AFCAT exams are unique in one way. You get to choose your own interview centre. Dehradun features as the favourite for most aspiring candidates. Be it the scenic beauty, the people or the very fact that you get an exclusive tour of IMA, you always want to go back to Dehradun.
My interview was on the 18th of July, 2016. I took the Dehradun Shatabdi from New Delhi on the 17th morning and reached in the evening. The tunnel on route to Dehradun from Haridwar was blocked due to water logging. It was raining quite heavily that day as well as the day before. There was a delay of three hours! This is the only disadvantage of taking the train route to Dehradun; everything else is quite comfortable. On reaching Dehradun Station, I did a quick recce – located the MCO and headed towards the taxi stand. I asked one of the taxi drivers to take me to a nearby hotel thinking that he must have done the same for other aspirants coming to the station. This is where most of us go wrong. Never ask the taxi drivers. They get a commission and most of the time, take you to expensive hotels with not so good facilities. I ended up in a non ac room which had seepage all around and which cost me 1000 bucks. Always search if the place has gurudwaras or Tibetan refugee ghettos as I found out later. Gurudwaras have resting places for anyone who wishes to stay overnight. They are quite clean and cheap as well. For 200 bucks a night, you get free lunch and dinner (from the langar) and clean mattress and pillows for resting. However, if you want a more hotel like ambience, Tibetan refugee ghettos are the best. And there is one just a kilometre away from the AFSB centre in Dehradun. For 400-500 bucks a night, you get clean rooms, linen and hygienic food although non ac. How do I know?.. ‘cause during the free time at the AFSB centre, I visited one of these hotels.
I got screened in on the first day. There were 6 groups with 10 candidates each. I started socializing after the room allotments were done. We got along quite well with each other. After a while lunch was served. I was surprised at the arrangement that was made for us. We were seated according to veg and non veg preferences. The food was being served to us rather than self service. No one was allowed to enter the mess without proper attire. Everything was quite professional and it made us feel that we were already in the Air Force. After lunch, we retired to our dorms. Come evening and many of us made full use of the sports facilities available. There was Badminton, Volleyball, Snooker, Pool, Table Tennis and Basketball.
Next day was psych test. First up was WAT. I went overboard and wrote a quote for each word I came across. I guess I was trying to show off but that actually proved contradictory. Next was story writing and self assessment test. My SAT went horrible. I was not able to complete in time and left out the ‘what i think of myself’ part. SRT was after that and I was able to complete a satisfactory 50. The day’s proceedings ended soon after and we were left with the whole evening to wanderlust. This is when I discovered a range of cheap Tibetan hotels at the refugee colony just a stone throws away from the centre. Thereafter, we went for a visit to the nearby monastery. It was quite calm and peaceful there. The view of the long Buddha statue, overlooking the surrounding area, was just mesmerizing. On our way back, we stopped at one of the restaurants, Ghonzen House, for some Tibetan delicacies. I had one of the best fried pork in my life there. The meat was so succulent and juicy that I was licking my hand (and not my fingers) at the end. We had Tingmo(kind of a Tibetan bread) to go along with it. My friend had a chicken Thukpa which was not so good.
*To be continued…..