A TREATISE ON SERVICE SELECTION BOARD (SSB)

Based solely on my 6 day experience in batch D-AFCAT(M)/188 1 AFSB Dehradun in November, 2014. These are my own views on the service selection board and is intended to help the general public in a better understanding of the toughest military entrance exam in the world.

D-AFCAT(M)/188 1AFSB Dehrahun

INTRODUCTION

SSB can be looked upon as a rejection board, to create a foolproof system so that only those people pass through who can at least become an average officer. The converse of this is not true i.e. you may have a potential officer like qualities and maybe it so happens that you are not recommended by the board. It is important for the SSB to ensure that only the deserving candidates get through and nothing else, not even if it costs a few deserving candidates not getting selected.

This point must be kept in mind for all those patriots who want to get through SSB. They should keep trying and if you have it in you, sooner or later you will make it. The two people who were selected in my batch were both repeaters with a repeat count of 3 and 7 respectively.

Again this means that one person who gets recommended by the board once, may not get recommended the second time. I saw this happen first hand when one of the SSB cleared candidate got stuck in medicals the previous year and was repeating this year to get through. It came as a surprise to everyone when he didn’t got selected this time. This again brings our attention to the dynamic nature of SSB testing procedure.

OFFICER LIKE QUALITIES

What makes an officer? There is no clear answer to that, greatness is not defined. Rather we should be asking what to look for if a man has to be an average officer?

The answer lies in disciplinary conduct, leadership abilities and gaining trust of people. There is a very simple way to check if the person really has these qualities and is not faking them for one odd week. The motto for the SSB:

“Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action”                                                 

See how this test of character and personality brushes close to Buddha’s noble eightfold path. Do not confuse this with the studio album by Franz Ferdinand.

  1. Right thought ensures that you have the right bend of mind for serving in the armed forces. This is the most difficult aspect to project during the SSB. Make best use of the psychology test to let the board know about it. Be yourself, be practical.
  2. Right Speech comes right after right thought. The importance lies in communicating your thoughts effectively via verbal and body language. Language is no barrier as it is just as fine to speak freely in Hindi if you want to. The central idea is to let your thoughts out, let others see what’s going on in your head. This is the only way you will lead your team-mates by convincing them. So, just let your thoughts flow freely.
  3. Right Action is the most important aspect of the three. What you do defines you. How good are you at converting your thoughts and speech into live action. You may have a brilliant idea that you communicated well to your team but what good it does if you are not the first one to act on it? Therefore it becomes very important to have the will to see things thorough and not just make castles in air. A lot of guys were giving lot of suggestions but not acting on it, this behaviour goes very negatively on your scorecard. The SSB is not a test; it’s an evaluation of who you are.

These three qualities form the blocks for the pyramid of human character, with right thought as the base and right action on the top. In order to form a healthy pyramid, you must perform your actions which you have communicated properly which you had thought of initially. The pyramid would crumble if any of the blocks is weak. In order to grow your pyramid, make the base the strongest and grow on it. However, I hope that right thoughts would not be a big problem for all the patriots out there. You guys must be having an amazing base block, just build upon it to reach new heights in your personality.

DAY BY DAY WALKTHROUGH

DAY 1

Reporting time 6:45 p.m. near MCO at Dehradun Railway Station. Few officials will call out your id number followed by admit card verification and boarding the bus to AFSB. After reaching AFSB, you are provided with a light snack. Then people are grouped into teams based on id and repeater/fresher status and assigned a chest number. This follows with filling some basic info forms and 2 sets of OIT tests. The OIT (Officer’s intelligence test) gauges your quick decision making. Maintain your speed through some simple problem solving. After this follows the major attraction of the day, the picture perception and appreciation test. You will be shown a blurry image, make whatever story you want. Keep it practical, positive and concise. Remember you will have to convince others too in the group discussion that follows on the story you and others made out of the blurry picture. Figure out the main characters of the story, their mood, gender and age, give it a solid title and spin the yarn. It’s important that the story is practical, uses original ideas. In the group discussion that follows, wait for your turn and make a convincing story for others to hear with what you have written earlier as base material. The discussion which follows could be chaotic, try to find order in chaos. Avoid large hand movements and don’t be greedy. Applause good in others stories and encourage them. Make a concluding statement before GD is over. Don’t fight for the concluder status, support others if need be. It is a good idea to know the people of your group before hand and establish a connection.

