25th September, 2007
Woke up abruptly when I heard someone yell in my ear. I'm no light sleeper and it must have been a test for the patience of the TC to wake me up from my deep slumber. I check my watch and the time is 1.14 a.m, damn man. And even after the TC passes my berth, I can still hear him yelling at someone in the same bogey for the next half-an-hour. I cannot sleep now and I think what a thankless job the TC's got. People are so irritated and yell back at him when he wakes them up but isn't he doing his job? Whatever...
Anyways, I roll into sleep again and the next time I open my eyes, the train is slowing down at a station...Bhopal Station. The time is 8.25 a.m and I sleepily get off my berth and check my things. I go have a face wash and by the time I'm ready, the train's already stopped. And now with a bag slung over my shoulder and excitement in my eyes, I gaze out of the door. Bhopal, a city I've never visited and have no first hand experience of. I'm about to enter a virgin land where not even one person knows me. Isn't that really cool. Isn't that all the really arty people, Writers and Directors, dream about. Go somewhere where no one knows you and experience the place and express your thoughts and become the next big sensation. I, myself, was on verge of being an arty sensation and I was ecstatic over the prospect of it. I could already see people fighting over for my autograph and I being arty am wearing a kurta on a jeans with a short crop and loadsa beard :D...preferably salt and pepper and with that all-knowing, enlightened expression on my face...anyways, I'm deviating again...
So, I get off the train and go i search of breakfast. Moni mama told me that poori-jilebi was a delicacy in Bhopal. But I'm pretty reluctant to bear the torment of my taste buds early in the day. Poori-Jilebi for breakfast...OMG! So, I head to a South-Indian food dabba and order a plate of idlies. The idlies taste like, well rather taste like nothing and the sambar's very very viscous(Physics can help writers at times ;) ).
So, after that dreadful breakfast, I report to the UPSC office on platform 1 and from there I'm guided to a restroom which surprisingly is full of 17 year and 21 year olds. Oh! I wasn't the only one appearing for the selections, right? So, we sit there reading magazines, introducing ourselves and apprehensive about the other guys. No one talks a lot and among others, I actually find a Telugu fella but he was the one in for CDSE. How good it feels when you see your brother among a continent of strangers, no matter how horrible your brother may seem to you back home.
Anyways, at 1.30 p.m, after ages of waiting, we are aked to follow a military man. He escorts us to the bus arranged for us and after checking all our identities, we are boarded onto the bus. That was the first view of Bhopal I ever had, through a bus window. It is a poor city, nothing compared to my beloved City of Pearls, Hyderabad. Wherever you see, all you can spot are dishevelled huts low crumbling buildings. But as we are taken to the outskirts, I realise that it isn't a big city, pretty small for the capital of one of the largest states in the country. And about half-an-hour later, we enter the Cantonment area. And by the way, my neighbour in the bus was this guy from Nagpur(first impressions: small-towned, nervous, cowardly and a nice guy) and 5 minutes of conversation with him proves all my impressions.
We get off the bus at the Sultania infantry, and are given instrucions about our stay. This guy called the CHM(which I later learnt stands for Company Hawaldar Major) screams at us because we cannot stand in a straight line and says he expects better from Officer calibre folks. After that bit of intro, we are guided to our hostels. The infantry is a beautiful place, full of greenery, clean swept roads and officers clad in full uniforms with crew cuts and aviator glasses(I wanna be an armyman atleast for the sake of those glasses :D).
The boarding house consists of a huge hall partitioned into 3 huge rooms which consist of 10 beds, 5 in a row. I go to the last room and some of my roommates include a Bihari guy whose name I don't remember but it sounded really funny in his accent, a UP guy called Rajan Singh, a Maharashtrian called DevDutta, a Simla guy, a Sikh and a Darjeeling cheerful fella, Nayan MoniRoy. Talk about unity in diversity ;). All of them appear to be nice friendly folk and after unpacking our cases, we have our baths and then sit about and introduce each other. Everyone is really excited about the prospect of getting through the NDA and I realise that the madness of NDA in other parts of the country is huge when compared to AP, wehre it is miniscule. People actually regard NDA in level to the IITs and many actually do their long-terms. It is my first time in a boarding camp(if you don't count my disastrous SSY experience years back) and I really like the feel of it. The typical boyish talk, ranging from girls, to heroines, to cricket, to girls, to comparision of each others' bodies, to bollywood buzz to girls again (Oops! did i mention girls more than once? ;)).
We report to the auditorium at 6.00 p.m and everyone is dressed in formals. We look at each other and grin. Formals, for God's sake. We are welcomed by a captain who congratulates us for making it through the written test. And then after his speech, he hands it over to a major who addresses us as "Gentlemen" and everyone's chests bulge with pride. Someone actually adressing us a gentlemen is the best feeling in the world. He tells us about the schedule of testing(which I will reveal to you folks gradually, trying to build suspense you know :P) and in the end wishes us luck. We are to report the next day in the auditorium at 7.00 in the morning.
Everyone disperses and the few veterans who are attending the selections for the second time grab all the attention. At 8.00 we are called for dinner at the dining hall and are chucked out the first time. We arrive at the place starving, wearing shorts and T-shirts and are asked to come dressed up in formals. A few of us protest about the need of formals at dinner and the reply we get is a finger pointing us out. Dressed up in formals and wearing shoes, we go to the dining hall. The food is amazing, all the organic healthy raw stuff and the really nice stuff too.
We return to our wards at about 9.00 and decide to sleep early because we had to report so soon the next day but only at 2.00 in the morning, were all the lights switched off.
Cya tomorrow then. Good Night.