Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bleed Blue

Past few weeks have been absolute madness with the world cup going on and it almost came to full swing with an outstanding performance by Indians at Motera. There was nothing much to write though as no movie released and I unluckily missed Yeh Saali Zindagi, but yesterday's match triggered the feeling to write a Match review as well.

This has been byfar the best performance Team India has given in many years. In 2007 when they went in for T-20 World Cup, they were the underdogs and nobody really expected much from the Dhoni led youngsters and T-20 as a format itself was making its place in international arena.But in this world cup, from the very beginning India started as the favourites, burdened with the pressure of playing infront of home crowd and how brilliantly they have tackled the pressure.

The Superman from india, Sachin Tendulkar again rose to the occasion showing why he is called a Master. The man for the show however is Yuvraj Singh, coming to the world cup carrying load of past injuries, lost form and heavy criticism, yuvi has showed that he is a genuine match winner and his place cannot be questioned in a One day squad.

There has also been a great deal of criticism for Dhoni for not performing. It is true that Dhoni is currently not amongst runs, but as far as captaincy is concerned, he is doing a gem of a job. Dhoni throughout the tournament has kept his nerves under control and has taken almost all decision correctly. Though in a game sometimes your decision works and sometime they do not. Right from the team selection to strategies to execution Dhoni has been the best captain in this world cup. As far as performance is concerned we should not forget that he keeps the wicket for 50 overs while captaining the side, and having done my share of keeping in duece ball cricket, honestly it is not an easy task. Dhoni is currently the best keeper in international arena. Few of the decisions I personally liked is giving new ball to Ashwin showing confidence on a youngster and even if he is hit for a six or two, he continued with him. Bringing back Zaheer in 32nd over to use the old ball before it is changed after 34th is another brilliant move, in this way he allows the most experienced paceman to find some reverse swing and it has very well worked for India.
Indian team is looking promising, captain bears a cool head, Sachin is in the form of his life even more desperate in the middle to score runs, Yuvi has struck the best of his forms, likes of gambhir, Kohli, Raina plays the supporting role very well. It seems to be the best recipe to bring home the world cup.
On Wednesday India will be facing pakistan in what is already promising to be an epic battle, I will urge all the cricket lovers to stay possitive, send in as much good vibes to Mohali as you can and India will surely emerge victorious.

It is always easy to support a team or a player when they are performing well, but it is important to support them when they are not.

Stay possitive, Enjoy Cricket, Bleed Blue................

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Candidate to Cadet: My Journey in SSB - 'Chapter 6'

Chapter 6
The Final Chapter

Disclaimer:- This is a continuing story, please read chapter 1 2 3 4 and 5 below to be in track

At the end of the physical task every one of us was tired. We all were trying to sleep but the pain in our bodies was not allowing us to. At around 8PM, we went to the canteen. India was playing England at Lords, Rahul Dravid batting firmly in his historical knock of 270 runs which gave him the name “The Wall”. We sat and watched the match for a while, till Rahul Dravid was run out by Ajay Ratra, Commentators said it was the only way this man can be out. We all cursed Ratra and then came back to our rooms and crashed on the beds of MIG-29.

The following day I was going to face my first ever personal interview, most of the candidates were preparing hard for interview. Some of the guys were collecting points to justify their hobbies; some were brushing up the recent news, while some were still resting with their eyes closed. I was among the third kind. I have seen people trying hard to collect information about their hobbies to justify to crowd that they actually are an avid follower of the interest. Why on earth a movie buff has to go around saying that he loves movies or he knows everything about every movie on the planet, A stamp collector first have to by heart all the terminologies of stamp collecting and if he loves to collects stamp why on earth he is supposed to know that it is called Philately.

Our interviews were scheduled from 10 AM sharp. The formal attire of all the candidates made the environment even more serious. This was the first time I was appearing in front of an interviewer and was scared even by the thought of it, but my stay for last 4 days has given me enough confidence to hold myself together. We assembled in a small waiting room as the interview began in three different rooms. The first candidate has been in for 30 minutes, all of us sat there in silence, not a single voice spoke, not a single soul moved.

The first candidate came out all sweating. We were not allowed to talk to interviewed candidates. After few candidates my name was called. I knocked at the door

“May I come in sir?” I asked.