The GD is a wild goose to catch. Give it all you got because this decides whether you stay or leave at the moment. Leave the room in order and wait anxiously. If you are selected for further testing, your chest number will be called off. If not, don’t lose your heart, improve upon yourself and keep trying.

In our batch 80 were selected out of 230 on the first screening test. This follows with lunch and document verification throughout the evening. Following the verification process, some of you may have to postpone their ssb due to lack of documents. Next up is the PIQ form to fill up. This is an important task for the day as your interview process depends heavily on the PIQ you fill up. It asks for basic personal information about you and your parents. Maintain a crisp documentation of your achievements. It is a good idea to remember the town population of where you live in. Give a lot of effort in filling up the form; it’s the last task of the day. Take your dinner and retire to your rooms after checking tomorrow’s schedule in the mess notice board. Get to know your roomies better, will be spending some awesome time with these guys.

DAY 2

Get up at 5:30 a.m. in the morning with the bell, get freshened up till 6:30 a.m. and approach to the mess for breakfast. Then, fall in at 7:15. After that, move to the respective task of your group. It could be in any order. In this breakdown I will stick to the routine I faced. We were taken to a hall in the morning for out psychology tests. This is basically a testing of your “Right thoughts” character.

It is important to follow your instincts as the test is going to be low on time. Also, get into the habit of writing English fast beforehand to cause undue repercussions.

The test begins with Picture perception test, where you are shown a series of pictures to write stories on (approx 4 min per picture) followed by an empty slide to make a story of your own. It may help to club all the pictures together into a grand story with various chapters with the main lead. However, that is not necessary and you can write whatever comes to your mind.

This is followed by WAT (word association test), which again tests your psychic instincts reaction to random array of words (approx 15 seconds per word). Again practice some beforehand to avoid a deadlock.

Next up is the killer for the day, the SRT (situation reaction test), which tests your reactions to a given situation (approx 30 seconds per sentence). Don’t get fiddly; just write a small line expressing what you ought to do when faced with a situation like that. Don’t over think it, just write what comes naturally and let it flow dude. Remember, this will be the last and toughest test for day 2, act like it. Give it your 100 percent.

After this you will need to write about yourself. This procedure will check how you perceive yourself and how you think others perceive you, do you know your weakness (which is imperative if you want to improve). Be true to yourself and write off the ups and downs of your life. It’s your life, make it large.

DAY 3

After the fall-in, I had all the day to myself. This was my day off. In general, everyone will get a day off in the whole SSB week. Make use of this to play games, interact with friends, roam the town and relax. However, be disciplinary soldier. Have all the fun you want, don’t break any rules.

DAY 4

Our Group tasks were scheduled for day 4. You and your team need to perform today at their peaks. The people for your group task will be the same people you have been living in a room with. The interaction you had with them in the previous days will play a large hand in today’s proceedings. The dress code for the GT is white shirt, shorts and PT shoes with white socks. After the fall-in, your team will be taken to your assigned room where you will meet your personal GTO. He will instruct you about the rules of the game which will follow. After a crisp self-description, the initial task of group discussion will start. Remember that this is a test of your “Right speech” personality character; be confident to say what you are thinking about. The GTO will present you with two topics for a discussion and your team has to mutually decide on one. Don’t let anyone make a call for the whole group without consultation. The sanity rules apply for any discussion at hand. This will follow with a discussion with a topic suggested by the GTO himself.

Following the second discussion, a situation will be presented to your team and everyone has to write an individual solution as to how to resolve the issue at hand using the group resources available. After this, you will have to discuss within yourselves to reach a conclusion as to how to solve the issue at hand. Gentlemen, it’s of utmost importance that someone concludes in a correct fashion, it doesn’t matter who does that.

