A continuation of the wonderful pictures taken by Azal Zahir!
A continuation of the wonderful pictures taken by Azal Zahir!
Credits for these pictures go to Azal Zahir, Rabia Khawar & Myra Jafri.
Teacher introduces and implements a ‘five percent of the total grade’ assignment for a course in Islamic Studies that is compulsory for everybody in class. The whole class has to offer prayers at the college mosque. There are people from various sects and religions in the course. Nobody protests.
Teacher states that the military is the only institution that can lead economic development, in terms of GDP growth, in Pakistan. In her first lecture on Macro Economics, nobody even tries to counter argue, since the teacher has an amazing reputation in the economics department. Nobody protests.
Communication skills instructor details in a half an hour long diatribe that students must watch Zakir Naik if they want the real truth in life. teacher goes ballistic on sole student who tries to question the logic behind that revelation. Student humiliated, and ostracized. Class moves on to further lecture on piety. Nobody protests.
Teachers questions why the Shia’s can’t even dare to challenge the writ of the state by protesting against the mass killing sprees all over the country. In the backdrop of the Alamdar road incident where the families did not bury their dead for four days, A professor claims that the shias should listen to the majority as the majority rules in a democracy. And yet again, nobody dares to stand up, its all about securing your grade and remaining in the good books.
Teacher feels up girls in class and calls his methodology “a spiritual reawakening of the student population”. Later he lambastes a girl for wearing a hijab who giggles and takes it in her stride. Teacher is woken up by his female teaching assistant everyday and escorted to class by girls who have to do it out of duty. Nepotism reigns supreme. Nobody protests.
Teacher mails students six hours before a mid term exam that 80 per cent marks are a prerequisite for students being able to qualify for their thesis in the final semester. Like lambs, led to slaughter, students appear in the exam next day, nobody protests.
An interesting thought crept in to my mind this morning while I was getting ready for college. I was busy putting on my clothes when I realized that the single biggest engine of motivation in society is guilt. Think about it, we are all born in to a world full of people who expect things from us. We have responsibilities, duties, cares and troubles, things we must do, not for ourselves, but things which are thrust on us by others. We are scared of what will happen if we fall below the bar other people set for us, the bar we think we should aim for to please them. This simplifies a lot of things I’ve been thinking about lately. Why I’ve begun to hate everyone and everything around me. It all seems fake, like it was made to look shiny. The reality couldn’t be more different, dirtier.
At the end of the day, it’s all shit. Doesn’t really mean anything. The reality we create around us is just to battle with our inferiority complexes. We try for our lives to have meaning, but fail miserably. We look for higher powers, for answers because we want to belong, to feel like it all means something, even though it doesn’t. We live on just one of a million possible planets in infinite space, yet for some reason, we’re arrogant enough to think that we’re actually special. That somebody out there actually has a plan for us. I find the thought amusing. I find it funny, how on the scale of things, we are more insignificant than the smallest dot the human eye can see, yet our quest for something bigger compels us to be irrational and think that our thoughts, our lives really matter. For us, the concept of infinity is unimaginable, and for us, time and its length only matters till we’re alive, but we cannot even begin to appreciate what eternity really means. When I was six, and I used to think of heaven, my biggest fear of dying used to spring up in front of me, and that was of eternal life after death. I used to fear that I would get bored even if I made it to heaven, because let’s face it, forever is a long time. There’s only so many times you can eat all the candy, play all the games and have sex with all of your virgins because eventually, since it is never ending, the possibilities would end. I preferred oblivion to this situation. Fifteen years later, I actually applaud my six year old self for having this thought. People get smarter as they grow up, I, on the other hand, feel that I was smarter as a six year old.
Nothing really happens. Nothing ever happens. And that for me is a source of constant depression. On the face of it, the college we go to is always full of life. Things are always happening. From parties, to sports events, to competitions of debates and dramas. But I hate being there for these. They make me feel even more alienated from the others. I don’t understand how everyone has so much fun in their lives. I find it nauseating. I know I need change. I wasn’t always like this. But I don’t understand what really needs to be done. Not coming to school doesn’t help either. I get behind on work and feel even more miserable. I try watching a movie but am too distracted to focus. I start looking for my copy of Lord of the Rings, my favourite book in the world, and the answer to all my problems. As a child, when I first read it, my life was going through a rough patch and I wasn’t really happy. But then I started reading LOTR in got so lost in it that I forgot about everything else. I wanted this feeling of oblivion again as I went through my bookshelf, my eyes peeled for the familiar worn, green spine. I found it at the bottom, right on the edge, inviting me to get lost within its pages. I retrieved from the shelf and lied on my bed and started reading. When I was done reading six chapters, I looked at the time and saw that six hours had passed since I started reading it. The feelings of depression, the loss of hope were gone. I then had an epiphany. There was no point in looking for meaning within life because it was a fruitless task. If one is critical about happiness and where to find it, then he/she won’t be able to find it. The only way to be truly happy is to enjoy the little things, like eating your favorite dessert, or listening to your favorite song. There’s no point questioning your existence with such negativity, because at the end of the day, you’re stuck with the lot that’s been handed to you. My purpose in life, from then on, has been to explore and enjoy all the little things that have always fascinated me, and so far, I have been successful at enjoying myself. At the end of the day, none of the philosophical questions matter, because there is no right answer to any of them. One should think about them, but not let them get in the way of your life. That is the true meaning of happiness.
On the day of the Carnival Lahore School of Economics is a completely different sight to see.
The usual green I see outside my classrooms was spotted with orange today. Some of these oranges were moving quickly across the green while others were staying in one place. The ones that were moving were carrying boxes of packed food and placing them on the tables that were also spaced out across the green. The oranges that were staying in one place trying to hold down the matching colored decorations from being carried away by the wind.
Looking closely at the decorations I realized they were of a very contrasting nature. Some were clusters of orange and blue balloons tied sparingly across just one half of the green, and some were brightly painted clay pots and wooden toys placed on only the other half. Dividing these two halves were 3 wooden pegs each adorned with shimmering netted cloth of red, gold and green. There were blue and orange chart paper cut outs of the letter ‘A’ hanging from a sting joined between the 3 pegs. These ‘A’s were dancing to the beat of the music, which was sourced at one corner of the green. Every time the beat changed my eyes were to gaze at either one or the other half of the green.
When my ears picked up the thumping of the Dhol my eyes went to that half of the green that was laid out with big orange, yellow and pink floor cushions. The tiny pieces of glass embroidered on the cushion glittered against the bright sun. When my ears picked up the shrill notes of the electric guitar my eyes went to that half of the green that was decorated with orange balloons, silver and golden reflective confetti, crinkle paper and multicolored paper strings.
These contrasts were stimulating my eyes and ears to feel like I was present in two different places though physically I was in one and it was the all set upon the same piece of green. But the nature of the décor and music made it clear to me why the entrance to this green displayed a banner saying “A Tale of Two Cities”, but even if I had not read that, my sense told me the entire tale as I walked by the usual green outside my classroom.