Where to go – YLC’10

By Talha Masud

4th July 2010 - The dreaming big trio!
4th July 2010 – The dreaming big trio!

In the same dates of July, back in 2010, I checked in the then Karachi Sheraton Hotel for a week-long national conference, ‘The Young Leaders’ Conference’. Those were the ‘hungry for exposure’ times and after a friend having attended the same conference a year back, I thought I should also give it a go. There were obvious reasons in doing that: I had nothing in life to go for and I thought if I could be one thronging in to this happening Youth jamboree Pakistan, I may well have much to take home from it.

It was still one full year to go and there were hands-on priorities to be sorted out first. Neither had I any educational institute for my backing for the private academic degrees I’ve been completing and nor the sacrifice in working for several workplaces did any impressive good to my résumé. It was a clear cut case of ‘nothing to go for’ and stumbling upon anything that leads anywhere. These are dangerous times in life if you first have illusions of cracking everything you dream about and second your surrounding is totally a reality shock and you still prefer living in your dreams.

In my fourth workplace in the span of 3 years, it was a micro-finance organization set up in Quetta. Working with them never excited me but the robotic side of mine kept it floating for me very well for some time. It was there when I got a call from a senior lecturer in Balochistan University with whom I often went to take guidelines of ‘where to go’ confusions. She said she had submitted my forms for a degree program in International Relations and that I must take a clear course of action to my future. I knew that I had to make good use of the numbered days in the organization and my gaze only fixed to the telephone set in office.

For one complete month, the blue office diary with me was a key book in which I noted all the potential sponsors and kept calling them, emailing them and pestering them. After two months of my regular classes started in the University, I got a call from School of Leadership, and then two sponsors said I was in their consideration for covering my conference expenses which I thought was very high – unimaginably at the times when it is multiplied by 9 of your last salary. I travelled Karachi and gave one telephonic and then in-person interview to respective sponsors and meanwhile started intern-ship in School of Leadership. I got both the sponsorships.

YLC is an illuminating memory. The sprawling halls, corridors, rooms and lobby of the hotel were awash with guys of my age across the country. They were 320 and with such diversity that I thought I should fit in to find my ‘where to go’ nudge.

‘Sunoo k mai hun jawaa’n’ kicked me as the theme of the conference and such grand social interaction with people of the other provinces deeply animated me. Evidently, I could not look long into the eyes of facilitators or participants and my conversation remained poorly conceived. With a couple of very good friends already in the conference, we made it a point to do all the ‘Quettawaal’ stuff outside the respective group settings. Most of them are quite unmentionable.

The public speakers and those notables from Politics, Fashion, Sports, Media, Corporate world and arts and literature etc all contributed in the content-rich gatherings. I gradually started to take keen interest away from the pretty faces too and there I thought I was getting to know ‘where to go’. People like Nadeem Chauhan (late) and Umair Jaliawala were a total new breed to me. But I knew I always had that knack to learn without dismissing things to give an impression of remaining uninfluenced by the urban charisma. I was stunned and big time. The energy I saw in me was always there but never exhibited. YLC with certain loopholes remains one thrilling experience in my life in helping me derive ‘where to go’. The answer was yet to come in the second last day when my group discussed about our plans for the future. They all presented very promising paths they were setting their feet on. Novel career paths that I haven’t even heard of also caught my consideration. When I had to project my scheme for future, I thought it must be intimidating too. I said, “I want to be in Civil Service.”

This won me good gestures and best wishes for CSS was jotted everywhere in my yellow conference T-shirt even by those whom I thought were fairies of the farthest planet. I was equally happy to have found out ‘where to go’ answer in my life. The conferences ended on my personal high note.

After five years, today, it is my second year in Civil Service; something I went crazily about with daunting limitations in life. I feel absolutely blessed to have achieved what I boasted about in the conference but the ‘where to go’ question I’ve been addressing quite adequately in my life died once I thought I’ve got what puts me into my league in all those who attended the conference and are presently doing very well in their lives. A life after office in which you have all the excuses in the world of not doing small rejuvenating things in life while colliding with ‘no dreaming in the practical life’ has again befuddled my thoughts. If this is how I was, why had I been taking liberties against the ‘practical notion’ like cofounding a youth network, trying my hand in playwright and productions and what not!