After the hoop-hula of group discussions, move on to the “Right action” personality testing. The following task involves efficient communication and physical activeness in the task. Do what you say. You will be instructed about how to approach the obstacles. In general, you will be provided with a plank, a bamboo, a rope and a package which need to be transported across obstacles along with all the members of the team. You will have to imagine that there is wide gap in the ground between you and your objective position and the only way to get there is using the structures in between. Maintain teamwork and cross the obstacles. Once again, remember to do what you say. After a series of full group tasks, you will be moving on to half-group tasks at hand, with a better chance of making your opinions heard. This is followed by a command task where you will command one or two of your teammates to cross the obstacle. Make sure that in the command task, you are the last one to leave the start point and the last one to reach the destination point. It is also imperative to get called for a few command tasks by others too, as this shows the level of trust your teammates have in you.

Next up is the individual obstacle task, warm up fellas. This is the last and toughest task of the day. This task will test your individual athletic abilities and self-confidence. Get through the obstacles in a fashion most suitable to you. Remember to make safety your primary concern, use a logical approach to the tasks. A dead leader is no good to the force. I have classified the tasks into two categories: high strength/ low time and low strength/high time. A good strategy would be to do these in alternate sequence to allow the body some rest to get ready for the next push. For example, one could perform the rope climb followed by Burma Bridge. You have exactly three minutes to tackle the 10 obstacles in whatever fashion you want. A brief about the obstacles is presented below in the order of increasing difficulty and points:

  1. Long Jump: Run up to a ramp and jump off to cover a distance and land on the soil ahead
  2. High Jump: Jump over a 2 feet high level
  3. Balancing on the log: Walk over a horizontal log balancing yourself, go slow
  4. Tire go through: Hold the hanging tyre with your hands and go through it leg first
  5. Monkey Crawl: Crawl over a hanging log, remember to face towards the direction of climb
  6. Burma Bridge: Two set of ropes hanging at a height, walk through the ropes using your arms and feet
  7. Wall Climb: Climb over a 6 foot wall, use the jump action on the plank to leverage yourself above the wall
  8. Jump of faith: Climb over a high platform, jump to a lower platform maintaining balance. Finally, jump to the ground.
  9. Tiger Leap: Climb over a high platform and jump to catch hold of a suspended rope. Remember to use your feet for added friction on the rope, crawl down slowly.
  10. Rope climb: Rise up the same rope, touch the upper pole and then descend down. Preferably, watch a YouTube video on how to climb on a rope to get the technique right.

After the individual tasks are complete, you will move back together to be briefed by the GTO about the tasks to follow: personal interviews and conference. That’s it for the day, have a nice meal and doze off. You will be tired.

DAY 5

Rise and shine to get face to face with the interviewer. Get ready in your formal attire; use the laundry facilities beforehand in case of a dirty piece. Wait for your turn with the interviewer. Remember to practise how to tell the PIQ description to the interviewer. That is all. The way you tell your story to the interviewer will tell him about what you consider important and what you do not. Some basic GK questions and basic general awareness will be an icing to the cake. This interview is to test your “Right Speech” character. Say what you think and don’t try to fabricate the truth. This is the only test for today.

DAY 6

Ah, the much awaited conference day is here. Rise up, dress, have breakfast and fall-in with your packed luggage. It may feel bad to leave this wonderful place but keep moving. Next up, you will be walked in to the conference hall one by one. This room will decide your fate with the president’s seal. However, there is not much that will change at this point as the decision of recommendation has been taken already. The only chance is in case of conflict between members of the board, in which case the president of the board has the final call. Act confident and enter the room, greet everyone and face towards the officer who is talking to you. After the brief chat, leave the room confidently. This will mark the end of SSB journey for most of you but don’t lose hope as the majority of the recommendations go to the repeaters only. You will be taken to a hall where the officer in charge will declare the results of the board. Wish those lucky bastards a happy life ahead and move on with your journey.

