No choice but to join the party

17th day of fasting. From friday onwards, the fifteen day vacations will begin.


I slept a good sleep after Sehri (breakfast). Somehow, I manage to get up by half past seven. Actually, its always, like that. No matter how much sleep is still left. No matter how late I have been working, and then hitting bed. I wake up, seven thirty, on the dot.

The problem of course is, that I am left with very little time to get to my first class at university. I could easily add those classes lost, and end up with a terrible grade, and short attendance. An issue.

A quick, bare bones shower, and a bit of deodorant. I am up and running on my way to the university. Its 8:00am. I can imagine: My class full of students. My teacher talking about real important, life changing, or exam related stuff. I drive.

It’s a boring 10 minutes drive.

The first three minutes are nervous. My car’s radiator, is icy cool. At least that’s what the indicator claims. At any moment, the battery may give in, and I would be left standing on the road. Missing my second lecture of the day at university.

More often than not, the car does not give in. So after three minutes, which are full of sweating, and panic, I can safely turn on the Air conditioner. The first monument, is the row of schools, just outside my house. Eager, bag laden school kids, being guided in by their aspiring parents. I have noticed that the boys often have very light bags to carry, while the girls have massive, book laden bags on their shoulders. They walk a tilted walk, and most often, they also have some interesting drawing in their hand. Class decoration.

Next comes the roundabout, Johar Chowrangi. On days, when I am late, there’s a red light, and a beggar waiting for me. I wait for the green light, while the begging lady comes in for a few alms. I have never given her a penny. I always smile, saying, “Sorry.” She replies something back, but since I gave the windows rolled up, I can see her, but not hear her. Plus, the radio is on max volume, with some good tune on.

There was a day, when that window of my car wasn’t rolled up. That beggar came in. I smiled, and said “Sorry”. She replied back.

This time, I could see her, as well as hear what she had to say, “Young man, you can give alms at least once in a while”. (Urdu: Beta kabhi to kuch de dia karo). I lost my smile. That was what she used to say, as I continued to smile, and listen to my radio.

The light turns green. Two more turns, and I am in the university.

I am in the university

First period’s for Law and Regulatory Control Studies. Meet Sir Ravinder Kumar. Ali, and I simply call him RVK, which in turn brings us both to our nostalgic young days, when we used to watch WWF, me in Malaysia, Ali at Mirpurkhas. The trigger is Mr. Rob Van Dam. RVD. He used to start every match with this “RVD” chant, his fingers pointing towards his shoulders at every letter of the acronym.

This was odd, and so was WWF as a whole. It was so awkward. Imagine Undertaker, coming in with the lights out, or Shaun Michaels dancing-in into the ring.

Memories. More often than not, RVD used to get a lot of beating. He was fat, and useless, except for his flying kick to the face. Till that came, he was beaten from his original yellow, to pale, and finally bright red; and yet he never gave up, and that’s why we loved him, waiting for him to give that final kick.

A kick back to reality.

I am in class. RVK, is at the helm of affairs, teaching Law & Regulatory control studies. This whole class, in my view is a farce. For the last two months, we have been studying, the definition of Law, and the last three periods, including the one I was sitting for today, was wasted on deciding which kid was going to take what topic for his Law assignment.

He also talks about how vulnerable a teacher is at NED, but, he says that he has a passion for teaching, and socio-economic hurdles don’t bother him.

A few minutes later, its time for attendance. I was sitting at the back, so I couldn’t hear my turn for the roll call. My friends in front informed me. I shouted out, “Roll number six, sir”, and there came that smile, along with the question: “Dreaming, were you?”

Adnan fowkes modelUp next comes the exact opposite. Its education in High definition. Welcome Sir Adnan. Again, Ali and I have a name for him. We call him Adnan Fowkes Model. Since that was the topic of his PhD, and at times when the mood is high, its simply: Addu.

Urban Mass Transit

Urban Mass Transit. That’s the subject. Today we learnt how to schedule buses according to the specified headway, say we wanted a bus to arrive every 30 minutes, then how many buses would be required in the entire fleet? How will they be timed?

Easy stuff. Or may be, that’s because Adnan Fowkes Model, makes it out so simple. Whenever we ask deep, abstract questions, his hand blinks the red-light, where he exclaims, “This is PhD (or Masters) level question. You don’t want me to teach that stuff here (at Bachelors).”

We decided on our 2 week assignment for Urban Mass Transit, “Feasibility of Parking Plaza in Sadr (Karachi). Ali was working on an Intelligent Transport System project. Finally Ubaid came into the mix. His usual rhetoric: So and so assignment to do. So and so task weighs so many/so few marks. He’s never satisfied with the situation at hand.

Today’s news was that the UMT assignment weighed a measly five marks. So Ubaid’s advice to everyone was, “Don’t fret over it, its worth five marks only!”. I gave him my counter-argument, and said that we should do our Projects as they come, and should give our best, irrespective of their scheduled weightage in our Mark sheets, at the end of the semester. I told him, with eyes shining bright wide (I presume), that we could show off our best projects while applying for Engineering vacancies.

Ubaid was disinterested. He gave out a bored yawn. Asra entered the scene. She had that blank face today. Her project title Safety study of Public Transport, was not approved. The teacher said that it was too broad a topic. I told her, that this was exactly what happened to our Final year project: Bridge Hydraulics. It took us a good 6 months to solve the deadlock.

So I knew how to get out of this literary black hole. I advised her to make her project title more specific, say confine it to a geographical area, plus, give it a definite objective, such that at the end of the project, there is a definite output to be realised.

It was a good discussion.

Asra has her own way of disagreeing. More subtle, very unlike Ubaid. She says yes, and then adds the conditional if-statement, or the futuristic, “I will look into it”. Its more digestible.

The day at the university is over. I head home, tell my mother, that we have a Fast breaking ceremony at five, and hit bed.

(The best part of the day yet to come. Just tired of typing for now.)

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Arificial routine is a place where I write with freedom, writing about the day to day things. There are no benchmarks to be met. Just me writing regularly about my university life in Karachi, Pakistan.


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