Good, bad and unexpected of Military life.
Hello friends before jumping on to the main story, First I would like to introduce myself.. I am Sonu Singh, from Bangalore. I have completed my B.com in 2012 and currently pursuing C.A(not anymore).. I like reading books mainly love fictions, fantasy, philosophy and all other good books available on earth. I love graphic designing and blogging.
I am very happy to share my SSB experience in depth with all of the willing to be GC’s and LC’s. For sure this is going to help someone or the other and that is the main motive behind writing this.I will cover my ten days journey in the following order –
– Day 0 – Arrival & Documentation
– Day 1 – Intelligence Test & PPDT
– Day 2 – Psychology Tests
– Day 3 – GTO 1
– Day 4 – GTO 2
– D-Day – Conference
– Medical Examination
As soon as the SSB Centre allocation list was uploaded on Indian Army website, like all the others I was eagerly waiting for the call letter and sms to find out reporting date.
My eight friends and myself, from the same college got Allahabad as our SSB centre and we were very excited as soon as we got our call letter, next challenge was to book a ticket and get a reserved seat within short period of time. Its was not at all easy. There is only one direct train from Bangalore to Allahabad (Sangamitra Exp), which is very good. We checked the IRCTC for booking ticket, the waiting list was more than 150, so no point in booking.
We all planned and choose that we’ll go for tatkal booking. For booking tatkal ticket we had to go and sleep previous night outside the reservation centre, to avoid touts and get a confirmed tickets. All of us went there by 9:30pm(I know it sounds crazy), sat there whole night chatting and later on trying to sleep. Somehow after a lot of struggle we got confirmed tickets booked..!! Yaaaayy… Its was a hell of experience for most of us, but when you are with friends and you go anywhere, the place doesn’t matter at all.. 🙂
We had to report on 13 January 2013 to Allahabad. So we boarded our train on 11th in the morning.. The climate was normal here in Bangalore but as we moved towards north it became quite chilly. While we were on Bangalore City platform there itself we met a lot of SSB guys, made some friends also.. We were eight but two other candidates ticket didn’t get confirmed so we shared our seats with them and it was really a nice long journey. By the time we reached Allahabad the strength of our group increased from just 8 guys to 18!
Day 0 – Arrival & Documentation – 13/01/2013
The train reached Allahabad at 3:04am on 13 January. My goodness.. It was so cold(temp – 12 Degree Celsius) out there on the platform that I felt like running back to the train and tucking myself inside the sleeping bag. We went outside, and decided to stay in lodge till afternoon and take rest. We slept till 8-9am and then had break-fast and around 12pm left for railway station. After waiting for half-hour or so finally the bus with the ‘SSB Allahabad’ written in front came, we all boarded the bus and within 10 minutes reached the centre.
As soon as we entered the Centre, our eyes were struck on the chest number with a ‘+’ on them, medical candidates who were going to the mess for lunch and they were looking at us and, must be thinking.. lo aagaye naye bakre halal hone ke liye.. 😛 We got down and kept our luggage in the waiting shed(I am sure this is the only time when all of us will happy take our luggage and keep it in waiting shed), as we were instructed so and made groups according to our roll numbers.
We were more than 160 candidates. Our ustad(sir) divided us into two sub groups of 85 & 75 each. Along with my nine(one I made in train) friends, I was sent to 14 SSB Board, which has a unique colour like all boards – Orange. There were 45 freshers, 22 screen-out and 23 repeaters. Later on after giving instructions, Ustad divided us into 6 groups of 12 to 16 candidates each group. For freshers, screened out and repeaters separate groups were made. I was in the last group – my chest number was 78.
After checking the call letters, ustad sent us to the 14SSB living area named ‘Tiger Hill’. We entered our particulars in register, went inside.. Nice clean & spacious rooms & toilet with hot water facility(don’t forget it was January). We made our self comfortable, went around looked here and there. Had our evening tea and then made arrangement for next day. We didn’t open our much of our luggage, just took out the necessary thing and kept it like that because next day we had to take it to the most hated place – waiting shed, keep it here & then go to Screening Test.
