Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A Life Time Experience

A Life time experience
This is all about my experiences at 4 A.F.S.B  Varanasi. Initially I had my SSB date on 21st may’12, the same day that saw me siting in an Advanced Power Electronics Practical test. Owing to this particular reason I was not able to attend my scheduled SSB. The days to come neither gave me a respite as I had my summer internship lined up in a couple of weeks and that too in Mumbai infact Larsen & Toubro in Navi Mumbai. The date of 4th june therefore seemed improbable as well. But God was kind to me as I got a date of 23july’12 for my first ever SSB. Though initially I was pretty confident of a good show but as the day approached I started to worry a little for the better yet my confidence level was never down as it has always been my strongest point.
I started my journey on 21st july’12 early morning  to board a train that took me to my hometown of Jaipur, the Pink City. As I had my train in evening so I made a visit to my home to freshen up having some good food in the belly as well getting the meals packed for the night. The train was on time and we ( I and one my friend) boarded the train and soon finding our places. Our focus was on our SSB. I was not very prepared for the different rounds but I had a feeling that I would fare well. The journey was about 17-18 hours so therefore we had enough time to go through the different levels of testing we were expected to undergo. The next day, a Sunday infact at 10.30am( 2 hours late of our scheduled time) we reached Varanasi Junction. The first thing I remember about Varanasi was the population. It was a vastly crowded area and was very dirty. Really ,I was not to imagine any worse condition than this and was hoping that if I could manage this thing I could manage anything in life. This was the only positive trigger I could from Varanasi apart my own confidence. The food was very ordinary that day. This coupled with the worry of first ever SSB did not make life easier. For some time there was a hazy image of myself that I saw. But it was momentary as I recollected myself and slept a lot which gave me the all needed mental as well as the physical rest. The day then went on smoothly and we did watch “Rang de Basanti” which was again a positive trigger for the days to come.
The next morning, the all awaited day of 23rd July’12 saw us getting ready early at 5.30am and departing for the railway station from our rented room which wasn’t far from the station. As we reached the station, the candidates had already started to gather up. At 6.45am we reported to the airforce personnels on the other side of platform. After the briefing we were taken to the 4A.F.S.B Varanasi. There were 250 candidates who have reported for their ssb.
Once we reached the center our call up letters were checked and thereafter we had our breakfast. The breakfast seemed nothing as the tension of the first day was taking the energy out of us. Thereafter we were taken to a big auditorium after giving us the chest nos. I was given Chest No. 47. The first thing I imagined was this no. being called after the screening round and that is what it turned to be.
There were a hell lot of tests in quick succession and I hardly realized how many of them were right. Probably I was beaten by the pace at which things were taking place. Even I was playing safe and was hitting some right answers in between. We had 10 tests during the early morning session. Then came the big moment. We were shown a very hazy sketch and were told to write a story in 3 minutes describing the mood age and sex of the characters. I visualized three persons, one of them being injured and was lying on the ground. I made a very good story describing how Ram becomes a famous person due this very incident. After writing the story we were divided into groups and were taken to a group discussion room. Each group had 15-16 members among whom the GD was to be done. My group was indeed a very good group. Everyone fared well except some. I was happy the way I presented my story and had a discussion among the group. I was confident of my selection but still there was uneasiness till the results were out. In 10 minutes the results were out and I found 47 lucky for me. This is how I cleared the first stage.
After clearing the first stage we (62 out of 250) were taken to the candidate’s mess for the lunch. The mess was fully airconditioned having an ANTE room which had POOL table as well as the LCD. Straight after the lunch our mobiles were submitted and new chest no. were allotted. This time around my chest no. was 24. I was in group D. Next on cards was the document verifications. It also had 2 checks. Since my code no. was earlier I was free in first 15-20 minutes. But I never thought that it would take another six hours for the document verification of the rest but then this as the case. It was 20:00 hrs when we were given 15 minutes break for the dinner after which started the psychological test. This is easily the toughest test of the ssb at which your selection depends. We had Thematic Appreciation Test(TAT) in which we were shown 11 slides and for each slide we had to write a new story. The 12th slide was a blank one leaving it on us to write any good story. After this we had Word Association Test(WAT) in which 30 words were shown on the screen and for each word the time was 15 seconds.  Next was the Situation Reaction Test(SRT) In which we were given 60 situations to react in 30 minutes only. After this followed the Self Description Test(SDT) in which we were supposed to write what we thought about ourselves, how our parents’, friends, teachers thought about ourselves. At 12.30am we were freed. The next morning timings were little extended thanks tour SDO Kinsukh sir. Late night when we went into our rooms as according to our groups, we discussed a little about the next day’s plan. We gelled together very quickly as team efforts were very important for the selection of an individual. I was very lucky to get a good bunch of individuals in my group. We all were  freshers  and didn’t exactly know what was to come. I never met such caring people ever in my life. Though from the very first day we ate together yet we started talking next day only. My group comprised of Prashant Sharma from Aligarh, Junaid Aslam from Dehradun, Siddhartha Chowdhary  and Nishant Singhal  from New Delhi. Rohit Swarnakar from Jhansi  Sujan Nag from Agartala and Naman Khanijau from Hyderabad.

