Surrender yourself to God and you ll get everything you deserve…!!
Well you might be wondering why have I quoted this, and whats all about my best week. No I’ve not been to any religious or spiritual retreat. I’ve been to Christian Counselling Centre[CCC]- Institute for Human Relations, Counselling and Psychotherapy at Vellore for a six days residential course on professional psychological counselling and psychotherapy. It was like a dream come true being guided by and listening to Dr. B. J Prashantam, Dr. Meena Prashantam, Sr. Prisca and all the assistant staff of CCC, Rateesh Sir, David Sir, Jyoti and Shilpi.
21 of my classmates including four faculty members and me boarded the Venkatadri Express from Kacheguda station on 17 of Jan at 8 pm. Eventually one of my classmate, Sukumar missed the train and I was actually going to get a stroke since I was coordinating most part of the trip. [As claimed by my friends and faculty I was the finance minister 😉 ] I actually thought I’ll have to do a DDLJ scene of holding his hand and getting him in as he’s always late for classes and this was discussed earlier in class. hehe..!! Anyway our journey till Chittor was really good and we had to take auto and bus to reach Vellore which is an hour away from Chittor.
We were welcomed by CCC staff and given our rooms, separate wing for boys and girls. It was a sunday so we dint start with the classes straight away. Instead we settled our selves in our new rooms,met the faculty there and were in a process of forming cognitive maps of the way to dining hall from our room, the Chapel etc etc. Cresentia[my best friend], Anu and me were in one room. There were 4 rooms in our corridor and we lived as a community for the whole week. It was a complete different experience being in hostel as it was my first time. Sharing a room with my friends and my other friends who became our neighbours. Well I’m not going to give you a detailed report of each day as it’ll get boring for you unless you actually exprerience it.
CCC was started as an institution of human relations, counselling and psychotherapy located in Sainathapuram, Vellore. Its present director Dr.B.J.Prashantam took charge of the center at 23 years of age. He is the best Counselling Psychologist I’ve ever met and I know my friends will agree with this. He’s like a father figure and makes each one of us feel so special, whether we are 21 or 210 in number. The other faculty members of CCC are no less and have been very supportive to our needs during our short stay. Especially Ms. Shilpi and Ms. Jyoti. There are 3 buildings in the Campus all surrounded by trees and plants and even we’ve planted two saplings as a token of our love and Birthday gift for Dr.Meena. The administrative building is 240 years old and its significance is that the world famous Christian Medical College[CMC] was started in a small room in that building as a small dispensary! Our hostel rooms were too good and we had a fixed schedule of breakfast @ 7.45 am, tea break @ 10.30 am, lunch @12.30 pm, tea break @ 4.30 pm and dinner @ 7.30 pm. The food was awesome and just like home, thanks to the cook uncles and Ms.Stela. We actualluy used to get up at 5 or 5.30 am which I never did in my entire life, and it so happened one day that 3 of us got up at 4 am to take bath, got ready did our prayers and slept again, and before sleeping again I stuck a paper on our door with the statement ‘3 of us have taken our bath,kindly do not dirturb us. We ll be up by 7am’ . I managed to do so by using candle wax. hehe! The best part of each day was the prayers at 8.30 in the beautiful College Chapel located in hostel building and we got the opportunity of conducting them till our stay. I sang a bhajan too one day which was admired by everyone. We washed our own clothes our own plates,spoons and cups which was completely different from home, and i loved my hostel life thoroughly. Since we were free on sunday,that was our first day we visited the Vellore fort and Jalakanteshwar temple located inside the fort which was awesome and very peaceful. Next we went to Asia s largest Church “Our Lady Of Assumption” located a few kilometers from our campus. It’s a mesmerising Church, truly beautiful and peacful decored with all glass painting. I was awe by its beauty and completely in love with God more. We returned to our campus played all the possible outdoor games like help me game, out out, run run stop, ringa ringa roses etc etc. hehe! We were in our beds by 11 or 12 after our night prayers looking forward to the coming days. Next day the classes started at 9am continuing till 9.30 in evening with regular breaks. The next six days we had sessions on Counselling skills, Burnout, Counselling the alcoholics and drug addicts, self esteem, Resolving interpersonal conflicts, open sessions, positive psychology. All the sessions were interactive and it was a wonderful learning experience being taught by Dr.Prashantam, Dr.Meena