The ‘where to go’ question, has to hold onto those who dream and go like a dream in their lives or else, they could live peacefully ever after.

Advertisements

SHOW CAUSE NOTICE UNDER SECTION CIVIL SERVICE READ WITH CSS

By Talha Masud

life

Brief facts of the case are; you were a liberated soul and believed in achieving anything you dreamed about. You were an ambitious person who thought himself an idealist and always set short-term goals for himself and had a small, content life. You started reading at a very later stage and wanted to refine your shallow repository of brains. You loved creative writing and precipitated to give vent to it in playwright and periodicals. You were sociable and would love to enliven your days. One morning, the idea of appearing in CSS exams hit you very hard. You thought that your ‘materially martial’ relatives may give you a seal of acceptance if you could cross the bar. Also, the fantasy of broadening your nuptial scope away from blood-y-relations electrified your zest for taking this exam considered to be the most daunting public sector competition in Pakistan.

People warned you; not because they knew anything about this exam but they could never create in their minds your prosperity and say-so.

Were it not for your close friends, you wouldn’t have given a plan to your idea. They also shared your illusion that you contained necessary ingredients for this recipe. You were also given numerous counselling sessions by your parents to find a career-line that is defined and secure for the likes of folks. You opted for the hell-hole and sacrificed four jobs and five years of your life. You entered the Civil Services Academy one etched on your mind morning of 18th November, 2013.

Probing extensively into your present life, your case was selected to be inspected by your boozy conscience. You delayed it for very long through ‘random’ insight but could not avoid ‘parametric’ kicking of you.

During the course of your soul searching, certain discrepancies with what you wanted to do with your life were arisen:

  1. Whereas your motivation remained an ‘infatuated affair’ and you started losing yourself soon when you found yourself being bar coded by grades and civil service groups. You changed the entire course of your thought process and considered an unforeseen glitter as your soul identification. You gradually slipped yourself into the mirage of dying after achieving 22nd grade in hands on health at some DHA golf club. You started compromising on what once you thought are the bases of your lift: reading and writing. Your gossips with yourself never discussed your dreams any more and you were also very happy about your new life.
  1. Whereas you have learnt how to stop learning and only managing at bare minimum with academy modules. You shed all physical activities and only thought of warm blanket after your classes in the winters. You tried to keep up with your ‘questionably intellectual’ designs but ended up failing yourself. Your inner reason never made you sleepless. As with sloppy dreamers, your nightmares were replaced by disjointed versions of you in service.
  1. Whereas like a true village dweller, you were intimidated by few impressive brains in the academy. You thought you should be a jack (read ass) of all trades and only reached to a level where you only impressed yourself. You constantly bucked yourself up for various limitations you arrived with into the academy. Most of the lads you wanted to emulate opened after few months. A big chunk of their knowledge base in any particular subject was borrowed and crammed and they usually presented their point of views in a matter-of-factly manner. You still didn’t do anything to attain your elements.
  1. Whereas you became a super star overnight. Your ‘Hmmm’ relatives and friends who would never give you batting in the street cricket suddenly changed their tone for you. You bump into them and they would be praising everything in you including your curves. Your crush(es) started coming back strongly telling you how they believed in you by bumping off your ass as an uncanny assurance that they would come back when you become a ‘good man’ in life. Your sincere friends distanced themselves from you. They didn’t want to be listed in the ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ fan following of yours. You took a prolonged delay in reaching them and winning them back yet forgetting many of them. One reason was your new busy life and the other was your excuses for the same. You are a bureaucrat.
  1. You thought now you can get ‘brown bread eating’ Scottish lass and disconnected yourself with what you are even while you knew you still drink water from a mud tumbler back in your village.
  1. Your style of living duped your salaries and constant funding from parents made you float slaughtering your prestige and self respect. Early salaries and transfer grants are scrutinized more than trucks from Afghanistan. By then, you have accumulated loans from your batch mates and friends and have already lost the count.
  1. Your life before Final Passing Out Exams is not admissible to be calculated in your life in which you normally eat, meet and think. You still crept along to take your FPOE and got full posting at your respective station.
  1. Your life after posting remains a daily battle where you confront everyone: bosses to cooks and from guards to your subordinates. None wants you to change the trends but to streamline yourself with early compromises of your seniors.

