100 Years of UET

From 1921 to 2021, my Alma Mater, the University of Engineering and Technology Lahore (UET) has turned 100. Today's alumni reunion was arranged for celebrating a century of this institute and today's motto was ''100 years of Academic Excellence' (Gladly they didn't make a typo and write '100 Years of Academic Negligence').

Although It has just been three years since my graduation but coming to the first-ever reunion was a great experience. It brought back so many beautiful memories that It seemed I was still studying there. To be honest, three years is too early to cherish memories. I mean, It makes you look old. I think there should be a minimum of 25 years, hmm! a silver jubilee is not bad. Because this many years, you forgot most of the things, so can say to your children and wife that what a 'genius' student you were and at the same, you won't feel guilty after lying because you won't remember yourself as a bad student. Super cool. (Just don't say it in front of your parents. They wouldn't forget how 'genius' you were)

It was great to see some of the old-timers. One of them was Dr. Ijaz from the 1961 session, a chief engineer in Pakistan Railway and probably the oldest alumni alive. Damn! It has been what, sixty-one years, sixty-one years since he got admission in UET and that's freaking amazing. He shared some of his memories from the swinging 60s, like coming to the university on a bicycle and facing the wrath of the teachers for entering class after eight o'clock (Teachers were the same in the 60s as they are today. No change even after sixty years.). I think this old chap should stop working in the Railways and start writing memoirs (and avoid sugar and regularly check up his blood pressure).

Many other alumni were from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Each of these decades encompasses a whole different world on Pakistan's political and cultural horizon. From Ayub's dictatorship to Bhutto's socialism and Zia's martial law to the musical-chair democracy of the 90s, these changing times would have had a profound effect on the students. Once in 2017, I saw some alumni from the '77 session, and what a session! which started their engineering journey with a welcome party from Zia's martial law.

In short, students from the sessions of 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s are legends. Period. They couldn't copy-paste assignments in Microsoft Office. They couldn't just WhatsApp assignments to their class fellows. They couldn't get semester data from their seniors in a flash drive (I am pretty sure they had their own ways of getting assignments' solutions themselves.)

Moreover, their means of entertainment were different as well. They couldn't just watch episode after episode at night while eating a large pizza. They couldn't doom-scroll Facebook before sleep. It must have been very difficult to smuggle a VCR and video cassettes to your hostel room(Poor kids). No 'share-your-pics-and-I-will delete-them-afterward' with your crush. Just old-school letters. most of which would get caught before reaching their destination. Still, they graduated. Gen Z salutes them.

In case you don't know, before the 2000s, students had their own top-level entertainment. Because at that time there was all kind of shit at UET, student unions, Kalashnikovs, and drugs. Their hobbies included taking guns to the examination hall or solving the papers in their hostel room and beating any rickshaw driver who asked for the fare. In those days, UET was referred to as the contraction of 'University of Error and Terror' (I wish I were a student during that time). Anyway, we should give them the credit for graduating without the internet, social media, and Netflix.

Pakistan Post issued a post-stamp on completion of hundred years of UET. Similarly, State Bank also issued a rupees hundred coin in this regard. Both of which I bought today as memorabilia (And now I don't know what to do with these. Let's hope taht UET Alumni Association have a return policy, otherwise I can say goodbye to my 500 rupee note).

To express my unexpressed feeling about my university ,I want to borrow some lines from Faiz:

تازہ ہیں ابھی یاد میں اے سا قئ گلفام
وہ عکسِ رخِ یار سے لِہکے ہوئے اَیام
وہ پُھول سی کِھلتی ہوئی دِیدار کی ساعت
وہ دِل سا دھڑکتا ہوا امید کا ہنگام

Taza hain abhi yaad mein a saqi-e-gulfam
Woh aks-e-rukh-e-yaar se lehkey huey ayaam
Woh phool si khilti hui deedar ki sa'at
Woh dil sa dharkata hua umeed ka hangaam

In the end, to explain the transition from student life to practical life in the words of Suroor:

زِندگی عارض و کاکُل کی گزرگاہوں سے
رفتہ رفتہ رَسن و دار تک آ پہنچی ہے

Zindagi aaraz-o-kakul ki guzar gahon se
Rafta rafta rasn-o-daar tak aa pohnchi hai

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