and Sr.Prisca. We had a guest lecture by Dr.Rao who was the Head Of Dept at CMC Oncology Dept. We had a field visit to Dept. of Psychiatry of CMC and we were taken on a walk to remember of the hospital by Dr.Jacob.k.John. We saw the patient wards which are like mini apartments in mini colonies serving all stratas of society be it low economic,medium or high. The patients are allowed to live with their family members, who take care of them and cook for them in the kitchen present in their ward.Its a beautiful place with all greenary around, and some plants are taken care by each patient as their own baby. The doctors are well experience serving the needy since its inception. The most soothing part of the hospital was the mini open Chapel where we introduced ourselves to the Doctor. The hospital provides its services for patients suffering by any disorder requiring psychiatric help. They have well experienced Psychiatrists, counsellors, nurses for all patients of any age, from infants to oldage. Then after thanking Dr.Jacob we were taken to the auditorium, a very beautiful Chapel, where many of us intend to marry 😉 and the place where Dr.Ida Scudder [Foundress of CMC] lived. The hospital campus is amazing with huge trees, ancient British buildings, various medical depts., Doctors’ quarters etc etc. We returned to CCC after the small trip and continued with our classes. That day we students participated in sessions by presenting topics of Health psychology like Cancer,HIV,Diabetes and positive psychology. We were divided in to 4 groups, comprising of 4 members each. Our group[Me,Anila,Vaishali and Sumana] presented on Cancer focussing on the emerging field of psycho-oncologyn and pathways to health through psychology. It was a great learning experience and all of us became more close as anytime any of our friend lost his/her confidence we became their confidant and it was our day!!
Friday we planned to visit the Kanchi temples, and the newly contructed Padmavathi Golden Temple in Vellore. Kanchi temples reminded me of ancient Dravidian culture, The Ekambareshwar Temple, The Kamakshidevi Temple and The Balaji Temple with Golden lizard were spectacular to see. It so happened that when my friend Divya was touching the golden lizard on the ceiling I started singing Balli balli like the telugu song bunny bunny [Balli in telugu means lizard]. She was so distracted by my singing that she actually started thinking about the actor in that song – Allu Arjun instead of God. hehe.! But as I got Lizard phobia big time, I was shivering while touching the gold and silver lizard which is supposed to wash away all our sins so that we can start a new account of sins 😀 The only thing I didn’t like was in all these 3 temple there was a board with ‘Non-Hindus not allowed’ written on it. I seriously lost my temper and wanted to revolt against it. Have you ever seen such mannerism anywhere in India in any temple? I have not and was shocked to read it. When we can go to any Church or Dargha for prayers why cant Non-Hindus come to see the beauty of Gods. After all God is one. See how we in the name of religion dividing our country even more. Even my other friends were of the same opinion as mine. Anyway I learnt one thing if you want to change the world change yourself first. I’m not going to discriminate and everyone around me know that I worship Lord Shiva,Jesus and Allah everyday. And I’m going to inculcate the same in my children and grand children as well. Then we proceeded towards the Golden Temple. And if I need to describe it in one word, its WOW!! No one in their lives must have seen a manmade beauty of this form. The temple is made up of 1.2 tons of gold. First we were made to sit in a compartment after the security check and once it was full the gates were opened. We then had to walk on a star shaped path surrounded by grass and beautiful proverbs written on boards in the garden. The view from there was truly amazing as Vellore city is surrounded by mountains and in the midst of it the Temple, wow. We walked on a star shaped path amidst the garden then a circle then what you get to see is out of this world. Its as if we were going to visit God in heaven. The beautiful Golden temple was shining as it was dusk and water around it was shining in the sunset light. The Padmavathi Godess’s Idol was mesmerising as you get lost in her charm. For all the people reading this blog if you wanna experience Swarg this Temple is a must visit. It’ll take time walking as you cant help stopping to take a look of the nature around but once u reach inside the temple the vibrations of the bell change you as a person completely. It so happened that we dint wanted to leave the place and sit there forever. But nothing stays in forever so we had to leave from the temple 😦 . We are not allowed to take cameras or mobiles inside the temple and girls are supposed to wear traditional salwar kurta or chudidar or saree.
