(TGC 132) 16 Nov to 20 Nov 2020
On the eve of the festival of lights, when the whole world was busy with crackers and sweets, I was getting ready myself for the search of my goal. With blessings from all family members, my travel started from Trichy.
As soon as I landed in Chennai, the God of rain was very fierce and my first hurdle was there on the journey. With no umbrella and woollen clothes, the weather was creating a barrier for me to reach the airport. Like my father, I always prepare everything in advance and hence the barriers in Chennai could not stop me in reaching the airport on time. Well, in a matter of time I was a little bit prepared but the biggest fault I committed which I felt only after reaching Kapurthala.
My very first flight travel from Chennai to Delhi was thrilling enough but not interesting like a train journey. I had read about the plane technologies and I was having a practical demonstration in that first travel. The flaps, turbines, slats and gear technologies were good to visualise. Finally, at Delhi, the next hurdle was waiting for me. My train to Jalandhar was cancelled owing to farmer’s protest at Jalandhar.
With little known Hindi words, I formed a sentence and asked for an alternate way to reach Jalandhar. The bus route was the only option and I took the same. Then rose my third biggest hurdle as soon as I reached Jalandhar. I heard people saying lockdown after 9.00 PM and the time was 9.30 PM. There were no buses or cabs and the only way was an auto ride and only two autos were available. I took an auto and eventually with some struggles in that fierce climate, I found a hotel at Kapurthala.
I packed up all from the hotel and reported in advance at the SCN KAPURTHALA. ‘98’ chaps reported, nearly fifty were repeaters and we all got ready for the very first test after the pre-checking process. My first-day chest number was ‘6’. I had only one prayer to almighty, “Let me screen in, rest I shall take care”. Yes getting screened in is the biggest hurdle for repeaters. OIR was not ordinary this time for all of us. It was very time taking and in the end, we all went with random answers.
In PPDT, we got a picture of a classroom. I perceived a group of girls on the bench and a male staff taking class. I wrote a story like final year engineering girls working on a project on electric cars and staff guides them. Later, we were divided into groups.
During the individual narration, I found few have noticed a laptop on the table and they came with a story on smart class. Well, that was a good observation. However, the assessors obviously were looking for a 70 to 80% perception of the picture. So many were good in that. In addition, luckily what helped me is my narrating skill. Though my discussion did not go good, my way of narration attracted everyone. Immediately after discussion, I got many positive reviews for my narration and few said “one of the best narration ever”. That gave me some hope.
Within half an hour GTO sir came with the results. Chest no four, five and six were called continuously. And my new friend was called next to me. I got chest no as ‘3’ and my friend got chest no as ‘4’. Both of us were in our 11th attempt to SSB. That was a greater coincidence. Soon we both got closer in the remaining days. ‘18’ of us were selected for the next few days, Out of that, first fifteen were repeaters and three were fresher.
The documentation began and it took up to evening. We were asked to inform our parents and submit our mobiles. Later we went to the rooms and my friend Chest no ‘4’ helped me in overcoming the cold by giving his sweaters, bedsheets, and we had some good sleep.
On the early morning of day ‘2’, we all were set for the psychologic tests. Few of us were informed of personal interview on the same day. The psychologist gave us the instructions and the first test begun. It was bitter cold and we all were warming up our hands to write fast.
The pictures were very clear but lots of elements to be noticed. For example, a shadow in one picture, difference in dress code of characters, footprints in one picture etc. The plus point of my stories were it had many creative things like engineering technologies and more OLQ based scenes.
Next, in WAT I wrote fifty-eight words and left two words, which I do not know the meaning. I attended only 44 SRTs but all the responses were apt. In the Self-Description test, everyone was pre-prepared and we all wrote it perfectly. One thing, which I was conscious, was that I should write stories, sentences and my own description equally matching with my personality. Later half of the day, I had my interview with the President of the board. I was enjoying my interview with him.
As soon as I entered the room, he checked my identification marks and asked about my journey. I shared all my thrilling travel to him. He was eagerly listening to all and asked me whether north Indians gave any trouble to me. I replied, “No sir, all were giving me an interesting journey.” Then my interview begun.
IO: Tell me about the exact geographical location of your place, the benefits available there, tourism
I added every minute things of my district in that question itself.
IO: What is the one disadvantage of your place?
I added that medical facilities are less.
IO: Tell me about your competitive exams.
I told all
IO: What was the reason for scoring less in JEE?
I replied I was slow in solving objective maths.
Immediately he gave me a maths question on speed and time to solve, I solved it fast but I made a small error and he rectified it.
Remaining questions were all about my reason to join army, work experience, family responsibilities, sports and games, strength and weakness, about my preparations for SSB and few current affairs questions on Army chief visit to Nepal, COVID issues, vaccines etc. I answered everything honest and responded fast with confidence.
