Hello, my name is Yatharth and I got recommended for IMA – 148th course from SSC Bhopal on 9th September 2019. I have been declared medically fit from SMB Bhopal and right now waiting for the merit list. I am unable to exactly recapitulate when did I conceive the dream of becoming an Army officer yet I believe it might have started with seeing someone in the uniform with stars on the shoulder. None can deny having gotten attracted to the uniform of an officer. I filled for UPSC CDS -1 exam in end of year 2018 and carried on my preparations according to the exam schedule. I prepared English from Arihant’s and Plinth to paramount, Maths from Arihant’s and Quantum CAT, G.S from books written by Authors like M. laxmikant and Mazid Hussain. Studying from UPSC CSE level books proved immensely helpful to me in cracking the exam. I would suggest aspirants to regularly read Oxford Dictionary and Norman Lewis along with English newspapers to improve their vocabulary as well. After declaration of results in April 2019, I found myself to have been qualified for IMA and OTA interviews.
I subsequently started collecting information about the SSB interview and types of tests I would have to go through during it. At that time websites like SSBCrack proved to be of benefit and provided me with all the theoretical information I needed about the interview processes. By that time I had a good idea about all the test and procedures. I kept on working on my English and reasoning skills as well.
Later on I came in contact with Colonel Ramesh Narayanan on account of our common interest in fountain pens, who displayed great confidence in my personality and motivated me towards the goal of becoming an officer. He guided me to be in contact of his good friend Colonel Ashokan Sir and such is luck that he turned out to be the director of Olive greens academy.
I talked to Col. Ashokan Sir without prior knowledge of the fact and yet he addressed me so humbly without any sign of irritation because of my endless questions. Col. Ashokan sir told me that he can see the horses among the donkeys and that he finds me to be a horse. I actually felt quite motivated hearing this. I thought If I am a horse already, why not become a lion by learning a few things from the academy and getting an edge over others in this valuable ‘fresher’ attempt.
Henceforth I joined O.G in the month of July and learnt many things there. I would specially thank Wing commander Ashim Kapoor sir who was our Psychologist at O.G.
I would not lie if I say I was his most disliked and yet super liked student at the academy. He helped me ameliorate many things in myself and taught me how I could introspect myself. He did not give me the fish, he taught me how to fish.
I got pleasure of being interviewed by Col. Gadhok sir. That interview prepared me well for the real one later on. Gto tasks those seemed hard at beginning, became my most superior skill at the actual SSB.
I made many friends there. My roommate Pradhyuman has gotten recommended for NDA entry this year from same SSB through which I have.
I left Olive greens in end of July. My SSB was scheduled on August 15th, 2019. I reached the city of Bhopal on 14th and spent the day in a hotel preparing some notes for my lecturette and group discussions. The weather was rainy and cold. It was raining cats and dogs on 15th. I reached railway station and met some gentlemen there who were there for same purpose. The receiving bus came late by an hour and we talked until then. All of us sat in the bus and they drove a long way to SSB, I saw the upper lake and lower lake on my way to SSB. We were given 20 Board to report to.
Two things happened that day,
- I, along with five others were given a return ticket because of non-presentation of degree.
- I caught viral fever and fell ill.
I consider it a very fortunate happening now. Had I not forgotten that document, I would be taking all 5 days SSB in great fever that followed.
I met a Sir there, he told me to come back and take SSB freshly. “I see a chance in you, and I don’t want you to lose that chance. Come back, you will get through.”
I came back to hotel where I fell utterly sick at night. Next noon I left for my home. Fever took almost 10 days to bid my body a goodbye.
During all this I went to university and collected the missing document.
My next SSB date came out to be 4th September 2019.
I reached to reporting place at the last minute all thanks to rain and traffic that day. This time they drove the short way to SSB and we missed seeing the beautiful lakes again. In bus itself I made a few friends.
Documents check was swift this time and I was allotted chest no 1 as I was the first in line. I felt a different luck with that chest no 1. As I was destined to be the champion. My roommates were both good, Piyush ji and Harsh bhai.
We came to our rooms and filled our PIQ forms.
Next day was screening in and we woke up early. I did not take a bath that day. I was fun. I completed all questions from my OIR tests. They were pretty simple and many of them were already marked on the sheet.
PPDT was a simple image of friends’ meetup as far as I assumed. During tea break I collected my group and we discussed how we shall go in during our group discussion.
