Subject: English, asked on 12/9/16

Subject: English, asked on 16/2/22

LAST year, Captain Shikha Surabhi became the first woman to lead a formation of 36 men
and nine Bullets of the army bike display team at the Republic Day parade. But even as she
readied for the performance of a lifetime, she philosophised to a journalist, "Nothing can
beat this feeling But, in life, you should crave for the next thing- and there are more things to
do ahead for the country and myself." This, in a way, sums up attitude of most riders.
The fact remains that a large proportion of those who join the security forces hail froi.
villages and small towns Surabhi, for example, is from Arrah in Bihar, but was raised in
Hazaribagh (Jharkhand). Like millions of Indians, she went to a Hindi-medium schnol. 'er
interests in sports and adventure were kindled by her mother, who was a sports teacher at a
school in Ranchi. Luckily, from the beginning, Surabhi's chosen sports were the aggressive,
adventurous ones, like kick boxing and wrestiing.
It was logical for her to choose a profession that promised excitement. Police was her first
choice; later, adventure got mingled with nationalism, and she opted for the army. Her
passion for extreme adventure continued. She was part of an army mountaineering team
that trekked to Gangotri glacier. Her first posting was in Arunachal Pradesh, a perfect setting
for the outdoors. She did a bike trip, from Shimla to Ladakh, over eight days. All these taught
her skills, and changed her body in ways that helped her later.
For example, the lessons from the Ladakh trip included the ability and the flexibility to
handle different terrains, different weathers. She had to ride through heavy rains, muscle
through wet mud. It also gave additional strength to her hands and legs.The Gangotri glacier
trek taught her how to work as a part of a team, and not for individual glory. An individual
can play a crucial role, even if she is a mere cog in a giant wheel. This is invariably the case in
motorcycle display formations and stunts.
Three months before the parade, she volunteered to be part of the bike team. From her
posting in Bathinda, Punjab, she joined the training programme in Jabalpur, Madhya
Pradesh. And realised there was a lot more to learn from the basics to the most complex. For
example, she had to learn to kick-start a bike, as the Bullets used by the team had no
electronic ignition. Then she had to learn to balance the bike with her feet, and not her hand.
This took a while, as it is unnatural, even illogical.
However, the most important thing in a team display is the relationship between the
members, and how the others accept a new entrant.Surabhi, who completed more than four
years in the services, told a journalist that initially her colleagues were worried whther she
could learn.Whether she was strong enough, both physically and mentally? Later, she
confided that the members felt that they learnt faster than most of the others.
his acceptance as an integral part of the team that's the real crossing point-the point
Deyond which one is no longera stunt driver, but a daredevil. The rider has crossed an
ary ine in her head that puts her in a different category, and under a different level ofscrutiny. This is the time when confidence levels are high, and optimism soars. The evening
before the 2019 Republic Day, it seemed as if it would rain the next morning. This is usually the case in Delhi each year around that time.
Heavy rains cammake the bikes unsteady, and difficult to balance. As Surabhi looked at the
dark clouds, she shrugged and told a journalist, "Rain or no rain, we have to perform 100 per cent." That's it. The external elements don't really matter. Everything hinges on the inner
self,confidence, realisation of one's skills and an optimism that the team will act as one
being, not several components when the time comes.

Subject: English, asked on 11/2/22

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