Kemcolian wins at Nagpur MUN India 2015 !

The Journey to India

India is the country a lot of us are intrigued about. We may have been to a lot of places and visited a lot of countries but there’s something about India that nags us. Probably because, it’s India. We hear a public narrative, we read textbooks, read history, hear stories from elders, watch the Indian media, the Indian Daily Soaps and Bollywood…Shahrukh Khan and Katrina Kaif..And Narinder Modhi- that’s what we know India for. And we are afraid to go there. There are a thousand questions, the answers to which we’d like to know. The best way to do just that, is to do it first hand, to go there and experience how it really is and form your own perspective.

How it all came about
I had heard news about an international Model United Nations event coming up in Nagpur, Maharashtra, India. I was interested in the Aman Ki Asha committee (an initiative of the Geo-Jang Group/Time of India Group), to discuss the topic, “Resolution of the Kashmir Conflict”. Intrigued by the prospect of attending, but apprehensive as to how all of it would come about, I set out with preparations. Along with Shaarif Bhai (President KEDS), a few of my classmates initially planned to go but couldn’t. I got my passport renewed (the last one had expired), registered for the event and started making visa applications. There were some hurdles, like getting the Character Certificate (from the Police), form-filling, vaccination, convincing the VC that it was safe travelling to the “enemy land” as a representative of my prestigious university.
The Day of Departure
(Please Note: I’m a major foodie, so I recorded every meal I had in India, along with visual proofs ;) AND I love clicking pictures- in India alone I clicked over 1100 pics in 9 days!:D )
After days of skepticism regarding stamping of our passports, Visa, the Pakistani delegation finally set out on foot to cross the Wagah Border, Lahore to enter Indian Territory through the Attari Border. There were 9 of us representing Pakistan: Asad Raza (Co-Chair; COMSATS), Nabil Ashraf (COMSATS), Mehsum Abbass (COMSATS), Ammar Umar (COMSATS), Mahrukh Safdar (COMSATS), Ammar Abdullah (PU), Abaid Shah (FAST), Kaleem Chhatta (UET) and myself.
So after immigration, security checks and customs (and re-vaccinated for Polio on the Indian side-apparently they didn't trust our certificates from Pakistan), we reached the Indian side where Sayyam and his friends (our Indian contacts) were waiting to pick us up, take us to Amritsar, stuff us with Indian food and get us aboard the "Tempo" traveler to Delhi (where our next group of contacts were waiting to shuttle us in a train to Nagpur)
Amritsar is the city, nearest from Lahore. It hold a lot of significance in Indian Punjab, religiously and otherwise, famous as home to the Golden Temple and the Amritsari Kulchay and home to a lot of Punjabi artists. Interestingly, my paternal grandparents had migrate to Lahore during partition from this very city.
  • The Food at Amritsar: we just had a few snacks to prevent motion sickness during the long journey ahead. So we had Indian equivalents of what we call Paapri Chat, Aaloo/Daal Tikki Burger, and also the soft drinks we hear about in Pakistan, i.e.  Limca, Thumbs Up.etc
  • The Tempo Traveler that took us to Delhi
The journey was 10 hours long; we passed through the whole of Punjab, more or less: Chandigarh, Bhatinda, Patiala.etc . We loaded ourselves with snacks before leaving.
We played Antakshari when we were bored, slept and chatted; stopped at a restaurant on the Highway called "Haveli" (had Paneer Pakora, Masala Dosa, and other Paneer delicacies) and then at McDonalds (had McFlurrys and coffees).

The Train Journey from Delhi to Nagpur
We met with Devang Shah, Shrijan Sharma and Avantika Jain, our hosts for the journey to Nagpur. We boarded a train o Nagpur; it was comfy with all the necessary amenities, even sockets for charging our laptop and phones; we got 2 compartments; we chatted along the way about literally everything; from politics, to science to literature to religion; we played cards and antakshari, we kept eating along the way...the 20 hour long journey during which not only we bonded amongst ourselves but also with our Indian counterparts.

In the train, we passed through most of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and finally into Maharashtra -Nagpur. In Bhopal, Srijan's dad sent us food in the train (he is a senior IAS officer in the Indian Railways; he’s the one who got us seats for all our train journeys from special quotas) :D  :  Kebabs, Mutton Biryani, 2 types of paneer delicacies, romali roti, dahi and a lot of other stuff, including sweetmeats.

