It was not easy. But if you can dream it! Work for it. And You can achieve it! Recommended in 4th attempt after 3 screened out attempts!
Hello to all future GCs and LCs, I am Saswat Dalai from Balasore, Odisha. Taking about my famiy, my parents are professors and my elder sister is working in TCS as IT analyst. So hailing from a complete Civilian background and from a state where there is not much interest for getting into defence, yes… It was difficult to make people understand and believe in your dreams. But I did it and I achieved it. I was recommended by 17 SSB Bangalore in SSC Tech-50 for OTA commencing from April 2018.
This was my 4th SSB Attempt and in all three previous attempts I was screened Out from Bhopal, Allahabad and Bangalore (33 SSB, 19 SSB and 24 SSB respectively). I really respect those people who come with the same josh even after 10-12 unsuccessful attempts. But one thing I learnt over time is, SSB process is something you learn a lot about yourself and that nobody can teach you and when you return home after a SSB experience you are never the same person that you used to be.
So My 4th attempt was different from other three attempts. I did meditation and that helped me a lot in my introspection process and if my SSB friends remember I used to write mistakes that I have made and I try to rectify them to become a better person. This time I went with the hope to get Screened in at least because it was kind of a frustrating feeling after getting 3 times Screened out one after other(March, June, July). In my whole SSB preparation phase, I am thankful to my family especially my elder sister who stayed with me motivating and helping me in my preparations, some true friends who believed in my dreams and always kept telling me I can and I will do it one day and the almighty for my success.
Now comes one among the best ever experiences happened to me ever in my life.
20th October, 2017:
It was raining heavily in Bhubaneswar when I started for Bangalore by Prasanthi Express early in the morning. When I started my journey I didn’t expect anything I just wanted to get selected in and didn’t want to come back early this time. I had given IB exam on 15th And after that didn’t get much time for preparation so was thinking that I shouldn’t had given IB as I wasted my time. Train journey was a boring one. I met one guy though who was also going for the SSB.
21st October, 2017
I reached Bangalore. I stayed in my friend’s flat where I stayed last time when I came for SSB in Bangalore. This time I told them on that day I don’t know why I am feeling I will clear it this time only. (Might have told to stay positive). They are the ones who always supported me throughout the journey.
22nd October, 2017:
I went to the Selection Centre South directly and waited in the canteen for the bus to come with the candidates from railway station. 193 candidates reported in total and only 2 were freshers. We got 17 SSB as our board and I was little happy as 17 is my favourite number being my DOB. We got our documents verified, Got chest numbers and Briefing by the officials were completed by evening. I got chest number 27.
It was screening day. Most awaited one. I just prayed God that this time however I had prepared at that particular time I will give my best and rest depends upon you. Because we should not worry about something which we can’t control So We should do our Karma and Rest depends upon the almighty! The OIR was easy, I did all and I think 98 or 99 were correct out of 100 for sure. Next was PPDT.
We got a picture where it was a village background with some huts in background and 4 women were there. Two of them were carrying something on their heads and talking with the other two women and one person was in background whom I had taken as my central character and made that as a male character. I made a story with the theme of “Selling of handloom and terracotta products and Entrepreneurship.” Then after 10 minutes they called our group for narration and discussion. My story was different from others and Most of them made story on some village problems like water or drought or something else. I defended myself in discussion with strong reasons and took the group towards making a common story.
NOTE: In PPDT, Perceive the picture with a detailed observation. While narration Keep your voice loud and clear and stay confident at your body posture. While discussion Try to put your points by staying cool calm and composed. And Keep smiling in the most adverse of situations. Prepare for the worst and Hope for the best.
26 candidates including me were screened in from a total of 193 candidates reported. And we were divided into 3 groups. Documentation process and filling up PIQ form were over by evening and we were provided new accommodation. I got a new chest number of 11.