WORDS OF CAUTION

  • Do not look at the officers conducting the exams. They are there to judge you in a neutral environment and not the other way round. If it were possible they would like it better to view you via camera and microphones but that is more advanced. Hence, assume the officers are invisible when the exam starts.
  • You will be monitored for disciplinary conduct throughout the stay at the board, sometimes without you being aware that someone is noticing. Keep your natural conduct at all times. Don’t even think of hacking the system. Chances are, you will fail.
  • While having a pyramidical personality structure is healthy, you have more chances of getting recommended if you project a rectangular personality structure where all the thoughts are communicated and all the communication converts into action. This is an impossible case but try to achieve this.
  • You will be hearing a lot of bullshit in the 5 days of stay at SSB from other batch mates. Listen and have fun but don’t let the bullshit get into you.
  • Some conspiracy theorists have pointed out that all the mirrors in the SSB have been fitted with cameras and that hostel rooms have been bugged with microphones. Something to think about.

RANDOM POINTERS

  • Use the opportunity to visit the nearby attractions with friends, don’t overdo it though. Follow the book in and book out timings
  • You can avail STD and internet facilities inside the hostels too
  • Get a batch photograph clicked, you won’t regret it
  • Lots of sports to play in free time, which you will get a lot of. Definitely, learn to play pool from the experts.
  • Follow the lights out timings, it can be difficult to convince everyone but try.
  • Go see the Indian Military Academy; it’s a place out of nowhere.
  • The SSB is a great learning experience in team work, leadership and general confidence. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, don’t miss it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Abhishek Ghosh. I hail from a small town by the river Ganga called Batanagar, in the state of West Bengal. My dad is an Airmen in Indian Air Force and with him I have been travelling across the length and breadth of India while growing up. After the boards, I joined IIT Ropar to study Mechanical Engineering. As part of my internship, I have worked on simulation of detonators in Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory, DRDO. Currently I am working on cool simulation projects in an upcoming major R&D hub TimeTooth Technologies in Noida. I too like you dream about donning the uniform one day.

Beetel 450TC2: Reliance Broadband Setup

I recently got the 2 Mbps broadband plan from reliance to upgrade my existing Airtel Broadband connection. The setup was all smooth until the wi-fi issue crept in. The reliance guys provided me with this netis wired router:

IMG_20141026_144138897

which is of no good use for a wi-fi setup (essential). I had the old beetel 450TC2 modem+ router supplied with Airtel connection on me and asked the guy to configure it instead. He started asking money for this shit. The beetel router I am working on is shown below.

IMG_20141026_143953854

So I said, fuck this shit and went on setting it up myself. (Fuck this broadband war b/w reliance & airtel).


Here is a step by step guide on how to do it yourself:

Assumptions : You have a working internet connection established on the good for nothing netis router and your beetel router is supplied by airtel (had a working internet connection established). Also, save this firmware file on your PC before starting the setup: firmware

  1. Reset the beetel router: Switch on the router. Press the reset button on the back side of the router with a needle/toothpick and keep it pressed for about a minute.
  2. Connect to PC: Connect the reset router to your PC via  an Ethernet cable. Open your browser and type into your address bar “192.168.1.1“.Login using id: “admin” , password: “password“. You should be inside the router interface.
  3. Upgrade firmware on beetel router: Time to use the earlier saved firmware file. Go to the maintenance tab and click on Firmware sub tab. Click the choose file for uploading firmware and select the earlier saved file. Press the button below to upgrade firmware. It will take a  few minutes.
  4. Reset the beetel again: After the upgrade, perform another reset as mentioned in step 1 ( or through the router software interface ).
  5. Setup the beetel: Login  to the router using  id: “admin” , password: “admin“. Go to the quick start tab and run the startup wizard. Set your time zone to GMT +05:30 and click next , select your ip connection as dynamic ip and click next , change the vpi to 0 and vci to 35 (leave everything else unchanged) and click next, set your ssid and password for the wi-fi connection and click next. DONE!
  6. Enjoy: Connect the broadband DSL wire to the router and type : “reliancebroadband.co.in” . Enter your credentials and you are good to go. Connect to wi-fi with another device.

That’s it folks!

Destination Srinagar

It was the morning of 9th May, 2013.

