Monday, June 20, 2011

First Time on a Richshaw




I’m back from Lahore, the City of Lights. What a trip! Overall, I’d say I had lots of fun. I finished my fieldwork in two days, which was a relief. On Wednesday, we went to Punjab University at about 10 a.m. It was my first time sitting on the rickshaw, a three-wheeled vehicle that is somewhat comfortable and makes a lot of noise. It is small enough to move in and out of traffic and big enough to seat about two to three people. Punjab University is a public university, funded mainly by the government. It is so large that it was recently expanded into two campuses. I ended up choosing the Qaid-e-azam campus, or the “New Campus,” for my research. The new campus is named after the founder of Pakistan, Qaid-e-azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.


Despite my many calls and numerous emails beforehand to arrange a meeting with the Vice Chancellor of the University, Baba and I still faced challenges on the day of. We were kept being sent around from office to office. Forget being annoyed; we were frustrated. The heat fueled us for sure. We finally got the V.C.’s signature and, unlike Hazara University where two boys were assigned to us for assistance, we were on our own at Punjab University. We walked through the building halls and saw students studying. I went up to a crowd and explained my project in hopes that they would welcome my survey. Rather, I was disappointed when they refused and said they were too busy studying. I understood.


We then went to the History Department, whose Chairman was very hospitable with us. He welcomed us into his office, offered us tea, and with interest, spoke to me about my research. I was delighted to meet someone who could speak to me on my level of understanding. Turns out this Chairman not only has a Ph.D., but is also a professor, dean, a journal editor, as well an international conference organizer. He invited me to submit my research paper to his journal and took down my contact information to invite me to his conference. You bet I was excited!!


Until 5 p.m., we went around to various department chairs, sought their permission, and handed out the surveys to the students in that department. Baba constantly became dehydrated, so we made multiple water stops. I am so grateful to Baba for his time, energy, and commitment to my research project. With his help, we completed all 200 surveys in one day! For our education, Baba is always willing to do whatever it takes – even if it means baking in the Lahore heat for hours and days. Today is Father’s Day and I am eternally thankful for such a great father.


On Thursday, I completed all my interviews. It was exam week so a lot of the selected interviewees could not commit the time. Good thing I had alternatives. I heard the same things, same opinions, and similar commentary from these students as those of Hazara University. Miles apart, yet the same mentality? I can’t conclude this yet, but sure seems like it.


Later that evening we went out for sightseeing. We left the hotel at 7 p.m. I knew it would be difficult to explore some of the famous sights at nighttime and I was upset with Baba for choosing such a time. And as I predicted, we “window-toured.” What a disappointment! Lahore is known for its historical structures – some from the Mughal era, some even before that – as well as its museums, malls, mosques, government buildings, and more. I went to sleep in a bad mood, hoping that the following day would be better. After all, my rebirth was at risk.

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