24th October, 2017:
It was Psych day. 1st part was TAT. I wrote all good stories which can happen in real life and projecting my OLQs. 12th Story I had 2/3 my own life experiences in mind where I have shown the best of my OLQs. I wrote one story depicting how we worked for one documentary. 2nd part was WAT and I did 59/60 and wrote most high weight sentences and some factual or neutral sentences. One word I couldn’t write was “Mend”. I couldn’t remember the meaning and hence couldn’t apply there. We were given a small break. And the 3rd part was SRT. We were given a booklet of 60 situations and I did 32/60 which was the lowest among my friends at SSB perhaps! But I knew quantity doesn’t matter and quality does! SD was not actually a test I can say! It was description of self in 5 paragraphs and I stayed honest and wrote what I got to know from my family, friends, teachers and my previous employer TCS people. Overall I can say my Psych assessment was okay and I was happy as I gave my best with limited time preparation.
NOTE: In Psych, Try to project your own OLQs. So before that know yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses. In SD stay honest and never ever contradict anything. If you are caught with a contradiction anywhere there is a very low chance that they take a liar into Armed forces. (My own opinion).
Around 20 people had their interviews on the Psych day and 6 of us were left to be interviewed on 3rd and 4th day of SSB.
25th October, 2017:
It was 1st day of GTO and I was praying God that I should get some topics in GD and Lecturette which I know because my preparation for GTO was not good. 1st task of GTO Day 1 was Group Discussion and we discussed on “In which field Human has advanced the most? Nuclear energy/Solar energy/Communication” and “In India everywhere you will find garbage. Who is responsible for it? Indian Mentality/Administration/Education system.” Discussion was good because in our group all of us were screened in for the first time. But in GPE it was a fish market and didn’t arrive at a common solution. But I took advantage of few microseconds and tried to take group into a feasible solution.
After that 3rd task was PGT. As I was the most lightweight in my group, so my teammates always used to send me forward and I was constantly giving workable ideas and was working with my teammates to cross the obstacles as soon as possible. In HGT also we completed the task in quickest possible time. The next task was Group Obstacle Race/Snake Race. Till then we built a good co-operation among ourselves and planned accordingly how to arrange during race. Our war cry was “Bharat Mata ki Jay”, I think I was shouting at the top of my voice in it. It was full of fun and unforgettable memories.
One is how I got trapped in Spider Web and how I sat on Chest No 17’s shoulders when I asked him to lift me up. 😀 These moments I am going to cherish for a lifetime. And Yes, I forgot in GPE when GTO asked to give the group solution for GPE, Chest No 14 suggested Chest no 15 to give the solution and he gave the solution as “Sir 1st we will send three of our members to help the Pujari to collect woods for Havan! GTO was laughing inside!”
The last task of the day was Lecturette. I got 4 topics in my card and honestly I didn’t have any idea till 1-2 minutes of preparation on which topic I am going to talk. But I chose “Sting Operation.” And gave a confident talk for 2.5 minutes. 4 people had their interviews on that day and only two of us had interviews on 2nd day of GTO.
NOTE: For GD and Lecturette, Read a lot and acquire knowledge as much as possible. For Group tasks, never be a passive member. Work as a team. Same case happens for Snake race. Help people and moreover enjoy the tasks.
26th October, 2017:
In morning, we had a good warm-up for 2nd day of GTO. 1st task was Individual Obstacles. The evening before GTO day 2, I was little confused about whether I can do Tiger leap or not. But I am really thankful to the Navy service candidates there who had a good time with us in those evenings and gave us a lot of information as well motivation. In IO, I started with Screen Jump, but accidentally I didn’t jump and it was a filmy style accident over sand there. 😀 Though I did only 6/10 obstacles, I enjoyed them. Till now I remember how Chest no 18 was teasing me after IO. “You don’t drink, you don’t smoke Still you did only 6? How?!” Because all of my groupmates did 10 or 10+ obstacles and for a moment I was thinking maybe I am not going to get recommended because of this. I just wanted to perform well in rest tasks and in my interview.