*****

I woke up instinctively before the alarm could buzz off. I had been through hundreds of mornings in that place. A typical routine: “ The alarm goes off, I wake up to the noise and switch it off before my roomie (Shashank) gets up. I quickly get ready and dash off for my classes while my mate is busy in yoga sessions. After spending a few hours on studies, I come back for lunch and then move again for the practical sessions. Finally, after a hard days work I stroll by the canal with friends and spend the rest of the night playing games, watching movies or chatting with friends.”

However this morning was different from all those, there was no hurry. It seemed like I could wait for an eternity. This was my last morning in this abode (IIT Ropar). Four years lived and now it was time for goodbye. Whatever begins one day has to end some other day.

        I packed my bags, bid farewell to whoever was awake and left my abode, without looking back. Cause if I even looked back once, moving forward would have been ten times difficult. With memories swarming in my mind, pulling myself and my luggage, I reached the main gate for my final check out.

*****

The Chandigarh airport was pretty crowded at my arrival but soon became empty after a few takeoffs. After a wait of an hour I boarded the SG121 for Srinagar. I had heard a lot about this place, both from my parents and from the news and was excited about the journey. The skies started clearing off and I could see majestic mountain ranges with snowy tributaries. Across these ranges, there rests a valley, the Srinagar valley. The jet began to descend as it was about to land. It was time to check out this heaven on earth.  

*****

It was pretty cool (relative to the weather at Chandigarh) with the thermo at 23 degree Celsius.  There were mountains all around and in the middle lies this valley which I was standing on. The Airport is located inside the Air Force Base, which in turn is located inside the Army Base. Hence, security is very tight. My dad was there to pick me up and soon I reached my home.

           Due to obvious reasons, I can’t divulge many details in my description here but I will try to give you a glimpse of the region. First comes the airport itself, due to its closeness with the base, the runway is open for transportation. Some of the best memories of Srinagar are those of riding my bike parallel to the runway and competing with the Boeing 747’s taking-off/ Landing. Planes taking off into the sky just like WE are going to reach the skies now (Graduation Over).

The city needs no description. Its beauty is beyond compare and no words can describe it, only way for you to know is to visit this heaven for yourself. But in spite of this fathomless beauty, Srinagar also bears some deep sorrows in itself.

           Just the day when I arrived, I heard news of 3 Jawans being killed by terrorists. The irony of the situation is a common fact for the residents. On every crossroad one can see Armed Army Jawans patrolling the region. On top of tall buildings are snipers with the “00” authority. This is no movie I am talking about, they have got the license to kill – “Shoot at Sight for any suspicious activity”. All this security can beat the crap out of even Hitman and seems scary at times but just one look at the horizon and one’s mind is soothed by the beautiful scene.

           “AJEET HAI, ABHEET HAI” is the sign you can read inscribed on the mountain pass bordering the army base. Human determination is after all very powerful. The soldiers are determined and the militants are also not giving way. Only time will tell…..

Fast Recovery from Bone Fracture

How to recover from a bone fracture fast

My leg has been fractured for about three months and during this whole duration of time, I have been trying to find out ways so that the healing process could be accelerated. This blog contains all that I have come to know about healing of bone fractures.

Before beginning, I would like to make a point here. I assume that you belong to that 99% of the population who cannot afford those high medical facilities; because otherwise you won’t be reading this in the first place. The techniques which I’m about to disclose right now are meant for the common folks who do not have such high-handed access to superb medical facilities of the 21st century. The crux is: maybe there exists some kind of medicine which can heal you right in a month and the natural ways are not even close to that speed.

So these are my four commandments:

1.       Nutrition

Whenever the fracture occurs, our body readily tries to heal it up. This process consumes a lot of resources and food is the only hope. Therefore, eat lots of food. Consider the healing process as a marathon going on. The runner needs lots of energy to keep on going. If you don’t provide that energy, your runner is going to slack and the healing process is going to take forever. So eat heartily.

2.       Calcium

Now, the bones are made of calcium, we all know that. It only makes perfect sense that to repair those broken bones you need a lot of calcium. So, go for the natural resources: milk, curd, search the web.

