My fellow Luminites, I’m pretty sure you are all well aware of the burden on enrollment days. You are forced to take courses you never would’ve opted for but the pathetic enrollment process compels you to take them, just so you can complete your credit hours requirement. And if you’re lucky enough to get the courses you wanted, you ignore the instructors as you’re just grateful for not being forced to study Japanese or Chinese History. With that being said, in my third enrollment, I was glad I managed to get ‘Western Political Politics’ with Rabia Zaid as it was much more lucrative than studying ‘Mughal Arts and Architecture’.
In the evening, while having tea with my mother, I got a random text from Safa asking for my timetable. I sent it, and in reply, I got, “WHY THE HELL RABIA?” Since I do not like being interrupted during the ‘Chai Sessions’ with my mother, I didn’t reply to the text and a couple of minutes later, I got a call from her.
Safa: Oye Rabia Kyun? Tumharay Saath Kum Buri hui thi in Intro to Pol from her? Does your dad pay so much just so you memorize everything written in the slides and ace papers with no learning?
Me: But wo Taimoor Rehman kay konsay achay reviews hain? Wo Suna hay bakwas grader hay. Check LDF.
Safa: How many times do I have to tell you? GPA does not matter! Study for learning!
She added Aamna Babar on the call and after a debate of twenty minutes, it was decided that all of us would take that course with Dr. Taimoor as our instructor.
The summer holidays eventually ended, and our class of Western Philosophical Politics the first class of a very slow-moving week. Headed towards the class, I even met Maham Shafaqat, a person whom I had quite a lot of mutual friends with, but considered her not more than an acquaintance by that time. Nevertheless, I greeted her with enthusiasm and was low-key happy that there is someone apart from Safa and Aamna whom I was fairly familiar with in class. The first class was a relatively boring one with Sir explaining the whole course outline, components, and eventually announcing that we will have to make groups for the 20% group presentation, with creativity being one of the main aspects Sir would look out for. Turns out in the past people even made a rap song on the academic works of philosophers. The groups were to be of five students, each one of them being allotted a specific work of philosophers.
In my mind, I had already decided that our group would consist of Safa, Aamna Babar, Maham, and me, therefore told Maham, “haan easy scene. You will be a part of our group” when she asked if I can help her get into a group. Well, I underestimated the unity of friends living in hostels. When we finally got together to formulate a group, my friends showed a fair bit of resistance for Maham’s inclusion and put forward two other names (who were their hostel friends) as better options. If you know me well, you will realize I get fairly emotional at the prospect of letting anyone down, therefore I took a stand for Maham, negotiating with my friends until we reached an agreement after seeking help from the Teacher Assistant. Eventually, our group consisted of:-
- Aamna Babar
- Aamna Asghar (someone I didn’t know but Safa & Aamna were determined to have her)
- Zulfiqar (a person who couldn’t find a group so the TA placed him in our group)
After the argument on the very first day, this class became the source of many fond memories, inspiration, and happiness to overcome a fairly dull semester. The first memorable incident was related to the creation of a WhatsApp group for the group project. For some unknown reason, I had decided to act as the leader, eventually being forced to make the group too. However, I did not have the number of Aamna Asghar, and since my friends knew that I never asked a girl for her phone number mainly due to my shyness and hesitation, they were determined that I ask her myself even though the rest of them had her number. The ‘trap’ was set as they called her to Bombay Chowpatty, forcing me not to leave, determined to help me get over my social awkwardness. Meanwhile, I was imagining thousands of scenarios, in a couple of them was told “NO” or was being judged as a pervert. Determined to somehow flee, I was grateful that Menahel appeared out of nowhere, distracting my friends while I ran out by saying Abdullah has called me outside-I never returned and they realized what I did, so sent me the number by themselves a couple of hours later.
With almost half of the semester done, our presentation on Machiavelli’s “THE PRINCE” was just around the corner with none of us having a clue of what were we meant to do. We did brainstorm ideas such as rapping, singing, doing a talk show but none of them seemed to be something extraordinary or practical. In such circumstances, I would suggest it is ideal to let your zoning out, daydreaming side to get the better of you as the plan I came up with was a result of me zoning out during the lecture of ‘Intermediate Macroeconomics’, imagining Imran Khan interviewing me after I somehow came up with an extraordinary theory that solved all of Pakistan’s Economic Crisis. Somehow I managed to link the thoughts inside my head and the philosophical lessons of Machiavelli in ‘THE PRINCE’. Immediately after the class, I skipped lunch to write a script for our video, convincing everyone that it was the perfect solution to meet the demand of Sir Taimoor’s “Mast Creativity Honi Chahiye”.
Being a day-scholar, I sometimes tend to get jealous of my friends as they get to enjoy some very useful perks which I can’t. For example, for a simple shooting of a five minutes video at 4 p.m., I had to go to every single class starting from 8 a.m. dressed in a suit with a perfect tie, looking excessively over, with the instructors singling you out in every pun or joke they crack (some friends of mine still mock me for this till this day). To make matters even worse, my pant got ripped from the side, ten minutes into the first class as a nail was loose on the desk where I sat making a four inches long hole. To this day I’m convinced “kisi ki Nazar lag gayi thi” as from there onwards, I was just trying my best to stay away from people and making sure the camera did not capture that side of me. Anyways, making that video was the best thing I ever did at LUMS, rolling toilet paper all over the campus, watching your friend emulate the attitude shown by real princes, the bloopers video and trying our best to speak Punjabi (It was Urdu mixed with some words of Punjabi & one of my friends threatened to kill me if I ever disrespected Punjabi again). The best was yet to come. You know like before planning out the characters, you analyze the personalities of people and judge if they would be suitable for talking in front of the camera or not. Well with Maham, I was confident she would easily be the best actress, mainly because she was very fond of regular posting videos and pictures of herself on various social media platforms. But……..nothing less than a disaster as she eventually forced me to remove her part from the video a night before our presentation (I did however send it to some mutual friends and they made sure they didn’t let go of it during the banter sessions).
