Monday, June 11, 2012


"Kickass Vikas", a great buddy and an even better human being shares a unique experience....

2006 was a special year for me. That being the final year of graduation, career was of utmost importance. And I had chalked out two viable options for myself (considering the limited potential I possessed). By February, both of them were just a step away from fulfilment. And I, much closer to redemption. For once, everything seemed to go my way. J

With an interview call from Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication (SIMC) Pune, and a Service Selection Board (SSB) summon to the Air Force selection centre at Mysore, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. But, both of them were scheduled for the same week. If that wasn’t enough to add on to the confusion, my University (Nagpur) decided to hold the final year Laboratory practicals around the same time. So, the second week of the second month of that year, ensured, that I commemorate it as the one, where my decision-making skills were to be put to the stringiest of all tests in my lifetime. To think of it now, I think I did a commendable job.

Hectic lobbying ensured that I was allowed to sit for the Laboratory Practicals in a week’s time from the original schedule, along with another batch of students. Well, it did come with riders. My Head of the Department (HOD) yielded out a promise from me that I would take her shopping on my Canteen Services Department (CSD) card, once I became an officer in the armed forces! That taken care of, I shot off a request letter to the SSB centre (Mysore) requesting them to postpone my SSB to the next available date. (As per the SSB rules you can, but once, ask for a rescheduled date).  So, Pune it was, for the coming weekend.
The SIMC interview went well. And I had to rush back to Nagpur the same evening to set the laboratory on fire. No, seriously, we did manage to do that.
The practicals were a disaster as usual. A few accidents here and there ensured a complete lockdown of the entire laboratory, with we being chased out of there with an assurance that we had achieved the minimum marks, just enough for a safe passage out of the course.

All set and done, I packed my bags and set off for Mysore in the first week of March. “Uniformed” dreams were taking shape all through the journey. SSB is a strenuous selection procedure spread across a duration of five days in which the candidates are put through Psychological tests, Group Discussions, leadership assessment, group planning and an Interview. Happened to be one of the four candidates to be shortlisted or “recommended”, as they say in SSB terms. Recommended candidates are subsequently put through various medical tests to ascertain that they qualify for the rigorous physical standards of the armed forces. For this our batch of four, were directed to the Air Force Command Hospital (CH) in Bengaluru. Arrangements were made for our stay at the Cubbon Road SSB centre in the city.

“Recommended” candidates are subject to much envy and curiosity by the rest. Your every move and mannerism are keenly observed and aped. After all you were amongst the chosen few who had almost made it. (A candidate has to pass the medical tests and also make it to the final merit list compiled on an All-India basis to finally earn a call from the respective training academies. So we were just about there). Evenings would see us doling out serious “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to the hopefuls, who on their part were greedily latching on to the words of wisdom from the wise men. To be honest, I was enjoying my share of stardom.
Then the medical tests started and we were asked to board an early morning bus to CH, Bengaluru. The tests were supposed to be conducted over a period of 5-8 days depending upon the availability of the specialists. With nothing to do the entire day, except for the trip to CH every day, I was enjoying the stay.  But, the medical tests had its share of embarrassments too. From stripping down completely to your birthday suit to watching the dentist frown at your chocolate-stained dentition, it wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience. I managed to come out unscathed. Though, the one assistant who weighed me on the scale wasn’t entirely impressed by the resultant Body Mass Index (BMI). And he made me undergo the process once again. It was I who emerged victorious as I managed to dodge the underweight bracket by a good 350 gms! J 
Then the Ear-Nose-Throat(ENT) followed. We were put through weird tests, which involved a person whispering words to us from one corner of a sound proof room and we were expected to write them down. The Eye Tests thereafter stated that I was a “Colour Perception-1”, i.e my eyesight was damn good. Then came the shocker.

It was the 4th day of the tests and our batch was supposed to undergo a few cardio-vascular tests. It was to be followed by a 3-day break  due to string of Government holidays in that week.  As i walked into the diagnosis room, a mechanical pumping heart greeted me with the customary “lubs” and “dubs”. The doctor, a Squadron Leader , made me sit on a stool near him. He asked what I planned to do the next day, for Holi? I replied “what I do best on that day, keep myself indoors”. He laughed and pulled out his stethoscope from the side wings of his apron and asked me to do the usual, the breath-in and breath out. I think he looked at me straight into the eyes for a second, then again went about repeating the whole procedure. Convinced about something , he laid the stethoscope to rest and went for his notepad. “I think you have a cardiac murmur” were his exact words.