One important thing to keep in mind is eating calcium won’t solve the problem completely, your body needs to absorb it; primarily the region that has been fractured. For this you need vitamin D.

3.       Sunlight

Vitamin D is generated in our body through sunlight absorption. I would suggest that get outside as much as you can and bake yourself. I also figured a technique which would ensure daily minimum requirements of vitamin D. Sleep in such a position that the morning sunshine through the window falls directly on the broken part of your body. In this way, you will unconsciously absorb enough vitamin D every single day before you even wake up.

*If your calcium tablet already contains vitamin D supplements, then forget about the sunlight part.

4.       Exercise

Start three weeks after you fractured your bone. Perform some resistance training involving the fractured part. Do this kind of an exercise once a week, not more than that. It’s very important that you don’t overdo because you may screw yourself even worse. Many doctors would not suggest this kind of a routine but my experience tells me otherwise. If you perform this kind of a routine exercise, you stimulate the broken part, employing blood flow through that part (rich of nutrition) and may be cause some pain too. This in turn stimulates the secretion of healing juices which will ensure that the healing process is taking place fast. However, do not overdo the exercise. Remember, we’re talking about just simulating the part and not working out.

5.       Ligament Juice of Goat

This is not a tested idea and hence not in my commandments but it’s still worth a try. Follow this at your own risk. Some of the tribal folks here believe that drinking the ligament juice of goat can speed up the healing process. They give examples of people who had a two-month fracture and were relieved within three weeks. Now that’s intimidating and I wanted to try it out but I didn’t know about the time I will have to wait for the healing process to complete. If I had knew that it is going to take so long then I would have surely went for the goat.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

I’m currently three months through my bone fracture and still not fit to run. So guys do follow these steps from day one as sincerely as you can and save precious time of free running. Surely you don’t want to be a sitting duck for long. I would love to have your recovery stories in the comments and whether you were able to outperform the Doctor duration.

//            What Doesn’t Kills You Makes You Strong             //

The Third Leg

The morning sunshine broke through the window; my blanket was drenched with sweat. Electricity was out the whole previous night and the Chandigarh heat took its toll on us. You don’t want to wake up in a small room with no cooling in it, this was our present scenario. The unpleasant wake-up call was followed by morning routine, bathing and eating. Up next, we waited for the auto down the streets.

The plan was set, I was to go for simulation in bond graph theory and Manish would take care of the molecular dynamics problem. Soon we reached the place, as arid as ever. Special buses were entering through the gate meant only for the DRDO personnel. Our buddies were waiting for us. After showing some ID proof, we marched in to meet our destiny. Contrary to what I had thought earlier, the project assignment didn’t require much of an argument. The scientist was ready to go with what we had thought and told us the details of those projects. [By the way, the project work is classified and cannot be disclosed].

The doctor made it clear that this can work as a virtual internship and there was no need for us to stay at Chandigarh. This news was good for me as I would get some rest time at home and pursue the project from there only. But Manish really wanted some labour work and was not happy with the decision. The guys at the ATF section where given a working project, such that they would be coming to TBRL every day.

So, that was it. The travelling part of our internship was over and over for good. I met all my mates the next day and then went off to bhatinda. Boy, was I glad? Totally! I spent the next few months modeling and simulating the X-phenomenon. It’s a lot of work and the results are not so good yet but I consider myself lucky for this event. There’s no place like home.

It seems that this third leg marked the end of the typical internship which my fellow mates will be performing this summer. Right now, I’m sitting in an air-conditioned room, chilling out, playing games, doing new stuff and working whenever I feel like. No one can argue, this is the best part of a virtual internship.

If you are reading my blog to get some insight into the working of this defence organization and whether it is a good idea to go there? , then what I would suggest is that, it’s worth the bargain. You get few very experienced people around you in addition to the usual huge pool of novices. Who knows, maybe you can even get a paper published or even get a call from NASA {this bit was added by my mentor}. Anyways, if you got the passion and are willing to do hard work this is just the right place for you. I don’t know whether I will be able to complete this project or not, but some of the experience gained here will surely come handy all the way.