Next task was Command Task. During interaction GTO asked me “Why you left your job at TCS”, “why don’t you want to be a professor like your parents?” I answered both question calmly “Sir, I don’t like to do an easy job from 9 to 5” I called Chest No 9 and 16. Our GTO was like he was not allowing us to complete it. He stopped me also and asked the solution and I made him understand. I think one small mistake I made there in CT is I stopped commanding in the mid and took little more time to take a decision. The last task of GTO was FGT. It looked very easy for me and I gave the solution and while everyone of us was crossing the obstacles and then GTO stopped us and asked “do you all think you can cross this way?” We agreed and then I even don’t know why our GTO made us stand in a semi-circle and gave a small speech stating our performance was not impressive and in the mid of his speech he also stated that “..In this age group of 20-24 you are doing 5-6 obstacles and you think you can clear SSB. Even if you clear and reach academy you will not be useful to society or nation.” I knew well he was pointing me in this as he saw how I didn’t jump in screen jump and fell. After his 40 minutes of speech is over, the CHM told me to go to interview in the same GTO dress. (For this reason I didn’t do Double ditch in IO because accidentally if I fall in water, Still I have to go to interview in same dress!
NOTE: In IO, It’s a test of stamina. True. But it’s also a test of speed of decision. So choose wisely which tasks you need to complete 1st. In CT, Choose your subordinates well. Know their potential and call accordingly. In FGT, Same thing as PGT and HGT.
When I reached for interview, the attendant asked me if I can change and come in 15 minutes. I came back and I had been sent for interview. It was the board president of 17 SSB and He was also Commandant of Selection Centre South. When I entered the room, He greeted me and asked me about my 2nd day GTO experience. He also asked me about my hometown Balasore and asked why it’s famous. When I replied “Famous as Missile city of India”, then he started asking questions about missiles. He asked most questions from my PIQ form. Perhaps he asked 20-25 minutes about Photography. Then he told “it’s something very different from everyone else’s PIQ. What is this E-Sports?” Then, he asked questions like okay which games you do play? What is the scope? What are your achievements? He asked me one question which was asked me in conference too, “How playing Counter-Strike helped you in SSB and how it will help you being in Armed forces?” About E Sports, he asked several questions for again 20-25 minutes. Then He started asking questions about painting, football and family. He also asked questions like what you know about Indian Army, Which regiment you want to join, Being an engineer can you join PARA SF, If Yes; how, ideally which regiment you should join, What you know about Corps of Engineers, What is the role of Corps of Signals, What is EMF and how it’s used in battlefield. Apart from this he asked me about national issues and to which national issue I will give more weightage. He also asked me about international issues that I know. 3 questions were there which I couldn’t answer during my interview viz. Qatar issue, Turkey issue and Manipur issue. The interview lasted for more than 1 hour 30 minutes and at the end the interviewer asked me about two of my strengths and two things I want to improve and also wished me good luck for the conference.
NOTE: As I have learned in the SSB coaching is “Sach Sach Bol” 😀 So Stay honest and don’t lie unnecessarily. You may invite trouble for yourself. Even if you lie, stay clever. And know what you have written in PIQ. The interviewer may put you in stress. Stay confident, cool, calm and composed and keep smiling because they need such a guy who when action is required can show true leadership and can excel in the job assigned.
27th October, 2017:
Conference day! In the morning everyone got ready for the final showdown. Every one of us posed for a group photograph and it was such a memory for a lifetime. Until we were not called we were just interacting about how was the experience and some of us were going thru the answers which they couldn’t tell in interview. The situation there was partly optimistic partly tensed. In the morning I went to the Sarv Dharm Sthal (Mandir) there inside SSB premises and just prayed God that I and you both of us know very well with this preparation whatever best possible could have been done I have given it.
Now if I clears it well, if I does not it’s okay. Just give me strength to prepare better for next time. I want to mention here one more thing happened that day morning which I will remember always. In my room of 7 people, 3 of us were in same group and knew each other very well.(Me along with Apporva and Gunjan) Rest people were repeaters from Group 3. One guy among them was Mandeep who got recommended with me later came to me that morning and told “Though we have not interacted much but you are a true and honest guy. I like your attitude buddy. All the best.” I wished him the same. And then CHM Sir came and made us understood how to behave inside conference room. After that Deputy President Robertson came and gave a short briefing and wished all of us good luck for the conference.
