The Happy Place
23rd February, 2020
And as the team was cheering on the successful completion of their first Medical Camp in the basti, there was a feeling of contentment as I watched my team of newbie interns jump in joy.
Standing in one corner and reminiscing what it felt like being an intern myself, I recalled how two years back I was in the exact same situation, as my interns were now, managing my first ever Medical Camp.
27th June, 2017
It wasn't a regular Tuesday. Everything was about to change this day onwards. My college life was about to begin. It was around 2 pm and I was getting ready for my college, when a loud ring on my phone disrupted me. That was a shocker. No one ever calls me. It was an unknown number with Truecaller notifying me that Mr. Chauhan was calling.
I answered the call thinking about how serious the name was, when suddenly I realized that his voice was as serious as his name. I was startled by the heavy touch in his voice. And as the conversation progressed, I got to know that he was calling from The Art of Living Social Internship Programme that I applied for months back.
I came to know about the Social Internship during the month of May, when I was volunteering in a Youth Empowerment Seminar. I was a part of The Art of Living for quite sometime and the YES Course was one of my favourites till date.
There major reason to apply for this internship was the idea of getting to work in the bastis. Social work was always my forte. I loved being in the slum areas and working for the kids there. And the idea that I would get to visit a basti every weekend was giving me goosebumps.
As Ritika di spoke about her Social Internship, the kangaroo in me jumped in sheer excitement. Without further ado I applied for the internship!
While talking to Mr. Chauhan, I realized it was a year long internship. "One year! That’s a whole lot of time. Am I ready for such a big commitment? What if I don’t complete the internship? What am I going to do then? And what if I say a no to them now? What are these people going to think about me? That I am commitment phobic. No!!!!!"
(Yes I was a bit dramatic back then!!)
I was really jittery about joining. But getting a call from that one internship for which I waited for months brought back the memories and the reason why I applied for it in the very first place. I as usual left it all to destiny and filled out the application form and went for the personal interview.
3rd August, 2017
"Are you kidding me? I have to go to Kalighat? I don't even know the area! What if I get lost in the way?" I had this weird thing of worrying way too much and picturing myself in absurd circumstances. And as I kept thinking about the impossibilities that might happen to me, I reached my interview venue five minutes before my reporting time.
The building was quite old and the venue was on the second floor. '42a Lake Temple Road - here I am!’, I sighed as I rang the doorbell. I was happy and nervous at the same time.
And as I entered, I felt like for a moment I was in a new world. It was a big hall, with an aura so pure and a vibe so positive. There were rooms on the adjacent sides. There was a slight smell of the chandan agarbatti and the hall had beautiful pictures of some youngsters in the basti. It had charts about the work people do there. There were various posters, and a huge picture of Guruji, which immediately brought a smile on my face. That moment, there was no nervousness. Just satisfaction. It was all so soothing.
Apart from the others who appeared to be scared interviewees, there were two people there in the hall who looked more like my interviewers. One was a guy who looked like he was in his mid 20s. He was all serious with spectacles and braces. And he was just observing everyone around. And next to him was a girl donned in a kurti, with a short height and a wide smile on her face. That smile had the power to calm anyone down in any scenario.
She came to me with a sheet where I had to sign across my name. And that’s when I noticed my name written on the sheet : Darshna Jivrajka (Enthu Cutlet). I was obviously confused. Do they give nicknames to the interns joining them? I couldn’t find any other candidate with a nickname. Anyway I signed and the girl gave me a form to fill.
As I started with the form, I saw two people coming out of a room at the extreme right end. And I realized I was screwed. They were my interviewers. I recognized the girl immediately as soon as our eyes met. There was a little smirk on her face. And I exactly knew why…
Because of my paranoia of joining a one year long internship, I dodged their calls for a long time before I finally made up my mind to give it a shot. And she herself called me more than ten times to schedule my interview.
She was Prerna di. Her personality was something which would go unnoticeable to anyone. She had a sharpness in her voice and a confidence in her body language. I never realized that she could also be really sweet and calming unless she started talking to me. But anyway I was scared of her for ignoring her calls and texts for such a long time. She might think I was rude. Probably might not select me today.
