Many of us would select places like Switzerland, Mauritius, Thailand, Bangkok, Singapore, Paris for a for foreign holiday Vacation. IF we had to go for Holiday within our Country, we would have selected, Goa, Ercaud, Manali, Dalhousie, Kodaikanal, and Munnar, etc. for summer holidays. Since, my school days, My first choice of holiday destination was the CISF Suraksha campus at Arokkonam, Vellore District. Vellore is one of the hottest places in Tamil Nadu and generally people do not prefer to go here during the Summers. I was then staying at Theni, with my grandparents, which was in the Direct opposite Direction to Vellore.
Theni is a hillock town, surrounded by mountains and a major tourist attraction zone. Its view seems like it is covered with a green blanket. We can see everywhere farm fields, coconut groves, tea estates, and grapevines, etc. With an eye close, Anyone can choose the place Theni for their summer vacation spot. Though I am from Theni, my choice was towards the hot Vellore. So, All my friends, teachers, neighbors, and relatives will give a weird look towards me when I open up my choice of Vellore CISF Suraksha campus as my Holiday spot. That spot for a summer vacation may be a weird or odd choice for others but to me, it was the most favorite spot ever.
My Dad’s tale:
My father is a CISF soldier (CISF-Central Industrial Security Force). Generally, Army personels get transferred from one place to another place. Similarly, my father was also transferred to many places such as Orissa, Tripura, Kolkata, etc before he was transferred to the Suraksha campus Arokkonam, Vellore in his native state Tamil Nadu. My father used to tell me about his work, place of work, his service as a soldier, his colleagues, the food culture at the mess, training for future soldiers, childrens park, family quarters, worshiping place, hospital, Kendriya Vidyalaya school, and the big playground for the upcoming soldiers, etc as a tale whenever he visits my granny’s home at Theni. From then onwards, I had a huge curiosity to see how exactly, was the Suraksha campus. I had been waiting for my time to visit and explore my father’s place of work. Fortunately, I got a chance to visit the Suraksha campus during my fifth standard summer holidays.
Telephone rings…. Still, I remember that phone call from my dad,
My dad – “Mahalae”….(My dear daughter!)
Myself – “Daddy”
My dad – ” when is your exam getting over?”
Myself – ” papa, my exam getting over on 24th April”.
My dad – “That’s totally fine, get your things packed, I will book you a bus on 25th April from Theni to Vellore for vacation”.
Yeah, that was our conversation. As a fifth standard school student, I was beaming with happiness and excitement, as if I am going to explore a different World.
When I was little, I was not exposed to cities like Vellore. I grew up in a small village, Cumbum in Theni.Until then, I had not traveled to any other place outside Theni. This made me even more curious to tour the Suraksha campus at Vellore, even in the summer season.
I am the first girl child in the family. So, I am very much a pet granddaughter to my grandparents, they rarely allowed me to go out or stay with my father and family.Since, I was the only kid staying with my grandparents at their residence. I was loved and pampered by them. They would pamper me with all the snacks at home, I just had to ask and my grandparents would get those things for me.They never refused me for anything I had asked for.
Military rules at quarters:
In a few days I understood that Life at Suraksha Campus is entirely different from Life at Theni.. I had to wake up early in the morning. I had to say my first good morning to the paste and brush which was too difficult for me to do before drinking bed coffee. A neat ironed formal clothes that I should welcome and embrace to my body with the two hands of my own from the cupboard after my 6:30 a.m. bath. Also, I should be ready for the prayer at 7:00 a.m. to eat my breakfast then. I missed my grandparents at that moment. When I was with my grandparents, there was no 6:00 a.m. wake up, 6:30 a.m. bath, 7:00 a.m. prayer in my dictionary. I used to have a sleep till 8:00 a.m. and no prayers only food. And, that food too, my granny with a bowl full of rice struggle to feed me. Initially, I found it a bit difficult to adjust in the new surroundings and the new lifestyle. But slowly towards the end of my vacation I understood that this discipline was important to have a better life.
A fantasy world:
The military CISF Suraksha campus is totally a fantasy world to me. It’s completely a new world for me at that age. The campus is located at Arokkonam in the Vellore district, TamilNadu. The campus is only for the CISF soldiers and their families. As a little girl who had travelled from the village , was completely impressed by the archietecture of CISF Buildings. Though the Suraksha campus is located in Tamil Nadu, the language spoken there was Hindi. Everywhere, I can only able to see the tall men with a good physique in uniforms who were soldiers.
The culture and food habits inside were very different for me. Every evening, I would have a walk around the campus. That time I found, there were two entrance gates for the campus where the people will be monitored and checked by soldiers on duty outside. Only after the checking, people were allowed inside. Strictly, soldiers and their families were allowed to enter the campus. The roads inside the campus and outside had lots of differences. The roads of the campus were under the central government and it looked perfect. But the road outside the campus was looked damaged which was under the state government. There were plenty of trees, and flowers like Bougainvillea which by standing in the rows looked welcoming us. My favorite was the blackberry tree and I had a great friendship with that tree inside the campus.
The Size of our Residence would differ according to the Soldier’s Rank. There was one Big Bungalow which was only for the Commandant of the whole Suraksha campus. I used to look with an exclamation at the bungalow because that looked so majestic, so clean & neat front, mango trees, banyan trees got placed as like welcoming factor. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to see the commandant since I was too small. Every day, I took back my step and started walking ahead only by seeing the commandant’s bungalow. Still, I miss my evening walk around the campus and the blackberry fruit’s taste which I never felt so tasteful outside.
During my 30 days summer vacation at the Suraksha campus, I get a chance to experience the braveness and the courageousness of the soldiers. Their selfless service towards the nation gave me goosebumps. Their sincerity taught a lesson to me who passed every day disinterestedly with no goals. Their life is like a twisted movie, any time they can get a phone call to rescue and save people. Nevertheless of their family, they should serve for the betterment of the nation to ensure peace and harmony. I also got a chance to see the send-off parade of that year’s batch for the first time. The March fast was so perfect, the actions of hands and legs were so uniform. The moving of white gloves in the trainees’s hands seemed like birds flying. The commandant keenly watched the parade and accepted the respect. The national flag was also hoisted by the commandant. The parents of the trainees had come there. It was so overwhelming for me to see their parents with happy tears. Many took photographs along with their parents, friends, and soldiers who trained the trainees. Only, There was my first outdoor exposure other than theni. Still, that was my best vacation of all time.
Later my fifth standard vacation, I too got a few consecutive chances to go and visit the Suraksha campus. Unfortunately, my father transferred from the suraksha campus to Bihar. So, I miss my weird summer vacations at the CISF Suraksha campus, Arokkonam, Vellore. I can travel and explore anywhere anytime in my lifetime. But My learnings and experience at the Suraksha campus at that small age is unforgettable.
Image Source: Facebook CISF Page.
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