Conference started and when I was in the last chair waiting to go inside the conference hall, I had to wait for around 15-20 minutes and then I was called. I went inside and greeted the president with a Good Morning and stood at ease position. He asked me to sit and asked me “Saswat, You have told me in interview that Counter-Strike has helped you in SSB, make them understand how it has helped you and how it will help you being in armed forces?” It was a Friday and they were in camouflage uniform except 2-3 ladies. (Perhaps they were from DIPR). I stayed confident and answered the same by adding one two additional points with proper eye contacts with the officers there. Then the president asked me “Now you have to give two suggestions.” I was not prepared for this and I told “Sir if the washroom backside will be more clean It will be better. And if the candidates mess timing can be extended upto 9.30 PM It will be better.” He asked why 9.30? To which I replied “Sir, Actually I missed dinner yesterday as I was reading in Library till 8.15 after that I was reading in café.” He told you are here to give your SSB. Library is just a recreation facility. You are not here to study and become a scientist.” I smiled and told yes Sir. He asked some usual questions and then wished me all the best for results.
At about 11.45 AM we were called for Results declaration and everyone was so nervous. Everyone was expecting Mandeep to get recommended as his conference went for 20-25 minutes. My friends were saying I am going to be recommended as my Psych and Interview went well. I was like I never expected I would come this far. It’s okay whatever happens happens. ☺ Col Roberson came and told you people are better than the previous batch as previous batch was washed out. But from your batch at least one guy is recommended. So gentlemen are you ready for the results?
And he is Chest no 11!
For a moment, I was like what’s this happening. Perhaps this is a dream. Because I dream a lot. And this is such a big old dream. For 10 seconds or so, I was not standing up until when Chest No 10 turned back to call me. I stood up, went forward and called my name loud “SASWAT DALAI” Sir. I was continuously tapping my feet slowly on ground to feel if it’s really happening or is it a dream?! I was so happy and those moments can never be expressed here with mere words. Then Col Robertson shook hands with me and also the CHM Sir. I stood aside and then Col Robertson told “Okay wait. There is another guy who also got recommended. He is Chest No 25!”
Mandeep Rana! Expected! He was so happy as it’s his 11th attempt and He came from all the way from Sweden to give his SSB.
Later we became good friends and gave our medicals. He was declared fit where as I got a TR for being 2kg underweight and later cleared it at Command Hospital, Kolkata. Now waiting for the merit list and Preparing for next CDS for Indian Navy and TGC 127 for Army.
SSB is 3-dimensional process and unconventional way of testing procedure. But if you will understand the dynamics of what they want, you will be recommended easily! See, at the end of the day it’s all 99% hardwork that you put and 1% luck that the almighty hold in his hands. So do your karma and do not worry about the things which is not in your control. I don’t know how my story will help you. But always remember nobody but you and only you are responsible for your victory and as well your loss. So work hard. It’s such a goal worth fighting and suffering for. Stay honest to yourself and to your goals and Work for it even on your worst day. The results will speak for you. Remember, What you think (Psych-Manasa) must correlate with What you tell (Interview-Vacha) and that must correlate with what you do (GTO-Karmana). Always think if it’s easy, It won’t be amazing. If it’s amazing, It won’t be easy. Even I have fought a lot of battles to reach here and still fighting for my dreams. Because leaving a good project in TCS(Cyber Security ) and a job offer as ETO in Merchant Navy in Great Eastern Shipping with a salary of 1.25L per month and that too hailing from a civilian background it was not easy. But it was never impossible and I achieved it. Because Respect matters for me. And after all it’s not a job it’s a way of life. I have made some really good friends during my stay at B’lore SSB and I wish all of them to get recommended as soon as possible and we will serve the nation together.
So, if anyone of you need any help regarding SSB, You are free to ask me anything. It will be a pleasure to help you because ultimately our nation is getting more officers. So try to learn from small things in life. It helps! Cheers!
Jay Hind. Jay Bharat.