Therefore, you are asked to appear before your bathroom mirror at 8:55 am any day of the week and show cause as to why are you taking your life way too seriously and after all these observations, why your priorities in life may not be changed?

Of private schools in Panjgur

By Talha Masud

It was rather a delayed call for me when I was admitted in a private school after having attained my basic education in nearby Government school. All I considered was the proximity that I could easily saunter through the warehouse of food department that passaged a half-wrecked wall which could easily be climbed without brushing any part of clothes. Taking bigger leaps, I would see the Panjgur rest house newly constructed on an elevated altitude. Turning right to the Bait-ul-Maal office, a four-wheeler jeep that was crashed long ago was stationed not to be removed for ages. A regular sight was non-school-going children laden on the abandoned vehicle mouthing engine and horns as they played. Passing Tehsil and by the Telephone Exchange, the new school was hardly few yards away from Shaheed Javed Chowk.

Earlier, it was a disappointing beginning in the sarkari school. The edifice of my ideal school was razed in my initial schooling days. Government schools are always about writing. Writing Takhti, the wooden slate; the lessons, arithmetic tables and what not. We had kind bunch of teachers. Most of them suffered in their subjects but good enough to pass on the burden to students. What I still miss about the place is the respect it inculcated for teachers, no matter how wrong they are: the elderly deserved a kiss on the hands on our way off school.

By early 90’s, Makran Division had no English medium schools. In Turbat, the biggest city of the division, English Schools were initially established only to last for a year or so. There was no fundamental planning on which private sector English medium schools may function in the region. It was to the credit of late Mr. Habibullah Bangalzai, Panjgur saw its very first English Medium School in 1993. I was its second batch. Initially, it was a modern version of already prevailing government schools in the locale but with time the standards were slightly raised and teachers from Punjab were assigned to teach subjects in English. With no time, local youth educated in Quetta and Karachi took the teaching assignments and our school showed good promise. Shifting buildings every two years, Pak Public Model School was first of comparable private schools that thronged in the next decade.

Evidently, private schools in Panjgur provided phenomenal match to the Urban schools in Quetta, the provincial capital, for quite a while. Unprecedentedly, co-ed was highly appreciated by most quarters of the society. The social instinct started to shift toward competition in educating trends. Even the religious notables sent their minors to private schools. Mr. Zahir Hussein, a US-return fostered his idea of setting up American English Language Centre which proved to be a success story. It not only gathered youth for healthy atmosphere in evenings but also shoved them toward another mode of competitive knack. Female students found the opportunity to polish their communication and comprehension of English without travelling to Quetta for similar purposes. Later, he launched his own English-to-English-and-Balochi medium school followed by another school after a brief period by one of our considerate principals Haji Lateef. Resultantly, few years down the line, the fruition of these efforts came to fore. Candidates from Panjgur were considered intellectually superior to the other districts in the division. They clinched the seats in provincial public service commission as walk in the park. While I travelled to Quetta, I found the elementary private education bar in Panjgur glaringly better than most of the noted schools in Quetta. A number of men contributed a great deal in the district what has been the transitional transformation in cultivating quality education in following years.

The recent attacks on educationists and closure of private schools in Balochistan are matter of grave stress. In Makran Division, all private schools face existential threats from right and left. Schools are torched and teachers are threatened to avoid attending classes with parents hesitant to send their children to schools.

752091-Girlsprimaryschool-1408685493-169-640x480

Even the much anticipated Dr. Malik regime is completely clueless to deal with the conundrum. Where the children in modern times are acquainted with specialized tools and pedagogical excellence, the schools in Makran Division lay deserted. No any clear policy line is yet designed other than allaying fears of parents by statements by incumbent administration and political wish-men. The war waged to dismantle uncompromising efforts of people who cemented the foundation of education in Makran is painfully to continue with its dreadful impacts in the future.

article pjg

Having witnessed the pleasant lift in private elementary education being the earliest batches during the transition days, I fear the dilapidated jeep along the way to my school still remains a telltale monument of good old times.