“Yes please!” acknowledged a voice. “Hello Anand! Please sit down. I am Squadron Leader Y.G.Reddy, I will be taking your interview.” This was not at all what I had expected. I had thought of a strict interviewer shouting and yelling at me with all kinds of absurd questions, but this man was calm and very composed.

“So Anand! Tell me something about yourself.” He continued. I saw the answer sheet of Self Appreciation Test which I had filled up during the Psychological test lying in front of him.

We discussed at length on the individual topics from the test sheet. It was more of a mutual discussion than an interview. I felt that I was talking much more easily than what I have always used to. I discussed about my opinions on social and political structure, my love life, relations with him and he listened to every single word with same level of sincerity.

“Tell me something about your hobbies.” He continued.

“I like to play cricket and I also sing occasionally” I replied.

He took out a Cricket Ball from the drawer and threw it towards me.

“Can you show me difference in grips for in swing and out swing deliveries?”

I smiled; it was in my region of interest. I took the ball, held it across the seam and showed him the grips for both kinds of seam deliveries. Interview ended on a pleasant note. I thanked him and took his leave.

Back at the base, all the candidates were tensed. Some of them were trying it for 3rd or 4th time, some of them were Army kids and carried a burden of expectations, and some of them had nothing else in option it was their only chance to do something. Gautam, Amit, Tenzong and I sat on the front porch. None of us talked but everyone understood what was happening. Our 5 days were over, whatever we could do, we had already done and now it was just a matter of decision. A decision either we will be an NDA Cadet or we will be not.

Next day started with the conference, where all the candidates were called one by one in front of the complete SSB panel for their final meet. All the panel members in the Air force uniform seated across a semi circular table and a chair was placed in between for candidates. All the candidates entered the room one by one. The most memorable conference session was of Ratanjyot.

An officer asked Ratanjyot “Why do you want to join Defence?”

“Because it is the second most prestigious job in country.” He replied. “Then what is the most prestigious?”Officer asked again.

“Being a Teacher.” He replied. “By the way, what does your father do.” Officer asked again.

“He is in police sir!” He replied with a smile. “So how do you rate a Police job then?”

“Just above the politician’s sir!” and the conference room burst into laughter.

All these light moments suddenly turned serious when we were asked to assemble in the seminar hall for results. Tension and fear was lurking from all the faces. We sat as per our chest numbers. Gautam chest no. 20 was sitting to my right. In our stay of 5 days we have done a lot of things which rumoured that our batch will be completely washed off.

DSO came to the podium. On his side stood a table on which T shirts wrapped in plastic bags were kept. Each selected candidate was supposed to get a White Polo T shirt with the Air Force logo on it.
There was a pin drop silence and all of us passed an occasional smile to each other.

DSO started his speech, for the first 10 min he spoke about the board and the batch increasing the tension even more. Then he finally came to point “Now I will be announcing the results for recommendations from this batch. Let me make it very clear that successful clearance of SSB test in no way means that you are inducted to NDA. This process will be followed by Medical Examination and Merit list.” He announced what we already knew.

“I will be announcing the chest numbers, those candidates are selected from this batch.” He continued.
“Chest no. 8, 16,20…” Gautam was selected; I was the next chest number, number 21. I closed my eyes in anticipation of one of the two possible results.

“25 , 28, and 33” I was not selected. When each of the selected candidates were called, they rose from their position walked to the podium and collected their T Shirts.

A drop of tear almost fell from my eyes, but I somehow managed to hold it back. I was not able to look up, not able to look towards Gautam even to congratulate him on his success.

When DSO handed over the last T Shirt to chest number 33, He spoke again
“There is one more selection, for Army/Navy group. As the candidate was not able to clear PABT, he will not be recommended for Air Force but as he has cleared all other aspects of SSB, he is recommended for his second preference in NDA written”

Everyone fell silent.

“Chest number 21, recommended for Army/navy group.” It was me.

The tear I had been holding with effort fell finally. Everyone in the room had a smile on his face.

I stood from my seat walked to the podium, had a firm hand shake with DSO and I was standing there as a CADET. A cadet selected for Army/Navy group at an Air Force SSB.

As the DSO walked out of the room, all the candidates came down congratulating all of us.

Gautam came to me and said “I knew it. If I am selected then you will be as well.”

After completing the required formalities, all the selected candidates left for the station. The Sergeant I had met on the train was driving the bus we boarded. He smiled at me and said “I saw your name on the list of selected candidates.”

