Historically the Final Year Tour of West Pakistan for the NED students would take place in the third year. When our turn came, the political unrest in late 1968 and early 1969, and Martial Law in March 1969, forced a postponement of the tour. The uncertainty prevailed for several months. I do not recall when the announcement of the tour dates was eventually made, but I do remember that the tour finally took place in early 1970.
We all had looked forward to the dates. Those of us who were residing in the hostels, specially the Sevakunj Hostel, had heard so many wonderful stories about the trip in the past and excitement had really built up. In prior years Prof Haider, a senior professor of 'laheem-shaheem' build, was in charge of the Civil Engineering class during the tour. He had recently retired from teaching but he made himself available to lead our class for the tour. Prof Haider was gentle and highly respected among students and college staff. He was generally lenient with the students during the tour and did not impose too many restrictions on what the students could or could not do.
Prof Haider travelled in the first class compartment while we students were in third class. Those were the good old days when cash was king and no credit or debit cards were even heard of. Prof Haider was in charge of the cash and took care of the various disbursements during the trip. For an entourage of nearly 100 students over 2 to 3 weeks, substantial expenses were involved and thus Prof Haider carried a large amount of cash. There was a story told that in one of the previous year trips, his compartments was broken into during the night while the passengers slept and the thieves made off with a lot of valuables. Prof Haider used an old-fashioned metal trunk to carry his clothes and necessities. When the morning came and the passengers woke up they found their belongings missing. However, Prof Haider’s tin trunk had remained untouched. Not only that, the professor had also taken the precaution of keeping the cash in a separate tin box discretely out of sight even while he slept.
Among the students on tour from our Civil Engineering class, there were quite a few of us who resided at the Sevakunj Hostel. Our group took over a section of the compartment and that became our base during the tour. We dubbed our group 'Bull Fighters'. We were quite noisy and rambunctious during the tour. We had the time of our lives. Every moment was fun-filled. We stopped at many places in West Pakistan. We visited places of entertainments in Hyderabad, Multan and Lahore; did shopping at Landikotal near Peshawar, enjoyed the beauty of Murree Hills, and Swat, the majesty of engineering work at Mangla dam, Jinnah Barrage and Tarbela Dam (under construction), the wonders of the archeological sites of Mohenjodaro; and the scenes of Kalabagh.
During our stay in Islamabad, we visited different places of interest including the Shakarparian National Park which presently also houses Pakistan Museum of Natural History. The visit to the Park involved quite a bit of walking between the various points where we would stop for brief intervals to take in the views. Our classmate G Mohiuddin (late) did not quite take to the exertion and every few minutes he would ask: ‘Ab hum kahan ja rahay haen?' ('Now where are we headed?), and one of us would explain the notable features about the Park. In the end, Irshad Goraya (E70) who was accompanying us got exasperated at Mohiuddin’s incessant questions, told him to shut up, pointed to a far off point and said that we were headed there. We burst out laughing at Irshad Goraya’s frustrated comment. Poor Mohiuddin’s questions did cease thereafter.
Both Mohiuddin and Irshad Goraya appear in the 1970 picture to the right. There are more pictures of our final year trip on this page. During the same walk, Mohiuddin also asked why this place is called Shakarparian, and he was informed by one of us that this soil has a sweet taste and he fell for it and tasted the soil and this really made us laugh. May Allah forgive our mischief and Mohiuddin’s soul rest in peace.
Mohiuddin was part of the'“Bull Fighters' group by default. He had bought a few dozens of maaltas (oranges) from Lahore for his family back in Karachi. After he fell asleep at night, all the oranges were shared and eaten by the rest of the occupants of that compartment and poor Mohiuddin was very saddened to see the empty sack in the morning. All of us denied any participation in this act. It was not an isolated incident of “sharing”. We heard that the purchase of nuts and fruits by Prof Shams who accompanied the girls during the trip ended up being similarly shared. The girls, however, were more conniving and had filled the empty sacks with potatoes. Our classmate Jamila (Salahuddin) Rahman describes their "sharing" in this story.
Somewhere in the Hyderabad area we traveled by bus from the railway station to visit some place. During the bus ride, we started teasing each other. Those of us sitting in the back of the bus would teasingly call names to those in front and, in response, the front riders would return the provocations to the rear of the bus. This went on for a while. Hashim Saheb, a young lecturer just a couple of years older than us, was riding in front. Soon he also suffered some collateral damage even though the ‘backsiders’ tried to spare him. They were shouting: 'Hashim Saeib ko chhor kar baqee sub kiya haen?’ ('Leaving aside Hashem Saheb what are the rest?'), but in the din it sounded like: 'Hashim Saeib kiya haen?' ('What is Hashim Saheb?'. He was a a quiet, pleasant and a reserved person. On the return bus trip, he played safe and sat in the exact middle of the bus. He was, however, not totally spared. As the bus rumbled back toward the railway station, someone would shout 'Hashim Saheb kahan haen?' and the rest of the bus would respond: 'Sitting on Neutral Axis!'. Hashim Saheb had a good sense of humour and took it well.
Our classmate Riaz Choudhry was from Lahore. When we reached Lahore, he invited a group of us for dinner at his home. The hospitality of his family was very much appreciated by all of us. Lahore was that last stop and from there we went back to Karachi with lots of memories.