Day 1 – Intelligence Test & PPDT – 14/01/2013
Some of us woke up as early as 4:30am and started getting ready for the screening test. I got up arram se around 5:30am and found people around me packing and getting ready. Its was quite cold in the morning, we had to report at 7:00am near waiting shed with our luggage after having break-fast by 6:30am. We had tea after finishing everything in barrack and submitted blanket and bed-sheet and checked out of the barrack.
Soon our CHM(a sardar – very nice and friendly person) came and took us to the testing hall named – ‘Manoj Pande Hall’. After some time one gentlemen who was an officer (we found out later on) came and gave us instructions and wished us best of luck!
By 7:10am the first test – Intelligence Test(Verbal) began and then second test – Non-Verbal began and got over soon. I found the paper easy and had attempted most of the questions except 4-5 questions. In Verbal and Non-Verbal test mostly – This is to (some figure), as = this is to ?, rearrange a word and write last or 2nd letter, multiply and find the missing number, rearrange sentence – these were the various type of questions. I expected dice question but not even a single dice question was there.
Without any break second test – PPDT began and we all wrote our stories, came out of the hall and as usual most of the candidates started asking the theme of their groupmates’ story and began discussing each other’s story.. Some of them were trying to memorising there story by repeating it in their mind while walking front and back. That nervousness and fear was visible on everyone’s face.
PPDT Picture – A man in the right-bottom side of the picture looking at small plants, a bag(cement bag or grain bag -something like that) lying behind him. It appears to be an outside scene, an agriculture field. [That’s what I perceived it.]
The theme of my story was agriculture based, In my story : The problem was – poor growth of crops due to less fertile soil. The bag, I made it a fertilizer bag. I solved the problem which was to increase the growth of crops. It was a simple, action-oriented story with a short term goal and I did not give any fancy prize/award/recognition, etc..
While we were doing the discussion unofficially, we had a small tea-break. That was really refreshing. After that one by one all the groups went in for the official discussion. First, group number 02 went in, after them my group and so on. Generally the discussion lasted for about 10-15 minutes for each group.
We went inside sat on the chairs arranged in a semi-circle form in clockwise order but it was not a semi-circle at all, the chairs were kept in a more of straight line, we had difficulty in seeing each other’s face while addressing the group during discussion. After settling down, one of the three officers(I guess there were two Psychologist and one GTO) gave us instructions and asked us to start narration. One by one all of us narrated our stories. There were few candidates who couldn’t narrate complete story in time. Though even I was little nervous but I used one minute properly and finished my narration in time in a calm and cool manner while maintaining the eye contact with my group mates. There were one or two candidates who were addressing the officers instead of the group. (Note: Always address the group, not the officers.)
As soon as the narration got over, without testing officer’s instruction one of my group-mate suddenly pulled out his big gun(his mouth) and started rapid firing(-speaking). We were all amazed. I think he was in hurry to finish the discussion and wanted to prove himself as a leader. While discussing he literally stopped others from speaking by placing his hand in front of his neighbor candidate’s chest and during whole discussion he didn’t let those speak who wanted to, but he kept pointing to the silent candidates and said – “Let us give chance to him/or to those who haven’t spoken…” It was a blunder. Other then him everyone was cooperative, we had a healthy discussion and decided to go with combined theme of agriculture + flood but we couldn’t come to a common story.
After all the group finished discussion, we were asked to have lunch and wait near 14 SSB Conference hall. After waiting for three hours or so, somewhere around 1:30pm results came. Only 28 candidates out of 85 were screened in. I was happy as well as sad. Sad because two of my friend got screened out.
Later on we filled the PIQ forms and TA(traveling allowance) documents and submitted. Our CHM sir told us that interview will start from next day. So after filling forms, 5:30pm onwards we were completely free. We took our luggage, went to our living area, kept our luggage and then went to the canteen(Olive Green) to eat because no lunch was provided to us that day.
After having dinner at 8:00pm, I slept.
