By Talha Masud
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!