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. 🙂