Day 2 – Psychology Tests – 15/01/2013
It was 7:30am, after having breakfast all the lucky candidates gathered near Manoj Pande Hall for psychology test. It was another cold morning, hands were freezing. We all stood in line and then we were divided into 3 groups – one each for freshers, screened-out and repeaters. After settling into the M.P.H, we went outside and had a group photograph. Soon after photograph test started.
TAT – I got sufficient time for writing all the stories and relax for 30sec. I found TAT easy. I wrote 2/3 stories on Army, 3 on NCC, 2 on organizing fest & picnic and the last one was based on personal life experience.
WAT – This test was mind blowing, during this test I had little problem in managing time because words were coming and going within fraction of seconds. But somehow I managed to attend all the sixty words. For every word I gave positive/neutral response. E.g. Police – Helps to curb crime. I remember this one very well because I was stuck for a moment when this word flashed on screen.
SRT – I answered 48 SRTs in the given time, as far as I know all were positive response. I was satisfied with my performance but could have done better than that. I did not leave any situation blank in between. (Note: If you leave a situation in between its shows that you are running away from the problem. So always avoid skipping SRTs in between.)
SD – I had prepared my SD well in advance. I wrote all the five para’s (about myself, parents, teachers, friends and strength & weakness.) in time. I didn’t use any fancy words like hardwork, sincere, faithful, courageous, disciplined.. nothing like that. It was quite simple – in all the para’s I wrote 4 good qualities and 1 bad quality. All of us know – we are not perfect, all of us have some negative points. I suggest you that don’t hide your bad qualities. Present them in a good way. Don’t straight away write that you roam around like a loafer. You can put it in this way – I spend more time with my friends while jogging or during group study and my mother/father doesn’t like it but I convince her/him by explaining the pros of it. I was feeling very light after psychology test got over because I’m not very fond of writing. Later that day some of us had interview and rest of us enjoyed playing volleyball or watching t.v.
Day 3 – G.T.O 1 – 16/01/2013
Woke up early morning at 4:30am, the normal tap water was freezing cold. Thanks to the hot water facility, somehow took bath. Everyday by 5:30am bed tea use to come, after drinking that and arranging our bed, all of us went to eat breakfast at 6:30am and then to GTO ground by 6:55am. GTO ground which was little far from our living area, we were quite lucky that there was no fog that day, because the guys from previous batch told us that during there GTO fog was there. I don’t know how they did individual obstacles and all. Must have been fun! We were allowed to wear tracksuit/sweater, because its was a very cold day. We were all lined up in different places, each group had different GTO. Our GTO
was a very jolly type of guy. He was looking smart. In my group some of the guys were very cooperative and some quite rude, arrogant type of, not ready to listen to others opinion.
GD – We were free to choose a topic from the given choice by GTO, we had little difficulty in selecting the topic because everyone wasn’t cooperative. When GTO asked us to raise hand in favour of each topic one after the other. 5 guys raised for 1st topic and rest 5 guys raised for 2nd topic. No one wanted to change side, initially I raised my hand for 2nd topic, but later I raised my hand for 1st topic, majority wins! We had a healthy discussion. I spoke for 3-4 times, allowed others to put forward there points.
The second GD also went in a similar way like the 1st GD.
GPE – Second task in GTO was GPE, because of cold weather our hands freezed. So GTO asked us to do warm up – running short distance, which helped us very little. I was very disappointed with the group as we couldn’t come to a common solution to the given problems. People had their own egos. No one was ready to listen to others. I started the discussion & gave some points but I think I could have done better, if the group had been more cooperative. Even the person who gave conclusion, he spoke just what he wanted – didn’t consider others’ solution at all and he was so slow that he couldn’t tell the final plan to GTO.
