– By Fouzan Abdullah
Wednesday afternoon, 15th of May, and again I am sitting in an auditorium waiting for yet another event of NSS, Meet the Scientist, to start. Don’t judge me when I say my stereotyped image of a scientist includes nerdy spectacles, frowning brows, and a hurried step. Yet the man who is staring out at me from all the six corners of the auditorium is the complete opposite of what I imagined. This is Dr. Adil Najam, as the poster shouts out at us. He is also VC LUMS, winner of Goodwin medal for effective teaching, and numerous other things.
Dr. Adil’s turn to hold the stage soon came and hold he did. For the better part of two hours or so, he took us to an exhilarating and wonderful journey down the memory lane, to back when he was a boy.
“When I was four years old, my parents left me at school. They haven’t yet come to pick me up.”
My assumption negated. He was a scientist, after all. Only a scientist had to be this fanatical to have passed three quarters of his lifespan (judged on the regional lifespan) studying; and still showing no signs of stopping.
I turned back to the stage. Dr. Adil (I was beginning to like his personality with every passing minute), was telling us about some of the lessons he had learnt from his life: “The seven lessons of my life” he called them.
Beginning with a lust for learning, I, along with other audience, was first lectured about the importance of humility. He told us calmly that he had been a janitor’s assistant in MIT (funny I thought, to travel all the way to MIT to be a janitor’s assistant). Then I heard him say that his father was a government servant and I was brought to my senses. The respect was mounting.
He had a taste for dance too, as his life’s ambition was to see LUMS students as waiters in the LUMS cafeteria. Oh, but wait, wasn’t he saying something about being humble, I think that’s why, stupid me.
Then we were advised to build bridges, not walls. Yeah, you heard me right.
Build bridges, not WALLS.
I was just starting to think that being a civil engineer, he had remembered some old phrase from his textbook, but then I came to know that he was actually telling us to keep our options open, not limit ourselves. Oh, so, that’s where the wall comes in, I thought to myself.
Moving on to his work in the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, he proudly told us that being a jack of all trades (Law, Engineering, Teaching, Policy making), he could converse with ease with everyone, as the other men on the panel were so liable to using their respective field’s jargon. But thanks to being in school since 4 years old, Dr. Adil was able to sail through. This incident was narrated specially to lecture us on being multidisciplinary (and, this had me thinking: tempt us into learning all the life, fat chance)
There are smart people in this world, and there are good people in this world, he tells us. But being smart is due to no effort on their part, they were born smart. But being good is an art, only few are able to master.
To be smart is good, to be good is great.
Then came these words that I had often heard and never really listened to:
“Make friends on your way up, because you will meet them on your way down.”
I am sure we were just as confused as he himself was when his teacher uttered those words. Yet he was right in saying that,
”We all come down sooner or later. It is called gravity.”
And thus, another remarkable session with another remarkable scientist ended with promise of numerous such remarkable sessions, brought to you by the so very remarkable NUST Science Society (you bet your assets I’m an executive!).
– The writer is an Executive member of NUST Science Society, and a Sophomore in College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering.
– Photographs by Media Team of NUST Science Society