Nagpur s the city located at the geographical center of India. It is also the Orange (“Santra”) Capital of India (their equivalent of our Sargodha). One of the largest cities n the Indian state of Maharashtra.
So this was the accommodation that our hosts got for us- The Heritage Ambassador Hotel. It was quite lavish, clean and spacious. The breakfast was really worth mentioning and it was only a 10 minutes’ drive from the debating venue, the Yeshwant Rao Chavan College of Engineering. It was on a room sharing basis with 3 delegates in each room. Co-incidentally and rather interestingly, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi participants were occupying neighboring rooms- this allowed for extensive interaction amongst us all.
  • The Breakfast had juices, sambar, wada, fruit, tea/coffee, bhaji, poori, coconut chutney.etc

The International Nagpur Model United Nations 2015
It kicked off formally after the Inaugural Ceremony. All the participants were dressed in Traditional formal wear which was the theme of Day 1 i.e. girls in sarees and guys in shalwar kameez/kurta. There were 3 other committees being simulated namely WHO, UNSC & UNHRC in additon to Aman ki Asha. The delegate strength was around 50 delegates per committee and there was international presence as well. The Secretary General(Rutwik Joshi) & Aman ki Asha Chair (Devang Shah) were the flag bearers for Pakistani participation and the sole facilitators and during the course of the journey they became great friends.
Aman Ki Asha
So how the Model United Nations (MUN) Format of debating works is, that a committee is simulated, in this case, Aman ki Asha. It has a topic (here the topic was “Resolution to the Kashmir Conflict) on which different participants (delegates) debate on, ultimately reaching a consensus and drafting a Resolution based upon their proposals. The best thing about my committee was that all the stakeholders in this issues, i.e. the Indians, Pakistanis and Kashmiris were present and ready to debate. They had been told to not act as representatives of their respective nations but as global neutral citizens to better find common grounds which would be pragmatic enough to be acceptable to all. Soon people became warm with each other, excited talking about perspectives regarding each other, misconceptions and stereotypes, exchanging ideas. This was the exact purpose of this meeting: people-to-people contact, exchange of ideas and peaceful negotiations leading to conflict resolution.
At night, we had a Delegates’ Meet, as the Social Event for the MUN, for eating and socializing with other delegates, and also to relax after hours of locking horns in the debating arena.

One of my Pakistani friends, actually lost his heart out to an Indian girl- the two nations actually did come close :P .
The committee had some fun entertainment sessions too.
There were Indian friends, with interesting surnames, such as Dhruv “Kela” and Priyanka “Kide” (Keeray-insects)
Lol at one instant, this reporter was quizzing me about my experience in the session and everything: and besides trying to praise the efforts of the organizers, I started using my full knowledge of Hindi, taking all by surprise at my use of rather “kathin shabd” (difficult words) :P
The theme for the Day 2 was Western formal wear. So the guys could be seen in suits and the girls in shalwar kameez/business suits. That day we finally reached a consensus resolution because we worked together the previous night, having spent ours in each other’s rooms, not even sleeping, debating and discussing possible solutions, using diplomacy and tactics to reach consensus at the end. Had we just put forward separate resolutions and not shown flexibility in stated positions, the committee would have failed ideologically, so we worked hard to do otherwise.
In the end we wrote testimonials for each other on their placards :D
The Finale
It was time for the Grand Finale. When it was time for the awards to be announced, I didn’t have my fingers crossed- I wasn’t expecting it in the least. The Announcement was as follows: “I’m pleased to announce that the Best Delegate Award goes to a person from whom I’ve learned a lot, a person who is in the top medical school of Pakistan, my friend Mr. Tabish Javaid.” So I had won the Best Delegate Award (1st position). This proved to be a proud moment not only for myself and my Pakistani fellow delegates there, but also for my family, my Debating Society (KEDS), my university and my country, being the 1st  ever KEMCOLIAN to have represented KEMU in a public speaking event internationally, and winning the 1st prize on top of it. (Unlike most MUNS in Pakistan, there was an associated cash prize too : P )
Time to say the Good Byes
Since we had formed strong bonds, It was hard to say goodbye to the new friends and to Nagpur; we boarded the same Tempo till Bhopal, from where we got onto a train called the Shatabdi Express, which is famous for two things: for running non-stop and very fast and secondly, for serving a great assortment of delicious and free food on board. :D
After reaching Delhi, we couldn't find a hotel soon and were stranded on the station, and by extension, and on the streets in the dread of the night until Devang found us the Palm ‘D'or Hotel’, which was to be our abode for our remaining stay in India.
A lot comes to mind when we say the word Delhi; the historical capital of India; the Mughals and their architecture; the rich culture, being a blend of Urdu, and Punjabi traditions and cuisines and after all a typical metropolis like any other.
One of the interesting things I noticed in Delhi was, it’s striking resemblance to Lahore: names of roads and places, Mall Rd, Azadi Chowk, Model Town; architectural similarities : the Badshahi Masjid and Jamia Masjid, the Shahi Qila and Lal Qila; even sigh boards had Urdu on them.
Along with my friends, I devoted the rest of my stay to sightseeing and exploring this magnificent city; our funda was that this was a once in a lifetime opoortunity as trips like these don’t come about very often. We visited:
  • Lal Qila (Red Fort) (like our Shahi Qila)
  • Jamia Masjid Delhi (like our Badshahi Masjid)
  • Karim's Hotel (one of the Top restaurants of Delhi, mentioned in the Times Magazine; the only time I had meaty food in India; otherwise I had gone complete vegetarian during my stay there ;) )
  • Haldiram's Sweets (Best Kaju bari ever!  And a famous stop for Pakistani visitors who buy sweets for back home)
  • Connaught Place (Liberty cum M.M.Alam cum Y Block DHA)
  • India Gate
  • McDonalds (inexpensive and a lot of veg variety, the likes of McAaloo Tikki Burger ad McPaneer Crispy Burger :P )
  • Starbucks
  • Watching an Indian flick at a local cinema