24th July’12:- The second day of the SSB. After the breakfast we were again taken to the GP room where we had the GPE (Group Progressive Exercise). We were told a story and had some situations given. We all wrote our plan in the paper and then had a healthy discussion about it. Atlast we came to a conclusion after the discussion. After this we had 2 group discussions on two different topics. This was the indoor test. Next came the outdoor test where we started off with the progressive group task. In this we had 5 levels and the difficulty level increased at each level. Initially we were little slow but later we sped up. After about an hour were we free from this task. Immediately we had the half group task. It was comparatively easier and we took 10 minutes to wrap it up. This was the second day. We had lunch thereafter and from 14:00 hrs to 19:00 hrs we were free. I played basketball and Table-tennis for most of the times while my other group mates preferred to sleep. Meanwhile we had the STD facility from 19:00 hrs to 20:30 hrs. I was happy to tell my progress to my mother everyday. The bond between me and my group-mates was getting stronger by every moment we spent.

25th July’12:- The third day of the SSB. It was supposed to be yet another tough day for us and indeed it turned out to be one. We as usual had our breakfast and were ready for the day’s task in our shorts and T-shirts. We had the command task first where each individual is made commander for a task to be done. I was happy to help people in my group. My weight and height helped me to become helper in as many as 5 times out of 7 mates. Even I did the command task well. It took around 90 minutes to complete the whole round. After this we had the lecturrete in which we were to speak on spot on the topic given minutes before.  I did an average show there and was disappointed with my efforts. This led to the end of day three for us. The little shower did not help us in the individual obstacles as it was called off due to wet ground conditions. We went back to the mess and had our lunch. By this time the group was like a little family for me. We discussed a lot on many issues. Always stayed together, ate together, played togetheretc etc.. The way my group mates cared for me was an extra-ordinary feeling. Junaid and Sujan were the two very close to me. This period of time was really the best I ever had felt in the recent years… We played pool in the Ante room and did watch television as well.
26th July’12:- This was a very important day as far the selection of any individual is concerned. It was the Interview day for our batch and I was in third to give the interview. Almost after 2 hours I had a call for the interview. The interview went on smoothly. He started from somewhere slowly and gradually made a deeper search into my personality. The only question where I was uncomfortable was about the secrets told to the person closest to you and of course the girlfriend question. He must have completely explored me in the 50 minutes I spent with him. He was very humble and soft spoken. The interview was well as far as I was concerned expect the name of the tourism minister of India which I was not able to tell. By 14:00 hrs all our Interviews were finished. We as usual had our lunch. The facilities provided to us was 5 star one and it seemed that 4 A.F.S.B Varanasi was in a different place than Varanasi. The food was of very high standard giving you an option of non- veg as well. Well furnished rooms with air conditioner was beyond expectations. Since we were free from interview I, Junaid and Sujan decided to go out for a movie in the nearby mall. When we reached the hall, it was 30 minutes over but still we went in for the movie “The Dark Night Rises”. The movie was awesome and I enjoyed it a lot. After this we went into the ‘Pizza Hut’ to have some ‘Double Cheese’. It was for the first time that I was eating such stuffs. Junaid and Sujan were very comfortable with it. I would love to thank them for such a visit. They made my day. This was a very wonderful experience for me. They both were very good candidates  and I hoped that we three will be able to be recommended. A hindu, the other muslim and the third was a Christian. What a coincidence.. Soon we came back by 19:00 hrs. We met Siddhartha, Nishant and Prashant on the gate only only to realize that they were forced to pay Rs1500 as the donation to the priest in the temple. We acme back a laughed a lot on the bizarre condition our other mates faced. That day we enjoyed a lot sleeping at around 1 o‘clock in the night. This was the night we all love to remember. Also we did prepare on some topics as well. We all knew that this is the last night we all are spending together. No-one knew whats going to happen tomorrow in the Conference Round.
27th July’12:- The last and the the decision making day was on. It was the Conference Day. We were told that conference would be held on 10:30 hrs and accordingly we dressed up packing everything we had and leaving the room. We found ourself again in the same auditorium in which we were on the very first day. The conference did not take much time. In it all the 14 officers were in their uniforms headed by the Vice-President having a rank of Air Commodore. I think I gave the worst answer when I misunderstood the question of the coaching and may be the prize I had to pay was a non- recommendation. The Results were out by 14:00 hrs and none of our group members made it. Only 6 out of eventual 62 were recommended. We were sent back to the railway station with the Travelling Allowance. This was my short and a life time experience of my life. Though I was not recommended  yet I had a great experience. I advice everyone to once go to an SSB in their lifetime.