best way is to hire a liveaboard and go for four dives a day, he advises. 

Sheth gets excited when he recalls several anecdotes from the 100 dives he’s been on. He has fed sharks in the dark, played with turtles, swum with the dancing Giant Manta Rays, the Stingrays and seen Eagle Rays flying. For the next 900 that he hopes to complete, Sheth anticipates the whole shebang. While he can’t wait to explore the magic in the waters of the Central and South Pacific, the African Islands, the Red Sea and the North and Eastern Australian coast, he is also planning to go underwater, freestyle. “Freediving is an art — you wear a wet suit and [oxygen] mask, and go straight down to explore,” Sheth says and confesses, “I want to become a diving instructor someday.”

You may find him in one of the remote coasts of the world some day, teaching enthusiasts like himself the art of diving, and later plunging in for a dive himself, into the world where his heart belongs.