2Day

May 7, 2012

Mixed emotions craving through my head, a sense of joy and the fear of the unknown.

The morning sunshine broke my sleep and I glanced at the bedside clock ‘it was seven’, woke up well before the alarm time. Manish was also up, staring at the window. Maybe its natural for such emotions to emerge in this kind of a situation, start of a new adventure.

We got ready for the proceedings of the day, starting with an auto ride to TBRL. The streets were filled with various auto mobiles  jostling their way through the morning traffic. The route was the same as earlier but the environment represented morning freshness. We also saw a Mini Cooper on the Indian roads for the first time.

After a half an hour ride, we reached our destination. Today the place looked quite active. Many buses entered the region and many came out. The guard pointed us to the visitor’s room and told us to wait. The room was a sort of reunion with the other Roparians waiting inside. They were also showing signs of mixed emotions. After some talk and id proofing, we were sent to the HRD Department. “So you are from IIT Ropar, students don’t get much internships here but you are lucky. The orders are straight from above.” these were the words of the head official at HRD who greeted us. After some paperwork and thumb impressions, it was time to allocate departments to the intern trainees. I informed him about the condition of my leg and to my relief; he showed compassion by setting me up in the metallurgy department. “You will be given some sitting work”, said the head official. Next he allocated the departments to my fellows, one in metallurgy, two in ATF, one in Baffle. One of my pals is from Kashmir. When the official was allocating the departments, he cried out “Who is from Kashmir?”  and the look on my mate’s face was priceless. But soon enough the tension eased as the official added, “Just for the records”.

After that we parted ways and went in for what we supposed some real work. The metallurgy department was not far from the HRD Department. I walked down the road, crossed a corner and there was it “VAJRA”. It’s the official name for metallurgy department and even has a full-form. I met my guide in one of the rooms. He gave us a warm welcome and soon got to the point. “Doing a project for just two months is pointless, it won’t lead to any productive work. I suggest you to extend these projects as your B.Tech Projects and continue working throughout the year. The chances of success are much higher that way.”, his conviction in this regard made us thoughtful. He presented two projects, one on molecular dynamics for exploding bridge wire and the other on implementing Bond graph theory to detonation dynamics. The topics were new to us and time was needed to reach a final decision. The scientist then presented us a piece of advice – “Go for a M.S. after your graduation from a foreign institute and it will be all fine afterwards. If you work hard on these projects, you will surely get great results.” After some further talk, we were given leave for the day.

Next we moved to the library to check out some material and then went to the canteen to have our lunch. After that, we came back to our NAC den. The day has been easy and the work is quite interesting. Many night hours were spent deciding which project to take. My mate seemed to like the molecular dynamics version as it would be under a professor in our own collage, so he won’t have to move around a lot. This was fine with me as the bond graph theory seemed interesting to me and I don’t mind making a few trips to NIT Jalandhar . So, in this way all was set. We also sought advice from collage professors about the BTP conversion and got positive response.

Tomorrow we shall be receiving some specialized work in the respective areas.

FIRSTEP

Internship at Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL) , Village Ramgarh, Haryana

May 6, 2012

Yesterday I reached this reverend place, Chandigarh. After a lot of calculations in my mind and tons of waiting hours, the destination has been finally reached. I am here with my mom, dad and my internmate Manish Anand. The place is hot and dry, situated in the remotest place possible. I have been able to view the boundary walls only for today but I hope to explore more tomorrow.

Twenty days have passed since I fractured my left foot. All this time I was busy in playing games and writing the end sem exams but now a whole new scenario has emerged. “The foot must be getting good, get some rest and you will be fine” these were the lines of Dr. Samir Siddiq ( Ortheopadics Specialist ), which I believed whole heartedly but the present status of my foot pain tells me otherwise.

