No pay cheque yet

Another tiring day. We work so hard, and yet, our pay masters, they let out laughs in the air, and pay us with scorns, and taunts.


The day begins at 8am.

Early morning by weekend standards. The plan was to reach the university at half past nine. A good breakfast, an amazing shower with that menthol shampoo, and some compulsive room tidying. Ten fifteen, that’s when I reach my university.

When it is as late as this, the whole traffic scene changes, as if another play, directed by some foreign director has started. The school kids are now much younger, kindergarten, or maybe nursery. They are crying to get back home, but their parents see the ‘doctor’ coming soon, so they push the tender hearts into their schools, sobbing, and looking weak carrying their tiny bags.

The beggars change. A more active looking one works at the intersection. She has a suspicious walk, and does not have this inner drive to beg. She is just going through the motions. There is no real begging.

My group mate at the University, Azeem is present. He looks at his watch, (which by the way, has dead dials, a feature which makes the watch look more like a magnetic compass, and less a time machine). In a bored down tone, he educates me, “You are one hour and fifteen minutes late.”

I apologise. Like always.

Ubaid is sitting beside him. He asks me to fill his autograph book, since we all shall be parting ways come December. I had a lot to write about him, his childish self in the first year, to the more persuasive, and more successful guy of today. He has had his bad days with us, but today, we are, in a passive friendship. Not too close, but still, friends.

Work begins in the computer lab

Azeem and I run up to the computer lab to start our Project work: Hydraulic design of Khairpur-Larkana bridge. Its our final year project. Its plagued with one too many illnesses. As bad as HIV-AIDS. There’s illness. Then there are solutions, and then there are many baby problems, which later grow up to become the epic monster problems.

The first three months of our project were spent understanding what we were doing. Another three months at getting our University people understanding this project, and then the last three doing some work. Hence we are here, at the nine month, with little or no work to show. Its like we have been banging our heads at the wall with only our heads bleeding but the wall not moving an inch.

Mission impossible. Interruptions.

Nevertheless, we can’t lose hope. We spent an hour writing up what we had done. Then there was an interruption. I had to leave for a meeting with my class fellows, which would then culminate into a meeting with the chairman of the department. We had to discuss the Finances of the Farewell party for our last year at NED university. I was a part of the team, because of my writing skills, plus my excellent repertoire at the Chairman office.

An hours meeting. I sketched down the finances, neatly, on a piece of paper, and off we went to the Chairman’s office. It usually takes a few tries, until we get a chance to meet our Chairman. He is usually busy in meetings.

Three tries, and finally, we were into the Chairman’s office. Just the two of us: myself, and the impeccable, Usama Fareed. The Chairman scrolled through our balance sheet. He said that we were spending an astounding amount on just the dinner (PKR 90 000). Instead, he said, if we went with the “Refreshments” only, then the financial situation could come under control. I told him that the farewell party was called Annual Dinner, and hence, a good dinner was an integral part of the event.

He let out a laugh, “Hah, a name. It can be changed.” (Annual Refreshment, anyone).

So what we needed was some PKR 80 000, which, after considering the amount we will be getting from juniors, and colleagues, will make the financial situation net positive.

Our Chairman looked at our Sponsorship letter, and tariff sheet for the event. He said that the tariff plan was trashy, “No wonder you have got no company sponsoring you.”

Usama added in, “Its also because we belong to Urban & Infrastructure Engineering, and not some old, recognized field of engineering.” Our Chairman disagreed. He said that this should not be the case, because instead ours is the more attractive field. The one toward which people should be attracted naturally.

Finally, he said, that the Urban Forum team may help us in the sponsorship of the event. Something around PKR 15,000.

The math

Consider that, and the amount the department gives for the event each year, PKR 15,000, and we only need to get PKR 50 000 from the outside world.

Earlier, during the calculation, Arsalan was suggesting, “Increase the overhead cost to PKR 20000. Who knows, we might run short of cash in the end.” I told him we would be behind bars, serving embezzlement convictions, and shame. We had a good laugh.

Finally, I returned to the work. Our final year Project. Ali had also arrived earlier. We typed out the procedures we had conducted on Global Mapper, and then it was time to leave.

A very tricky situation

I asked Ali to wait in for me, as I visited the washroom. As I squatted, just as I had done the day before, some thing fell into the water closet. Yesterday, it was my mp3 player, where I thanked God that it was not my phone. Today, it was my smart phone in there, in the filth.

Its tricky situation. The first reaction on hearing the sound of something dropping is to jump up and stare in shock, and a second later, the hand is in the worst imaginable place. No words to define the disgust, the loss.

Now here comes the confusion: What do I with the phone? The first step was obvious; to remove the battery. I did that.

And now, the urge to wash clean the phone, and then the resistance. And finally coming out with shame. Looking for a piece of cloth to clean the mess all over the phone. Finding none.

The phone is currently drying at the roof top. Just twenty four more hours of drying and we shall see if the thing still works. If I was a phone that dropped so low, I would have died by now. Any ways, lets keep our fingers crossed.

Ali and I reached home. My father, who was to help us with our Final year project was busy in another meeting. Hence, we kept typing, and then, finally, we returned to the university to get our pay cheques.

From 2011 09 15 Presentations meeting et al

No finish line to celebrate

Not so fast buddy, said our teacher. “Just one page of typing! That’s it.” Our master was not impressed, but he should have realised that it takes around three to four hours of hard thinking to type that just one page. He said that he shall go through our report only when there was substantial progress.


Azeem (left), and Ali (right) celebrating the finish of the analysis part of the project.
From 2011 09 27 Cricket fever

Installation error!

He then inquired as to how we installed ArcGIS on our computers. I said that we had it installed from my father’s office, where some computer guy spent hours installing it. Apparently, my teacher, was not listening.

He opened up his netbook, and said, “Here, see, mine is not working.” I said, that there were two issues, one with his computer, which was a netbook, a slow atom processor, and second, the software was to be installed with much care, and this was not an easy thing to do.

I thought I was going to help him on this one, but our relationship just went from bad to worse.

“The problem with you is that you don’t listen. You have your own yap to make, always.” I agreed to some extent; I do prejudge situations. It helps me analyze things in a more efficient way. Although, the chances of error are ten percent.

The problem was that my teacher called a cracked software, a Registered software. He said that he had a registered version of ArcGIS, which was not. The second problem was his tiny computer. I hate netbooks, and my hatred shone through my tone, as I told him that his computer was not adequate to run ArcGIS.

He was furious. We left.

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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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