“I held the rope above my nose level” I replied with a smile.

At 4.30 PM I was standing on Varanasi station waiting for my train to Allahabad for my Medical Examination. I had cleared one the toughest interviews across the globe. For that moment I was a CADET, a cadet ready to join NDA to serve his nation. With moist eyes I waited for my train to arrive staring at a red signal far ahead on the tracks.

What happened next is however the life and
LIFE is To be continued………………….

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Candidate to Cadet: My Journey in SSB - Chapter 5

Disclaimer:- This is a continuing story, please read chapter 1 2 3 and 4 below to be in track.
Chapter 5

Individual Obstacle

After a small break, the same 10 member batch was asked to assemble at the individual task ground. This was a bigger arena as compared to the group task, or it was looking because of a lot of empty spaces and lack of structures. It was of a size slightly larger than a half of a football ground. There were 10 obstacles in total, each of them situated at a fare distance and numbered in sequence.

Officer started speaking “This is your individual task ground. You see different obstacles marked in a definite sequence. Each obstacle carries the marks equal to its sequence number. You can follow any order to complete the obstacles, but you cannot repeat any obstacle unless you have completed the whole circuit of 10 obstacles. There are few red marks in each obstacle; you are not supposed to touch any. The total time limit is 20 minutes.”

We were all seated with our back facing the task ground so that we cannot see other candidates performing the task. Only the officer was observing the task performed by each candidate, he was also maintaining the time consumed.

Obstacles in order of their sequence were
1) A Slanted plank of about 5 ft.
2) A 4ft high jump set up.
3) A 6ft wooden wall standing on a slanted plank.
4) Balance beam: A bamboo supported by two bamboos
5) Alladin Jump: This was not the name actually; I gave it because of its setup. It was a setup of two machans one about 12-15 ft tall, second being 7-10 ft.
6) Burma Bridge: Set of two parallel ropes about 20 ft above the ground level.
7) Monkey Crawling
8) A truck tyre hanging from a pole.
9) Tiger leap: About 20 ft tall machan and a rope of same length hanging approx 4 ft away.
10) Rope climbing setup: A rope about 20 ft hanging by a pole

“Chest number 21”, It was my cue to enter the arena. I took a deep breath and stood on the mark to start. A lot was going through my mind. Physically I was not very strong in built, I had been playing all kind of sports so stamina was not a problem, but the tasks required strength as well. Strength, both Physical and mental. A drop of sweat went down my forehead and traced its path through my neck.

I started with the very first one. I ran towards the slanted platform with a brisk speed, jumped over and ran across it and landed safely on the sand other side. I had the first mark in my bag now. The second was easy a simple high jump. I resorted to orthodox side cross jump technique. The third surprise of my stay however came with obstacle 3. Gautam has taught us how to jump a wall on the ground level. This was a wooden wall standing on a slanted platform and since it was made of wood and painted, it was slippery.

“Should I change the strategy”, I thought for a while and started running towards the plank. I mounted the plank and took a leap and almost instinctively landed on my elbows at the top of wall. I pulled myself to the other side of the wall and landed abruptly on the sand. The height of the wall due to the slant had become almost 8 ft.

I left out the balance beam for the moment and decided that I will come to it later. The Alladin jump was fun. I climbed the stairs to the taller machan, jumped to the smaller one and then to the ground. Remember the Alladin Video game of Nintendo. The platform of the Machan however was not stable, it moved a bit when we ran over it.

Completing the jump I ran across to Burma Bridge, the exertion was now showing its signs. Humidity and the hot weather were taking the toll over our bodies. Burma Bridge looked to be the most difficult, but it completed easily. Monkey crawling, Tyre jumping and the Balance beam which I had left earlier finished with effort. I was losing my breath; heart was beating as if it was a 2000 W speaker at full volume. The t shirt was now completely soaked with sweat.

When we entered the base, we were given a form to sign which stated that the board will not be responsible for any injury happening to any candidate. They will be given all the medical attention required but board will hold no responsibility. The main reason for the clause was standing in front of me, the Tiger leap or the Tarjan Jump. Most of the people were injured because of this task. I have seen bruises on the palms of candidates who have attempted it earlier. The rope used was a thick coconut rope and if balance was lost while holding the rope, it will have serious bruises on the palms.