In the end, when I got a chance to ask a question, I shoot a doubt on Para commando and he explained little and said I am not much aware of it. Eventually, for the first time in my SSB, I felt I had given the best interview.
At the end of the day, I made my mind that only one more test (GTO) which always went good for me in my previous SSBs. Therefore, I was confident on it but God had other plans for me.
We eighteen were divided into two groups nine each. My GTO sir was very young, cool and calm. The very first test of GTO was Group Discussion. We first nine got the topic on geopolitics and issues oriented with it.
I was very eager to speak more on that topic because I always like studying about world affairs. I spoke second and that was the only point I could give. After my point, the group became more participative and I could not put forth my points further in the first as well as in second GD.
Next, in Group planning, my group members were requesting the help of the police to defuse a bomb. However, GPE is always for you. It is you and your group who have to solve everything. I wrote a better plan, which I felt like removing the remote control from the miscreants. Therefore, the bomb will not burst. But during discussion, no one were ready to accept my solution.
In addition, in end, after the group plan was given, GTO asked whether anyone wants to add on. I was given a chance to speak and gave my solution clearly and confidently. I knew GTO would have noted me for that plan. And in PGT, my teammates were very fast in solving the physical hurdles there and I was awestruck seeing them. I did not give any solution in PGT.
In HGT, I worked with the group and crossed the obstacle. Therefore, in the first four tests, I was able to show myself only in GPE. Later, in Group obstacle race my endurance, stamina, spirit everything was boosted like anything. I was continuously screaming the war cry and motivating all.
I made a few mistakes in the race but still was more determined in taking my team to the finish line. GOR is all about how you help each one in the team to cross the finish line. I got the satisfaction that I did that test well. In individual obstacle, I did nine out of ten. I could not complete the tenth one. That was the end of day 3.
The very first test of the day was lecturette. A recommended chap told me the previous day that it carries more points. I always have fond for speaking and hence I became confident on that test. I was expecting some international relation topic but there were no such thing in my card. I selected poverty in India and spoke for 3 minutes.
In my previous SSB’s whenever I take the stage there will be a silence and there will be an awe as soon as I wind up. As expected, this time also the same happened. Every co cadets of mine were awestruck after my speech. Even the cadets from other group came to know about my talk from my group mates and asked me about that. I believed GTO also would have noted me.
Next, in command task, everyone was called individually and given a task. Each one can avail the help of two subordinates. I was called twice as subordinate. I was given a bomb diffusing task. I took some time and solved it at first but GTO asked me to consider the plan as a failure and take the next plan. I was thinking for a while with another obstacle and GTO suggested me to ask my subordinates and I asked them and they helped me in sorting out.
Next in the final task (i.e.) FGT, GTO told everyone that if someone wants to prove you can prove in this last test. Luckily, I lead the team from the front. I was able to give ideas and coordinate the group too. Easily we all crossed the hurdles. I tallied my performance in PGT with FGT. Finally, GTO gave a motivational lecture and that was the end of day 4 and the culmination of all tests.
On the dawn of day 5 we all eighteen were dressed up in formals and were ready for the D-day. A JCO of SCN Kapurthala gave the instructions priory to the start of conference. When the conference begun we were called individually from the last chest number.
The conference was going on a rapid phase. Within 10 to 15 minutes fourteen of us, conference were over. When chest number 5 exited the conference hall, there was a pause for nearly 15 minutes. The assessors were discussing my friend chest number 4. I was sitting behind him and giving him hope. He was called finally inside and within one minute, he came out.
There was a pause for nearly ten minutes after his exit. Obviously as guessed the assessors were discussing on me as my GTO score would not be equal to that of psychology and interview. Therefore, GTO should have got some doubts and was clarifying it with others.
When I was called inside the hall, a colonel rank officer asked me about the stay. I replied ‘everything was exciting’. He asked me further which the most exciting event of all 5 days was. I replied that GTO was exciting for me. All of a sudden, everyone was shocked and saw each other’s face. They too knew that my GTO score was less.
He asked me again which test did I performed well. I said psychology. He asked that if you have done psychology well, then why you are saying GTO as the exciting one. I replied that I learnt new things in GTO and wherever I learn new things, I get excited. He again asked me what you learnt in GTO. I replied about the cantilever techniques used by my friends in GTO. I felt the board was satisfied with my answers and I was asked to leave.
Immediately, after the conference was over for the remaining two, a young officer came with the results. My friend chest number 4 was called first and chest number 12 was called next. I was very perplexed at that time. Usually in SSBs chest numbers will be called in ascending order and me with chest number 3 was getting nervous at that time.
And then after chest number 12, my number 3 was called. I was in a shock for a while and then only I came to know that the chaps were called based on roll number and not chest number. Finally, we three were declared medically fit too. The journey started with zero expectations. Luckily, everything was going with my conscience and eventually, I realised ‘God always helps the determined’.
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