PGT – As usual four obstacles were given, till now we couldn’t create that bond between ourself. So we had problem in crossing the obstacle. Everyone was giving their own idea and those who had the helping material didn’t listen to others. They were just trying to apply their ideas. People were literally shouting on each other. In first task I did not run after the helping material. I just gave one idea, other person gave his idea so I agreed and we crossed first obstacle very easily. In second obstacle it was hard because everyone was trying to go in a different way, so I took the plank and showed the way, after crossing half obstacle once again different ideas started coming. Between all this I just looked once at the GTO and he wasn’t very happy with what the group was doing. So GTO interrupted and asked us to move to next obstacle. But after GTO’s permission, no one moved to next obstacle, GTO took his chair to third obstacle and we were still struggling to overcome second obstacle just because of few guys who wanted to prove themselves right. After somehow crossing second one, third obstacle was not that hard. We crossed it and the fourth obstacle was a hard one and between all the fighting we were not able to come up with ideas. We did try changing our places, but all went in vain we failed to complete. So in this task we only completed 3 out of 4 obstacles. I didn’t take much active part in this, I stayed back gave ideas, helped others and somewhere even my ideas were used. None of us were happy with what happened in PGT.
During the 5min break, everyone was fighting – blame game was going on. After 2-3 minutes we cooled down and decided that its not going to work this way. So we promised each other that we will take chance and give chance to others. No fighting. No blaming.
SNAKE RACE – Our war cry was – “Chak De”. We now had cooperation among us, we did break few rules (I did the 8 figure incorrectly). Other than that it was wonderful, all of us were helping each other, during whole race I was shouting.. Shouting.. Shouting.. and made sure that minimum three person are holding the snake as I was either in front or in the end. We won!!(but the fact is each group’s GTO tells them that they won, so everyone is a winner in the end :P). Everyone was happy and appreciated each others efforts. It was overall good.
LECTURETTE – This was a one of the best tasks. I am used to giving presentation in college so its wasn’t hard at all. Initially everyone had to introduce them-self – Name, where are you from, what you doing/pursuing, about your father & mother and your hobbies in 30-40 Sec. I performed quite well. Topics were very easy, I spoke on 2nd topic and within around 2min 50sec I concluded my lecture.
HGT – Before starting the task our GTO asked us – How we wanted the groups to be divided? So some of us told 50%-50%, some told odd-even, some told first 5 and last five. So GTO divided the sub group into odd-even. I was very happy with my new group, it was the best group. Before going to task itself we decided that we will not run after helping material and first we will take few minutes to make a plan and then go ahead. As we reached near our obstacle, GTO explained the rules and showed us the obstacle. The obstacle looked hard but it wasn’t. We started discussing, no one got any ideas as to how to approach but I got idea and explained it to the group, they agreed and within 10minutes or maybe less than that we finished the task with everyone’s help. There was very little resistance from the group about following my ideas, as they were workable. It was really a superb task.
INTERVIEW – As soon as GTO task for day 1 was over, I had to report for my interview. I went to the 14 SSB Board where my interview was going to be held. One person was already inside the interviewer’s office. They didn’t allow me to change the dress as I was next. I waited in the room across the corridor. I sat there relaxed, took deep breaths, kicked everything out of my mind and was reading a magazine which was lying there on table. I told myself that I am going to meet my friend and not a interviewer. My interview went on for 35-45 minutes. It was good.
GTO Day 1 concluded very nicely. I was happy with my performance in GTO task and was feeling free as my interview was also over. I was free after 2:00pm, so after having lunch – 7 to 8 guys went to see the sangam and the ongoing Maha Kumbh Mela. It was nice, one thing all of us noticed in the city was the poor traffic management because of which we were almost late to go to the SSB center.
Around 7:00pm, our CHM sir came and told us the schedule for the next day. Later on we had dinner and went to sleep.
Day 4 – G.T.O 2 – 17/01/2013
I woke up at 5:00am, took bath. We all went to mess had breakfast, as usual bread and butter. Today it wasn’t cold at all. Very few of us wore sweater or jacket. By 7:00am we were in the GTO ground. We waited for sometime and then GTO arrived, briefed us about the various task we were going to do today.
COMMAND TASK – We all sat in the waiting shed near GTO ground, we were called randomly by GTO. My group-mates called me five times as a subordinate during the whole task. When I went as a subordinate, I kept quite and followed what the commander said – In one case I knew that I will fall if I go forward but still I did because the commander asked me to. But GTO interrupted and asked the commander – “if anything was wrong with the idea”, so he said – “it was unstable”. As a subordinate I help 3 to 4 commanders when they asked my help. When my turn came, initially GTO asked me few questions relating to my family background, etc. I was given a tricky task, in which I had to come out of a circle with all the helping material and my subordinates. I was able to find three ways to come out. In between I was stuck for a moment as GTO had turned most of things in blue, so I took my subordinates help and within time completed my task, nice and easy.