I climbed the stairs and was now standing on the 20 ft tall platform, a thick rope hanging 4 ft ahead. I was supposed to run, jump, hold the rope, balance my body and climb down. I started running and as anticipated the platform trembled and as soon I came to the jumping line, I withdrew seeing the height. I started once again and stopped once again.

Officer shouted “Come on! Chest numbers 21, jump. The clock is ticking”

I started once again. A single thought passed my mind ‘Hold the rope above your nose level’, the same thing what the Sergeant I met on train has told me. I jumped and I saw the rope in front of me and almost by instincts I held it above my nose. The action sent a terrible shock right through my spine and for a brief moment I held to the rope, once stable I slowly came down. It was not easy.

The last task was rope climbing, it required a lot of shoulder and arm strength. I started it and it was comparatively the easiest task of the lot and carried the maximum marks. I was totally exhausted and was breathing heavily. A slight pain started on the left side of the stomach, it happens when the body is heavily dehydrated and oxygen contents in the blood goes down.

I ran towards the easier ones again to increase the score. High jump was easiest.

As soon I landed on the sand other side officer blew his whistle.

“Okay 2! Time’s up!”

For once in my life, in spite of all pain and exertion I was happy, very happy.

To be continued……

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Candidate to Cadet: My Journey in SSB Chapter 4

Chapter 4

The Physical Tests

The first thing that comes in mind when anyone speaks of defence forces is their physical fitness and their ability to perform dare devil acts. We have heard, seen and witnessed the heroics of the defence personnel right from the childhood. The next task in line for us was the Physical test. However a whole night was remaining before the test. While returning from Sarnath we bought few tennis balls. On the base our rooms were shifted to first floor and I was allotted MIG-29, the one that falls regularly. These were bigger rooms with a capacity of 8 beds. Till this time we have become friends with almost all the 36 candidates with an exception of one or two. At night all of us decided to play ‘One Tip One Hand Cricket’ in Sukhoi, room adjacent to MIG 29. We cleared all the beds to a side and the room was now our Cricket pith or ground or whatever you want to name it. The bound magazines from Library became our bats. Ratanjyot Singh Bansal a Sikh from Delhi took command of commentary. You always need to have a Sardar in your gang; they make the atmosphere so light and enjoyable that you forget all your tensions. We played till 1 AM and were making considerable noise, when suddenly someone knocked at the door. I opened the door and it was an Airman, who came to look for the source of noise.

“What is this?” the same old question, “Why are lights on till now and why are you people making so much noise?”

“We have a group discussion tomorrow; we were just practicing our points.” I said. Everyone was standstill in their position and prayed that Airman should not see the condition of the room.

“Go to your rooms and next time I hear a single voice, I will throw you all out.” He said. We quietly went to our rooms and crashed in our bed. This was the second incidence which could lead to complete wash out of the batch.

Next day we got up early to be ready for the physical task. The dress code was a white t shirt, white shorts, white socks and canvas shoes. This is one other thing I never understand, why people wear white clothes when they are supposed to get dirty during physical activity.

We reached the ground for the task. The whole batch was divided in 4 groups, first two groups had 10 members each, and the next two had 9 members each. I was the member of the first group. The whole test was divided into two categories:-

1) Group task which was further divided into Physical Group Task, Half Group task and the Command Task. It also had a session of Group discussion and strategy making.
2) Individual task

The task ground looked like an arcade with small setups of painted wooden blocks. The officer guided our ten member team to our first task location.

He spoke “What you see here is your first task; there are total 5 stages in this task clearly demarcated by the white bricks engraved here.”

The stages actually looked like stages of Mario with a start and finish lines. There were wooden structure in between those lines, some were structures like a table top, and some were only logs of wood standing on the ground.

Officer continued “All the ten members will have to clear the end line together, and then only you will be allowed to next stage. You are not supposed to land on the ground and have to use these wooden structures only. If anyone steps down, all of you will have to start again. You cannot jump more than 4 ft. There are few tools provided to you for your help, a rope, a bamboo, a drum and a wooden plank. You can use it for your help, but you cannot place any of the aids on ground.”

All of us looked at each other’s face in amazement. The team had Gautam, Tenzong, Amit, Ratanjyot and a few Delhi lads who became our good friends after the last night’s cricket. In India cricket does bring people closer.