I was the first to narrate. Surprisingly, assessors did not hear to my story much and only after five six lines they called out ‘Next’, it hit me at first but I was fairly confident about my body language and narration. I did well in group discussion. We reached to a common story fairly quickly and I was given the responsibility to narrate the group story by everyone. However the assessors said that they have gotten the idea and it is not required.
The results came out. Harsh bhai did not make it to second round. Total 15 people were screened in. My batch had 8 gentlemen. Our phones were confiscated. I was again allotted my lucky chest no 1.
Fortunately Piyush ji was still there. We were allotted different line of rooms now. I made new friends and as it was a small group everyone was highly amicable. All the gentlemen were friendly and humble.
Second day we had to wake up without alarms. It was our psych test day and I was directed that it would be my interview day as well. I felt highly motivated that day.
It started with TAT. All the images were very simple and had high scope for imagination. I wrote all the stories positively and kept the story brief and highly relevant to the image displayed. It is very important to catch the background nuances in my opinion. And the most important suggestion is, “don’t create any problem if it is not in picture already and until it is displayed as main subject in the picture.” Look out, there are thousand ways for a picture to take place. I wrote a personal story in the blank image about my friend and I.
WAT were easy and I mostly wrote observations.
My suggestion would be, ‘Observations > information > suggestions > personal’.
I was not able to complete all the SRT, did 43 to be exact. Look at the SRT carefully, you will automatically understand what it wants to see in you. What quality it wants you to evince out.
I was called for interview after a short break of half an hour during which I revised all the information I had collected from I.T cell the night before.
Deputy President Sir of the Navy 33 board took my interview. It went on roughly for around 1 hour and 45 minutes but seemed like as if it was only five minutes long. He is a very humble and kind person to communicate with. Most of the questions were from my PIQ itself ranging up to Physics, genetics, evolution, history, travelers, geography, rivers of India and World. I was given to discuss long length about Greek Philosophy of stoicism and Indian Philosophy schools like carvaka and Mimansa. I believe the most important part of the interview is being comfortable with yourself. Comfortable with what you know and what you don’t and how much and how much not.
And, to express it as clearly as you can. I suggest forbidding gesticulations.
My interview went all well. I was happy with my performance and felt cheerful and elated towards the days to come.
We could not go out that day as it was raining very heavily but we certainly had some fun inside our room. I found my friend Rohil a very good person and in my personal view competent enough to get recommended.
Next day was GTO day. We started out with GPE which was a fairly simple exercise. I listed down the situations there were, divided the team into parts. Wrote down a workable plan and mentioned the distances, speeds and time during the actions. The discussion was fair and gentle. Again I was chosen as the narrator and this time I got to narrate the story.
There was a problem to which I had the solution but my group did not finalize on it. GTO asked me about it, I answered that sorry our group did not decide on the issue Sir.
GD was again very enjoyable because of all my friends. Everyone got to tell their points and it did never become any kind of fish market.
My lecturette was about Dropping water table in India and it went very well. I spoke for around 2:30 minutes but it was crisp and I ensured there was brevity in my lecture.
PGT followed the lecturette and all the obstacle ground that looked scary from far became the friendliest ground to work upon. All the team worked hands in hands to cross the obstacles. I was at the front with my dear rope and the plank to work with. Ballis were less used.
I suggest everyone to keep a sight on the white part. It gives the main idea. And to always measure the white to white distance if it is approachable by plank directly.
Calling out everyone as ‘Gentlemen’ may fetch you some extra marks but calling out people ‘bro, man’ will give them a decrement certainly.
HGT was almost similar to PGT and I could not find out any significant difference between both except for that we were more closely assessed during HGT than PGT.
Here GTO would test your equanimity and composure and group skills so maintain your calm and peace and keep your team motivated at all costs. Never ever lose your temper during any of the group tasks.
We were relieved after the HGT.
One last suggestion about GTO day one is to wear your white dress immaculately and get there only after shaving. Keep your nails clipped and shoes tight, lest you need to tie them mid task.
That day I went to Van vihar with my friends. Piyush ji, Sumit ji, Himkar ji, Prabhat ji and I had great fun during our long cycling session. The weather was great that day.
At night I collected our group and we planned about the snake race positions. I suggested my place to be 2nd last as I was powerful enough to climb walls with help of one person and pull him by myself later.
Next day was GTO- 2 day. We started with the snake race. I volunteered to demonstrate figure 8 obstacle. Snake race started. Our war cry was ‘vande mataram’.