Me and some of my pals have been selected for internship at TBRL, one of the defence laboratories of India, considered to be institution of national importance. The lucky people are – Manish Anand, Lalit Aggarwal, Ankush Kumar, Jyotiraj Thakuria and Harshpreet Singh. Jyotiraj backed out at the last moment and went to guwahati for the internship. He had valid reasons for the switch; it is his hometown. The rest of the pack is required to complete 50 working days internship at TBRL. Now I must say 50 working days converts to 70 normal days ( Saturday and Sunday are free days ), which means a toil of a little over two months. The official reporting date is May 7, 2012 i.e. tomorrow.

I was thinking all the time that my leg would get well till the startup date but the reality is not meant for faint hearted. Its definitely better than earlier but gives me creeps while walking. Still, I am determined to make this internship a success by pulling up all the green will I have. The stake is too high for me to back off. Money estimates has put the expenditures to about 10000 INR per month. The travel will take almost 2 hours each day and you have to also live in a very congested house with three beds and no room to move in, thanks to mr. lalit (internmate) and the esteemed landlord mr. avinash garg. The present address of stay is house no.- 136, NAC Area, Moneymajra,Chandigarh.

This city is quite costly with respect to the IIT Ropar standards that I have been molded into for the past three years. A good thing about the place is the tiffin system operating here, 3 time meals right at your doorstep; what else do you want? I had my own doubts about the food but the lunch eased those thoughts of mine and after all this hoop and holla, I was finally feeling happy about something. The room has been bought to life with the efforts of my mom and dad, all neat and clean, goods stored at their right places and certain essential protocols formed for the conduct of me and my roomie in the future.

An auto was fixed for making daily trips to TBRL and then we went to visit the actual site.

15 km is a negligible distance when you hear about it from someone but when you are traveling the route two times a day daily, the gravity of the situation emerges out. The auto passed through many corners and circles and reached the boundary of NAC (non-affiliated chandigarh). It’s a strange name to think of, just like the boundary reigon between India- Pakistan, this territory was also controversial in ownership. Now, the chandigarh reigon was well- developed with a host of buildings. One of them, the Shalimar mall was a distinguishable feature on the route. After passing the boundary we were in haryana marked by several posters of the Hudda Government. The place was called Ramgarh, home of TBRL. It’s a village and marked by fallow land lying unused, waste-dumping sites and a dried up river. Industrialization didn’t reached this part of the map, the tail has been cut-off at NAC.

The place was isolated and fit for defence establishments. The reigon also houses Tibetian Border Secuirity Force, the roadside view shows young men performing various drills like climbing ropes, running and even martial arts. Passing this point there was Tribune Vihar, a residential area and finally comes up a TBRL sign board followed by the main gate. The place was huge and from the records it spreads over 5500 square kms. The reception at the main gate was not very warm. “Intern trainees to report tomorrow, you can’t enter today. No accommodation or bus facility available for trainees.” I was a bit cranked at this point but the advice of seniors “You can’t expect any help from the government organizations like DRDO, you have to work on your own there.” calmed me down. We made an inquiry about any accommodation available nearby as the 15 km ride will be heavy on our time and pockets. The guard was clueless about any spot but showed us an advertisement on the newspaper regarding a PG in Panchkula. We left TBRL for the first time, without even entering inside but with a question in mind,”What’s that white chimney like thing ?”, a tall and wide cylindrical structure stood near the secuirity department of TBRL. Even the guards were clueless about the structure.

The search started, after half an hour of phone calls we got something. The landlord came and showed us the way to the spot. The place was spacious enough for five students but the back side of the coin was the location of the house, inspite of being close to TBRL there were secuirity considerations in the house. Nevertheless, rather than spending two months in a kabutar kahana, its better to deal with some secuirity issues but my roomie thinks otherwise. Even with comparable prices we could not move because the landlord was paid in advance and was not willing to let us go before the end of the month. Hence, I was stuck in manimajra. The rooms not that bad, we got a TV, Fridge, Washing machine and a desert cooler.

Time passed by and the dinner tiffin arrived on time. Opening my crepe bandage and feeling the surge of blood flow through the veins of my foot, I enjoyed my dinner. New challenges await tomorrow, my first official visit to TBRL Chandigarh.