Tag Archives: students

Graduating

4 Jun

In 2005 I graduated from college. It was sad. Saying goodbye to the people I had lived with for the last four years was the hardest thing I had ever done. In the four years, I lived with the same four girls – this was a little unique and not everyone was as lucky – but this also made me afraid because coccooned in our mutually loved craziness for the last four years – I was afraid I would not know how to exist without them in the world. This was the last picture taken of us on the grounds of Yale New Haven as a foursome.

Undergraduate Graduation with my Suitemates and sweethearts of the last four years

                                                                                                                            From Left to Right: Victoria Smith, Catherine Wassenaar, Vanessa Everding and Me!

ve years later, I have now graduated from a Master’s program and have once again found three other fantastic friends that I lived with. As of two days ago we have officialy graduated and have had pretty pictures much like the one above taken a thousand times.

Grad School Graduation with the Grad School Girls but missing our fourth musketeer, Payal Hathi

But as I graduate from graduate school I’m not as afraid because as I graduate, I go back to New Haven first to celebrate five years of being done with undergrad! And celebrating with me are my suitees  (my old suitemates) and sweet hearts and its like nothing has changed.

We will sleep together in a Yale dorm just like we did for the past four years. We are taking with us the music we danced to from 2001 to 2005 and we’re watching our favorite movie, Sex and the Citry 2  – kind of a tribute to us and our lasting friendship and of the countless days and weeks spent watching it together during and post college and we’ll do this while we wear our matching sex and the city shirts. Our cheesiness persists. We will be gorging ourselves on moosetracks milksakes from yorkside and chowfun from Ivy noodle. There will be a visit to pepe’s and consumption of their excellent pizza and one night there will be the famous suite lock in!

The lock-in was a famous tradition in which we the suitemates for one night locked ourselves with our favorite foods and drinks and contact with the outside world was prohibited – no emails and no cell phones were allowed. It was just us and our craziness in all its glory! This year the lock-in will be goverened by the following agenda

1. Invocation – recolleciton of memorable suite antics

2. Preparation of secret suite brews

3. Discussion of Highs and Lows of the Past Five Years

4. An update on Work/School – the boss you hated, the classes you despised

5. Update on Family – what did they do to make you cry, laugh or plain mad

6. Update on Boys/Men/Dogs

7. Misc – like Voctoria’s heat rash, Sehar’s newly dyed hair, anything and everything that needs to be shared

8. Future Goals/Wishes and Desires/Hopes and Dreams/Deepest fears and Regrets

9. Sacred Suite Dance Ritual

10. Hugs, kisses, cracking up and cackling

So despite the five year hiatus in a suite reunion – I know that when the reuniting happens, it will be like we were never apart – cheesy but true and also heartening because I know that in another five years, I will still find it as easy to fall back into the quirkiness of the times at 3S Magie and my grad school crew.

Good friends really do come with a life time guarantee or atleast a five year one for sure. Will report at years ten to see if the guarantee is still good – Although, I do have a feeling that it will be!!

Yearning for Change

20 Feb

Published in The News: Saturday, February 20, 2010

I am every bit of the middle-class Pakistani that Ayaz Amir describes with so much disdain in his article ‘The (misdirected) yearning for change’ (February 12). I live in a nice part of a town, I went to an English medium school, my mode of transportation is a car, I converse in English and I discuss politics with great enthusiasm in my drawing room. And my political activism is unfortunately limited to the drawing room only because there is no space for the likes of me or other middle-class Pakistanis in mainstream politics.

In his furious criticism of the middle class, Mr Amir forgets that it isn’t enthusiasm or willingness that’s missing on the part of the middle class; it is the lack of an influential surname and bank balance. History is testament to the fact that it is not honesty, integrity, skill, patriotism or commitment to public well being that will earn you a place in the political process of Pakistan. Instead, the pre-requisites for political participation are the ability to either coerce or bribe voters into submission. Political parties give tickets to those candidates only who bring with them either power of the purse or power of the punch. I would like to ask Mr Amir how, in the absence of correct lineage and appropriate financial assets, I should participate in the political process?

Political parties in Pakistan have done nothing to encourage young middle-class Pakistanis to join their ranks. There is no process through which young middle class people can get involved in mainstream politics and make a career out of it. None of the political parties have a commitment to nurturing future political leadership. There is a tacit agreement amongst all in power to further propagate their own control by renaming their progeny to the thrones of political power. The leader of the PPP will always be a Bhutto and that of the PML-N will always be a Sharif. And those that will stand by them will be Makhdums, Maliks, Chaudhrys, Bizenjos, Bugtis, Marris, Khars or Khuros. There is no place for just a plain citizen of Pakistan, Sehar Tariq.

I have educational degrees from very fine academic institutions. I have a passion for politics and a deep-rooted sense of patriotism. I also have training in the development, implementation and assessment of public policy. But I don’t think those qualities rank high on the recruitment criteria of any mainstream political party.

So, where should I take all that I have to say based on what I have learnt and based on where I would like to see my country go? “Why don’t you join the youth wing or the [insert political party name] Students Federation,” you might say. Surely, student politics is a good way for young middle-class Pakistanis to become involved in the political process. It is. However, student politics – sponsored and nurtured by the democratic forces that you urge us to join – is merely an extension of the coercive power of these political parties. Student politics in Pakistan is characterised by wielding hockey sticks, calling for strikes, intimidating students and professors and creating roadblocks or filling in seats at rallies when needed. And my skills with a hockey stick are sub-par.

I can write great policy papers. I often get A grades on them. But our student political groups don’t require policy nerds. Political parties neither leverage nor encourage youth wings to participate in policy making because it would take them away from disrupting the academic peace and diminish their powers of intimidation. In countries where political parties are truly interested in nurturing new leadership, student leaders are encouraged to write, think and present on key policy issues. Youth wings serve as engines for new and fresh thinking on old and pressing problems. But our political recipe for success involves minimising thought and maximising personal profit. This leaves little room for the academically inclined or the violently disinclined middle classes to participate.

The only form of participation open to us is discussion, which, due to the restrictive patterns of Pakistani politics, we cannot take to the National Assembly. So we sit in our drawing rooms or write on our shiny laptops and publish in English dailies – our armchair activism – our visions of where we want our country to go. But before you write us off, think of it this way, given that the salaried middle classes are the single biggest taxpaying group in the country – our money funds your salary. You participate in the political process on the back of our hard-earned rupees. And since it is our money you spend while you take decisions in the “national interest” and “participate in the political process”, at least give us the right to comment on and complain about those decisions since you have denied us the space to participate in making them.

The writer is a student at Princeton University. Email: stariq@princeton.edu

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