  • Nizamuddin Awliya Dargah (one of the most famous Sufi Saint Shrines in the Sub-Continent)
  • Ghalib’s Tomb (ironically, children were playing cricket in the courtyard and no one was visiting)

  • Parantha wali gali, Chandni Chowk (Chandni Chowk is like our anarkali market...this gali is famous for 2-3 dozen types of parathas starting with aalo, gobi to mattar, paneer, kaju, kishmish, to name it ;) )
  • Amrtisari Kulchay (the most famous dish of Amritsar- aalo filled kulchay served with channay and achaar)
The Return
It was quite uneventful. We were tired. We did modest shopping for the folks at home. We were happy to be back in Pakistan with a positive vibe from the other side of the border and a lot of stories to share.
The Last Word
So what exactly did I get out of risking travelling to India; staying there for 8-9 days; spending good money for that very purpose and missing pharmacology classes :P ?
Let’s analyze. I became the 1st KEMCOLIAN to represent King Edward internationally at such an event. I won the 1st prize along with the cash prize. I travelled through India, interacted with Indians, made a lot of friends, exchanged perspectives and ideas in an amicable way; tried to play my small part in the resolution of the Kashmir conflict and kick starting this initiative. I got international exposure and a chance to travel independently, on my own, in a foreign country, which helped me gain more self-confidence. I did a lot of sight-seeing, tasted a lot of local delicacies and did modest shopping ;) .Truly, a wholesome experience
Frequently Asked Questions by Pakistanis
1. How are the Indian People? (Aakhir Indians kese hote hain?)
There are some people amongst us and them alike, who even hate the common Indian and the common Pakistani. However, the people we majorly interacted with, the educated, enlightened Indian youth, were not merely hospitable and welcoming, but had one goal in mind- to resolve bilateral issues amongst both the nations and promote, if not a friendly, then at least a cordial environment of co-existence. Their zeal and enthusiasm for this mission was commendable.
2. Did you face any problems while you stayed and traveled there?
None, whatsoever. Even if we had some issues, they were due to our inexperience of international travels, and ignorance of some procedural laws, otherwise our stay and travel was very smooth and without hassle. A lot of people had warned us from going. In fact, it was rather funny that the first question Devang asked me in the train was “Were you people afraid to come here”? I replied in the negative.
3. Were there any differences on either side of the border?
Yes, quite frankly, a lot of them. Look, for people in urban centers of Pakistan, the culture is merely homogenous. In India, you notice a lot of SardarJis with colorful turbans, a lot of women riding scooties, a lot of women in sarees and western clothing, that isn’t very prevalent here. There is a multitude of cultures there, a lot of different languages, cuisines and dressings noticeable. Also, the major urban centers and places of cultural interest are abuzz with foreign tourist activity. Since most of the Indians are vegetarians, in restaurants, even in international fast food chains like KFC and McDonalds, they serve vegetarian dishes which have evolved to be very tasty; and like Pakistanis go berserk for chicken, Indians substitute the same with paneer (cheese).

References in Print Media :
Aman ki Asha:
U Magazine (The News): Image Below

Links & References:

M. Tabish Javaid
3rd year MBBS


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