FGT – By now our group was completely united and had mutual understanding. So as soon as we were asked to start, I was going to pick us rope but one person said lets make a plan and then go ahead. So we started planning and after thinking for sometime I gave my plan meanwhile another friend came up with his plan to move ahead from left side. My plan was to move from right side. But somehow with the help of others I convinced my group to move from right side. Through out the task I was in front, exchanging ideas and applying them. When two of us reached in middle of the task GTO asked me what was my plan. I told him my plan, he said – “Its workable, your task is complete. Keep the material and go.”
INDIVIDUAL TASK – It was 9 or 9:30am, we were sitting in semi-circle. I was the second last person to go. Before starting itself GTO briefed us about obstacles and rules. We were given 30 seconds to organise/make a plan for ourself. All of us went around and decided the best suitable sequence in which we will be doing the obstacles. Once again we settled down on our chairs. It was little cold, we were shivering. There were ten obstacles – Tiger leap, Burma bridge, Double ditch, Commando walk, Tarzan swing, Screen jump, Balancing beam(Zig-zag), Double platform jump, Double barrel jump and Single ramp. When my turn came, I tightened my shoe lace and on whistle I went to Tarzan swing and cross-checked my plan. I started with tarzan swing, commando walk, double platform jump, screen jump, tiger leap, double barrel jump, double ditch, balancing beam, burma bridge, single ramp. Then I repeated commando walk, Tarzan swing, double platform jump, screen jump, double barrel jump. In total I did 15 obstacles. After finishing all the obstacles, I ran towards the waiting shed. I was completely breathless and my thighs gave up, I did little warm down exercise and took long breaths. That is where it ended. Now all of us did what we could, next thing we were thinking about what the three assessors will do. In-spite of all that, we planned to once again decided to visit the city. We visited Nehru’s House, Allahabad Museum, one Park and few other places. It was fun, we enjoyed our day and came back to the center. After having our dinner we all went to bed,
with hope to hear good news next day.
D-Day – Conference – 18/01/2013
Finally the day came, which all of us awaited eagerly. Previous day itself we were briefed about all the procedure of going in, coming out and saw the conference room also. Once again we packed our luggage and kept it in the waiting shed. Before conference started we went to the waiting room near conference room and few of us filled a feedback form. Soon after that, somewhere around 9:30am conference started in reverse order. First person was already in and I was second. When the first bell rang, it was scary.. I was little nervous & in a dilemma as to what is going to happen inside. While waiting I stopped thinking all that, took few deep breaths which helped me relax. First person came out within 5-10sec. Once again bell rang, I stood up, walked with all the confidence I had, pulled the door and went inside. Two officer’s were sitting in front. I stood in front of chair, wished good morning. I was asked to sit down. I thanked and sat.
These are the various question(with my reply) I was asked during my conference –
Q1. What was good during the past days, Sonu?
Ans. My GTO was good sir and I visited various places in the city, that’s what I found good.
Officer – “Tell us in detail..”
Sonu – In GTO, HGT was wonderful, the whole group was coordinating, we made plan and then proceeded further. We finished the task easily, in time. I gave many ideas in HGT and in final group also, which my group used and with good coordination we finished the task soon.
Officer – “Were you able to convince the group?”
Sonu – “Yes, I was able to convince my group. My ideas were workable and with good understanding, it happened easily. In command task, lecturette and individual obstacle also I performed well.”
Q2. What was bad during past days?
Ans. (I took few moments and said..) Nothing was actually bad, it was all good.
Officer – “No, where you think you could have done better ?”
Sonu – “I could have done better in GPE. It wasn’t that good, though I gave some solutions, the group was not able to discuss all the problems properly. I wanted to give more ideas but couldn’t.”
Officer – “Why were you not able to give the ideas, was there something wrong with the group or something else stopped you?”