We started the task, the first stage was easily completed, Tenzong and Gautam were super athletic. It gave us a lot of confidence. The second stage however posed a challenge. We all reached till a wooden platform 4.5 ft tall, the next structure was a similar heighted bamboo standing alone about 6 ft away.

“We cannot jump more than 4 ft.” said Gautam. All the brains were thinking. The adrenaline was rushing.

“We can do one thing.” I said looking towards the team. “Ratanjyot put the plank on the platform and sit on it.” Plank was about 4 ft long; Ratanjyot was the heaviest of the lot. With Ratanjyot sitting over plank, it became a diving board kind of structure. The distance between the platform and bamboo was now less than 4 ft. “I can do it.” I said and looked towards my team, they all nodded in confirmation. I weighed 61 Kgs then and was one of the lightest kids on the block.

Ratanjyot said teasing all of us “Please do it quick, whatever you are planning to. Sitting on this plank is hurting me very badly.”

I started walking on the plank and took a leap of faith and landed on the bamboo on one foot. A slight misjudgment in the jump could have resulted in a vital injury. I looked towards the officer, he was smiling.

“Hold it.” He said “What is the plan next?”

“Sir, we will take the rope and make a bridge across and all the candidates might cross it doing monkey crawl.” I have learned all these terms a day before at Sarnath from Gautam.

He smiled and said “Ok! Move to next stage.”

The first task concluded and not a single person was feeling tired. Officer spoke again “In case you were not able to show your skills in this task, let us divide the group in 2. This will be your half group task. This task will have only one stage.” The group was divided into two and we performed another stage of the task.

“In case still you feel you have not been able to perform well, we will do a Command task. In these tasks you will be allowed to be commander of a group by chance and you can select a team of minimum 2 candidates and maximum whatever you like. This task also will have a single stage.”

The stage had four thick Bamboos planted at the corners of a rectangular boundary. The bamboos at the far end were longer than the one near to us, all the four bamboos were connected to adjacent bamboo. The bamboo section near to us had two bamboo connectors parallel to each other. On my turn, I took three team members Gautam, Amit and Tenzong.All the other team members were seated with their backs facing us a few distance away from us. Our task was to go to other side using a rope and bamboo while we have a soft article a drum that has to be transported to other side. The soft article was not supposed to be used as an aide.

“Gautam take the bamboo and push it in between the parallel bamboos” I said. It created a kind of bridge. “Tenzong, climb it and reach the other end.” Tenzong did the same. His athletic capabilities were beyond anybody’s belief. I threw the rope to him keeping one end in my hand’. “Pass the rope through the bamboo at your end and throw it back. Gautam hold the other end” It created a V like rope structure. “Roll the drum across Amit.” He did the same.

“It is ok!” said the officer and continued “What if I remove the bamboo from your aids?”

I thought for a while. I looked towards Gautam. He told me he was good at tying rope knots. I asked him to tie a knot. I swayed the rope towards the bamboo at the far end. After two or three attempts it fell in place secured. “Now what?” the officer asked.

“I will ask any of the candidates to hold the rope at this end and will walk myself across to other end.”

“Why will you go?” He asked.

“It is a bit more risky than the previous one, that’s why!”
He smiled again.
Individual task ground was waiting for us.

To be continued…………………

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Candidate to Cadet: My Journey in SSB Chapter 3

Disclaimer:- This is a continuing story, please read chapter 1 and 2 below to be in track.

The Psychological Combat.

MIG-21, the name of the rooms in this selection board were after the fighter planes and helicopters of Indian Air force. The two storied building had rooms named Sukhoi, MIG-21, Mig 29, jaguar and others. My room was a dormitory with 5 beds on ground floor.36 of 83 candidates were able to clear screening. After the results DSO has asked us to assemble in the front veranda at 7PM sharp. I shared my room with Sushant, Amit, Tenzong and Goutam. Sushant and Amit met me in canteen during Lunch. Tenzong was from Sikkim and Gautam was from Air Force Bal Bharti, Delhi. His father was a high rank officer in Air Force himself. He stood 6 ft tall with a lean built. Unlike other Delhi lads Gautam reddy was extremely calm and well behaved. It was the start of a great friendship for next 4-5 days. In coming days we gave each other nick names. Tenzong was named Bhaichung, Amit was known as Salman, gautam as Hrithik and I was called (I know many readers will be laughing their hearts out in anticipation), yes I was called Shahrukh.