(Imagining impossible situations was never out of trend)
She introduced me to the other interviewers there. The guy with specs and braces was Mahesh bhaiya. He was supposed to interview me with the others. And the girl with the cutest smile of all was Sonal di. I liked her. She was the only person in the hall who wasn't scaring me at all.
And then there was this one person of whom I was the most scared of. Shirsh Singh Chauhan. He was exactly how I imagined him. Tall. Serious. Focused. Sharp smile. As Prerna di introduced him to me, I could just see the seriousness dripping off his face! He had a heaviness in his voice and he could easily pass for a cold blooded murderer.
(Side effects of watching way too much thriller web series back then!!)
I was still thinking about why I was named as Enthu Cutlet as I was waiting for my personal interview. My group discussion round was a total bust.
That was my first group discussion ever and the entire time I just kept wondering "Why are they fighting? They should be discussing right? This is supposed to be a discussion for the love of God!" And to add a cherry on the cake, I was sitting bang opposite to Shirsh bhaiya and Prerna di, who were giving me suspicious looks on why I wasn’t speaking in a GD round. I tried to give an opinion but by the time I chose the correct words to speak it out, the topic was changed and I felt like a total fool.
Sitting there, I was wondering that my interviewers must have already formed an opinion about me. All these thoughts were bombarding my mind constantly. And boom! My time has come. I went inside the interview room and found a whole panel waiting for me with a bunch of questions as if they are going to encounter me then and there.
My interview was no less than my Higher Secondary Final Exams and my IQ was lower than the room temperature. Although I finally figured out why they nicknamed me.
After dodging their calls for a long time before, when I finally made up my mind to go for it, I did not hear anything from them for some time. And being the over enthusiastic kid that I was, I started calling Shirsh bhaiya every evening to get an update on my interview date myself.
(And I still don’t feel sorry about the amount of irritation I must have caused them then)
Hence, Enthu Cutlet!
Anyway, my personal interview was even worse than the GD round and I was very sure that I would never get selected here.
7th August, 2017
"And why can't people realize that texting early in the morning is not good for health" I grinned as an incoming notification broke my sleep. It was a mail. And that was very shocking because no one ever mails me!
Kudos! Welcome to the Art of Living Social Internship. You have been selected to intern with us..."
I DID NOT SEE THIS COMING. I was selected! One minute I was on my bed, and the next moment I was jumping all over the house with my confirmation mail in my hand.
15th April, 2018
I was on a roll that day. My life was like a weighing machine, balancing Mahesh bhaiya’s calls on one hand and the banner on the other, running all around the basti area and guiding the interns about the basic set up. It was my first event ever. It was my First Medical Camp as an intern.
After 4 months of basti activities, it was finally the time for North to do it's first event ever. I was a part of the Northern wing of the Internship.
In these 4 months, I understood a few things about people here. And as I mentioned about the medical camp, Mahesh bhaiya was the go to person for all such events. As serious as he appears to be, he can crack the lamest jokes ever. No person within a 5 meter radius can escape from the consequences of his lame jokes. And at the same time, it was a different fun working with him.
These 4 months of visiting the bastis every week were amazing. I never knew Sundays could have such a beautiful face. No combination of 26 letters could define the feeling that I used to get when those little kids used to smile and respond to each letter I taught them. I used to wait for Sundays every week, and it always turned out that the kids in the basti used to wait for us more than we could ever imagine. I never expected I would get so much love and affection from these basti areas.
And as I was going to do my first event ever, there was a different feeling in me, which Mahesh bhaiya could understand truly as he has been in my shoes once upon a time. I was nervous. I was excited. I was the basti head. And having to guide a bunch of interns, was a sense of pride.
The event started. The doctors came in. There was a constant flow of patients. That was the first time I was heading any event in my life. After 4 hours of hard work and constant updates to and fro Mahesh bhaiya, the event was successful with a turnout of 70 patients. There was a feeling of joy and satisfaction while organizing and working in the camp. The feeling of seeing those people leaving with smiling faces and all content with the doctor’s checkup was what we call happiness.