In clearing the CSS air…

By Talha Masud


I’ve been slightly irked by some hammering articles being written in Pakistan’s top rated English dailies about systematic and procedural lacunas from initial written exams to the final selection in the CSS rigmarole. The writers are adamant to portray that the selection is through and through, a highly compromised business.

Most of such articles win tremendous support of the readers, mostly those who only have heard of this exam being camouflaged in cronyism to the best. The write-ups with profuse conviction bring a totally different picture of those who have made it to the finishing line: undeserving, happy-go-lucky.

While genuine defects with the system are not worked up into their homework, the critics emphasize ‘luck factor’ being the sole push-over for clearing CSS exams.

Luck first.

10312477_10152526645790875_1700865159290120321_n

Only intellectual dishonesty could fish out luck from most of the competitive exams in the world. The ‘luck’ is so clichéd of a notion that at times the only end to the thought is absolute generalization. Those who have vied for their selection through Inter Services Selection Board (ISSB) in army can easily tell you that there is something more obscured than luck which propels an apparently ill-fitted member of subgroups in command tasks, to the winning porch. Call it the selection criterion or what, with all varying nature of competitions; luck is, more often than not, the discretion of selection personnel.

In corporate sector, the cut-throat competition of business graduates having attained similar majors brings luck in the system automatically. Either you were good at your first impression before the recruiting panel or you couldn’t channel nervous energy for your desired impact, that all sums up the proceedings. As academic qualification is being prevailed by practical expertise, newbie graduates consider luck as a significant factor in fetching them a good start. CSS is no exception to it.

As ridiculous as it may seem, alien standards are being labeled to gauge country’s ‘learned’ class and particularly those who flunk CSS exams. In almost all such write-ups, limited selection after final interviews was lampooned as how the country is dried with educated compatible youth to have conferred with the slots in Civil Services. In fact, there are always increasing number of applicants while the numbers of seats are advertised as per the requirement of the already one of the biggest employers in Pakistan, i.e. the establishment division. Their failure in not making it to Civil Services Academy is no guide to ascertain the educational bar in Pakistan but with that many number of aspirants contending is itself a telltale sign of how furious this exam has become in complete contrast to its past.

On the flipside, few writers underscored the selection process not wise enough to adjudge officers on their right caliber which is somehow a right indication about FPSC’s downside but yet the process of selection is already time-consuming and further addition to testing the candidates will narrow down many potential candidates. For instance Mathematics is a subject that Muslims in general from Sultanate period loathed out of its wearisome nature. Candidates with brilliant academic repository may bitterly fail in preliminaries only for not having acquaintance with digits; whereas spare financial service groups, they are required to be good managers of rustic affairs, fair and square.

It is again clichéd, that those who clear CSS are largely a group of goofs who are inappropriate to adjust themselves into ever-demanding need of their jobs. They are neither very poor with their academic skills nor they may be brandished as intellects of the highest order. The service generally demands officers with consummate adaptability and commitment that has a little to do with being super-fluent in Latin-American English or being a ghost writer of ‘One thousand and one nights.’

Nepotism is some dung not confined to CSS selection alone, though to a minimal extent. There may be phone calls and secret emails/letters for elevation of group for certain blue-blooded lads or anything more odious, those who pass, still pass the test of having put down with the merit that they would have otherwise claimed.

Is the selection process absolutely fair? No. But with this answer underlie selection patterns not attuned with the rightful criteria at par with the modern shifts with reasoning and quality analytical skills. This somehow, never does justify the selected officers being termed as ‘mere’ products of luck and not those who did grind themselves along to have achieved something, richly deserved.

Rehne do!

