From the time he was 10-years-old, sports and Kabir Lumba began a relationship. As a student of at La Martiniere in Kolkata, he excelled at football, hockey and cricket. “I think it was a case of sports coming quite naturally to me,” says the 49-year-old, who is the MD of Lifestyle International.
The romance with water was to take more time though. In 1998, Lumba and his wife, Rasika took off to the Great Barrier Reef for their honeymoon. “That was the first experience with snorkelling. We just sailed for two hours and jumped into the sea,” he recalls. Lumba was smitten by the marine life.
It was not till his son, Sachit, who was then 11, prodded the father to go diving that a passion was discovered. This was on a family vacation to Koh Samui, Thailand in the summer of 2012. Lumba admits to being nervous since he had never done it before. “It was a dilemma since my son wanted to do it and I could not seem like being fearful,” he says with a laugh. The apprehension was about getting bitten by a shark or “what if I just can’t breathe?” All this was quickly put to rest and that joy of going 30 feet under was absolutely magical. “Those 40 minutes devoid of any noise and stunning colours was my closest encounter with nature. I’d never experienced that feeling while trekking or playing any sport.”
The two basic rules in diving are to hunt in pairs, where Lumba has his son for company, and communicate only through sign language. “One conquers fear by breathing in water. The more time I spent, the easier it was to enjoy the moment,” he explains. That trip to Thailand meant a “diving holiday” was now mandatory. In 2014, he went to the Andaman Islands where he did two dives, followed by Maldives the next year. Here, Lumba’s son became a certified diver. “It was now time for him to share a few diving tips,” says the proud father.
To date, Lumba has gone on four dives with the next one being Bali. It’s not been only a personal passion though. About four years, when his company had its offsite at Goa, he convinced a bunch of colleagues to experience the joy of diving. It worked so well that the folks at Lifestyle did it all over again at the offsite in January this year in the Andamans. “I pitched it on the impact it had on the mind and they bought into it,” he says gleefully.
Indonesia will be the third dive this year for Lumba after having been to Maldives again in June. “The beauty of diving is that there is no age limit unlike sport. Once you demonstrate the ability to be comfortable in water, that is good enough,” he says. He cites the instances of seeing stingrays and baby sharks as ones that were the most joyous. “Contrary to what most people think, diving is remarkably safe. It is only the first time when one is a little uncertain.”
There is no doubt that the diving holiday is a fixture in the years to come in spite of a packed work schedule. “It is mysterious, calming and thrilling, all rolled into one. Certainly, one of the best things to have happened to me,” says Lumba.