We the ARMY Aspirants!

  • Kadam Kadam badhaye ja!

It all began with a lecture which changed our views totally.

I remember the day also, it was November, 17th, 2002, when a retired ARMY Captain visited our college through our College’s Employment & Placement Cell in which every month someone from an industry used to visit our college and enlighten us about employment opportunities in that field.

That day, the chief guest was Captain Guruprasad Sarkhot, 3/1 Gorakha Rifles. He was OTA passed out from 1975 batch. He explained different entries through which one can join  Military. The lecture was impressive. He had then taken the charge of Pune Sub-Area Military Canteen located at Chiplun & was keen to motivate and train the youth to join Military. He said that he will be conducting personality development and CDSE/SSB preparations for the aspirants. We departed after his lecture, deciding to get into his training at Military Boy’s Hostel Hall at Chiplun.

My friend Gaurav Bhagwat & me started attending the Capt Sarkhot’s class from same day in the evening. There were approximately 70-75 aspirants, most of them were from Military Boy’s & Girl’s Hostel itself. Also there were few from College NCC. He started with Reading skills, public speaking, etc. In the beginning he was gentle and nice. After a week or so, he started being stricter and stricter as he saw aspirants are not taking interest in it. He used to quantify the efforts required and used to roger the boys mercilessly. A full newspaper a day was an accomplishment for us till then – not for him. After a month & a half rest all Army Aspirants fled away due to his rigorous behaviour. Only Aspirants left are Gaurav and me. Eventually, Capt Sarkhot has closed his training at Military Boy’s Hostel and asked if we want to continue for which our answer was “YES, Sir!” Then he started calling us at his house.

Getting a training under Capt Sarkhot is not a joke or a fairy tale or something. He used to humiliate us by his words all the time,

Some of his favourite statements for us were:

# काय गौरव आणि श्रीनिवास, साधे १०० पुश अप्स नाही मारता येत तुम्हाला? (You can’t even do 100 push ups, is it?)

# लाज वाटली पाहिजे स्वत:ला! पण तुम्ही दोघे तर कोडगे आहात. (you should be ashamed of yourselves!)

# साधं १0 किमी धावायला सांगितलं तर दम लागतो आणि निघाले आर्मी आफिसर बनायला. (You can’t even run for 10 Kms and you want to become ARMY officers and all!”)

# कांही उपयोग नाही तुमचा – You are good for nothing!

And this humiliation use to happen in front of people who use to pass by the Canteen. The passerby use to pity both of us & use to wonder why these 2 idiots are getting themselves screwed by this ruthless Army person? But, we continued!

I remember, an evening when he made us run 12 kms in rains. We ran. We were dead tired and could realize that vapours are going out of our bodies and then he asked us to do push ups. Cursing him we bent down and cleared the ground as there were some stones and he saw that and asked us, “will it make any harm to your hands? Is that what you think?” We kept mum.  I was sure that if we try answering him positive or negative, it’s still going to hit us bad 😉  Suddenly, I heard Gaurav saying,”Actually Sir, there were some stones, so I removed those!”

Now, Capt Sarkhot had a wonderful reason to screw us. I cursed Gaurav and said, “Be ready! He is going to take our case and you are responsible!” Capt Sarkhot picked up some very small but, sharp stones from side by debris & poured in front of us and asked us to keep our hands on the same & asked to count from Hundred.

He was a typical Infantry Officer who wants us to be like him to take any damn thing on their shoulder & enjoy the training like a fun activity. He made us realize that how to face worst situations and fight back with the available resources if any. We did Yoga and learnt other meditation exercises like Tratak, fast reading and many more.

His mantra of personality development was simple to understand – “Any activity that broadens individual strength and/or tends to minimise weakness is personality development.”

His mantra of physical stamina was also unique – “Your stamina should start where other’s lose theirs!”

After he is done with rigorous screw up with us, Mrs Sarkhot use to fetch us Sarbat or Tea, Pohe, Khichadi or sometimes dinner too. Kind lady she was so as Capt Sarkhot.

He had a great hopes from us and we regret that we couldn’t fulfill it. I remember when we told him that we passed CDSE Exam, his eyes glittered that time.

Though he was very harsh to us but, inside he was always happy with our efforts and always use to tell his colleagues and other officers who use to visit Chiplun Military Canteen,”This boys deserve to become Officers! They won’t fail in SSB and even if they fail, the failure will be mine not theirs!”

What we became out of it is more important than what we got out of it. It broadened our horizon and we learnt to appreciate pleasure after pain. Be it physical exercises or reading and writing exercises, Capt. Sarkhot demanded total commitment. We learnt that we were creatures of habit and any habit can be changed once mental lethargy was shunned through repeated practice. We were training not only our bodies but our minds as well. The learning that we got in those sessions will stay with us forever. That journey was enjoyable and had many fond memories which we still cherish.

We are still in touch with Capt Sarkhot Sir and visit their place whenever possible.

I would like to say Thanks to my friend Gaurav who contributed to this post with his thoughts & was there all along in that Training.

Shrinivas Gokhale

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