And as the event came to an end, we leaped in joy for having conducted their first event so beautifully. I was on cloud nine. These 4 months were beautiful. And I did not realize how exciting this journey was going to be further on...
20th January, 2020
I knew I was going to continue with this internship even after graduating as an intern from here. But I never knew things would take such a beautiful turn suddenly. Nearly, all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected and unplanned by me.
It has been more than a year since I started my journey as an intern. And ever since that, I only got the best connections here. I graduated. And yet worked as a mentor in the North. For me North Internship was my baby. We started with a team of a handful of interns. And after a year of hard work, I saw North grow into a well knitted family.
I made amazing friends in these 365 days. Everyone had their own charm of working. This one year was a hell of a ride for me. I learnt so many new things. From being an interviewee, Prerna di made me an interviewer. I realized that she could be the sweetest of all. There was a time that I was shit scared of her. And then I figured how caring she could be. For me, she was a motherly figure in this internship. Always looking out for me.
Mahesh bhaiya taught me a variety of things at work. Starting from the basic task of how to select two cells in an excel sheet, to the most complicated task of maintaining balance and patience at work, Mahesh bhaiya somehow found a way to teach me those in the simplest way possible. And then he and his jokes were sometimes fatal, which made me think twice - is he the same person or does he suffer from a multiple personality disorder?!
Meeting Ritika Di and Amit Bhaiya here always felt like I got my extended family. I always heard about them from people and always wished to work with them at least once. Who knew that things could take such drastic turns and I would end up being an intern in an internship with them as the directors! Over the last one year, I realized why people adored Ritika di and Amit bhaiya as a couple. They literally set a couple goals for everyone, and they will always be the favourite couple for each of us. It was always so calm and welcoming at their place. Ritika di always greeted everyone with a big smile. And that was something which can make anyone’s day. She always carried an aura so powerful that anyone can get dazzled by her. And then there was Amit Bhaiya - the coolest teacher one can ever have. Being around Amit Bhaiya always meant getting treated with a good amount of pun intended jokes, truck load of laughter and a good cup of hot Black Coffee. He was the perfect blend of wit and knowledge.
The list of people I got here has no end. I’ve made good friends and have met charismatic leaders. For me, this internship which was just a one year thing, suddenly became a big part of me. Be it understanding the pun intended jokes of Divyam bhaiya, or getting groomed by Muskan for any event, or understanding how everytime we needed a search party for Punya bhaiya, every person played a big role in nurturing me in some way or the other. Where Divyam bhaiya taught me how to eat when you are over stressed and how to crack sarcastic comments, Muskaan and I always struggled on how to address each other - by our actual names or “Didi - Babu”
(Trust me the struggle is real).
I never knew I would become such a person when I actually joined this internship.One moment I was jittery of whether I will ever finish the one year of this new journey, and then 365 days later everything here became a home to me.
And when I speak about how I grew as a person here, there has been one person whom I always wanted to thank with every bit of my heart for being by my side throughout this internship journey. Of everyone who made me blossom, he had a major part to play.
He was my mentor every time I was in a situational crunch. And he was the same person who nicknamed me two years back. Shirsh. Working with him for these two years was an uphill battle. But everything that he taught me has always made me always transcend.
Since the very first day, I was caught by the tagline of this internship ‘Let's transform the world… One life at a time!’. I cannot agree more on seeing how it did transform my own life. I joined this internship to teach those little kids. But now that I look back, it is me who gained so much in return. It not only transformed the way I worked, but also the way I thought and saw things. It gave me a new vision. A new perspective towards life. And I could see myself becoming a better version of me with every passing week.
And as I stood there in front of my whole team at Sri Sri Academy, accepting my graduation certificate from Ritika Di, there was a feeling which I cannot describe in the longest paragraphs! There was a sense of gratitude for coming this long a way this gracefully!