The army trucks were waiting at the railway station. The movement control officer's armband was glittering and sparkling from far off, and as the word “load” shot out of his mouth, I was loaded onto the truck along with my baggage. This consisted of white shorts, T-shirts, and PT shoes but not forgetting the carefully ironed necktie that was also mentioned in the bring-with-you list.
My God! Was I ever so proud to find a Batman at my disposal for running errands and for polishing my shoes and maintaining my clothes! He, who suddenly snatched my hand baggage and kept calling me ‘Sahib’, I just could not decide whether I was his pride or he mine.
I was escorted into the barracks where about twenty odd candidates were present--with our beds just about three feet apart from each other. A bedside table and a carefully kept table lamp also formed a part of the furniture provided. It is another matter that I spent three whole minutes trying to switch on the darned thing ‘called a lamp’ but alas found a fused bulb. Out of general curiosity, I happened to look around just to find about three table lamps functioning and two overhead bulbs, which together shed just enough light to find your zipper, or from banging into each other.
In the evening we were all lead to the Dining Hall where we were served food by bearers on tables but of course covered with the same linen used at the previous meals. Slept the night, waking only with an occasional bite from the bed bugs or the lovely musical tone of the mosquitoes (as big as houseflies). Of course, with a general complaint lodged, we managed to get our mosquito nets repaired though we ourselves had to spend the better of four hours patching the holes.
For the next three days, we were made to do all types of monkey tricks and Tarzan jumps, from one tree to another. Then there was the jigsaw puzzle of English words as also the picture slides where one had to use one’s imagination to the utmost.
Next the psychologists kept us busy exercising our minds over whether the egg came first or the chicken or, for example, what happened when Tarzan jumped from the hilltop. Someone in the crowd said, 'Oh Khud', I promptly intervened, ‘No! Tarzan said, 'Oh Khud! Then Oh Thud!’ The smile of the examinees widened still more. This continued for forty seven and a half minutes(a record set by me as told to me later) in any previous selection interview and I was thrown into the hands of the Army Doctors to check if I had two eyes, one nose, two ears, thirty two teeth and one brain and all intact.
The doctors seven of them nodded their heads in approval and made me understand well, that even they too, were smiling. The only shortcoming noticed in me though, was that I was a little underweight. I pledged and took vows like a child in front of an angry mother to put on a few extra kilos and bade bye to them all, smiling. I was selected.