..ان کہے خام خیالوں میں گِھرا رہنے دو
مجھکو پیچان سوالوں میں ذرا رہنے دو

ہاں یہ دنیا کی نئ رت سے کچھ پوشیدہ ہیں
خود مگن ذات کے ہالوں میں بُنا رہنے دو

اب بھی خائف نہ رھوں جبکہ ستم ہائے وفا
خفتگی سے ہی ابھر آئیں بھلا ، رہنے دو

!کب سے گزری ہے ترے دوش کے دم پر ، ٹہرو
اب موافق نہ رھو مجھ سے ھوا ، رہنے دو

ضبطِ گفتار کا مارا ھوا شاطر چہرہ
دِل کے آزار سے کچھ دیر جڑا رہنے دو

کیونکہ اب خود سے بچھڑنا میری عادت ٹہری
اپنی منہ زور کہانی میں برا رہنے دو

پھر وہی طنز کہ طلحہ تو راہ و رسم نبھا
مجھکو اس طرزِ مکرر کے سوا رہنے دو

Halan Chira!

 

Persian comes naturally to cultivate my barren mind. In all my limited literary quest, Persian served as key to the sesame of treasure with my handicap of only stealing the handful of riches. It proves to me, a medium, that somewhat catered to my insatiable thirst of improving myself. With people of wisdom contributing in the language, it envelops history of ages from saints to the kings.

My teacher, Mr. Ali Kumail Qazalbash had long left Quetta after I appeared in my first CSS attempt and opting for Persian. He remains my mentor in providing me the environment which lifted the curtains and spoke volumes about the history and works ornamented through the language. Unfortunately with the time lapsed as I realized I only benefited to the extent of scoring good marks in Persian, has myself reprimanded me in whiling off without it to lose interest and spark once telltale of my passion towards reading notable Persian works.

Luckily, after good three and half years, having called my teacher brought back vivid memories of being in the Persian class and hearing the teacher like 12th century disciples.

The poem that I am to share is of modern Irani literature in which a struggling poet, Shehryar after falling for a rich Tehran-based lady was reciprocated by thrashing by her brothers and throwing him out of the town where he started his career as a bank clerk and soon rose to prominence by his poetry published throughout the country. In his 60’s, he came back to his native town only to find out that his peace-stealer of the youth is divorced and was looking for him. She did not take long to find him in the suburbs of Tehran. I remember how aptly my teacher would describe the moment when the lovelorn saw her coming back in his life and pleading to marry her at this ripe age. It was then he wrote this masterpiece which remains one of my favorites to date. Here I share that dedicating it to my teacher, Sir Ali Kumail Qazalbash:

 

Aamady jaanam be ghorbaanat vali haalaa cheraa?!……………. you came, my life be devoted for you, but why now?
Bi vafaa haalaa ke man oftaadeam az paa cheraa?!…………….. Oh unfaithful, why now that I have become so fatigued

Nooshdaarooii o b’ad az marge sohraab aamadi………………….. you are the antidote after Sohrab’s death*
Sangdel in zoodtar mikhasty haalaa cheraa?!…………………….. Oh stone-hearted, you should have wanted it earlier, why now?

Omre maa raa mohlate emrooz o fardaaye to nist………………… my life is not the time for your making a decision
Man ke yek emrooz mehmaane toam fardaa cheraa?!……………. I’m just your guest for today, why tomorrow?

Naazaninaa maa be naaze to javaani daadeiim……………………. oh darling for your coquetry we have given our youth
Digar aknoon baa javaanaan naaz kon baa ma cheraa?!………… now go and cute with the young, why with me?

Vah ke baa in omrhaaye kootaah o bi etebaar………………………oh that with these short and invalid lives
In hame ghaafel shodan az chon mani sheydaa cheraa?!……….. why unaware of a lovelorn like me for so long?

Aasemaan choon jame moshtaaghaan parishaan mikonad…………. while the heavens disturb the gathering of the desirous
Dar shegeftam man nemipaashad ze ham donyaa cheraa?! ………. I am wondering why the world is not disintegrating apart?

Shahryaaraa bi habibe khod nemikardy safar…………………………. Oh Shahriyar, you would not travel without your beloved
(Raahe marg ast in yeki bi munes o tanhaa cheraa?) ……………………. this is death’s way, why friendless and lonely?

shahriar