Sonu – “The whole group was discussing the problems very actively. So, I didn’t want to disturb the group that’s why I didn’t give more ideas.”
Q3. You have attended SSB once before, so do you think, is there any difference in your last time performance and this time?
Ans. Yes sir, my experience this time is better than the last time. Because there was good coordination in this group. Last time I was nervous and lacked confidence but before coming to this SSB, I had practiced with my friends which really improved my performance.
Q4. How was your stay?
Ans. It was good, sir.
Q5. Do you want to give any suggestions, to improve SSB?
Ans. No, Sir.
Officer – “Thank you Sonu, you can go”.
Sonu – “Thank you sir. (I stood and came out..)”.
During the whole conference there was a smile on my face. As far as I know it went on for approximately 3 minutes only. Before I went inside the conference room, assessors took 3-5 minutes. After coming out I was feeling very light. During conference I wasn’t asked much questions, no SRT’s.. So I got little idea as to what is going to be the result. After everyone’s conference was over, which took a lot of time. Everyone one was dying to hear the result. We were sitting in Manoj Pandey Hall, after waiting for a long time.. finally one officer came. He told us not to loose heart if some of us don’t make it and many other things to motivate us. At last he told that out of 28, only 4 candidates got selected. He started announcing chest numbers… and asked the selected candidates to come and stand in front.. First number announced..(he was my collegemate).. second number announced..(my ncc battalion mate).. third number announced..(he was my best friend & bench mate since school).. Next and final chest number announced..(Yes!! It was me..)
First shock I got when first three numbers were announced as they were all my friends and second came as I, myself got selected. While I was walking towards front, my mind completely went blank, my heart was filled with so much emotions that I felt like crying and shouting.. but I controlled myself. We all congratulated each others silently, rest of the candidates left the hall. Officer congratulated us and briefed us about the further proceedings. Once he left, all four of us almost cried, shed few tears.. received our new(medical) chest numbers. It was completely a different feeling to wear that chest number with a ‘+’ mark on it. Even though I said so much about those last moments, but still I am not completely able to express that feeling.. of getting selected. You have to feel it yourself.
After getting the medical chest number we were not even given few minutes to speak to say goodbye to rest of the buddies who couldn’t make it this time and inform our loved one. We were asked to keep our luggage in new barrack and report back with our documents and then it started… filling up of forms.. OMG!! So many forms.. so many… Somehow all four of us filled the form. We were briefed about our medicals which will start next day.
Later while having dinner, all of us were looking at each other in amazement.. as to how this happened.. One friend who knew broken hindi, asked me – “Aisa kaise ho sakta hai..?” We all kept wondering.. Came back to our barracks and slept off by 10:00pm after chatting for a long time..
Medical Examination – 19 to 23/01/2013
We had to go for medical at 8:30am, so I woke up late. It was 8:00am but the weather outside was telling something else only.. As I looked out of the window, I saw nothing.. just fog.. more fog.. everywhere.. visibility was less than 8 meters. After getting ready we went to the Military Hospital..
Our medical was conducted in this order over next 4/5 days –
Day 1 – Blood test, Urine test, Chest x-ray, Ultrasound..
Day 2 – Ear, Nose & Tongue(ENT), Eye
Day 3 – Surgical
Day 4 – Eye, Dental
Day 5 – General Medical(Height, weight, blood pressure, heart beat) & Medical Conference
Once medical conference got over we were free to go home. So, in the evening we said goodbye to SSB Selection Center, Allahabad and boarded train to back to home.
Each and every time when we go to SSB its a complete different experience, for some of us it may/may not be good. But for me it was one of the best ever experience in my life. I will always remember these ten days, I spent in Allahabad. Best thing about SSB is you meet a lot of new people and you make new friends, so did I.
You can download my complete experience as a pdf book also – Download
I know it was too lengthy but It doesn’t end here, if you need the various GD topics, words from WAT and description of TAT pictures which came in my SSB, leave a comment and make sure you subscribe via email to stay tuned because I am going to write many more posts in coming days about my experience in the academy & life.
If you have any queries, suggestions or feedback please feel free to speak, use the comment form below. I would love to read your comments.