Friday, June 27, 2008

It is a different Library today

Urban201 Fresh01


by | Arificial Intelligence

Just another regular vacation weekday. Wednesday to be exact. Eight am sharp, and I am at the University Gate. The car is slowed down to keep in line with University norms, but still the Security guard seems to have a problem with us.

He approaches our car and finally knocks impatiently at the window. I slide the window open, he speaks up: "University band hai [University is closed]." But why?

In Pakistan, intelligent questions are not entertained, so I don’t bother to ask him why the University closed ’un-announced’.

Thanks to my determination, stack of assignments and a broken heart, I could not afford to go back home and relax. So I make the decision: "It will be a different library today."

Another 15 minutes drive and we are at the library. I would come here for the University entry test preparation last year. There is no signboard on the building telling its name, but if word-of-mouth is to be respected, it is called The Liaquat National Library (L.N.L).

Bags are to be placed outside, the library clerk reminds us; a scary thing to do in Pakistan.

O.K. lets get started. I place myself on one of the tables, Junaid sits beside me. Both of us open our books, and then the competition kicks off. Ten minutes down the line and the competition turns one-sided; Junaid leads the Yawning Match 25-6.

At eleven, after an hour of study, (punctuated with yawns), I leave for the toilet. The section is called: GENTS TOILETS. I have a choice of seven toilets to choose from. It was supposed to be a long deliberation leading to the selection, but I didn’t waste a second. There was one toilet which stood above the other six, it was labelled with a black marker:


11:04, and I am back at my table resuming my effort to memorise survey terms. On his 26th official yawn, Junaid tells me that he is leaving for some snacks since it was a miserable half-bread breakfast that he had in the morning.

I keep studying: . . . .meridan.. . . .levelling . . . GIS . . . azimuth . . .. ..

There are 25 fluorescent tubes illuminating the library, all of them hanging 2m from the roof through their wires. Out of the 25 fluorescent tubes hanging, and shining, there was only one which was dangling as well, I was studying under it. I wish I was 3ft taller so I could stall this 0.5 Hertz (or once in every 2 seconds) simple harmonic motion of a light source.

11:20, and the library was getting crowded, so a clerk arrived and started turning ’on’ fans on the first floor. Turning on the lights upstairs was a tougher chore. The clerk would place the chair below the fluorescent tube, screw in the starter and wait for 3 seconds. Voila! after a few flashes the tube would be glowing. He had to repeat the process for the other 12 lights as well, since there was only one starter for the entire library. I wish I had a camcorder to tape him doing this hilarious chore.

NOK2626Enough of this staring, I take out my Nokia 2626 to start a harmless game of Pinball. "Press OK to start game," Nokia tells me, I do this instantly, and out comes the blaring music of Pinball. How embarrassing. I press the red button and restart studying.

Junaid is back from the snack, and both of us keep up with the learning.

12 o’clock, cuckoo. Junaid tells me that he is feeling extremely drowsy and therefore he is telling the driver to pick us up. I command him not to, but he silently ’texts’ the driver. Next he puts his head down and sleeps for a good half hour.

Meanwhile I stop studying for some people-watching. This library is full of Pathans. There is one standing in front of me, teaching another Pathan. As he ponders on a question put to him by his student, he places his ballpoint, first between the teeth and then right up to the cheek, like a lollipop.

People-watching to the left, I see this Pathan studying intensely from a Business Management book. His fingers are clipping his lower lip, and as he digs deeper into the text of the book, he stretches his clipped lip in proportion, from its elastic to plastic limit, following Hooke’s Law.

As per Junaid’s command, the driver arrives by 12:30. I didn’t study much today except for the Survey terms, but it was an interesting day at this different library.


Do you have any library stories to tell?

Was this day interesting enough?

Should I quit writing?

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