Amit, Sushant and I decided to take a tour of the nearby city while Gautam decided to stay back. We returned base at around 6 PM all tired. I took a quick shower and collapsed on my bed with the comics collection I have bought during my journey. At around 7 PM, a guy came running to our room almost collapsing with the door. Holding his breath he said, “Have you forgot? DSO has called us.” All of us looked each other with fear. We were all relaxing and suddenly realized that we forgot. We ran like mad people. I was running in front in the corridor. I suddenly realized I am going to hit the wall and applied my breaks and came just in front of the DSO standing in front of 5 well formed lines. Gautam, Amit, Tenzong and Sushant stopped right behind me one after the other, like a train wagon coming to sudden halt when their engine fails. We were all facing DSO. He looked us upside down and with an angry voice said “Where were you?” Not a single soul of the lot spoke. “Come On! Stand in the line.” The other guys gave us an angry look. It was a common myth that if the batch does not behave well, the whole batch was washed out. DSO briefed us about the next day and we were dispersed. The moment passed somehow.

The next day was the Psychological test. This test intended to judge the candidates whether they were psychologically fit to join defence. The screening test was the miniature version of Psychology test, but today it was going to be different. We were asked to have a heavy breakfast as no lunch break was scheduled; it was a continuous test till 4 PM in evening.

The commanding officer for the test briefed us for the 1st test. It was Picture Appreciation Test.

“Yesterday, you were shown a hazy slide, in this test you will be shown 12 clear slide one after another. Each slide will be displayed for 30 secs and then you will be given 4 minutes to write a story on it. Then the next slide. The test will conclude after 12th slide. You all have been handed over an answer sheet with 12 pages. You have to write your stories in them only”

We started writing story one after another, the 12th slide was the second surprise of my stay, it was a blank slide. We have to imagine a story and write it.
After the completion of PAT, we were handed another answer sheet. The Officer spoke again.

“Now you will be shown 60 placards containing different words. Each placard will be shown for 15 secs. In this time you have to think of a sentence and write it. This is your Word Appreciation test” Many have argued that this was the test of English Vocab. I thought different. This test completed comparitively faster.
Without a minutes break, we were handed over with another set of answer sheets. The test this time was Situation Reaction Test. Officer broke the pin drop silence once again.

“The booklet infront of you contains 2 sets. First set of 30 questions have situation in the question and four possible reactions in the option. You have to select the most practical and valid response as per your thinking. The next 30 however does not have any options. You have to think of a practical solution and write in the blank space.”

My brain was already feeling drained. It was as if all my inhibitions, my emotional barriers, my rationale about ethics and morale have broken and what was left was my raw character which was in no sense different from my personality. I was the real me answering those question. I had not done a single physical activity in the whole day, but I was feeling tired, tired in brain where it matters most. Suddenly officer announced the last test of the day.

“Candidates last test for the day is Self Appreciation Test, here you will be handed over a booklet and you have to write about yourself. The answer is supposed to be divided in following headings:
1. What your family thinks about you?
2. What your friends think about you?
3. What your teachers think about you?
4. What you think about yourself?”

This was weird we have to write an essay about our self. I completed the test somehow holding my nerves to be with me for few more moments and when it completed, I was psychologically drained.

At 4 PM Officer collected our answer sheets. The day however does not end that bad, he spoke “Candidates you have been through a tiring day today, tomorrow there will be no tests. You can go out and visit the locales of Banaras City. Have a Good Night” We all dispersed. Next day was an off day that meant our stay was extended by a day.

Next day I visited Sarnath with Amit, Gautam and Tenzong. The other guys also came in small groups. It was a great sight to see the great cultural heritage. Sitting on the ruins of what once have been a monastery or a palace, Gautam said “How will you jump across a 6 ft wall?”

I said “I will try to jump and hold and pull my body across.”
“You will not be able to.” He said. “Try This.” He started jogging towards a wall which was approximately 6 ft tall and instead of holding it with his palms; he landed on it by elbow and easily dragged his body to other side.
A gentle smile came to my face. Physical task was next.

To be continued…….

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Candidate to Cadet: My Journey in SSB - Chapter 2

Chapter 2

The Screening and PABT

Disclaimer: This is a continuing story, please read Chapter 1 below for continuity.