I nodded, without realising that i was doing so. “You know, what it means” he asked. “Yes. I had biology as one of my subjects” I replied. He wrote it on his official pad that bore his name and designation that I was to be referred to a senior cardiologist and undergo an “Echo”test. The “urgent” written in bold, on top of his scribbled lines is still imprinted on my mind. I walked out of the room saying nothing. As the words of the doctor finally started sinking in, i started feeling uneasy. The next 3 days were going to be the most turbulent in my life.

Here, i was on the verge of achieving something which was a childhood dream and now it all seemed futile. I went back to the SSB centre and started pondering about my future course of action. Should it to be my elder brother to whom i break the news first, or my parents? Was the question. I even calculated the time I will have at disposal after wrapping up my final year exams. After all I had worked hard all these years and if death comes i atleast want to die a graduate. The day passed, but the night wasn’t going to do so easily. Compulsory lights off in the dorm meant  I was grappling with the sudden darkness on a larger scale. The next two nights too, were similar. It was only during the day I lost track of the “murmur” within, as I had made many a pals over there and was having a gala good time with them. Monday was to be the day of the Echo test. And Sunday night my restlessness made me withdrawn from my group of friends there. I pulled out a white A4 sheet. It was thus decided that I would call up my brother first. On the white sheet i wrote a letter to my parents. Telling them , how much i loved them and how things should be after i am gone. The P.S section i had written, “The guitar would go to Tushar. No questions asked”. (Tushar, happened to be a friend of mine, whose guitar i had unknowingly broken while landing on it after pulling off a stunner during a game of in-bedroom cricket. He was a lucky dog. Was getting a brand new Gibson in place of an old bent-back Hobner. All just because my heart valves were an undisciplined lot) The letter also had many “I love you’s” strewn all across. I wasn’t writing them, they just kept flowing on their own. I also asked them to plan a family trip every two months from now on.

Monday, finally came. I boarded the bus at 6 sharp and reached CH. Was then guided to a senior cardiologist, of the rank of a Wing Commander. He could sense my nervousness as i walked into my room. He made me comfortable and offered me a can of Pepsi. “Darn! He too thinks i am not gonna make it” was my first thought at his noble gesture. I politely turned it down. He then asked me take off my shirt and lie down. I was ready for the “Echo” test. He applied some medicinal lubricant/gel on my chest and then attached a few plugs to it. Then he made himself comfortable on the monitor nearby, all the while moving up a diagnostic joystick kind of instrument all over the problem area. After a few run downs he asked me to get up and helped me with the tissues to clean of the lubricant. 
“Who sent you, here??” was his question. I prompltly told him the Squadron Leader’s name. He nodded his head. This, made me more anxious. 

"You have a perfectly fine heart, kid. Nothing to worry.” He said. I thought he’s being sympathetic and didn't want me to panic right there, therefore the words. He sensed my disbelief and said “ The Echo tests shows no signs of a cardiac murmur. You were wrongly diagnosed at the first stage.”


I didn’t smile, as I still couldn’t believe this.

Then he said  “I think, it was the chest hair which gave the doctor a false impression of your cardiac valves malfunctioning”.

Embarrassing, but nonetheless relieving. I sprang to my feet, collected the reports, said a quick ‘thank you’ and vanished into the corridor. Life wasn’t that unfair, I thought.

 Back in the dorm, I tore up the letter. Pulled out a fresh sheet and wrote “Tushar, agreed you are my friend. But honestly, you don’t deserve my Gibson. After all it was your mistake that you placed your Hobner there.”


  1. Awesome post...Gave me some good laughs esp the images ha ha....

  2. lol--chest hair caused wrong diagnosis!!! hahaha

  3. So i guess you made it through the SSB , lucky man and Well done .. are you serving now ..

    I have my heartache towards the ssb as I tried 3 times cleared the IMA exams each time only to be rejected by the board, dont know what was the reason although everyone around thought i was an officer material but anyway maybe in next life :), funnily i got through the selection abroad in UK..

    All the best and the post made me smile and reminded me of a few of the ssb interviews


  4. Wow!! That must have been quite an experience!! Real funny!! :D

  5. lol! the ending was hilarious! beautifully built up suspense! well done!

  6. LOL ! very well written ...enjoyed reading the post !

  7. ok, everything else apart, that cat is adorable :D

  8. .thanks for sharing