Nayantara Jain is someone I have been following for over a year now on Instagram and I simply adore her. I’m usually green with envy as I want to be at all those places that she is at. Dive as deep as the sea just like her, live her life. Call it grass is green or simply that it I can’t swim. It also could be that I wish I had her career instead. In this world of typical professions, it’s refreshing to meet someone who has a unique career as a marine biologist.
When I see her feed, it’s my idea of freedom. Spending time on Nayantara’s Instagram is a treat for me. Allows me to dream and aspire for travel, for the sea. With her impish smile and carefree posts, her passion for marine life & the sea is what makes her stand out for me.
Read our Q & A with Nayantara for more….. She is stunning outside the water as she is in it!
Nayantara is a Scuba Diving instructor, a marine biologist and a conservationist. She works with Reef Watch Marine Conservation and split my time between the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Mumbai, and Bangalore. The focus of Reef Watch is to change India’s relationship with her ocean through education, awareness-building, research and grassroots conservation methods.
You are in a unique profession, what piqued your interest into taking this up full time.
My refusal to allow a beautiful vacation in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands to end led to me working as a Scuba Instructor on Havelock Island. After a few years of diving every day in the Andaman as well as the Lakshadweep group of Islands, I witnessed a global bleaching event that killed off many of the coral reefs in this area. It impacted me deeply. I realized that I wanted to spend my life protecting the ocean and the incredible ecosystems and animals inside it. This drove me to study Marine Biodiversity & Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and work in this field.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
I wake up early and I usually spend the first half of my day underwater. Along with my team, I go diving for either research or reef rehabilitation purposes or to teach diving to local children, tourists, etc. I come back, have lunch and then work on education programs, writing up the data collected during the dives, writing proposals, reports, etc. My work wraps up by about 5 pm, after which I do yoga and then relax with my team and the dive staff. We relax by the sea, listen to music, maybe drink a few beers and then eat and sleep fairly early also.
Tell us a little bit about living in Andaman and Lakshwadeep.
Living in these areas is very different from life in the city. We barely have a mobile network, almost zero internet connectivity, very basic food and our living situation is very simple – regular power cuts, no air conditioners, TVs and things like that. But, we have the best views ever – we sleep and wake up to the sound of waves and birds and the breeze. We see the most stunning night skies – full of stars since there are no real cities and city lights here on the islands. The communities here are very close knit so in a few years of living here you end up knowing all the local villagers and you build an extended community with diving instructors, resort owners and other mainlanders who have chosen to make a life here. Life here is extremely peaceful, connected to nature and stress-free.
How do you stay fit? (Besides Swimming of course) Your fitness goals/Mantras?
I am a naturally active person – I always have been, even as a child and a teenager. It isn’t a struggle for me to keep fit. On most days I practice Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga and sometimes for a change I mix it up. Skipping, abs and a core workout with weighted squats, lunges, deadlifts and so on. I don’t really have a fixed schedule – I am quite in tune with my body so I listen to it. I do the workout I feel is needed and take days off without too much guilt or stress!
Do you watch what you eat? How do you balance it out?
Not really, I eat what I feel like and have quite a big appetite.
Describe your personal style. What do you wear during the day? What do you wear for an evening out?
I usually wear shorts, a tank top, and flip-flops. I have lots of board shorts – since I spend a lot of time in or around the water. And more bikinis than bras! I am not big on dressing up and I don’t like clothes that are too tight or sparkly. Instead, I like wearing natural fibers like cotton or silk. For an evening out I would probably wear a simple floral or summery dress or a jumpsuit. I like wearing old jewelry, so I would probably wear one of the long beady necklaces or tribal armlets that I’ve collected over the years to accessorize.
Your Skincare routine, Hair, Makeup Tips and Tricks if any / A beauty tip that you might want to share (Considering you spend so much time in sun and sea water )
I like things fuss-free and I barely wear makeup. Eyeliner and lip gloss would be my most made up self. While I love how lipstick looks on other people but for some reason, I am terrified of wearing it myself. I am careful to cleanse my face every day with the same Clinique facewash I’ve been using for years now. It comes in a bar of soap rather than a bottle so it lasts forever.
I like my hair wavy and natural. So I usually put a little conditioner on it before I dive so it doesn’t become completely frizzy when I get out of the sea! My hair gets pretty bleached by the sun and sea by the end of the dive season. But I’m told people spend thousands of rupees on dyeing their hair to get the same effect so I’m not complaining! My advice would be to have a nice big pair of sunglasses so you aren’t squinting into the sun. Also, use a cap to shield your face. It will keep your face doesn’t get super tanned, especially if you are like me and hate the stickiness of sunscreen!
How do you unwind? (Your Me- Time) Tell us about your other interests.
I love reading, I have a tendency to totally binge watch episodes when I get into a TV show. I am learning to play the ukulele (a Hawaiian string instrument) which I love practicing!
Do you like to travel? Where does your work take you?
Of course! Work takes me to places like the Andamans, the Maldives, Indonesia and other island places. Pleasure also takes me to pretty much the same. But I also love going to Europe and losing myself in their old cities.
What have been your favorite/memorable trips? What’s next on your travel list?
Bali was beautiful as a city. I really enjoyed a dive holiday I did a few years ago to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador – I will never forget being there, diving with hundreds of sharks! Next on my wishlist is Hawaii and the Pacific islands – I really want to swim with whales!
Your advice for women who want to be in the same profession.
Go for it, no life is better I’m sure!
To know more about Nayantara, you can follow her on her Instagram handle @tara.oceanista. Also to learn more about Nayantara’s work at ReefWatch and do your bit for the ocean, you can visit http://www.reefwatchindia.org , http://www.facebook.com/
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