One day we had a sing song session where Divya gave the welcome speech. We danced on Desi girl choreographed by us in one hour and it turned out to be a huge hit. I gave a solo performance on Taal remix which was appreciated by everyone. Bona sang a very beautiful prayer song and a konkani song. We had a song by Father Lalit, Father George and my classmate Sukumar who sang and played guitar, and tabla. Cres was our host and she organised the sing song perfectly. We played a bing bang bong game and it was a great fun. The best part of the evening were comedy advertisements enacted by our seniors there and we couldn’t stop laughing 🙂 We all then gathered around Dr. Prashantam and he played songs from 60’s, 70’s and 80’s on the keyboard and we joined him in singing. It was the best ending of any day in my life.
One night we also danced in our room where all our neighbours[friends] joined us. We did all forms of dance from hip hop to jive to teen maar to folk to pole dance to salsa to disco and what not till we got a warning from the people living on ground floor that its disturbing them hehe! We had hell lot of fun and life time learning experience living as a community and clicking lot of pictures 😉 One day when Mrudula and me were walking at 9.30 in the campus we saw an Owl and were so excited as the trees there are a home for many birds like crows, koels, owls and even mosquitos. There are gauva,tamarind,coconut,neem and many more trees all looked after with lot of care. Everyday the crows used to have a chit chat with each other and we used to figure out what they actually talking. hehe! And it so happened one day that i actually shouted loudly ohh please shut up on the crows, bird lovers please dont sue me. It was fun as we disturbed each other while they were catching up on some good sleep in their rooms, taking early morning baths as we hated to wait in que for our chance, rushing for classes as we were expected to be punctual unlike in OU and I was given the responsibilty of making everyone to be on time to classes by Shilpi [This is the worst part of being a Class Rep as everyone used to take me lite] 😛 . I was claimed Insomnic by everyone, including myself as i hardly used to sleep at night. It so happened one night that I even drank a sip of Benadryl to catch up on some sleep but it was of no help. Cres even warned me not to, but I hardly listen to her :-|. Simi was our darling providing us with chocolates everyday which were gifted by her friend while coming to Vellore. Amtul was a sweetheart entertaining us with all her stupid tac-tics, she even learned dance in such a short span, God bless her! Vaishali the nightangle of our class, and everyday we wasted Anu’s mobile battery by listening to music at night. Eventually our departure day arrived on 24th and we all didn’t wanted to go home. 😦
Well this was my experience in CCC in a nut shell and I truly mean it when I say it was the best week in my entire life till date and I’m never ever gonna forget it. It was a life time learning experience and at the end of the week I not only gained more knowledge about my subject, but I learned to be more disciplined, patient, punctual, enhanced my leadership qualities, independent and to be a more honest person to self as well as to others around. In all these days I got more close to God by not only praying to My God Shivji but also reading versus from Bible with my friends and learnt to be a true NEHA! Dr. Prashantam inspired me to be more dedicated in whatever I do and be a simple and genuine person, respecting self as well as others. The very first line of this blog post shows the change in me and my faith in God. One more thing I learned is don’t pray for your wishes to be fulfilled, God will give you what is correct for you. As you never know what horrible thing would have happened if your wishes were fulfilled. Very truy atleast thats what I believe. At the end of the course I got more close not only to myself but to all my friends too especially Cres, who is my bestest friend ever [ though she laughs when I cry and it does annoy me, but its ok she’s still my confidant and my twin soul]. I didn’t wanted to come back home, had tears in my eyes but with more confidence and motivation in my eyes i returned with loads of memories. As we need to say good bye to things in the hope of meeting again. And yes thats what I’m gonna do I’m going to go back there to study further and learn more from my inspiration. I’m gonna miss each and every moment spent at Vellore with all my wonderful friends around, actually I’m missing everyone right now while writing this blog. Last but not the least the only thing I’ll say is if you wanna pursue your dreams be true to yourself, love yourself no matter if people around you consider you as an ugly person to look at, what really matters is how good you are from heart, motivate yourself at every step, work hard and believe in God. God bless each and everyone of us!