A week with the Indian Air Force

I’ve never been more than 50 Km away from my parents alone for more than 2 days and when I was, I was mostly under my blood relative’s protection. Not that I despised being with them, I voluntarily stayed with them. The point I want to prove is that I’ve never been on my own for once in 21 years. I never had the chance to live in hostel, or maybe went out for an outing that lasted more that one night. When I cleared AFCAT’s cutoff and received a call letter for the Service Selection Board(SSB) process I was excited. I’d heard before about the life that one experiences in SSB and how one remembers it throughout his life. I didn’t want to let this slot get filled with another week of boring life that I live here.

I scheduled my SSB date on 23 June, 3 months after I received the call. I chose this date specifically making critical analysis of a lot of things. I knew that my end term exams would be finished somewhere around mid June and then my Job would begin on 1 July. I also had a lot to do on my body which was expanding in every direction possible. Hence I joined a Gym the next week. The next three months passed with me working my ass out to burn as many kilos as I could. Precisely, a call for AFSB(Air Force Selection Board)  was the impulse I needed.

The judgement day came and I left for the unfamiliar destination, with a lot of doubts and a little fret. Nonetheless, I arrived there and the next few hours were hard to recall. Everything happened fast or maybe it didn’t. Maybe it was because I was drowsy as I could hardly close my eyes in the 7 hour-long journey via train. First day was a screening round. One had to clear all the tests on day one to proceed to phase two that would be 5 days long. I cleared it. Yes with my eyes almost closed half the time I managed to get through. We all were allotted a chest number, kind-of like an identification for the next 5 days. We all would henceforth be officially referred by our chest number. I was chest number 19. Whenever i heard this, I made my chest swell about 2 inches and I would feel ,for no reason, like an AirForce officer, though it was still a distant dream.

Next few days were a bunch of test that would test our psychology,physical fitness, group management and behavior, pilot aptitude test and what not. Group task were something I enjoyed the most.  Group Discussions, Group Obstacle Tasks, Group Planning etc were the most fun part of the stay. All these task made me feel different form the civilian life that I live back in Delhi.

Back at our rooms we were 10 different people from different cities speaking in different accent but were here for one common purpose. This was the first time I was in the same room with a Khalsa Sardar and people from Indore, Chandigarh etc. Since we knew our night would pass very dull we bought a pack of cards. It did us well for all the 4 days. We 11 people(100 from our room and one from a different room) would play cards for 2-3 hours and making endless fun of any newbie’s mistakes in the game. These 10 people made me laugh enough for my throat to act up. After the second day I could hardly say a sentence without muting  a few words. It took a week for my voice to return to normal. Sometimes we all had a very heated discussion on some irrelevant topic that we would need some distraction and we found that in those swimming calmly in sweet dreams. I can’t describe the pleasure it gave us to wake our asleep friends with ice chilled water. Some of them reacted exactly the way we wanted to. 😀 Yes some of us had the most evil mind in the whole lot.

Food was good as per my expectations of mess food. What else could a hungry and tired student want other than Chicken Curry or Egg Curry at night. Last night was a feast for us. But in this 5 day journey what I remember the most is not the food or the different life i lived there. I remember the people I met, I remember surviving 5 days without my cellphone and no internet, no connectivity to outside world except for a few minutes when we get to call our homes. These 5 days made me realize that had we been allowed to keep our cellphones, these days would have passed pathetically boring and I would have detested my decision of coming here. Whatever be their purpose of taking away our phones, it worked well for me. Although, I regret that I could not make it to the final list of selects I still did not feel bad as my purpose for being there was more or less fulfilled. I was going home with some wonderful memories and just one picture of the whole group together. 🙂AFSB


Insomniac FIFA

FIFA WC 2014. Every permutation of these characters has made it successfully, in these last 3 days, to the Hashtag database. Facebook has evidently turned into FIFA.com news channel. I wonder if they have already started a RSS feed of people’s tags on this world wide event. Football suddenly captured every mind that breaths sport, including me. I haven’t followed football ever in my life as I am doing right now and I did in the last world cup..

This time FIFA fever seems to have taken me down stronger than last time. I only remember a few events of 2010 WC. But in this world cup, My mind is restless. I am unable to control my urge to tune to Youtube and endlessly watch awesome football videos,moments,goals and what not. My browsing  history is overflowing with football video links, Ronaldo , Messi, Robben, Neymar and who not. My football dictionary increased exponentially adding endless rules and players’ bios to it.

India is a approximately 8.5 hours ahead of Brazil, hence all the LIVE telecast to the WC matches are post sleeping times here. There starts a time at around 12 AM when my whatsapp is suddenly flooded with group messages of FIFA moments. This does not stops till the last match for the day which is usually 9 AM. Yes, 9 continuous fucking hours of FIFA bombs on whatsapp. Everybody is a Football GURU suddenly. Even I am. I abruptly turn into a football coach F’ing in anger every move that I dont like and shouting a few astounded F’s when something unexpected happens. Like that Robin van Persie’s flying header which threw me to my toes and yell “This shit is GOD like”.  After that goal he was nicknamed ‘The Flying Dutchman’.Image

This sport has taken over my mind. Yesterday I was awake till 5:30 AM to watch the Italians thrash the England Squad. I cannot control this cravings to play with anything that resembles  a football. I never supported a single team, I followed players. This make me watch every match of the major league teams. Portugal for Ronaldo, Argentina for Messi, Ronnie and Gerrad makes me cheer for England while Buffon does for Italy. It is mixed feeling when you are crossing fingers of one hand that Iniesta scores while other hand is crossed for Netherland team to defend the goal. I felt devastated when Spain lost 5-1 but at the same time I was celebrating for this mammoth win of Dutch over Spaniards.

In the last few days I’ve realized that to follow a sport or anything one does not have to know everything about it. You only need to have the love to enjoy it no matter who wins or lose. I guess that is the rationale behind it. You don’t need to pick sides to experience the thrill of a game, the pumping heart at a goal scored, the goosebumps at those breath-stopping-gasping moments. Although I am not good at sports, I still am good at enjoying it.