All the candidates whose documents were validated were sent to canteen to have breakfast. I was still standing in the line and was waiting for my docs to be reviewed. Nitin was sent. My case was not much different from his. The officer came to me and asked for the document.

“What is this?”, the question sounded familiar. “You do not have a 12th Original Class Marksheet.” I never understood that when people know answers why do they ask questions. I gathered myself and said “Sir! I have to submit it as part of Engineering College Counselling.” Shaking his head in annoyance, He took me to the DSO, the head of the base and our POC for next 5 days if we cleared screening, but my screening test itself was under threat.

DSO asked the same question “What is this?”, I concluded that it is there protocol to ask ‘what is this?’. After explaining a while he understood my case. He told the officer “Let him sit for screening, he will be required to fill an affidavit that he will submit 12th originals if he is selected.” 10th Class marksheet was required because it bears the original DOB. I was relaxed. I rushed to the canteen as only 15 mins were left for screening test to start. After putting two three Puris at once in my mouth and draining it with some water, I rushed to the Seminar Hall. We were not alloted rooms yet, all our luggage was lined up in Corridor. The candidates not clearing the screening test were supposed to leave the same day.

Seminar Hall was a mini theatre with a seating capacity of around 100 people at a time. A peculiar looking off white answer sheets were distributed to us. The answer sheet had a 1.5 * 2 sq inch box at top and remaining writing area. Suddenly the lights were dimmed in the conference hall and DSO started briefing us. We were shown a hazy slide and were asked to identify total characters in the slide and plot them in the rectangular box on answersheet with specifics like probable age, sex and character(+ve and -ve). Honestly I could not see anything. Then we were asked to write a story based on the slide. The whole process was supposed to be finished in 2 mins. Once the story was over we were taken into a small room in batch of 10 and were given 2 mins each to introduce our story and 5 minutes to have a group discussion and to reach a conclusion. Here I encountered the first surprise of the journey, 8 out of 10 stories were almost same. ‘A snake biting a girl and a guy taking her to hospital while there are some onlookers.’ Only I and one other guy had a different story. Mine was ‘a guy saving a girl from a mob.’ We discussed it in length and finally were not able to conclude anything like most GDs. All the guys with same story were actually from a coaching institute of Delhi where they were taught to write so what ever may be the slide. We were given a lunch break. Eating my Lunch I only thought whether I will be staying for 5 days or will be leaving today itself. Suddenly a hand patted me on my back “Hey! I am Amit” the owner of the hand said. “Hi, I am Anand.” I replied

“First attempt?” he asked again. I nodded my head in yes. “That’s why you look tense, it is my 3rd.” My jaws dropped listening to this and I started feeling a bit more relaxed sincepeople will be more tensed then me. On lunch I met Sheshnath, Sushant and Ravi. Coincidentally Sheshnath and Sushant were joining same engineering college I was joining.

Post luch we were taken for our PABT test, it stands for Pilot Aptitude and Battery test. Any person appearing for defence selection can give this test only once in his life. As per Indian Defence forces flying a plane is an aptitude and it cannot be taught, only your instincts can be sharpened and rest all is physical training. The test consisted of a theory paper and a practical. Theory paper had a booklet with pictures various position of a plane, we were supposed to calculate the readings of various dials in the cockpit. I cleared the theory with good marks. The practical test however wrecked my nerves, it was a video game kind of test where we were supposed to sit on a Computer looking like a gaming console and play it for a particular time. I am not a good gamer till this date, so I was really terrified. Result of this test was not announced.

At around 4 PM when all the batches finished their PABTs, we were once again assembled in the Seminar hall.

DSO spoke “Good Evening All of you! Now we will be announcing the results of screening, the name which I will be taking are selected rest all please collect your items from corridor and proceed to front gate. A truck will be taking you to station, also collect your reimbursement from front office beside the front gate. For the selected students we will also be announcing their chest numbers which will be their identification for next five days and also the rooms where they will be staying for first day”

He started taking names of the selected candidates one by one. If you can ask me one time I was nervous, it was the moment. Then suddenly DSO spoke

“Anand Singh Chest no. 21 Room MIG-21”

I was staying. I was staying for 4 more days.

The next thing which came to my mind when happiness took its course was I have to take my luggage from Corridor and find the “MIG-21”.

To be Continued………