The day of our presentation finally arrived, with everyone super dressed and prepared for it. Honestly, it took me a second to recognize my friends from the hostel as I couldn’t recall the last time I saw them properly dressed up with makeup, etc. Our presentation started, and surprisingly we were idiotically laughing at our video, definitely not the impression you want to give. I am not even sure others were laughing but our pearl of laughter dominated the auditorium as others were forced to smile too. There was a time midway through our presentation when we feared that we will fail to reach the time limit of 1 hour and 30 minutes for the presentation. In this situation, we had an unexpected hero. Zulfiqar, who looked least prepared (as he wasn’t active in the group last night and didn’t share any research that most of us would share), came up with a twenty minutes long speech, questioning the audience, interacting with the instructor while we were left in awe of his confidence and level of research. Honestly, from acting like Imran Khan, to his singing skills to this debate, the lad kept us guessing how talented he was. In the Q & A session, one of the students asked Aamna Asghar an overly complicated question, which resulted in Sir deducting two marks from her total while the rest of us were awarded 18/20. As expected, I vowed to do the same on his presentation and three weeks later, despite sleeping throughout his presentation, my lonely three brain cells woke up when it was time for the Q & A, asking him such a difficult question that even the instructor praised me. He didn’t have an answer, with all of my friends staring at me, their eyes telling me, “Shabash we’re proud of you”, and we even celebrated ‘our revenge’ with Aamna Asghar buying us all tea and breakfast from Bombay Chowpatty. Looking back at that, I do regret my actions as I intentionally tried to punch him down. I later had the courtesy to apologize to that person and I can proudly tell you that now we’re good friends.
Furthermore, I have seen teachers try different methods for making education more interactive and fun for their students, but none of them came anyway near the “swag” of Sir Taimoor. One day he announced that he will teach us all about the poetic revolution of Pakistan with added advice that no one should miss out on that class. When the day arrived, he barged inside the class, with a floppy hat and a guitar on his back, somehow resembling the character played by Shahrukh Khan in the blockbuster Indian movie “Mohabbatein”. None of the students expected that for the next hour and a half, Sir would sing every single poem with a powerful message from the period of the 1960s to the 1990s. It was so beautiful to see him switching slides, giving a brief background of the poet, later playing his guitar while singing the famous poems. In class 10 and 11, I remember our Urdu teacher trying her level best to make us memorize a stanza from a poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. After wasting three classes, she realized all of her efforts were in vain and eventually gave up. If only she knew that there are other ways to teach rather than blatantly asking her students to memorize the poem by repeating after her. So within a short lesson of nearly two hours, he had successfully managed to make me learn at least seven poems from the revolutionary poetic age without even making me feel burdened. Staff managing the classes would abruptly enter the class with the hope of finding the person singing and maybe send him to the DC office? They would leave the class after realizing that it was the professor singing. Every student was busy clapping, singing along, making videos-it all felt like a fantasy. Even I posted a story on Snapchat and Sara, one of my friends studying at another university, replied, praising Sir Taimoor and at that moment I realized that he IS FAMOUS!
On the very last day, Sir Taimoor came up with the most unpredictable activity. While some instructors treat you with doughnuts, some take a class photograph and others carry on teaching, Sir Taimoor came with a blast. At the beginning of the class, he announced that they would have a special guest. Ten minutes later, a lady stepped inside the class. “I would like you all to meet my wife, who’s also an instructor here. She’s not only my life partner, but she’s also the leading singer for my band”, exclaimed Sir. They arranged another mic and began singing all the possible songs you can imagine. Sir playing his guitar, acting as the background singer while his wife would be the lead singer, mesmerizing everyone present. I could not stop raving the beautiful couple, believing that they were a perfect match. Well, my daydreaming kicked in at this point too, imagining an ideal married life for myself where my wife would be bowling and I will be batting or we’ll sit alongside and play Fifa/Call of Duty all day long.
Like all other things, everything has to come to an end. Apparently, the reviews on LDF were correct as Sir miserably graded most of us in the finals after showing a fair bit of generosity in the midterms. Despite not ending the course with the ideal grade, I do not regret a single moment taking his classes. Every day “Nashta and Chai” sessions after the classes, taking five minutes extra in the class breaks, getting a message every day from Safa, “Wait for me”, watching Sir take off his shoe to smack it against the rostrum, telling us all about his Marxist thinking, copying and cracking Punjabi jokes, stalking his Facebook page and writing a thousand words long essay after an uninformed holiday were just some of the things that made this course unique. I am confident that if you go and tell him that he’s Karl Marx, he may just die with happiness as he’s by far the biggest supporter of Marxist ideas I have ever come across! Moreover, his lessons on how to deal with anxiety (oh I raised my hand when he asked in class who feels anxious) are workable and practical. How can I forget about his love for his daughter? It is so wholesome watching Sir jog alongside her little daughter outside SDSB, letting her win on purpose, honestly, it looks super cute. However, the biggest positive from this class was my realization that it is better to get a poor grade by gaining practical knowledge rather than achieving an ‘A’, solely by memorizing the slides made by the instructor. It was a very tough task, reading primary texts written by Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, etc. but it opened another dimension of my thinking which may not have been possible by solely reading the interpretations made by other historians. Finally, this course helped me forge bonds of friendship that I am grateful for to this day. I would like to end this with the specific line that keeps on replaying in my head whenever I feel dejected:-
Turiya Turiya Ja, Farida Turiya Turiya Ja
To all those who were a part of “Machiavelli Unemployed”, you’re amazing!