I would shout ‘vandeeeee’ and rest all would shout ‘matarammm’ on top of their lungs. Such a jovial display of teamwork, strength and brotherhood it was. We crossed each obstacle easily.
The important part here is to carry the snake and being with everyone. To wait for others if you are leading and to help others if you are powerful.
As a secret, the second last position is the most influential one. I knew it from my experience at Olive greens.
Next was Individual obstacles.
I started out with Tarzan Jump then tiger leap and double ditch. Barbed drum and commando walk, Burma Bridge and lastly a jump from an upslope.
My hobby of rope climbing made almost 60 percent of I.O very easy for me.
My suggestion here is to be totally fearless during all the tasks. You will do good at it.
Last was Command task.
Here I was called in last. I was called in 5 times by my friends. I did my duty well by helping my commander and giving him ideas whenever I was asked to.
I invited chest no 4 and 5 to help me after a brief interview by the GTO sir.
My task was rather different that everyone else’s. I was given a circular obstacle with a bomb in middle which was to be carried out of the boundary. One approach was made inaccessible and I was to go in from one of rest two approaches. At times we were denied to use our helping material because of breaking of rules. GTO sir kept stressing me out by various means but I did not give up. At the end we found two workable ideas and were returned to initial point.
Our tasks were all finished after this. GTO sir invited everyone to ask questions if any. I asked “What is bravery, where does it lie in?”
To which GTO sir answered humbly according to his own views.
We were debriefed and then we returned to our rooms. At night we watched the movie saaho in an open theatre. Bad movie but great fun with friends, cool breeze and rain.
Next day was final day the conference day. We were briefed by JCOs and later an officer. We were motivated about our future and lives. And some were warned not to come to SSB to the 20th time.
Conference started. I was not made to wait much. It might have been around 4-5 minutes. I was the first one to be there. I had prepared myself to answer all the questions which I could not during my interview. But my conference turned out to be pretty simple.
I entered the room and wished everyone a good morning. After which I was gently told to take a seat. A voice came from the right 1’o clock position and then after I did not see anyone else in the room. I only focused on the interviewing sir. He asked me questions about my stay at SSB. What I observed here and what I told about SSB building to my family. Lastly suggestions were asked to which I gave one. I suggested that a small model of I.O should be installed in common ground as well so that candidates can practice on ropes before the actual I.O day. To which they said that they want us to practice at home before we come here. Everyone laughed including me and I was told to leave.
I bid everyone a good day and left out of the room.
I was happy with my performance.
We fell in after a short break and nervous discussions, in Manekshaw hall of 22 board. We sat on our seats and were given our phones back.
After a brief while a lady officer, Lt. Colonel Kamalpreet sagi mam came to announce our results.
She got on the podium and said, “Sorry everyone I have gotten no file or list and the batch seems to be a washout.”
Everyone skipped a beat. I skipped two maybe.
Then for relief she asked, “So anyone thinking they got recommended?”
I raised my hand, as few of my friends did.
She said, “Hmm… Many, but fastest finger first few han”
She took out a paper from back of her pocket and said she had gotten a few names there. Everyone crossed their fingers and had a breath of hope. I wished should my name come in these ‘few’ I would be the happiest. Her statement then quickly changed to, “oh, sorry, I think there is only one name here.”
Again the air got thick. I thought it was one of chest no 12 or 9 certainly. Maybe I, in the back of my head, maybe, maybe I.
She instructed that the called out chest no should come forward then to left and say loud his name and roll no.
Then she said in a loud voice, “CHEST NO 1”.
I could not believe it. I stood up. Came forward. Looked down towards my yellow shirt, crumbled trouser, shoes, chest no 1 and my blue tie coming out of it. I felt I could not contain whatever it was inside me in that moment. I started crying with joy and yet it never felt like joy or sadness specifically. It felt like for the first time I was alive. As If I was just born and I had full knowledge of my own existence. I could not say out my name in the first time. Later on I shouted it out like I shouted out war cry in GTO ground. And I am telling you, calling out your own name will never feel better than in the moment you get recommended.
Many things happened later on. I informed my family, my girlfriend and friends. Met my friends again and life continues.
I have been declared medically fit and waiting for the merit list as of now.
I would quote Marcus Aurelius here,
“The time is at hands when you shall forget all the things, and all the things shall forget you.”
You will know what I mean in the moment when you will call out you name and roll number. I hope you all do soon.